Swan Hellenic has a tall tale to tell. Back in 2006 it was announced that the much-loved and venerable line was to be sold by cruise giant, Carnival UK; its existing ship, known as Minerva II, was transferred to Princess Cruises.
Then in April 2007, Lord Sterling former P&O Cruises chairman and industry stalwart came to the rescue and bought "Swan Hellenic". What he actually got was the name, its list of passengers and other back-of-the-house stuff; he then needed to go out and find a ship. Which, ironically, was Swan Hellenic's much loved Minerva; it actually preceded Minerva II.
Following this, the line joined cruise operator All Leisure (which also owns Voyages of Discovery and Discover Egypt), making it possible to begin a new sailing programme this summer.
So that is the past, and now on with the future -- Minerva hasn't really changed much according to the All Leisure Group chairman Roger Allard. He told Cruise Critic that many of the ships officers -- and even Captain John Moulds -- will return to Minerva. And because it was already popular with past passengers the interiors will only have minor refurbishments.
There will also be further enrichment and guest speaker programmes on board including lectures with historian Dr Christopher Kelly and Dr Robert Bradnock, who lectures on issues such as environmental changes.
Minerva will sail its first cruise, a nine-night Norwegian Fjords trip, from Dover on May 23. The ship will sail a number of Mediterranean and Northern Europe itineraries and one round trip U.K. cruise before heading to Antarctica for the winter.
-- by Kelly Ranson, Associate Editor