1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Minerva Review
  4. Minerva Cruise Reviews

31 Minerva Cruise Reviews

The one good thing about this ship is it's small. I would advise anyone under the age of 75 to go elsewhere - we are 59 and 58 and felt far too young to be aboard. The side effect of this is that 'walking' tours taken from ... Read More
The one good thing about this ship is it's small. I would advise anyone under the age of 75 to go elsewhere - we are 59 and 58 and felt far too young to be aboard. The side effect of this is that 'walking' tours taken from the ship consist mainly of slowly shuffling along. The staff are excellent and service is very good. We were in an owners suite which was serviced by Larysa who was an absolute star - our cabin steward was pretty much invisible. Having cruised with RC, HA, Viking, Cruise and Maritime and Azamara I can say that the food on Minerva is the worst we have experienced - we aren't 'foodies' by any means but this was pretty poor by any standards - several other people, mostly returning guests commented on this. The Owner's Suite (OS1) we had was nice enough but much smaller than we've experienced elsewhere and isn't really a suite at all - it's just a larger than standard cabin. Having said all that most of the people we met on board had taken multiple cruises with SH so that must say something - although many of them hadn't cruised with anyone else. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
The main reason I cruise with this line are the lectures that are given. We had two excellent lecturers. There is no gambling or Broadway shows on this ship. There are around 340 passengers. Two restaurants: one buffet and one ... Read More
The main reason I cruise with this line are the lectures that are given. We had two excellent lecturers. There is no gambling or Broadway shows on this ship. There are around 340 passengers. Two restaurants: one buffet and one sit-down. A nice selection in both restaurants. Pleasant food. Good choice of wine. The cost includes flights, transport from airport to ship, and the lectures. The cabins are small but comfortable. The excursions are the best part of the cruise (together with the lectures), with mainly excellent guides. Up until 31 October, 2016, there are no single supplements on some of the cruises. Go to their website. Extra activities: an opera workshop where we sang some G&S...lots of fun! There is a bridge room and also a table for jigsaw puzzles always open. No children! If you like glamour, dressing up, and glitter, then this is not the cruise line for you. One nice thing is that for dinner one just joins a table, which is nice if you are travelling alone as it means one does not have to eat alone. Very friendly. There is a small gym with around four pieces of equipment, all modern, and as I was the only person using the gym, I loved it! Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Swan Hellenic appeal to a niche market of rich and retired people and whilst the restaurant and ship crew were very polite and helpful, the Swan Hellenic staff were often rude and condescending. The ship is small with a tiny pool and ... Read More
Swan Hellenic appeal to a niche market of rich and retired people and whilst the restaurant and ship crew were very polite and helpful, the Swan Hellenic staff were often rude and condescending. The ship is small with a tiny pool and gym with just 5 exercise machines. There was a public laundry which is an unusual and welcome extra and a great library but otherwise facilities were very limited. Some of the included speakers were interesting, one was very poor and had little knowledge of the subject and made factual errors. The entertainment was a mixed bag and of limited appeal. If you are unfortunate enough to need medical treatment ensure you ask for fees as these were not posted or advised and an overly expensive bill will be presented on your departure. If you fit within the target group and don't mind staff being rude behind customers backs then this will be for you, otherwise choose another (any other) cruise operator! A shame as the ship itself was pleasant and the shore excursions were great value. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We have always been interested in the discovery element of cruising offered by Swan Hellenic; we liked the idea of a ''country house' atmosphere and we were keen on the itinerary. The thought of being in a small ship with ... Read More
We have always been interested in the discovery element of cruising offered by Swan Hellenic; we liked the idea of a ''country house' atmosphere and we were keen on the itinerary. The thought of being in a small ship with fewer passengers that was able to visit small ports and bays was attractive. The ship was fine if a bit dated. The food was adequate without being star quality. The staff were by and large friendly and helpful to the very elderly passengers who made up 90% of those sailing. We knew that the average age but we had no idea that because the shop sailed to and from Portsmouth, it attracted an even more elderly lot. Don't get me wrong, most passengers were charming and 'up for it' but if one were a disco hound, this is not the ship for you. There was one huge gaffe where the company had failed to gauge the tides properly so that when we arrived the ship's master decided that he could not operate the tenders within the time available and so tours were cancelled. That was pretty shoddy planning, in my view. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
A splendid glossy brochure described lovely excursions from various ports around Britain from the Channel Islands to Scotland and Ireland. The ship was clean, meals were plenty and of good qualitity, service at meal times was ... Read More
A splendid glossy brochure described lovely excursions from various ports around Britain from the Channel Islands to Scotland and Ireland. The ship was clean, meals were plenty and of good qualitity, service at meal times was excellent. Sadly, the excursions; the crux of a cruise, were an absolute shambles due mainly to very poor planning and inadequate allocation of time. The trips were so hurried some venues received only a cursory glance, despite long coach journeys with no stops to allow photographs of the scenery. On one day it was discovered that all of the planned excursions had to be cancelled due to inadequate research on the landing details. On board provision, particularly the Library, was perfectly adequate and if I had no intention of leaving the boat I should probably award at least a three star rating. The care given to the elderly passengers on the boat, of which there were many, was good and the reputation this company enjoys with this age group is well founded. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
First - the cruise left from Portsmouth, England. We had a very good time on this cruise of the West Coast of the United Kingdom. Ports were Guernsey, Scilly, Fishguard, Stornaway, Oban, Isle of Man, and Waterford, Ireland. All places ... Read More
First - the cruise left from Portsmouth, England. We had a very good time on this cruise of the West Coast of the United Kingdom. Ports were Guernsey, Scilly, Fishguard, Stornaway, Oban, Isle of Man, and Waterford, Ireland. All places we might never have visited if not for this itinerary and was the reason we chose it. The good things: Again, a very interesting itinerary. The nicest fellow passengers you could ever meet. We were one of maybe 5 American couples. - we met once Canadian couple and the rest were Brits and the loveliest people ever. There was a very significant elderly population and we were a bit put off at first but we had wonderful conversations about Brexit and the American election and everything else you could imagine. The dining and bar staff were wonderful as well; Peter the Maitre'D for the main dining room was masterful at making sure we sat with people close to our own age (mid-60's) and that was a great thing. We made some good shipboard friendships. We had some truly outstanding tour guides as well and had fabulous tours of St. David's Catherdral, Inverary Castle, a pretty rigorous hike through the bluff on the Isle of Man etc. The Kallanish Stones in Stornaway (the oldest known stone circle in the world)) was impressive as well. Things that could have been better: THE COFFEE. Even the British were complaining! The ship is frayed around the edges although it is schedule for refurbishing later this year. We had a disaster on the Isle of Arran - it was a first time port and someone hadn't done their homework. The tenders had a 3 hour window where they could get us ashore and back due to tides and an issue with a concrete dock. Everything on the island was closed on a Sunday morning and the scheduled tours were canceled due to the time frame. Very disappointing - surely someone should have done a better job of scouting the place. One of the highlights of Swan tours are the lectures and while the two lecturers were very nice people, I didn't find their talks particularly interesting. Others on the ship, and there were many who had sailed with Swan for over 15 cruises, said they felt there weren't particularly dynamic speakers. The entertainment program was uneven: a great piano and clarinet duo and a good pianist but the others were so-so. The end evaluation: If you want a 'glitzy resort-style' cruise, this is NOT for you. The Minerva goes to interesting places and goes after guests who want to learn about what they are seeing and aren't looking for night clubs, casinos, etc. If you are looking for an interesting trip with some wonderful people and can roll with a few punches and understand that this small ship (around 300 passengers) won't offer a lot of 'extras' then this is absolutely something to consider. We're not sure we'll sail with them again, but we had a wonderful experience and wouldn't trade it! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Aged 67 and 63 we has a first time on this small ship and will return . We are very experienced cruisers mainly with smaller ships. The food was notably very good indeed, varied and of excellent quality. Choice of 3 soups, great salads ... Read More
