Specifications of SH Minerva
|Year built||2021 new ship|
|Builder||Helsinki Shipyard Oy (Helsinki, Finland)|
|Class||Vega Class ice-strengthened cruise ship|
|Building cost||USD 115 million (EUR 98 million)|
|Owner||Volga Shipping Company (via Vodohod)|
|Operator||Swan Hellenic Cruises|
|Speed||14 kn / 26 kph / 16 mph|
|Length (LOA)||113 m / 371 ft|
|Beam (width)||20 m / 66 ft|
|Gross Tonnage||10500 gt|
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Review of SH Minerva
Scheduled for launch in August and inauguration in November 2021, SH Minerva cruise ship is one of the Swan Hellenic Cruises vessels. The newbuild has a planned inaugural cruise to Antarctica in November 2021. A second vessel (sistership) is planned for launch in January and to join the fleet in April 2022. A third sistership was ordered in October 2020 and scheduled for completion in 2022-Q4.
History - construction and ownership
Swan Hellenic (1950-founded as "Swans Tour Agency") is a British cruise line headquartered in Limassol Cyprus. The company plans to open offices in London UK, Dusseldorf Germany and Monte Carlo Monaco. Swan Hellenic's new cruise vessels were originally ordered by the Russian company Vodohod (shipowner). Swan Hellenic has shareholders in common with the Russian river cruise brand while others are international investors. The two brands operate independently. Swan Hellenic Cruises' CEO is Andrea Zito.
P&O Cruises acquired Swan Hellenic Tours in 1983 and in 2003 became part of Carnival Corporation. Swan Hellenic as brand was discontinued by Carnival /ended operations in 2007. Soon, the brand was purchased by ALG (All Leisure Group) and cruise shipping operations were restarted. In 2017 (after ALG filed for bankruptcy), Swan Hellenic Cruises was acquired by G-Adventures which sold it to a private British investment group in 2020.
The shipowner is Vodohod - a 2004-founded company (currently Russia's largest river cruise line) and a fully-owned subsidiary of "Volga Shipping Company". Vodohod has headquarters in both Moscow and Saint Petersburg. To Vodohod's fleet were added all vessels of the company "Volga Flot Tour" (to a total of 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 cruise ships were ordered, Vodohod owned/operated on Russia's inland waterways a total of 25x riverboats (large-sized cruise vessels), 9x speed boats, 5 pleasure boats. 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).
Swan Hellenic Minerva ship (hull/yard number NB516) and the still-unnamed sistership (hull number NB517) are ace-class expedition vessels designed for operations in extreme weather conditions - from tropical climates to polar regions with heavy ice fields. These modern boats are also specially designed to respect the ecosystems of the regions sailed.
Cruise itinerary program
SH Minerva's itinerary program is based on Antarctica cruises. The exact dates and itineraries (as homeports and call ports) are to be announced at a later date.
The homeport for Antarctica roundtrips is Ushuaia Argentina and many itineraries also visit the UK's Falkland Islands. The route is via Drake Passage - a body of water between Cape Horn (mainland South America) and Livingston Island (part of South Shetland Islands). This seaway connects the Atlantic Ocean (via Scotia Sea) with the Pacific Ocean.
SH Minerva ship provides 5-star staterooms for a total of 152 passengers (max capacity) in 76 cabins and suites. Most staterooms are with large step-out balconies. The vessel is maintained by 120 staff-crew.
The new Minerva cruise ship represents the next generation of polar expedition ships, designed for worldwide sailing with a focus on high-latitude areas.
Swan Hellenic's SH Minerva features a PC5 class (ice-strengthened) hull, 4,6 MW diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system with selective catalytic reduction, 3 MW max battery package, max cruising speed 14 knots (26 kph / 16 mph), draught 5,7 m (19 ft). With LOA length 113 m (371 ft), the 10500-ton vessel has been specially designed for cruising to some of the most inaccessible spots on the planet.
Commonly to most small-sized expedition cruise ships, SH Minerva has an aft Marina Deck that serves the launching of Zodiacs (large-capacity inflatable speedboats used for landings and coastal cruising), Helideck (top-deck located helicopter landing platform used in cases of emergencies), Sundeck with Infinity Pool and Pool Bar, indoor Bar Lounge, Lecture Hall (used for Cruise Director's port talks, itinerary-themed lectures and media presentations), Main Dining Room (full capacity restaurant), wellness complex (rooms for Spa massages, Gym, Sauna Room) - all with floor-ceiling windows, Mud Room (midship-located facility utilized for passenger embarkation/disembarkation on/from the Zodiacs, also for tour equipment storage), bow-located Navigation Bridge (called Wheelhouse on smaller ships and riverboats).
More details on the ship's facilities and amenities are yet to be announced by Swan Hellenic.
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SH Minerva Wiki
The vessel's keel-laying ceremony was held in Helsinki Finland (at Wartsila Hietalahti Shipyard / fka Arctech Helsinki Shipyard) on September 24, 2020. During the special ceremony, the hull's first 347-ton block arrived from Klaipeda Lithuania, where it was outfitted and painted. The prefabricated hull block was loaded in Klaipeda on Sept 12 and arrived in Helsinki on Sept 14. During the ceremony, the huge block was put over "lucky coins" in accordance with the maritime traditions. Swan Hellenic also announced the new ship's name - "SH Minerva" - that honours the company's first ship (MS Minerva/1996-built) named after the Roman goddess of wisdom.
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.
The production of the ordered by Vodohod first of two cruise ships (SH Minerva) started on April 27, 2020, with the steel-cutting ceremony at Helsinki Shipyard Oy. The shipbuilder's CEO (Carl-Gustaf Rotkirch) commented that these two passenger vessels are the first newbuilds of the established in May 2019 shipbuilding company. Both ships were intended to operate in the Russian Arctic and Antarctica (during winter and summer) and in tropical destinations (during spring and autumn).
The vessels' steel blocks were manufactured by Western Baltija Shipbuilding (in Klaipeda). The total 33 outfitted and painted blocks (for SH Minerva) were prefabricated and assembled in Klaipeda and transported/barged to Helsinki by sea. Vodohod's new vessel is based on max passenger capacity 157.
In late-February 2020, Helsinki Shipyard Oy ordered to MHI-MME (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Marine Machinery and Equipment) two retractable fin stabilizers for Vodohod's both luxury expedition vessels. Fin stabilizers reduce the ship's rolling/rocking while at sea.
In early-April 2020 Valmet Oyj was contracted to supply the Vodohod newbuilds' marine automation and information management systems. The modern equipment was scheduled for 2021 (delivery in August and installation in November). The order also included project engineering, factory acceptance testing, commissioning, staff training. The 2013-founded Valmet Oyj (formerly part of Metso Corporation) generally specializes in developing and manufacturing of automation systems (technologies, equipment, services, spare parts) for pulp-paper mills and bioenergy production plants. In 2013, Metso Corporation was split into Valmet and Metso. After the demerger, Valmet Corporation took the pulp-paper-power businesses, while Metso Oyj kept the mining-construction-automation businesses. In June 2020, Metso partially demerged and Metso Minerals merged with Outotec Oyj into the new Metso Outotec Oyj.
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, and The Philippines.
In mid-October 2020, the shipbuilder contracted ALMACO Group to design, build (as prefabricated modules) and deliver all crew cabins (and public spaces) and all passenger cabins for both Swan Hellenic ships (Minerva and TBN1). On October 20, Swan Hellenic ordered from Helsinki Shipyard a third cruise ship (SH TBN2) scheduled for completion in 2022-Q4.
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