SH Minerva

Former names: Vega 1, NB516

SH Minerva current position

SH Minerva current location is at South America Inland (coordinates -33.11089 S / -58.31283 W) cruising en route to UY FZB. The AIS position was reported 17 minutes ago.

Current Position

Specifications of SH Minerva

Year of build2021  /  Age: 3
Flag state Malta
BuilderHelsinki Shipyard Oy (Helsinki, Finland)
ClassVega Class ice-strengthened cruise ship
Building costUSD 115 million (EUR 98 million)
Propulsion power4.6 MW / 6169 hp
Speed16 kn / 30 km/h / 18 mph
Length (LOA)115 m / 377 ft
Beam (width)23 m / 75 ft
Gross Tonnage10600 gt
Decks with cabins3
Sister-shipsSH Vega, SH Diana
Former namesVega 1, NB516
Christened byJohanna Makela
OwnerSwan Hellenic Cruises FZCO
OperatorSwan Hellenic Expeditions

SH Minerva Review

Review of SH Minerva

The 2021-built SH Minerva cruise ship is the first of three newbuilds of Swan Hellenic's fleet, launched in August and inaugurated in December (2021). The second boat (SH Vega) was launched/inaugurated in 2022 (January/July). The third vessel (SH Diana) was ordered in October 2020 and scheduled for completion and delivery in 2023-Q1.

While Minerva and Vega are with PC5 ice-classed hulls and with 76 staterooms (max passengers 152), the 3rd ship (SH Diana) is slightly larger (12100 vs 10600 GT-tons/volume), PC6-classed, and with 96 staterooms (max pax 192).

The Minerva vessel (IMO number 9895240) is currently Malta-flagged (MMSI 215615000) and registered in Valletta.

History - construction and ownership

The shipowner Swan Hellenic Cruises FZCO (1950-founded as "Swans Tour Agency", relaunched in 2020 July) is a luxury travel brand and British company registered in Dubai UAE. The company has offices in Europe (London England UK, Dusseldorf Germany, Monte Carlo Monaco, Copenhagen Denmark), also in Fort Lauderdale Florida USA (serving North America/USA and Canada), Hong Kong China (serving Southeast Asia), Sydney NSW (serving Australia and New Zealand). Via partnerships are served the markets in India and Japan.

SH Minerva cruise ship (Swan Hellenic Cruises)

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.

The SH Minerva vessel was named after the 1989-built MS Minerva - in service with Swan Hellenic between 1996-2020.

The brand Swan Hellenic has British roots and specializes in culture-themed cruising vacations. Its purpose-built, expedition-type, 5-star premium ships feature elegant interiors (with Scandinavian designs), large outdoor spaces (including dedicated for wildlife viewing decks), science and expedition facilities, 3 dining venues (Dining Room Restaurant, Club Lounge & Bar, Pool Bar & Grill). Each ship's crew includes 12x tour- and travel experts (expedition guides, guest speakers, lecturers).

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, accommodated in 73 crew cabins.

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), pillow menu, 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), premium-brand sound system, espresso machine, 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 2x 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).

Shipboard facilities

The new Minerva cruise ship represents the next generation of polar expedition ships, designed for worldwide sailing with a focus on high-latitude areas.

SH Minerva cruise ship (Swan Hellenic Cruises)

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 (serves the launching of the watercraft), Pool Deck/Sundeck with an aft-located Infinity Pool (heated swimming pool) and Pool Bar (with outside seating), 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 (fitness room fitted with cardio machines and free-weights, complimentary are organized instructor-led classes) 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.

SH Minerva cruise ship (Swan Hellenic Cruises)

All 9 decks (2 service/crew-only, 7 passenger-accessible, 3 with cabins) 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 the Kayaks) and Expedition Deck (midship) with Mudroom (two Basecamps/expedition storage and tour preparation rooms/changing rooms which are heated and managed by dedicated concierges), Marine Life Library, Expedition Lab (educational facility that doubles as 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 Hellenic's ship Minerva has 2x Tender Boats (each with capacity 48 passengers), 2x Lifeboats (fully enclosed), 8x Kayaks, and 15x Zodiacs (12-seat RIBs/Rigid Inflatable Boats used for landings, and coastal cruising as well as for passenger shipping on inland waterways).

