SH Vega

Specifications of SH Vega

Year built2022 new ship
BuilderHelsinki Shipyard Oy (Helsinki, Finland)
ClassVega Class ice-strengthened cruise ship
Building costUSD 115 million (EUR 98 million)
OwnerVolga Shipping Company (via Vodohod)
OperatorSwan Hellenic Cruises
Speed16 kn / 30 kph / 18 mph
Length (LOA)115 m / 377 ft
Beam (width)23 m / 75 ft
Gross Tonnage10500 gt
Decks with cabins3
Sister-shipsSH Minerva
Christened bytba

SH Vega Review

Review of SH Vega

Scheduled for launch in January and delivery/inauguration in April 2022, SH Vega cruise ship is the second of the three new Swan Hellenic Cruises vessels. The first sistership (SH Minerva) is planned for 2021 - launch in August and inauguration in November. 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.

SH Vega cruise ship (Swan Hellenic Cruises)

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 Vega ship (hull/yard number NB517) and the sistership SH Minerva (hull number NB516) 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 Vega vessel (IMO 9895252) was named after the Lyra constellation's brightest star - Vega (Alpha Lyrae). The star is at 25 light-years from our Sun, and is of the most luminous - together with Sirius/Alpha Canis Majoris (Canis Major constellation, the brightest in the night sky) and Arcturus/Alpha Bootis (Bootes constellation). Vega is the 5th-brightest and the 2nd-brightest in the northern hemisphere (after Arcturus).

The new ship will be Malta-flagged (MMSI number tba) and registered in Valletta.

Decks and Cabins

SH Vega 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).

Shipboard facilities

Swan Hellenic's Vega cruise ship represents the next generation of polar expedition ships, designed for worldwide sailing with a focus on high-latitude areas.

SH Vega cruise ship (Swan Hellenic Cruises)

Swan Hellenic's SH Vega 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 Vega 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 Vega'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 (2022-2023) Swan Hellenic scheduled for SH Vega the following itineraries.