Aged 67 and 63 we has a first time on this small ship and will return . We are very experienced cruisers mainly with smaller ships. The food was notably very good indeed, varied and of excellent quality. Choice of 3 soups, great salads and cheese board. British/European not American food all seemingly cooked from scratch. And service was professional. Open dining. Both Restaurants had character. CABIN Our outside cabin was well furnished and very clean -(except for a tea and coffee maker although it is only 1-2 decks to the coffee machine). Balcony cabins seem very good if you did want to pay more. GUESTS: A very pleasant well travelled group of people mainly 60- 80. Many had been on Minerva before. We were one of the 30% new guests. Yes we met the proverbial Vice Admirals widow (who was very interesting) as well as most of the other 250 guests. An intelligent educated middle class crowd made for good conversations. We has a great time on board and the size of the ship and informality made getting to know people easy. Some Canadian/ US passengers as well. As this was gardening themed it was easy to converse. Some people preferred Minerva to Regent and Seabourn or Braemar. VALUE FOR MONEY: Yes. All tips and excursions were included and the service was terrific. All ports also had a free shuttle service. No free drinks which suits us as we do not drink. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
I chose a cruise as I have terminal cancer and am unable to do very much, so my carer and I decided a cruise would be a very good option as she could do as many of the shore excursions as she wanted to and I could do what I was able to do ... Read More
I chose a cruise as I have terminal cancer and am unable to do very much, so my carer and I decided a cruise would be a very good option as she could do as many of the shore excursions as she wanted to and I could do what I was able to do without hindering her enjoyment. The only dates that fitted both our diaries was the cruise Timeless South America from the 18th Feb to 5th March 2016. Having been pronounced fit to fly by my thoracic consultant I knew that I would have to get clearance from Minerva's doctor. There was no form which Swan Hellenic required to be completed, for this procedure which would have been a huge help to my Oncologist and Thoracic Consultants as they kept being sent emails asking for more and more information, taking up their very precious time. All this took seven days to get the go ahead from the ship's doctor. During this period there was almost daily communication to or from Swan Hellenic and at the beginning my carer and I decided that it would be easiest if I made the booking for both of us, which I duly told Swan Hellenic, as I couldn't go without a carer and my carer didn't want to go alone. At the final stage Swan Hellenic's as I was booking for two of us, the booking clerk told me that she only had flights for one person, and that was for me. I asked her to check the flights and get my carer flights. All flights were fully booked. Thankfully I realised earlier in this booking process that Swan Hellenic were totally inefficient in their booking process and I had reserved two flights with Trailfinders. I told Swan Hellenic that I was not prepared to pay for the flight in my package nor in my carers package as they had lost her flight for which a deposit had been paid. Anyway Swan Hellenic told me that they wouldn't charge me for my flights but would not discount them. I was then told after a discussion with her superior that on this occasion they would not charge me for the flights but there would be no discount made. In my language I took that to mean that I would be paying for the the flights no matter what they said. By then I was almost in a mental home dealing with them so I said I would pay for the package for the two of us and deal with the problem when I returned. I then confirmed and paid for our flights with Trailfinders who were an absolutely joy to deal with after Swan Hellenic. Our flights were fantastic, Air France London - Paris - Santiago. Although our flights were not organised by Swan Hellenic I had insisted that that all transfer would be included in what I paid Swan Hellenic. We were duly transferred to the ship. Our cabins were fine I had one of the Owner's Suites and my carer on the same deck had a Superior Balcony Cabin. Our cabins were very clean and our stewardess was absolutely delightful and absolutely nothing was too much trouble, she even managed to get a repair done to one of my shoes. Valparaiso was a disappointment as my carer and I wanted to go into the town for dinner that first evening. we were moored alongside opposite an entrance to the town, but we were told we would have to get the transfer bus back to customs and immigration, which was about a mile from the ship, then try and find a taxi to take us back to the town. Needless to say we didn't go through all that rigmarole. The food in the Veranda Restaurant, self service, was on the whole pretty ordinary verging on the disgusting. One day skate wings were offered for lunch, I love skate but what was in the dish were grey curled up wings looking as though they had been kicking around for several days. The cold buffet was the same every day. There was only one pudding a day made on the ship all the rest were pre-frozen puddings. Luckily for me and my carer we had been to boarding school and learnt to eat what was put in front of us. The Swan Restaurant food was better and most main dishes cooked to order. One day there was a special tea laid on for the passengers in the Swan Restaurant, all the cakes and gateaux were pre-frozen quite definitely not cooked in the ship's kitchen. The very best thing about Minerva apart from my stewardess, was the Spa. Run by two charming and delightful Ukrainian girls. I spent most of my time there having wonderful treatments. it was a shame one could get no information prior to arriving on the ship as to what treatments were available and be able to book in advance. The other very good thing was the ship's company's entertainment. They put their heart and soul into it, most of them wearing their country's national costume and dancing and singing their songs and dances. It was a wonderful evening. There were three good opera singers and other good entertainment. The service on the ship was excellent in all areas. Twice I had to complain about banging in the middle of the night above my cabin, it was as though a lot of furniture was being moved. I was never given an good explanation for this because they told me the cabin above me was unoccupied. On another day my balcony floor and furniture was covered with paint flakes, they must have been rubbing down the balcony above me in preparation for painting it. No apology was received when I complained about that all I was told was they have to do maintenance while the ship is cruising and rooms are empty. The three excursions I went on two were pretty boring, one we were taken to see a light house that had never worked, another we were dumped in a shopping mall, which could have been anywhere in the world. The tour of Valpariso was moderately interesting. The speakers were on the whole talking about things that were irrelevant to where we were visiting. One speaker was very full of himself and rather rude. The television reception in the bedroom was very bad and the charge for WiFi was exhorbitant. When we arrived at Gyuaquil Airport for our return flight, the passengers on Minerva who were on the charter flight were still in the airport lounge having been told their flight could not leave until the airline had paid their overdue fuel bill. I wonder why Swan Hellenic used such a charter airline that didn't pay its bills. My carer and I travelled home on KLM and had a very comfortable journey to Amsterdam a very comfortable flight and very attentive stewards. The plane was delayed from Ecuador but KLM very efficiently rebooked our connecting flight to London which all went very smoothly and our luggage was with us as well. This was my second cruise but first with Swan Hellenic on Minerva. I could not recommend to anyone to travel with Swan Hellenic unless you have very broad shoulders, the stomach of an oxen, the patience of Job and are prepared to loose £5,000, which Swan Hellenic claim they don't owe me. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Our first cruise on the Minerva. This was a trip made up of two cruises - Timeless South America and Natural Wonders of Latin America. We flew to Santiago in Chile from London Heathrow with Iberia. The flight was poor with a 2 hour wait in ... Read More
