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||16 kn / 30 kph / 18 mph|
|Length (LOA)||115 m / 377 ft|
|Beam (width)||23 m / 75 ft|
|Gross Tonnage||10500 gt|
|Decks with cabins||3|
SH Minerva Review
Review of SH Minerva
Scheduled for launch in August and delivery/inauguration in November 2021, SH Minerva cruise ship is the first of three new vessels of Swan Hellenic Cruises. The second sistership (SH Vega) is planned for 2022 - launch in January and inauguration in April. The third sistership (TBN) 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. Company's Expedition Director is Pierre Thomas, who previously worked for several premium ship travel brands, including Lindblad Expeditions and Silversea.
P&O Cruises acquired Swan Hellenic Tours in 1983 and in 2003 became part of Carnival Corporation. Swan Hellenic as a 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 sistership SH Vega (hull number NB517) are ice-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.
SH Minerva vessel (IMO 9895240) was named after the 1989-built MS Minerva - in service with Swan Hellenic between 1996-2020. The new Minerva ship is Malta-flagged (MMSI number tba) and registered in Valletta.
Decks and Cabins
SH Minerva staterooms (76 total) are all 5-star accommodations providing max passenger capacity of 152. All cabins (70) and suites (6) are double-occupancy, and most are with step-out balconies. The boat is maintained by 120 staff-crew.
The boat has 9 decks, of which 7 are passenger-accessible and only 3 with cabins.
(High to low) cabin categories include Premium Suite (49 m2/525 ft2 with 12 m2/130 ft2 terrace), Balcony Suite (44 m2/470 ft2 with 12 m2 terrace), Balcony D6-M5-D5 cabins (28 m2/300 ft2 with 6 m2/65 ft2 terrace), Oceanview staterooms (19 m2/205 ft2). Each of the Oceanview cabins is fitted with two large vertical (elongated rounded) windows.
All staterooms are with modern hotel amenities and offer (as standard/complimentary) Queen-size double beds (convertible to 2 twins/single beds), bedside cabinets (2-drawer, with wall-mounted contemporary reading lamps), seating area with a 2-seater couch (with cushions), glass-top coffee table, mirrored vanity desk/dressing table with chair, electric/fake fireplace, wall-mounted smart HDTV (satellite Internet, Infotainment system), direct-dial phone, premium carpet flooring, LED ceiling lights, binoculars, electronic safe box (in the closet), minibar/refrigerator, hairdryer, en suite bathroom (WC-toilet, mirrored single-sink vanity, glass-enclosed shower with rain heads, luxury brand bath products, towels, bathrobes, slippers), individually-controlled air-conditioning.
Cabin balconies (accessed via slide-opening, floor-ceiling windows) are furnished with two lounge chairs and a low table. All Suites are 2-Room, each with a separate bedroom (Super King-size double bed) and living room (3-seater couch, two armchairs, dry bar, coffee machine, walk-in wardrobe) and with 2 TVs (one in each room) and double-sized balconies accessed from both rooms.
Room Service is complimentary and 24-hour, with ordering from a separate In-Cabin Dining Menu (24 hours) and from the Restaurant's menu (during regular shipboard dining hours).
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 ship 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 16 knots, draught 5,7 m (19 ft), LOA length 115 m, GT tonnage 10500 tons. The boat's interior spaces and venues are designed by Tillberg Design of Sweden (Hoganas-based company that designs interiors for smaller-sized/luxury cruise ships, hotels and restaurants).
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), Pool Deck/Sundeck with an aft-located Infinity Pool (heated swimming pool) and Pool Bar, indoor Bar Lounge, Lecture Hall (used for Cruise Director's port talks, itinerary-themed lectures and media presentations), Swan Restaurant (full capacity MDR-Main Dining Room aft on Deck 4). The wellness complex (on Deck 8) consists of rooms for Spa massages, Gym and Sauna Room (all with floor-ceiling windows) plus a large outdoor whirlpool/Jacuzzi with a sunbathing area. Forward on Deck 8 (bow-located) is the Navigation Bridge (Wheelhouse) and the Captain's Suite and officers' quarters.
The cruise ship has all 9 decks (2 service/crew-only, 7 passenger-accessible, 3 with cabins) all of which are interconnected via 2 elevators (midship Lifts) and stairs (forward-midship-aft). Deck 3 is divided into Marina Deck (aft platform for launching the Zodiacs) and Expedition Deck (midship) with Mudroom (two Base Camps/expedition storage and tour preparation rooms), Library, Expedition Lab (photo studio), Hair Salon, Clinic (Infirmary/ship's Hospital). The Mud Room facility is utilized for passenger embarkation-disembarkation on/from the Zodiacs and for tour preparations and equipment storage.
