Swan Hellenic Cruises

Swan Hellenic Cruises

Swan Hellenic is a British cruise line specialising in tours of historical or cultural interest aimed at the upper end of the cruise market.

It began in the 1950s when the Swan travel agency, operated by two brothers by the name of Swan, was asked to organise a tour for visitors interested in the antiquities of Greece. The archaeologist, Sir Mortimer Wheeler, was employed as guest lecturer.

From this developed a full programme of cruises, in which well known academics, writers and clergymen were regularly featured as guest lecturers, both on board ship and on site. The company prided itself on never repeating, exactly, any itinerary, but it concentrated, as the name suggests, on classical sites in t he Aegean Sea, around the coats and islands of modern Greece and Turkey. It also, however, visited classical and other ancient sites in North Africa (including Egypt) and the eastern Mediterranean. Unlike most commercial cruises, in which the on board entertainment is as important as the destinations visited, Swan Hellenic cruises landed almost every day in order to visit historic sites, and travel between sites was undertaken by the ship overnight. The operation was characterised by an English ethos of high culture, although it had an international following.

Swan Hellenic was acquired from the Swan family by P&O. More recently, it became a subsidiary of the world's largest cruise operator, the British-American Carnival Corporation & plc. Under Carnival, the characteristically small 300-passenger ship Minerva, was replaced in 2003 by the 600-passenger Minerva II. In 2007 Swan Hellenic was acquired by the All Leisure Holidays Group Plc, who also own Voyages of Discovery.


Minerva Minerva

  • Gross Tonnage - 12,500
  • Length - 133 metres
  • Beam - 20 metres
  • Draft - 5.75 metres
  • Cruising Speed - 15 knots
  • Passenger Decks - 6
  • Stabilisers - retractable fin
  • Registration - Bahamas
  • Passengers - 350
  • Crew - 160; mainly Filipino and Ukrainian
  • Officers - British and European
  • Entered Service - 29th April 1996

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