Our first cruise on the Minerva. This was a trip made up of two cruises - Timeless South America and Natural Wonders of Latin America. We flew to Santiago in Chile from London Heathrow with Iberia. The flight was poor with a 2 hour wait in Madrid airport. The first section of the flight was considered short haul so any food or drink had to be paid for. This was not explained in advance so came as a surprise. We arrived in Madrid at night and all outlets for coffee, snacks etc were closed. There was food etc on the long haul section but this was a couple of hours into the flight so we hadn't eaten for over 12 hours. The aircraft was fairly basic and the cabin crew mostly non existant. However, on arrival at Santiago transfer to the ship at Valparaiso was smooth and interesting. We were soon in our cabin. The ship only holds a maximum of about 350 passengers with no dedicated facilities for children. Most of the passengers were of retirement age and above. There is one, small swimming pool, a spa room and a small but reasonably equipped gym. It has an excellent library. We spent half the cruise in a small cabin on the Aegean deck with an outside window. This was comfortable enough; clean; more than enough storage space (including under the beds for the cases) and a small but perfectly functional bathroom. The second half we transferred to a Balcony Suite on the Sun Deck. This was lovely; very comfortable with a large balcony. There was a big, comfortable bed; settee and armchair; coffee table with a fruit bowl which was regularly filled; desk with chair and fridge. This does come at quite an extra cost though (considerably more than bigger cruise ships). This deck was below the Promenade Deck and we did have a slight issue with the thumping overhead of the early morning joggers (as early as 6.00am). The ship is very nice with plenty of comfortable lounges. There is a very pleasant, covered outside seating area at the back of the ship where you can also eat. I cannot praise the crew enough who gave their guests their constant attention. Service was excellent and the quality of the food was consistently very high. Both restaurants are Freedom Dining and waiter service. We took most meals in the Swan Restaurant and the waiters soon got to know us along with our likes and dislikes. Most of them are Filipino and eager to please. Tips are included in the cost of the cruise. Particular thanks go to Sherwin, Mark, Danny, Randy and Willard. There are a series of lectures each day. Personally, we found the subjects too random and somewhat unrelated. We would have preferred them to be more aligned to the areas/countries that we were visiting and what we could expect to see and experience. Entertainment was gentle and more low-key than on a bigger cruise ship. The cocktail pianists were very good. There was a three piece band who were also very good but somewhat let down by a very average vocalist. There was also two Opera singers; these were particularly good in the second half of the cruise. The only show was presented by some of the crew which was very good fun. You have to admire their eagerness to please and to show off their national dances and costumes. Excursions were very varied and prepaid within the cruise price. There were plenty to choose from to suit all interests and physical capabilities. They were very good and gave us the opportunity to both see and experience the areas that we visited. As the cruises were marketed as 'Discovery cruises' there was little opportunity to spend any own time in the towns with no Shuttle buses from the ship. However, this was made clear at the time of booking. If you like a cruise ship with larger swimming pools, a theatre, cabaret bars etc then this is not the ship for you - it is a quieter, more gentle existence. However, although we enjoy the larger cruise ships, we thoroughly enjoyed our time on the Minerva. Thank you. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Having spent nearly two weeks on the Swan Hellenic Minerva over Christmas, we are able to give a Cygnet’s opinion (as first time Swan Hellenic travellers are known) of life on the Minerva. Overall we were very impressed with nearly ... Read More
Having spent nearly two weeks on the Swan Hellenic Minerva over Christmas, we are able to give a Cygnet’s opinion (as first time Swan Hellenic travellers are known) of life on the Minerva. Overall we were very impressed with nearly all aspects of the boat and its crew. We cannot think of any negative comment of significance that would be valid about either the ship or the crew who were cheerful, gave superb service and had an obvious wish for us to have a good time. Booking direct was very easy and we were offered what seems to be the standard discount for doing so. Discounts increase as the date of the cruise approaches and those who booked at the last minute spoke of higher discounts being offered to them. Regulars spoke of being given upgrades after booking. That said, the cruise after ours was fully booked and therefore if you leave it too late, you might miss out. A 5% discount is offered to repeat clients, I do not know if this is offered in addition to other discounts. Our cabin A49 was on the Aegean Deck which was on Deck 5 (below was Baltic Deck 4). We chose this location because we had heard that those towards the stern were noisier and those towards the bow suffered more in rough weather. We had no rough weather so we do not know if this was true. The cabin was larger than we had imagined it to be. When we booked we were asked if we wanted the beds together or separate and when we went opened the door, they were just as we wanted them - together. The TV was rather too small to be easily viewed and of a poor screen quality. The Cabin Windows did not open (obviously !). Air Conditioning control was rather crude - a handle in the ceiling which when turned, adjusted the amount of air coming into the cabin but it worked provided you were not too fussy. Temperatures throughout the ship were centrally controlled. The Wardrobe came with 34 coat hangers (most impressive), two very fluffy dressing gowns, disposable bedroom slippers and life jackets. The safe was very easy to use but too small for a laptop. There was more than enough storage space for clothes. Our suitcases easily went under the beds. The hairdryer was quite efficient. The shower was very good and there was always hot water. The toilet was a vacuum type with severe warnings about the consequences of putting large items into the toilet basin. On the one occasion it went wrong (the flush broke), an engineer was there to stop it overflowing within minutes. There were more than sufficient soaps and potions in the bathroom, towels were replaced daily if you left them on the floor. There was one UK style 3 pin socket (to the right of the safe) and for safety reasons, this was incapable of taking anything other than a light electrical load. We managed to keep our things recharged by constantly swapping plugs over although next time I might be tempted to bring an expansion block on a small lead. The cabin was cleaned twice a day by our superb Stewardess and she always seemed to manage this when we were elsewhere. We heard no noise from other cabins although there was noise from the ship's generators when we were in port and obviously noise when we were at sea (we had no trouble sleeping). Our bedclothes were always laid out in the evening when the evening tidy was done. Other than on the top decks where a kettle is provided, you are forbidden from bringing your own. We found we could get tea / coffee ourselves 24 hours a day from the Veranda Restaurant two floors above us. Teas were Twinnings Herbal (practically all flavours) plus Yorkshire, Coffee came out of a machine and was occasionally a bit bitter. There was never any problem with bringing drinks / food etc down to the cabin and the plates were cleared whenever our Stewardess appeared. We once ordered Cabin Service food and this was delivered within about 15 minutes of our order. You can choose from a special Cabin Service Menu or ask for one of the dishes on that day’s Restaurant Menu. There was a “Door Hanger Breakfast Request Form” for breakfast in bed. As is always the case and made very clear in all brochures, no tips are expected by the crew or offered by the majority of passengers. During the day a News Summary appeared on our bed and sometime in the early evening, the next day’s programme was slid under the door, thus enabling us to plan our next day without hurry. The Ship’s Laundry is on A Deck Starboard Rear and was open 8 am to 9 pm, four washers and four dryers, two ironing boards and two slightly worn irons. It was very busy on "days at sea” and sometimes there was a queue to use it. The laundry and its equipment were well maintained and cleaned. There were baskets to carry