Swan's Nest is a bow-located (on Deck 6) observation platform. On Pool Deck (deck 7) are located the Observation Lounge (forward), Shop, Club Lounge (aft-starboard) and Pool Deck (aft) served by outdoor Bar (beverages) and Grill (food). Club Lounge doubles as Lido Cafe/Patisserie offering 24-hour dining (fresh oven-baked pizzas, burgers, wraps, tapas, salads, desserts, 24-hour self-serve station for coffee-tea-water) and daily Afternoon Tea service (with pastries and light bites). Deck 9 is designed as a Stargazing Deck - a fore-located outdoor space with 4-seat tables and bar service. Aft on Deck 9 is the Helideck (helicopter landing platform used in cases of emergencies).
Swan Hellenic cruise deals are inclusive of stateroom, all meals (including room service), open bar beverages, land tours/shore excursions, onboard entertainment (including professional lectures), gratuities, Wi-Fi. Expedition gear (rubber boots) are provided complimentary during the polar voyages, while each passenger receives a parka coat/anorak as a gift to take home.
Wines by the glass are served complimentary with all meals, additionally (from a separate list) are offered for-fee premium brand wines. Also at extra cost is the Chef'sTable dining (food and wine pairing) experience offered in the Swan Restaurant. Midship on Lobby Deck (deck 4) are the two ship entrances (points for boarding/debarkation in seaports with docking facilities) and the Reception Desk (24-hour guest services). In the Oceanview cabin area (forward on Deck 3) is the Laundernet (self-serve Laundry Room). On Deck 5 are stored all service boats - 2x lifeboats (midship) and 6x Zodiacs (aft).
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.
For the inaugural cruise season (2021-2022) Swan Hellenic scheduled for SH Minerva the following itineraries.
- 16-day "Solar Eclipse, South America, The Falklands and Antarctic Peninsula" from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, sailing across the Drake Passage (Cape Horn-Antarctica) and visiting the Falkland Islands - West Point Island, Saunders Island, Port Stanley, Elephant Island, Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands.
- 10-day "Classic Antarctica: Antarctic Peninsula" roundtrip from Ushuaia Argentina, visiting Antarctic Sound, Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands.
- 18-day "Antarctica In depth: Antarctica, South Georgia and The Falklands" roundtrip from Ushuaia visiting the Falkland Islands - West Point Island, Saunders Island, Port Stanley, South Georgia, Elephant Island, Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands.
- 13-day "The Falklands and Antarctic Peninsula" roundtrip from Ushuaia visiting the Falkland Islands (New Island, West Point Island, Port Stanley), Elephant Island, Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands.
- 11-day "Antarctica Encompassed: Antarctic Peninsula" roundtrip from Ushuaia visiting Antarctic Sound, Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands.
- 34-day "Semi-Circumnavigation from Antarctica to New Zealand" from Ushuaia to Dunedin NZ, visiting Antarctic Sound, Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands, Bellingshausen Sea, Amundsen Sea, Ross Sea, Macquarie Island, Auckland Island, Enderby Island.
- 13-day "New Zealand in Depth" from Dunedin to Auckland, visiting Oban, Breaksea Sound, Doubtful Sound, Akaroa, Kaikoura, Marlborough Sound, Napier, Gisborne, Tauranga.
- 16-day "Pacific islands: New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands" from Auckland to Rabaul, visiting Norfolk Island, L’Ile des Pins (Isle of Pines), Lifou Island, Port Vila, Ambrym Island, Pentecost Island, Tegua island, Santa Ana Island, Pavuvu Island, Njari Island.
- 18-day "Indonesia and Melanesia Discovery: Papua New Guinea, Agats and Raja Ampat" from Rabaul to Sorong, visiting Jacquinot Bay (New Britain Island), Tami Islands, Tufi, Fergusson Island, Dobu Island, Samarai, Kwato, Bonarua Island, Torres Strait, Merauke, Agats, Semisarom Island, Watubela Archipelago, Banda Neira, Pulau Raja.
- 15-day "Indonesia and Philippines Discovery: Raja Ampat and Philippines" from Sorong to Manila, visiting Sajang Island, Padang Bai, Bucas Grande Island, Limasawa Island, Mambajao, Cagayan de Oro, Balicasag Island, Bohol Sea (Tagbilaran), San Luis, Ticao Island, Donsol, San Fernando, Apo Reef, Corregidor.
