Swan Hellenic Cruises

History, Review, Itineraries, Ships, Deck Plans, News

Swan Hellenic Cruises cruise line logo
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Swan Hellenic Cruises fleet

Review of Swan Hellenic Cruises

Swan Hellenic Ltd (1950-founded as "Swans Tour Agency"/website) is a luxury cruise travel brand (all-inclusive) and a British company headquartered in Limassol Cyprus. In early-2021, the company announced plans to open offices in London England UK, Dusseldorf Germany and Monte Carlo Monaco.

The company's current fleet includes the newbuilds SH Minerva (2021), SH Vega (2022-Q1) and SH tbn (2022-Q4). "SH" stands for "Swan Hellenic". Destinations include Arctic and Antarctica, Russian Far East, East Asia (Japan, Thailand, Philippines), South Pacific Islands (Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Vanuatu), Australia, New Zealand, Atlantic Europe, the UK (British and Scottish Islands).

The new brand targets mainly English-speaking source markets - North America (USA, Canada), the UK, Europe, Australia. As main competitor, the brand identifies Lindblad-National Geographic, including for its vessel types-capacity, culture- and nature-themed onboard enrichment programming and Zodiac-based shore excursions.

Company history

P&O Cruises acquired Swan Hellenic Tours in 1983 and in 2003 P&O merged with/became part of Carnival Corporation (currently the world's largest cruise shipowner). As a travel brand, "Swan Hellenic" was discontinued by Carnival in March 2007. Soon, the brand was purchased by ALG (All Leisure Group) and cruise shipping operations were restarted. Back then, ALG also owned and operated the brand "Voyages of Discovery" (2003-founded/2016-defunct). Swan Hellenic planned to restart operations in May 2008 with MV Minerva (1996-built) and an inaugural European season based on itineraries in Baltic Sea and Mediterranean.

Next is the brand's old logo.

Swan Hellenic Tours logo (old)

In January 2008 was announced that in 2009 Swan Hellenic starts cruises on Danube River (with homeporting in Vienna Austria) and Rhone River (roundtrips out of Lyon France). The voyages were via partnership (time-charter) with Arosa Cruises and were cruisetour package deals inclusive of all shore excursions, fees-taxes and gratuities.

In February 2017 (after ALG filed for bankruptcy in January), Swan Hellenic Cruises was acquired by G-Adventures. The new owner announced plans to restart operations (with Minerva) in 2018. In July 2022, G-Adventures sold Swan Hellenic to a private British investment group led by Andrea Zito (previously employed by Silversea and V-Ships Leisure). V-Ships (part of V-Group Holdings Ltd/1984-founded) is a cruise ship management company (Monaco-registered, London-headquartered) with 60+ offices in 30 countries.

Next is the brand's new logo.

Swan Hellenic Cruises logo (CruiseMapper)

Swan Hellenic's new fleet consists of three same-designed vessels originally ordered by the Russian company Vodohod Ltd (shipowner). Swan Hellenic has shareholders in common with the Russian river cruise brand "Vodohod", also Helsinki Shipyard Oy (shipbuilder), and some international investors. However, these two brands operate independently.

Swan Hellenic's CEO is Andrea Zito (former employee of Silversea and V-Ships). The company's management team includes

  • John Warner (General Manager), former GM of Vodohod and G-Adventures
  • Mario Bounas (VP Marketing) who was previously employed by Royal Caribbean and Vodohod.
  • Alfredo Spadon (VP Marketing) who was previously employed by Silversea and MSC.
  • Pierre Thomas (Expedition Director) who previously worked for several premium brands (including Lindblad and Silversea).
  • Tom Russell (General Manager for North America/Fort Lauderdale office and call center) who previously worked for "Cruise & Travel Executives" (President), Global Voyages Group (COO), Silversea North America (COO and Managing Director).
  • Mitchell Schlesinger (Sales Director for North America) who previously worked for NCL-Norwegian, Orient Lines (1991-founded/2008-defunct) and Voyages to Antiquity (2010-founded/2019-defunct).
  • Andrea Corman (Customer Relations Director) previously worked for Voyages to Antiquity (2010-2019), Uniworld and Oceania.
  • Nick Giersdorf (Marketing and Digital Director) was formerly employed by Global Voyages Group.

The shipowner VODOHOD (2004-founded) is currently Russia's largest river cruise company and a fully-owned subsidiary of "Volga Shipping Company". VODOHOD has headquarters in both Moscow and Sankt Petersburg. To VODOHOD's fleet were added all vessels of the company "Volga Flot Tour" (50+ riverboats). VODOHOD's operational regions include the large rivers Volga, Don, Kama, Moscow's canals, Volga-Don Canal, Volga-Baltic Waterway, the lakes Onega and Ladoga.

With Swan Hellenic, VODOHOD actively entered the ocean cruising market. At the time when both expedition ships (Minerva and Vega) were ordered, VODOHOD owned/operated on Russia's inland waterways a total of 25x riverboats (all large-sized cruise vessels), 9x speedboats and 5x pleasure boats (for city boat tours in Moscow and St Petersburg).

Company changes 2021

In mid-January 2021, Swan Hellenic opened a North American sales office (with a call center) in Fort Lauderdale (Florida USA) to serve the company's USA-Canada-Mexico operations. The Cyprus-based Swan Hellenic Cruises also has offices in the UK (London), Germany (Dusseldorf) and Monaco (Monte Carlo).