your clean clothes in and soap powder was provided. The instructions for use were written in a simple enough language for most husbands to understand. There is Satellite Internet available at very reasonable cost (when compared to the larger cruise ships) and we purchased a 12 hour package for £21. There are wifi zones scattered around the ship and an internet room of six PCs. Compared to the few other ships we have been on which had satellite internet, we found the performance of the Minerva’s system very poor and very slow. Frequently it went off air, you could be waiting a very long time for basic emails to download, and you should forget uploading or downloading anything of size. To be fair to the crew, we were carefully and specifically warned that it was satellite and likely to be slow when we purchased our internet pass but we had not expected it to be that slow or poor. By the time we left, we had not been able to use all of our package time. A member of crew said that they usually waited until the ship was in port and then looked for free wifi in the port offices - this certainly worked well for us in two ports. Although our cabin came with an IDD phone, we did not use it for this. There are three bars on the ship. We mainly used the smaller Wheeler Bar because we enjoyed its atmosphere. Usually there was quiet live music here for part of the evening. Bar prices were very reasonable (Lager £4, G&T around £3.75 depending on size, cocktails similar) and about the same as we pay in a pub in our town. There were always nibbles on the tables and orders were taken and drinks brought to you by one of the staff. The other two bars were very similar to the Wheeler but larger. Late on most evenings, dance music was played somewhere on board. We were unfortunate enough to have to visit the Ship’s Doctor. The service was efficient and achieved its objective and the cost to us was similar to that which I have read as being the norm at sea. We went on 11 tours chosen by us from the tour package document sent to us about three months before we left. Our tickets were waiting for us on our bed when we arrived. There were a team of Swan staff on-board involved in the management of the tours and they tried to arrange tour swaps, additional bookings, changes etc whenever they could. Those who wanted to change their tours or had made mistakes when booking them were sometimes left disappointed and certainly the late bookers had a more restricted range of tours available to them. That said, you could put your name onto a wait list and they then counted those who actually went left the ship on a tour and filled any un-notified vacancies from the wait list. The tours booklet describes the physical difficulty of each tour and we found this to be more than accurate in all cases bar one when it had been underestimated. In general, the tours followed the published itinerary but not in the given order - useful because it meant we did not all arrive at the same spot at the same time. Boarding the buses for tours was done by deck, a message went out over the ship’s tannoy but the deck order varied for each tour so every deck got a fair share of first, middle or last buses during the course of the cruise. A number of tours took place at a different time to that originally advertised because of difficulties in obtaining buses, when a number of cruise ships are in a port at the same time, there is bound to be a resource issue. All tours used local guides and they were well used to giving the standard cruise passenger talk which on occasion we felt was not sufficiently detailed for Minerva passengers. Usually we had attended a talk before hand on a destination and therefore already knew much of the general information already and were interested in more of the detail than perhaps the average cruise passenger. On a few occasions, the tour guides were poor. Swan staff were on many of the buses used but their role was usually that of an additional shepherd or they were there for their own enjoyment / education. A number of managed activities (Water Colours, Photography, Keep Fit etc) were offered during the cruise. We went to some of these and they were good. The on-board Opera Group (who performed a number of times) also formed a choir from willing passengers and included them in one of the late night concerts. The crew did their own Dance / Singing review for passengers one evening and this was entertaining. A Bridge Tour was offered three times by the Captain and he was at the bottom of the gangway to welcome us when we arrived and when we finally left. He certainly promoted the good image of the Minerva. In the opinion of those who had been on a number of Minerva cruises before, the much vaunted lectures and lecturers on this trip were not as good as they previously had been. They said that it may have been more difficult to get Lecturers over Christmas than at other periods. We do not know if this is true but if we compare the Lecturers to the average NADFAS Lecturer, some of them were not as good. Lectures were given in the Darwin Lounge (we counted nine screens so no matter where you sat you could see a screen) and were also relayed to other lounges, shown live on cabin TVs and later shown as recordings on a continuous loop system. As first timers, we were invited to a reception where they thanked us and reiterated the Swan Hellenic philosophy. About 25% of the 292 passengers on our cruise were first timers - a 75% repeat rate must indicate something. It was very common to meet people who had already booked their next cruise or were doing this one as part of a back-to-back set of cruises. Also offered was a reception for single travellers to enable them to meet each other. It seemed that there were a lot of singles on the ship, not uncommon we were to learn. The library was just as comfortable and useful as it looks. It runs on a trust system and the coverage of the non-fiction books was excellent and there was a reasonable range of fiction available, many left / swapped by previous passengers. The library is also the home of the Jigsaw. A couple were always out for any passerby to attack and they certainly were very hard. Not only was there a lot of detail, the box image usually was in reverse. We found that the meals offered were always very good. Meal times were adjusted slightly on many days to fit in with tour times. Breakfast usually was on offer in the Veranda Restaurant (self service) and the Swan Restaurant (waiter service) from 7 a.m. You could also eat it out on the deck at the rear. Almost anything you might want (with the exception of Kippers was on offer). Egg dishes were freshly cooked to order and if you had a regular habit (for me a vegetarian omelette), they would start cooking it as soon as they saw you appear. Waiters were very keen to take your plate off you and show you to a table, perhaps a policy dictated by the elderly nature of some of the passengers and the dangers of carrying a plate when the ship is rocking a bit whilst at sea. Biscuits usually appeared around 10 am in the Veranda to have with morning tea / coffee. Lunch started around 12 noon and again the offer was more than comprehensive and could be eaten inside or out. Afternoon tea appeared about 3 pm with too many cakes for a reasonable diet. Dinner started in both restaurants at 7 pm. We found it particularly nice to be seated at a different table each night, thus meeting and talking to new people. It is an accepted thing on the Minerva that not only can you turn up at any time the restaurant is open without reservation (there are none), you can also request to join a table with spare chairs. We met the most interesting people this way and always enjoyed the conversations. This also meant that single travellers never had to eat on their own. I am a vegetarian (this counted as a special diet on the Minerva) and therefore every evening I was given the next day’s menu and asked to choose what I wanted to eat. They asked me to do this so that they could be sure it was available. They also were willing to adjust an item so that it became vegetarian (Chicken Caesar Salad with no chicken !). Other more specialist dietary needs were coped with the same way. Nothing seemed to be too much trouble for them. Very impressive. Regulars said that in their opinion the quality of the food had deteriorated over the years and also was very dependent upon which chef was on-board. All we can say is that we were very satisfied with what was offered. We are in our mid-60s and were probably at the lower end of the age profile on-board. It is definitely not a ship for children, there are no facilities at all for them and none of the activities offered would be suitable. The organisation and quality of travel from Gatwick to Barbados was appalling and that back from Cartagena was only a little better. We have never encountered such a dreadful travel experience in all of our many years of travel and this view was held by everyone else who experienced it and it became a common talking point between passengers. So far there has been no response from Swan Hellenic to our letter commenting on the travel arrangements. We would really like to sail on the Minerva again but not if the "to and from" travel experience was to be a repeat of this time. In summary, we thought our first Minerva experience was Five-Star, travel to and from was Zero Star. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Minerva markets itself as a sea borne country house for those who want something a bit more traditional. This is highly accurate, apart from the lack of wallpaper. From the moment we set sight on our fellow passengers waiting to board our ... Read More