  • 11-day "UK and Northern French Coast Highlights" from London to Belfast, visiting Boulogne-sur-Mer, Honfleur, St Peter Port, Isle of Scilly, Pembroke, Port St Mary, Iona, Lunga, Tobermory, Portrush.
  • 11-day "Islands of Scotland" from Dublin to Leith (Edinburgh), visiting Portrush (Port Rois), Gigha, Islay, Iona, Lunga, St Kilda, Stornoway, Stromness, Lerwick, Peterhead, Lindisfarne, Farne Islands.
  • 11-day "Island Hopping: Scotland to Iceland via The Faroe Islands" from Leith (Edinburgh) to Reykjavík, visiting Aberdeen, Stromness, Fair Isle, Lerwick, Papa Stour, Torshaven, Akureyri, Isafjordur, Vigur Island.
  • 8-day "Iceland Circumnavigation" roundtrip from Reykjavík Iceland, visiting Heimaey, Vik, Eskifjordur, Akureyri, Isafjordur, Vigur Island, Dynjandi.
  • 14-day "Arctic Discovery: Iceland, Jan Mayen and Spitsbergen" from Reykjavík to Longyearbyen, visiting Dynjandi, Isafjordur, Vigur Island, Akureyri, Jan Mayen Island, Monaco Glacier, Nordaustlandet, Wijdefjorden, Ny-Alesund.
  • 8-day "Svalbard Encompassed" roundtrip from Longyearbyen, visiting Bellsund, Monaco Glacier, Nordaustlandet, Wijdefjorden, Ny-Alesund.
  • 11-day "Svalbard in Depth" (from Longyearbyen to Tromso and the reverse/Tromso to Longyearbyen), visiting Bear Island, Hornsund, Bell Sund, Wijdefjorden, Nordaustlandet, Monaco Glacier, Ny-Alesund.
  • 19-day "Arctic Discovery: Svalbard, Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya" from Longyearbyen to Dudinka, visiting Bellsund, Hornsund, Edge Island, Barents Island, Alkefjellet, Nordaustlandet, Kvitoya, Alexandra Land, Zemlya Georga, Hooker Island, Macklintok Island, Severny Island (Novaya Zemlya), Dikson Island, Yenisei River.
  • 17-day "Arctic in Depth: Siberia to Norway" from Dudinka to Tromso, visiting Yenisei River cruising, Dikson Island, Severny Island (Novaya Zemlya), Hooker Island, Zemlya Georga, Alexandra Land, Kvitoya, Nordaustlandet, Alkefjellet, Barents Island, Hornsund, Bear Island.
  • 19-day "Arctic Explorer - Franz Josef Land, Spitsbergen and Iceland" from Tromso to Reykjavík, visiting Alexandra Land, Zemlya Georga, Macklintok Island, Hooker Island, Kvitoya, Nordaustlandet, Alkefjellet, Barents Island, Hornsund, Jan Mayen Island, Akureyri, Isafjordur, Vigur Island.
  • 11-day "Greenland Discovery" from Reykjavík to Kangerlussuaq, visiting Skjoldungen, Prins Christian Sound, Nanortalik, Uunartoq, Qaqortoq, Hvalsey, Qassiarsuk, Nuuk (Godthab), Kangaamiut, Evighedsfiord.
  • 17-day "Canadian Arctic Discovery: Greenland and Canadian Arctic" roundtrip from Kangerlussuaq, visiting Sisimiut, Uummannaq, Buchan Gulf, Pond Inlet, Sirmilik NP, Peel Sound, Beechey Island, Dundas Harbour, Ellesmere Island, Upernavik, Qeqertarsuaq, Ilulissat.
  • 16-day "Northern Canada Discovery: Greenland to Nova Scotia" from Kangerlussuaq to Halifax, visiting Qeqertarsuaq, Ilulissat, Sisimiut, Nuuk, Iqaluit, Lady Franklin Island, Akpatok Island, Torngat Mountains NP, Belle Isle Straits, Corner Brook.
  • 20-day "The Caribbean and North Brazil Discovery" from St Maarten to Salvador da Bahia, visiting Les Saintes Islands, Bequia, Scarborough, Georgetown, Paramaribo, Iles du Salut, Cayenne, Macapa, Sao Luis, Fortaleza, Natal, Recife.
  • 14-day "South America East Coast Discovery" from Salvador da Bahia to Buenos Aires, visiting Porto Seguro, Abrolhos Archipelago, Rio de Janeiro, Paraty, Santos, Itajai, Montevideo.
  • 22-day "Shackleton's Discovery: Antarctica, South Georgia and The Falklands" from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, visiting Puerto Madryn, Falkland Islands (West Point Island, Saunders Island, Port Stanley), South Georgia Island, Elephant Island, Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands.

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The vessel's keel-laying ceremony was held in Helsinki Finland (at Wartsila Hietalahti Shipyard / fka Arctech Helsinki Shipyard) on February 11, 2021. During the special ceremony, the hull's first 347-ton block (shipped to Helsinki from Klaipeda Lithuania where was prefabricated/outfitted and painted) was put over "lucky coins" in accordance with the maritime traditions. Swan Hellenic also announced the newbuild's name - "SH Vega". The "coin ceremony" was attended by Victor Olerskiy (Helsinki Shipyard Oy's Chairman), Andrea Zito (Swan Hellenic's CEO), Jonas Packalen (shipbuilder's Project Manager) and Jukka Hujanen (Lloyd's Register representative).

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 first of two Vodohod-ordered 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 (Minerva and Vega) 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). For each unit, a total of 33 outfitted and painted blocks were prefabricated and assembled in Klaipeda and transported/barged to Helsinki by sea. Vodohod's new vessels are with 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 ships (Minerva and Vega). Fin stabilizers reduce the boat'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. In late-May 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).

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