On February 8, 2021, Swan Hellenic signed a partnership with Nordic Cruise GSA (1996-founded) for a direct presence in Northern Europe (Iceland and Scandinavia).

In April 2021 was hired Denise Landau to create the "Cultural Expedition Partner Program" - a training program for travel agents and advisors. The company also started to develop "preferred supplier" partnerships with large cruise travel agencies.

In May 2021, Pablo Brandeman became Swan Hellenic's "Antarctic Expedition Team" leader.

In late-May 2021 was signed a deal with "V-Ships Leisure" (Ship Management and Marine Services) and "Oceanic Catering" (Marine Hospitality and Catering Services). Both companies are subsidiaries of V-Group and were contracted for year-round management of the Swan Hellenic's entire fleet (all the 3 expedition ships).

Company changes 2020

In May 2020, Helsinki Shipyard Oy (with all its assets) was acquired by Algador Holdings Ltd from Arctech Helsinki Shipyard Oy. Algador Holdings Ltd is owned by Rishat Bagautdinov (Ришат Диасович Багаутдинов/co-owner of VODOHOD) and Vladimir Kasyanenko (Владимир Касяненко/VODOHOD's owner) whose companies specialize in cruise shipping and shipbuilding businesses.

In early-October 2020, Swan Hellenic signed a partnership with Tam Wing Kun Holdings Ltd to represent the brand in Asia. Tam Wing Kun Holdings represents many of the world's leading logistics companies and airlines in Asia through offices or partners in China (Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai), Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, The Philippines.

In October 2020, VODOHOD and Swan Hellenic both joined CLIA Europe (a division of CLIA-Cruise Lines International Association, which has as members all the world's largest cruise shipping companies).

In mid-December 2020, Swan Hellenic signed a partnership with Travel Planners (Eastern India) Pvt Ltd for a direct presence in India. Travel Planners (E.I.) is part of Sinclair & Co (owned by SBG-Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc/ fka Chesapeake Television Corporation) and is headquartered in Kolkata India.

Ships

All Swan Hellenic ships are Malta-flagged and registered in Valletta. Each unit costs EUR 98 million (USD 115 million). The fleet's deck and engine operations are managed by V-Ships Leisure.

The vessels were originally ordered as projects "Vega 1" (Minerva), "Vega 2" (Vega) and "Vega 3" (tbn). The shipbuilder is Helsinki Shipyard Oy (owner of the Wartsila Hietalahti Shipyard (fka Arctech Helsinki Shipyard) in Helsinki Finland. Helsinki Shipyard generally specializes in building icebreakers, ice-class support vessels and smaller-sized (expedition) cruise ships.

 

The company "Tillberg Design of Sweden" was contracted to design the boat's interiors. The design was based on PC5 (Polar Class 5) ice-strengthened hull (Polar Code Category A allows navigation in polar waters with medium first-year ice), LOA length 115 m (377 ft), GT tonnage 10500 tons (volume), larger stabilizers, 9 decks (2 crew-only, 7 passenger-accessible, 3 with cabins), 76 staterooms (cabins and suites), max passenger capacity 152, crew capacity 120, 2x midship Lifts, stairs (forward-midship-aft).

The propulsion is a diesel-electric hybrid, with total power output 5 MW. The vessels are SOLAS-certified (with SRtP-Safe Return to Port). SRtP is required for passenger ships (2010-built and onward) with LOA length 120 m (or longer) or with 3 or more above-water decks.

The third ship (tbn) is slightly larger and with crew capacity 140.

 

Each boat features Swan Restaurant (Dining Room), Marine Life Library, Expedition Laboratory, Club Lounge, Observation Lounge (for expert lectures by renowned specialists and the ship's expedition team), wellness complex (Spa, Sauna Room, Hair Salon, Gym), Pool Deck (with outdoor Pool Bar, Grill, Jacuzzi/whirlpool hot tub and heated infinity pool), Zodiacs (high-speed motorboats for coastal cruising and passenger tendering), aft marina Platform (for launching watersports activities), Clinic (Infirmary), Mud Room (expedition equipment storage).

Staterooms feature mood lighting (LED ceiling lights), holographic/electric fireplace, contemporary furniture (made of natural textures), 2-seater couch (with cushions), glass-top coffee table, wall-mounted smart HDTV (satellite Internet, Infotainment system), direct-dial phone, premium carpet flooring, binoculars, electronic safe box, minibar/refrigerator, large bathroom (glass-enclosed shower cubicle with rainfall shower heads, luxury brand bath products), individually-controlled air-conditioning.

Swan Hellenic cruise ship constuction

The first unit's (SH Minerva's) construction started on April 27, 2020, with the steel-cutting ceremony at Helsinki Shipyard Oy. The ships are actually assembled from blocks (33 total per unit) pre-fabricated in Klaipeda Lithuania (at Western Baltija Shipbuilding), where they are outfitted and painted, then loaded on heavy-lift barges and shipped to Helsinki.

Swan Hellenic cruise ship constuction

For Swan Hellenic's shipbuilding projects, Helsinki Shipyard Oy sub-contracted the following companies:

  • MHI-MME (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Marine Machinery and Equipment) to supply the retractable fin stabilizers
  • Valmet Oyj - to supply the marine automation and information management systems, as well as for project engineering, factory acceptance testing, commissioning, staff training
  • ALMACO Group - to design, build (as prefabricated modules) and deliver all crew cabins (and crew public spaces) and all passenger cabins.

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