Minerva markets itself as a sea borne country house for those who want something a bit more traditional. This is highly accurate, apart from the lack of wallpaper. From the moment we set sight on our fellow passengers waiting to board our BA flight to Athens, for the ‘Mediterranean Escape’ cruise in November, we knew this would be a very British traveller’s experience. Previous reviews had lead us to understand that there would be a good supply of retired teachers, lecturers, civil servants and ex-armed forces passengers, and we were not disappointed. The cruise itinerary was changed some months prior to departure to miss out a call to Tunis, and this was replaced by a second call to Sicily. Shortly after leaving Heathrow, things started to deviate from the plan when there was an announcement requesting “senior cabin staff to the cockpit”, and then an another indicating that there was a spot of bother, and we would be returning to Heathrow. “Don’t worry about the fire engines”, we were told, as these were purely routine. Later, someone remarked that the calmer the captain’s voice, the worse the emergency, and I later discovered a report on our spot of bother at http://eu.greekreporter.com/2015/11/09/flight-heading-to-athens-from-london-lands-safely-in-heathrow-after-midair-turmoil/ Regrettably support from Swan Hellenic was absent in the subsequent rescheduling of the flight, which was unable to take all passengers. Passengers drifted in to Athens over the remainder of the day and night: just as well we were scheduled for an outing the next morning in Athens. To their credit, after I made a call to their head offices, the Minerva laid on a splendid late night buffet meal for passengers as they arrived. The Minerva is a traditional craft with little pretense of being modern. Some might even call it old fashioned, but the faithful love it. There is no raked theatre or high atrium, but it is kitted out rather like a country house hotel with armchairs in nooks and crannies. Cabins, even ours at the lowest level was comfortable with adequate space for two. There is some changing about of cabins after booking so they can keep on selling those at the lowest advertised prices for as long as possible. There has been a lot of comment about the noise in the aft cabins, which is true. The ship has noisy diesel machinery, and some discussions suggest that this is a known long-term problem with cavitation from the propellers, but the bottom line is that the ship is noisy when moving and the back is worse than the front. The ship chugs along, never doing more than 11 knots and I would not be keen on sailing in rough waters: fortunately we were blessed with mainly calm weather. The good news on the Minerva is that unlike some of the cheaper (American) cruise lines, there is little or no attempt to make everything an extra with a hard sell. There are no drinks packages (drink is on sale at very reasonable below London prices), no photographers, and tips and all the excursions are included. The down side to this last point is that there are reduced opportunities for ones own exploration at ports. Other returning passengers told us that there have been cut backs over the years, but as new customers (cygnets as they are termed) we could only evaluate what we saw. Despite other comments, we thought the food on the Minerva was great. There was sufficient choice, good quality, and mostly served relatively hot. Buffet food on ships is always a problem for hotness, and Minerva was probably better than most. There are two dining options: either the formal, somewhat old fashioned Swan restaurant or the less formal Verandah restaurant which is more buffet style, but unlike some other brands, has properly set tables with cloths and glasses and staff to help you get the food to the table. Food in the main and buffet restaurants is almost identical. Breakfast is either served or buffet style and most passengers seem to opt for the Veranda restaurant, where you can sit outside. There is a sit down tea served every day. The Swan restaurant is text book formal and tries to impose a dress code, where smart casual means jackets for men. It is easy to be served a five-course meal if you want such a thing, and one of the better features is an imaginative cheese board. Wines are at normal restaurant prices. On a two-week cruise, there were two formal nights, which were taken seriously, and the meals served were slightly better with complimentary house wines. You will not go hungry, but it is noteworthy that food stops at the end of dinner, and unlike some of the American cruise liners, there are no late night snacks. As the excursions are part of the package, lunch is adjusted to suit the return of the trips, but it was sometimes a little tight and a packed lunch was provided for all-day excursions. There is only one sitting for dinner with free seating, but you can take your place any time between 7-9pm. Table sharing is encouraged, which can be good news and bad news as we prefer a table for two which the maître d’ helped us with. The bars serve as a platform for checking out whom you might want to dine with, and alliances strike up fairly quickly. Horse lovers find each other. Service was brisk and helpful, but if you were on a big table, this might not be the case. If you want West End/Broadway style entertainment, then Swan Hellenic is not the place for you with the lack of a proper theatre and the demographics of the passengers. On the cruise being reviewed, there were a selection of erudite speakers on relevant academic topics and wildlife, a trio of opera singers, a small band and female vocalist, a palm-court style violinist and the Totties review duo. This is not to everyone’s taste, but many passengers were enthralled. Excursions are part of the package and there is a brochure sent out pre-cruise from which you choose your included trips. They were fairly well organised, and whilst well shepherded it was good to not be wearing the badge of shame that comes with most other cruise lines. Most port stops were fairly short, and unless you made a decision to miss lunch or tea, there would be little opportunity to explore on your own. Also the ship docked inconveniently at several ports with no shuttle service for independent explorers. On Menorca, a trip entitled archeological highlights failed to live up to its promise, as only one site out of many was visited, and most of the time was spent on the road between the two main towns. Despite an unpromising start to our holiday and one or two minor reservations about the destinations ports, we were very impressed by the Minerva and what she offered. There is the lack of the big ship WOW factor, but the small ship experience does have advantages including accessing destinations not available to the behemoths. The acid test is whether we would go on Minerva again, and the answer is definitely yes. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We were very pleased with our Sun Deck cabin on Minerva. Good size cabin and wide balcony. Stewardess was excellent. The ship appeared to be well maintained and in good order. However things changed when we sailed. The vibration and ... Read More
We were very pleased with our Sun Deck cabin on Minerva. Good size cabin and wide balcony. Stewardess was excellent. The ship appeared to be well maintained and in good order. However things changed when we sailed. The vibration and juddering were terrible. In 30 years of cruising we have never felt anything like this. I was told that there is a continuing problem with the propellers which was partially fixed earlier this year but there is little more that can be done. This, combined with the props being well forward gives a most uncomfortable motion. Whilst our cabin was towards the stern we were on the top deck of cabins. When we hit strong winds later in the cruise matte s were even worse and for the first time ever, like many other passengers, we felt a little under the weather. Meal times are strictly adhered to in the dining rooms even if a ship's tour comes back late. No question of the buffet staying open a few minutes longer. When I requested a club sandwich, which was on the room service menu, whilst in the dining room, initially this was refused. I could have had a full meal delivered in my cabin but apparently this was a step too far. Eventually the maitre 'D did agree to my request 'as we were on a table for 2'. Food was well below what we would have expected on this ship and regulars told us had gone downhill considerably in the last 12 months or so. The ship had too many areas available to smokers, even on the aft deck which was an extension of the buffet restaurant. When I queried someone smoking on the table next to whilst eating I was told by the Maitre'D that he would prefer in guests did not smoke whilst others were eating but did nothing to prevent it happening. We missed 2 ports due to strong winds, the ship travels very slowly, maximum I understand is around 14 knots, and is unable to 'run' from inclement weather. With limited manoeuvrability due to restrictions in propeller capability and that of the thrusters the Captain handled the vessel very well but still meant that he did not have the abilities of many other smaller ships when docking. It was delightful when in port to be able to disembark in comfort, as compared to the 'mobile blocks of flats' that we shared ports with. This, plus the ability to go to places the large ships cannot means we will continue cruising on small ships, but NOT the Minerva. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
