Swan Hellenic offers an experience that's similar to that of Hebridean. Both lines focus on enrichment, offering educational and informative lectures. And though the 12,500-ton, 352-passenger Minerva is larger than the 4,200-ton, 80-passenger Hebridean Spirit, both vessels offer small-ship cruising in an English country house setting. The feel is upscale and gratuities are included in fares.
Hebridean has cited the economy as the reason for selling Hebridean Spirit and cancelling its international cruise programme; its other ship, Hebridean Princess, operates in Scotland. Interestingly, Swan Hellenic has seen hard times itself -- it was forced to shutter its doors in 2007 after parent company Carnival Corp. transferred its only ship, Minerva II, to Princess Cruises (where it now sails as Royal Princess). The line resumed sailing last May when Lord Sterling, the former chairman of the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O), bought Swan Hellenic's assets and a replacement vessel -- the original Minerva.
Cruise travellers interested in Swan Hellenic's special should contact the line's reservations department; click here for more information.
At this point, no other lines have announced similar discounts for displaced Hebridean guests (so far, we've reached out to Fred. Olsen and Transocean, both of which offer trips on similarly intimate ships). We'll keep you posted.
--by Melissa Baldwin Paloti, Managing Editor, with reporting by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor