SH Vega

Former names: Vega 2, NB517

SH Vega current position

SH Vega current location is at Southern Ocean (coordinates -64.81509 S / -63.05507 W) cruising en route to NEKO HBR. The AIS position was reported 13 minutes ago.

Current Position

Specifications of SH Vega

Year built2022  /  Age: 1
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 kph / 18 mph
Length (LOA)115 m / 377 ft
Beam (width)23 m / 75 ft
Gross Tonnage10600 gt
Passengers152
Crew120
Beds152
Decks9
Cabins76
Decks with cabins3
Sister-shipsSH Minerva, SH Diana
Former namesVega 2, NB517
Christened byPatrizia Zito nee Passalacqua
OwnerSwan Hellenic Cruises Ltd
OperatorSwan Hellenic Expeditions

SH Vega Review

Review of SH Vega

The 2022-built SH Vega cruise ship is the second of the three Swan Hellenic Cruises' newbuild vessels/sisterships. The first boat in this series is named SH Minerva (2021-built, August-launched, December-inaugurated). The third boat (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 Vega vessel (IMO number 9895252) is currently Malta-flagged (MMSI 215616000) and registered in Valletta.

History - construction and ownership

IMPORTANT: On June 13, 2022, the shipbuilder Helsinki Shipyard Oy (still being the owner of the vessel/referred to as "Expedition Cruise Ship Hull No 517") published a tender announcement on its website (helsinkishipyard.fi) stating that the newbuild is auctioned and will be sold to the highest bidder on July 19th.

The shipowner reserved its right to reject any and all bids. Each bidder was allowed to submit only one bid. The tender announcement also stated that "The vessel is offered for sale and will be sold “As Is” and “Where Is” without representation, warranty, or guaranty as to quantity, quality, title, character, condition, size, or kind, or that the same is in condition or fit to be used for the purpose for which intended, and no claim for any allowance or deduction upon such grounds will be considered after the bid opening or conclusion of an auction."

The tender was online (with email-submitted bindings), with last submission date June 24th (midnight). The winner (Swan Hellenic) was revealed on June 27th.

On June 20, Swan Hellenic announced plans to purchase SH Vega through the auction, stating "As a consequence of the (anti-Russia) sanctions in April, the leasing company GTLK Europe defaulted on the payments as per newbuilding contract of NB 517 (SH Vega). Moreover, as all GTLK assets should be frozen in EU, GTLK will not be able to take the ship's delivery. In view of GTLK's default, Helsinki Shipyard has started the due legal process of auctioning the newbuild, envisaged by the shipbuilding contract. While the tender process is in progress and will be officially completed soon, Swan Hellenic as a priority buyer has already submitted the bid and is at an advanced stage of preparing the documents for the transfer of "SH Vega" and is ready to take full control over the vessel at the completion of the tender."

Note: In March 2022, Swan Hellenic exercised the buyout/irrevocable purchase option for its two vessels - Minerva (March 13) and Vega (March 31) - 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).

Swan Hellenic Ltd (1950-founded as "Swans Tour Agency", relaunched in 2020 July) is a luxury travel brand and British company headquartered in Limassol Cyprus. 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.

The company's ownership is split between three Cyprus-based companies (shareholders, also listed as shipowners) - Capstans Ltd, Valbridge Ltd, and Diamant Ltd.

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 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).

SH Vega cruise ship (Swan Hellenic Cruises)

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.

The SH Vega vessel 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).

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, 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), 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

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 (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.

All 9 decks (2 service/crew-only, 7 passenger-accessible, 3 with cabins) are interconnected via 2x 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 Vega 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).

Swan Hellenic cruise ship Observation Lounge

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'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 Vega 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.

Itineraries

SH Vega's itinerary program is largely based on voyages to the Arctic (Iceland, Norway, Russia, North Canada/Northwest Passage) and the Antarctic Peninsula. The homeport for Antarctic 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 Vega's Maiden Voyage was initially planned for May 29, 2022. The 11-day itinerary (out of Edinburgh Scotland) included visits to the Faroes and Iceland, ending in Reykjavik on June 8th. Due to construction delays, SH Vega's inauguration was eventually rescheduled for July 20, 2022, out of Tromso Norway. The Transatlantic relocation crossing (non-passenger) directly from the Helsinki Shipyard to Argentina (Ushuaia), where Vega was supposed to join Minerva (for the Antarctica 2022-2023 season) was canceled.

Next are listed the itineraries that were originally scheduled for SH Vega's inaugural cruise season (2022-23).

  • 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 Reykjavik, visiting Aberdeen, Stromness, Fair Isle, Lerwick, Papa Stour, Torshaven, Akureyri, Isafjordur, Vigur Island.
  • 8-day "Iceland Circumnavigation" roundtrip from Reykjavik Iceland, visiting Heimaey, Vik, Eskifjordur, Akureyri, Isafjordur, Vigur Island, Dynjandi.
  • 14-day "Arctic Discovery: Iceland, Jan Mayen and Spitsbergen" from Reykjavik 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 Reykjavik, 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 Reykjavik 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.

In October 2022, SH Vega sails from Arctic Canada to the East Coast USA (12-day repositioning) to start a series of 11- to 21-day Antarctic itineraries (November 2022 thru March 2023). Follows the relocation to Europe (via West Coast Africa, Canary Islands, West Coast Europe, Ireland, the UK) before the second Arctic season (2023 summer). Follows a North Atlantic) crossing (Greenland-Canada), relocation to the Caribbean and South America (Brazil) (October 2023) and the second Antarctic season (2023-2024).

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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).

The ship's namesake is the 2021-built Travelmarvel Vega riverboat (operated by APT Travel/AmaWaterways).

SH Vega was launched/floated out from drydock on February 11, 2021. The ceremony was attended by Andrea Zito and Jonas Packalen.

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.

Swan Hellenic cruise ship construction

The construction 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 units (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.

 

The towed from Lithuania to Finland SH Vega was floated into Helsinki Shipyard's drydock on June 23, 2021 - the same day when SH Minerva was floated out.

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 boat'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 40 days (without resupply).

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).

During the sea trials (successfully completed on May 20, 2022) were conducted ~800 tests of the machinery and all systems.

Swan Hellenic Vega ship was officially christened on July 11, 2022. The ceremony was held dockside at Helsinki Shipyard and led by godmother Patrizia Zito nee Passalacqua (Andrea Zito's wife). Followed the repositioning to Norway and the maiden voyage (11-day Svalbard Archipelago /Arctic exploration) departing from Tromso (July 20th).

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