I travelled on Minerva first December then returned 12/05/2015. The quality of food was poor even since Christmas when chef replaced and obviously budget reduced. The speakers had not liased and there was overlapping of information, ... Read More
I travelled on Minerva first December then returned 12/05/2015. The quality of food was poor even since Christmas when chef replaced and obviously budget reduced. The speakers had not liased and there was overlapping of information, although all very good. The late evening entertainment was very poor and guaranteed to empty Orpheous. The opera and other entertainment was good. In my opinion Minerva are failing to look at their core cliental. Their previous clients have been replaced by baby boomers. Sixties night consisted of 3 dusty Springfield covers and jazz. However when crew jammed it was obvious there is plenty of talent already on board and Orpheous was packed. Come on Minerva move on and survive. On both cruises there was a large group of singles. On another note the shore stops were very poor. I know the problems in Ukraine forced changes. But 2 nights in Georgia, a beautiful country and two at Bulgaria would, it was generally agreed by all have been preferable option. The service was an attempt at fine dining not back up by the faire Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This is our first and last time we use this ship. It its said to have been refurbished, but boy, does it need another one! DO NOT get a cabin on A or B deck from the reception backwards especially A73 - the vibration when the ship is ... Read More
This is our first and last time we use this ship. It its said to have been refurbished, but boy, does it need another one! DO NOT get a cabin on A or B deck from the reception backwards especially A73 - the vibration when the ship is sailing, especially at night, will literally vibrate you out of your bed, and that's on a clam sea day! So many people had to change their cabins, We were moved mid-ship after the first nigh, wow what a difference! The management made out as if it was the first time anyone had ever complained, only later when we talk to regular "Swans" did the warn us. Stay in the mid 20's to 50 number rooms. B desk is really noise too at the back as you are literally on top of the propeller shaft. Staff made up for everything amazing service, always with a smile a credit to the ship. FOOD - First time ever I lost weight, and this is my 28 cruise! so much is tinned food, and the menus is very poor, 3 start quality at the most, and often cold! Also, they ran out of a lot of stock! the saving was they have rib eye steak and chicken on the menu every day, that saved the day too! Lectures and music /singers 5 star! which is the only reason I can think of, people would go on this ship! Sorry but never again! Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
An enjoyable cruise which, at the discounted fare, was good value for money (probably 5*) but which seems highly overpriced at brochure price. Booking was made less than three weeks before sailing. Swan Hellenic reservations team very ... Read More
An enjoyable cruise which, at the discounted fare, was good value for money (probably 5*) but which seems highly overpriced at brochure price. Booking was made less than three weeks before sailing. Swan Hellenic reservations team very helpful and all documention received in good order. Flights (Emirates via Dubai outbound and Singpaore Airlines inbound) were on time and SH represntatives at airport to ensure all went smoothly. Arrival in Colombo was excellent. Never had so many people to guide me to the coach and handle the baggage. Quayside check-in at the ship took only a few minutes and we were on board less than two hours after landing despite a 30 minute drive from the airport. Cabins were available by mid-day. Swan Hellenic is not a cruise line for those seeking constant amusement with bingo, shows and deck games. We had four lecturers giving three talks a day at sea on the history and general background of the countries we were visitng. The talks were generally of a high standard and well presented and the speakers were happy to talk to passengers at other times. Other and evening entertainment was provided by an operatic group and a classical guitarist/pianist. There was also a band providing music for dancing. Pre-dinner quizzes and craft instruction were also available. Our cruise benefitted from bridge organised by a fellow passenger which filled most afternoons at sea. The ports of call were mostly interesting but there were more days at sea than on land and three ports had only a half-day visit which was rather short. The two days in Yangon were the undoubted hightlight. Excursions are included (within the fare) at every port and were generally well run. As the ship takes only c350 passengers, disembarkation was speedy and well organised, even when tendering ashore. The excursons were generally well planned and the guides varied from good to excellent. Transport was usually modern and comfortbale; just one coach sounded as if it needed some manitenance. Life on board was pleasant with regular meals punctuated by talks and other activities. Teh rpomenade deck allows for good exercise, as would the small gym. Dress is casual, but with a leaning towards formailty in the evenings. Gentlemen are more often than not expected to wear a jacket and tie in the Swan restaurant (with two formal nights) but the Veranda allows casual dress throughout. Food is good but lacks excitement and the breakfast and lunch buffet is sufficiently repetitive to become boring by the end of the cruise. Service is generally very good in both restaurants and bars and I marvel at how the staff quickly come to recognise passengers, know their names and cabin numbers as well as their favourite tipples. The 5* rating for service is given despite the bad start on day 1 when recepton was handing out incorrect internet instructions, which meant pasenger could not log off, and denying the availability of the shore excursion team who were on duty late in the afternoon. Overall the cruise was enjoyable and, as a solo pasenger, I ahd no problem meeting and talking to other passengers who generall accepted the idea that they woudl be sat at different tables every night (dining is any time with no set tables) and making new acquaintances. I shall consider Swan Hellenic for future cruises where I am keen to be instructed rather than entertained and when the itinerary and price offer interest and value.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was our first cruise on the Minerva. We normally cruise on mid size ships, but booked this cruise to celebrate special birthdays. We got an early flight from London; the check in clerk told us that Swan Hellenic had booked passengers ... Read More
This was our first cruise on the Minerva. We normally cruise on mid size ships, but booked this cruise to celebrate special birthdays. We got an early flight from London; the check in clerk told us that Swan Hellenic had booked passengers on 3 different flights that day, and he was surprised that they hadn't chartered a flight. We were lucky that our flight departed on time; the next one was 4 hours late, and those passengers were not happy, as they didn't arrive until late evening. We had an aft cabin on Aegean deck, which was small but had just enough storage for a 2 week cruise. We were surprised to find that there were no tea/coffee making facilities in the room. The bathroom was tiny with a walk in shower, no bath, but the lighting in the bathroom was good. The cabin had an 18" TV, a safe and hairdryer. The bedside lamps were useless as they were positioned too low to read by, and we left a comment on this. The mattresses were the thinnest we have ever experienced; in addition mine was lumpy and I had to turn it in order to get some sleep! We heard some engine/propeller noise, but not enough to keep us awake. There is a formal restaurant and a self service restaurant; we preferred the latter as we don't want to get dressed up every night. The food is the same in both and is of good quality. There is also a deck barbeque at lunchtimes, weather permitting. The service in the restaurants and bars is excellent. Tea and coffee is available in the self service restaurant 24 hours a day. Tea and cakes are served between 4 and 5pm. The wine list was rather limited. The cheapest drinkable wine was about £20 a bottle. There was a Captain's welcome dinner and a farewell dinner when wine was free, but unfortunately it was not of good quality, and one glass was enough for us!. The shore excursions were generally of good quality and content. We were surprised that a Swan representative did not accompany the excursions; issues with the local guides arose on a couple of the excursions which a Swan rep would have been able to iron out before they became a problem. We are early 60's, and the average age range of the clientele was about 10 years older than us. Most of the passengers were well travelled, with lots of singles on the ship. There was a mixture of Brits and Americans on board. We encountered the "Home Counties" set, referred to in previous reviews, but fortunately managed to avoid them for the rest of the cruise! The entertainment was low key. There were musicians and a group called Cadenza, who were very good. The lectures were excellent. Overall, we enjoyed our cruise on board the Minerva, and would consider sailing on her again.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Having just completed our second cruise on Minerva we think that its still doing things right. We shopped around the cruise lines at one time, and have sailed with some that we find too opulent, some with excessively expensive alcohol ... Read More