- 12-day "Far East Asia Discovery: Philippines, Amami Islands and Japan" from Manila to Kobe, visiting Hundred Islands, Vigan, Batan Island, Naha, Amami Oshima, Miyajima Island, Hiroshima, Takamatsu, Himeji.
- 12-day "Japan in Depth" from Kobe to Yokohama, visiting Himeji, Takamatsu, Miyajima Island, Hiroshima, Shimonoseki, Busan, Jeju, Sasebo, Kagoshima, Shingu.
- 14-day "Sea of Okhotsk Explorer: Japan and Far East Russia" from Yokohama to Otaru, visiting Hakodate, Korsakov, Tyuleniy Island, Yankicha Island, Atlasov Island, Sarychev Island, Korsakov.
- 20-day "Kamchatka and Aleutian Islands Discovery" from Otaru to Seward, visiting Korsakov, Tyuleniy Island, Yankicha Island, Atlasov Island, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Attu Island, Kiska Harbor, Seguam Island, Dutch Harbor, Unga Village, The Haystacks, Chignik, Aghiyuk Island, Kodiak, Chiswell Islands, Holgate Glacier.
- 17-day "Aleutian Islands, Kamchatka and Bering Sea Discovery" from Seward to Nome, visiting Holgate Glacier, Chiswell Islands, Unga Island, Dutch Harbor, St Paul Island, St Matthew Island, Provideniya, Naukan, Uelen, Kolyuchin Island, Lavrentiya, Yttygran Island, Nunligran, Sireniki, Provideniya.
- 15-day "Far East Arctic Highlights" roundtrip from Nome Alaska, visiting Provideniya, Cape Dezhnev/Uelen Village, Kolyuchin Island, Ayon Island, Medvezhiy Islands, Ushakova Cape, Cape Florens, Cape Waring, Yttygran Island, Provideniya.
- 19-day "Far East Arctic in Depth" roundtrip from Nome, visiting Provideniya, Cape Dezhnev/Uelen Village, Kolyuchin Island, Ayon Island, Medvezhiy Islands, Lyakovsky Island, De Long Islands, Ushakova Cape, Cape Florens, Cape Blossom, Cape Waring, Provideniya.
- 22-day "Aleutian Islands and Kamchatka" from Nome to Otaru, visiting Nunam Iqua, Cape Newenham, St Paul Island, St George Island, Amak Island, Akutan, Dutch Harbor, Kiska Island, Attu Island, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Utashud Island, Atlasova Island, Yankicha Island, Ketoy Island, Chirpoy Island, Tyuleniy Island, Korsakov.
- 15-day "Japan and Micronesia Discovery" from Otaru to Guam, visiting Hakodate, Miyako, Onahama, Hitachi, Yokohama, Tori-Shima (Bird Island), Chichi Jima, Maug Islands, Pagan, Saipan.
- 19-day "Micronesia and Melanesia Discovery" from Guam to Lautoka, visiting Gaferut, Lamotrek, Satawal, Tingwon, Rabaul, Njari Island, Florida Island (Roderick Bay), Santa Ana, Champagne Beach, Paradise Lagoon, Ambrym Island, Tegua Island, Ureparapara, Nabukeru.
- 14-day "South Pacific Odyssey: Fiji to Tahiti" from Lautoka to Papeete, visiting Nabukeru, Cobia, Lomaloma, Uoleva Island, Nuku Island, Neiafu, Niue, Beveridge Reef, Palmerston Island, Aitutaki, Bora Bora.
- 16-day "French Polynesia and South Pacific Discovery" from Papeete to Easter Island, visiting Motu Vaiamanu, Rapa (Austral Islands), Marotiri, Oeno, Adamstown, Henderson, Ducie.
SH Minerva - user reviews and comments
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SH Minerva Wiki
The vessel's keel-laying ceremony (yard/hull number 516) was held in Helsinki Finland (at Wartsila Hietalahti Shipyard / fka Arctech Helsinki Shipyard) on September 24, 2020. The special event was attended by Carl-Gustaf Rotkirch (Helsinki Shipyard's CEO), Jonas Packalen (Helsinki Shipyard's VP Projects Manager) and/via video link by Andrea Zito (Swan Hellenic's CEO). During the 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 newbuild's name - "SH Minerva" - that honors 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, 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 Vega). On October 20, Swan Hellenic ordered from Helsinki Shipyard a third cruise ship (SH TBN) scheduled for completion in 2022-Q4.
In mid-December 2020, Swan Hellenic Cruises 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.
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 and 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 May 2021, Pablo Brandeman became Swan Hellenic's Antarctic Expedition Team leader.
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