The fore-located Observation Lounge is served by its own Bar and features floor-ceiling windows, plenty of comfortable seating (including window seats/sofas), a transparent (acrylic) Grand Piano, a large LED screen (for entertainment and media presentations), a drop-down projector screen.

Swan Hellenic cruise ship Observation Lounge

Swan's Nest is a bow-located (on Deck 6) observation platform providing 180-degree views. 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 ship Pool Deck

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).

Swan Hellenic deals

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's Table dining (gourmet food and wine pairing) experience offered in the Swan Restaurant.

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.

Swan Hellenic Minerva ship has no dedicated children's facilities and toddlers/babies and younger kids (1 to 8 years old) are not allowed. Kids 8 to 12 years of age travel for free when sharing a cabin with an adult, while teenagers/children 13-16 yo are daily charged (US$100 per child). Port taxes (if any) are charged to all passengers (including children) and automatically added to the onboard accounts.


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 roundtrips to Antarctica is Ushuaia Argentina, with many itineraries also visiting 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 the Scotia Sea) with the Pacific Ocean.

SH Minerva's Maiden Voyage started on December 30, 2021, leaving out of Ushuaia.

For the inaugural cruise season (2021-2022) Swan Hellenic planned for the ship 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, 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.

Note: Due to the Ukrainian crisis in 2022, all Swan Hellenic itineraries with scheduled visits to Russian ports were either revised (to exclude destinations in the Russian Federation) or canceled.

For 2022 (February thru May), Swan Hellenic scheduled 10- to 14-days-long itineraries to ports in South America (Patagonia/Chilean Fjords from Valparaiso-Santiago Chile), Antarctica (from Ushuaia Argentina), Central America (Callao-Lima Peru, Panama City, Puerto Quetzal Guatemala), Pacific Mexico (Mazatlan), California USA (San Diego), Alaska USA (from Vancouver BC and Seward AK).

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The vessel's keel-laying ceremony (yard/hull number NB516) 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 Ltd) and Vladimir Kasyanenko (Владимир Касяненко/Vodohod's owner) whose companies specialize in cruise shipping and shipbuilding businesses.

The production of 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.

Swan Hellenic cruise ship construction

The vessel SH Minerva (IMO number 9895240) was launched/floated out from drydock on June 23, 2021, at Helsinki Shipyard. The ceremony was attended by Esko Karvonen (shipbuilder's CEO) and Andrea Zito (Swan Hellenic's CEO).

The ship's christening ceremony was on November 23, 2021, held at Helsinki Shipyard. The special event was participated by Johanna Makela (godmother), Juhana Vartiainen (Helsinki City's Mayor), Andrea Zito, Carl-Gustaf Rotkirch (shipyard's CEO), Jonas Packalen (shipyard's Project Manager). Johanna Makela (1961-born) is a Food Culture Professor at the Helsinki University and wife of Juhana Vartiainen.


In late-February 2020, Helsinki Shipyard Oy ordered to MHI-MME (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Marine Machinery and Equipment) two retractable fin stabilizers for both ships (Minerva and Vega). Fin stabilizers reduce the ship's rolling/rocking while at sea.

In early-April 2020, Valmet Oyj was contracted to supply the 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.

Swan Hellenic cruise ship construction

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 vessel (SH Diana) scheduled for completion in 2022-Q4.

The propulsion system is diesel-electric, with total power output 4,6 MW.

The ship has enough fuel capacity for an autonomous range of 8000 NM (9200 mi / 14800 km) and endurance of 40 days (without resupply).

SH Minerva's first Transatlantic crossing started from Helsinki on December 3, 2021, en route to Ushuaia Argentina (Dec 20). The voyage featured passing the Kiel Canal (Dec 6), and a bunkering stop in Tenerife Canaries (Dec 13). The inaugural cruise to Antarctica departed from Ushuaia on Dec 30th.

In March 2022, Swan Hellenic exercised the buyout/irrevocable purchase option for its two vessels (Minerva and Vega) from GTLK (ГТЛК-Государственная транспортная лизинговая компания/State Transport Leasing Company). JSC GTLK (Russia's largest leasing company) and its subsidiaries were included in the UK's and EU's sanctions list due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Both vessels' ownership was officially changed on March 13 (SH Minerva) and on March 31 (SH Vega).