Having just completed our second cruise on Minerva we think that its still doing things right. We shopped around the cruise lines at one time, and have sailed with some that we find too opulent, some with excessively expensive alcohol prices, some are too crowded, and some where the on-shore trips are just too expensive. Minerva prices are all inclusive, so do the maths and you'll see that the up-front price isn't always the cheapest in the long run. The ship itself is comfortable, well staffed and the space per passenger is sufficient never to feel too crowded. its principle plus factor though is the supremely high quality and relevance of its in-board guest speakers who without exception combine erudition with entertainment, and who mix freely with the passengers. Does it have a downside? Well, its quite small by modern standards and because of its loyal following, some "Swans" as repeat customers are called, are getting on a bit so don't expect a wild rock-n-roll atmosphere. They all have a 'can do" attitude though, and after dinner conversation is always interesting and sociable. Give it a go, but don't take the kids! Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
This was our 5th or 6th cruise on Minerva so it must be reasonably good if we keep returning. We have learned to accept the excessive engine vibrations and carefully choose our cabin accordingly. The staff are great and the lectures and ... Read More
This was our 5th or 6th cruise on Minerva so it must be reasonably good if we keep returning. We have learned to accept the excessive engine vibrations and carefully choose our cabin accordingly. The staff are great and the lectures and excursions are usually very entertaining. Classical music and jazz are also featured. All is not 'sweetness and light' however. The Swan restaurant is a bit jaded and needs upgrading. Breakfast and lunch were taken in the more pleasant surroundings of the Verandah Restaurant and adjacent deck area. I would rate the food as 4 out of 5 and not nearly as good as Princess.Was not as 'happy ' a ship as on earlier cruises probably due to recent senior staff changes and cost cutting. Being 'At Sea' for as long as 4 days at a time left you out of touch with the rest of the world,not helped by the depressingly poor ship's internet service and disruption to TV News Channels. Since we started cruising with Swan their prices have increased considerably however, no doubt to pay for the recent expensive refit. The choice of wine in the restaurants is limited and fairly expensive. Viking Cruises provide copious quantities of free wine and beer at both lunch and dinner so why can't Swan? This cruise was different to the earlier cruises that we had taken with Swan in respect that, because of its location and duration, it was around twice the price that we usually pay. This coincided with an unusual number of what appeared to be passengers from the Home Counties, all with the 'very cultured Southern England speech impediment' (as described in an earlier review). One always had the feeling of being carefully scrutinised before they deigned to sit at your table.I quickly learnt and did the same. My recollection was that passengers from 'Up North' were not welcome at their table while the Welsh remained unpopular. Regrettably this was the worse example of class distinction I have encountered on the Minerva. Despite all this met lots of interesting fellow passengers and enjoyed the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
We wanted an interesting cruise on a small ship over Christmas and New Year and the " Mysteries of the Maya" cruise, visiting Central/South America and the Caribbean, sounded ideal. It was our fourth cruise, having been once on ... Read More
We wanted an interesting cruise on a small ship over Christmas and New Year and the " Mysteries of the Maya" cruise, visiting Central/South America and the Caribbean, sounded ideal. It was our fourth cruise, having been once on Azamara Quest and twice on SAGA's Quest For Adventure. We read Cruise Critic before we went and felt that and the Swan brochure gave us an ideal alternative to our previous cruises. Sadly it was not to be. Firstly the plus points. The places we visited and the accompanying lectures were great and much enjoyed. The cabin and bar crew as on other boats were friendly and efficient as on our previous cruises. If you read some of the negative of other reviews you will start to realise the Minerva is a bit of an old tub. We were amazed to read that there had been a £10million refit as there was constant vibrations in anywhere aft of midships due to the fact they had extended the rear of the ship but not the propellers. Any aft cabins should be avoided. We also experienced roughs seas and did not feel the stabilizers were as good as the previous two ships Country House Style? The cabins are ok but not classy, there was no fruit and you had to buy water at inflated prices [also on excursions]. Some of the main rooms are pleasant but the main dining room looks more like an old seaside hotel and they insist on jacket and tie in 30 degrees with poor air conditioning. The food was not up to Azamara or SAGA and we experienced poor quality meat, lukewarm soup and icecream melting in the inadequate freezer. The free wine on the odd gala night was very acidic and can see why a previous reviewer has sleepless nights after drinking it! Excursions were good but there were no Swan escorts on any trips. On one of our all day trips there were two serious health and safety breaches that would have been sorted by an escort. When we raised this with the excursions staff they said they only had two staff available for 8+ coaches which is rubbish as the other two cruise lines use their lectures and entertainment staff as escorts. The Cruise Director and staff were extremely low profile, and the officers were not very social, even on captain's cocktail evenings where they huddled in a group and did not greet us. Swan does not seem to greet or acknowledge first timers unlike Azamara or SAGA where we had welcome letters and unexpected bar credits. There were rumours of staff redundancy and cost cutting by Swan which might explain some things we experienced. It seemed that even some of the regular Swan cruisers were unhappy and felt that food and standards had slipped. This is the first review we have written but wanted to make prospective cruisers aware.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We sailed from Portsmouth. You transfer by bus from the terminal to the ship, but the transfer is quite short. Long delay boarding as ship was entertaining travel agents. The main feature for us was the quality of. Guest speakers. You ... Read More
We sailed from Portsmouth. You transfer by bus from the terminal to the ship, but the transfer is quite short. Long delay boarding as ship was entertaining travel agents. The main feature for us was the quality of. Guest speakers. You receive of their knowledge in depth, well illustrated by slides. Most tours are included in the price. A word of warning. Do not accept a cabin in the stern. There is tremendous vibration in this old but refurbished ship. we were allocated B 64. the vibration was so great that we could not sleep. After three difficult nights we were moved to a forward cabin having been told the ship was full. Notwithstanding we had a great cruise which included nightly optional bridge play. Cleanliness and service are top rate and the food is superior to some of he larger hips. Minerva can get close to stops such as SRk, Lundy, Aran Islands but the tenders can be quite hairy. The sailors were most capable and even severely disabled were safely put ashore. Entertainment is very low key with piano bar and resident band. No up to dare films. Only one quiz which was attended by the majority of passengers and could be repeated. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Air booked by Swan=Excellent:Phx-Istanbul--Rome-Phx & transfers to/from Minerva. Speakers=Excellent.Itinerary=Excellent.Staff=Excellent.Library=Excellent. Entertainment=Passable.Public Rooms=Excellent.Pool=Passable,not heated. ... Read More
Air booked by Swan=Excellent:Phx-Istanbul--Rome-Phx & transfers to/from Minerva. Speakers=Excellent.Itinerary=Excellent.Staff=Excellent.Library=Excellent. Entertainment=Passable.Public Rooms=Excellent.Pool=Passable,not heated. Needs Improvement: Stateroom-A70-inside behind Reception.Very noisy,constant heavy vibration.Felt like we were clacking on an old train track the entire time.Cleanness-Excellent.Size-Passable.Storage-Passable. Closet-not enough hanging space for two. Bed-Comfortable. ClimateControl-None.There's a Ceiling vent you open or close. Lighting-Passable. Bathroom-tiny but Passable. FOOD=Passable.Not high quality & very bland, usually barely warm.The same food served on veranda as dinning room. Food availability limited to dinning hours only-Breakfast & dinner 7-9,lunch 12-2,tea 4-5. Limited flexibility w/ menu foods. Coffee & hot water machine in veranda available 24/7.There should at least be crackers available 24/7:There's no vending machine & very limited items in ships store with very limited hours.If you require food, plan to keep some in your room. We probably will not sail Minerva again until/unless major repairs are done on this ship or they use another.Many passengers complained about the constant vibration & occasional loud "booming" noise coming from under ship which was observed in all areas of ship,not just rear lower decks where it was the worst. Passengers discussing the problem said they think there's a definite problem with the ship's propulsion. The seas were very calm;but Minerva struggled to sail on them. Having sailed over 50 cruises,some in storm-like conditions,I've never been concerned about the integrity of a ship;but,I definitely was very concerned about this one. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We arrived independently in Aqaba Jordan & as there was not shuttle bus as advertised we made our own way to the ship which caused some consternation with the Port Security. Anyway they threw our suitcases in the back of their ute ... Read More
We arrived independently in Aqaba Jordan & as there was not shuttle bus as advertised we made our own way to the ship which caused some consternation with the Port Security. Anyway they threw our suitcases in the back of their ute & took them to the ship.1. The waiters,cooks, bar & housekeeping staff were absolutely wonderful, bright, forever cheerful & lots of fun.2. Our outside B24 cabin with 2 portholes was spacious enough , comfortable with a 2 seater settee. The bulkheads are pretty thin but we had considerate neighbours. 3. The excursions were the highlight of the cruise & the excursion staff very accommodating, efficient & friendly .The excursion guides were excellent & very knowledgeable. Bus cleanliness in Turkey was absolute . In Greece & Italy the windows often needed cleaning. 4.We did not tire of the food over 6 weeks but this was helped by using the Veranda Restaurant & choosing exactly what we fancied rather than being served in the Swan Restaurant.A variation by buying fresh food locally would have made dining more enjoyable.Young local Greek & Italian wines would have made a better experience instead of the French wines offered. The house red made for sleepless nights. We found the drinks expensive . On comparable ships the wine came gratis with the evening meal. 5.We found the Swan Restaurant had a high noise level when full making it difficult to hear.The dark furniture & formality made it depressing. The Veranda Restaurant had a much more relaxed ambiance & was much lighter & brighter. .During the Black Sea voyage the temp was turned up to 25'C at the request of the aging passengers .Dining on the pool deck most of the time was our preference.6.The ship had an inherent propeller vibration which was noticeable in most areas of the ship.7. The average age of the passengers was probably around 70 to 75 years, much older than expected. 8. An international passenger list in my opinion is much more appealing than predominately one nationality. It could be said the Minerva caters as an exclusive & indulged English old peoples home. The very cultured Southern English speech impediment was amusing.In all, a very enjoyable & informative cruise . Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
I went on the 'Holy Lands' cruise, March - April 2013. It was fantastically good value and had the most wonderful time! I loved being on the ship, arriving at an exotic port at dawn, a days fabulous sightseeing,all extremely ... Read More
I went on the 'Holy Lands' cruise, March - April 2013. It was fantastically good value and had the most wonderful time! I loved being on the ship, arriving at an exotic port at dawn, a days fabulous sightseeing,all extremely well and comfortably organised. The best local restaurants booked for us at lunchtime, top-flight lecturers informing us on what we were seeing and about the countries we visited - an amazing education whilst being totally pampered. As the passengers never exceed 350, you never feel crowded. In fact, it's easy to be alone if you want to, and that's not just in your comfortable cabin. (I booked the cheapest) If you are a single passenger wanting to socialise, you're invited to join other passengers at tables at mealtimes; if not, no problem. It's a very friendly and respectful atmosphere. Again, for single passengers, a drinks party was arranged on the second evening on board to introduce you to staff and other singles. Minerva cruises attract intelligent people with curiosity/experience about their world. The mainly Philipino restaurant and bar staff were charming and the service 5 star, as was the food! (and I'm fussy) . On my second evening in the Verandah bar - lovely gentle, live music being played, the barman said: "Ah, Mrs Chadwick, will it be the gin and tonic again tonight?", Tony the barman had remembered me! Alcoholic drinks are very reasonably priced. The food is excellent with a choice of silver service dining, or the self-service restaurant with a cornucopia of choices, which you could take out, or have brought to you, on deck. Entertainments are fine, talented musicians of all persuasions are there for your enjoyment. I bopped away till the early hours! And then woke early for a good breakfast before the morning's excursion! On a budget, I stuck to the price included excursions, of which there was a daily choice. Though if you wish to pay a very reasonable fee you can explore further. I very much appreciated the company's concern for the welfare of staff- almost part of the family - evidenced in their cheerful good service. Cleanliness is excellent, scrupulous attention is paid to passenger comfort and health. I would recommend Minerva cruises very highly - it changed my life! I'm booked again this year. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
First time for us with Swan Hellenic and first time on such a small ship. It was a delight. Just small enough for easy access to all amenities. After our last cruise, on Aurora, my husband, who was convalescing after a hip replacement op, ... Read More
First time for us with Swan Hellenic and first time on such a small ship. It was a delight. Just small enough for easy access to all amenities. After our last cruise, on Aurora, my husband, who was convalescing after a hip replacement op, came back exhausted and worse than when we left. This time, after having been very ill until April, he came back with a new lease of life, a vastly improved appetite and having gained a much needed stone in weight. No casino, no 'West End Style' shows, very small shop, no photographers, no pressure to dress up at night and no background music round the pool all suited us down to the ground. A great mix of passengers - mainly Brits but a good contingent of Americans and Canadians (who all loved it), several Indians and a few Australians. Ship was only 2/3 full so there was oodles of space. Open sittings for all meals with lots of large tables meant we got to know a large number of our fellow passengers quite well. Very definitely older than your average cruise ship passengers but lots of lively minds and some very witty Americans. Entertainment was low key - harpist, pianist, good small band with vocalists and a couple of classically trained singers with accompanist. Made for very pleasant, laid back evenings but any one who claims Swan Hellenic is too stuffy should have been on board the night they were 'Rocking Around the Clock' in the Darwin Lounge whilst an improvised 'Old Time Music Hall' sing-song was going on in Shackleton's Bar. We had booked an outside cabin but were upgraded to a suite so had the luxury (on this ship) of a balcony which was a good size with plenty of room for 2 sun-loungers plus 2 comfortable chairs and a table. This was a particular bonus when we sailed up Gironde and Garonne to Bordeaux and the Seine to Rouen and added some spice to our trip across Biscay in a gale! Food was well above average cruise ship standard - the full and regularly replenished fruit bowl in our cabin was a particular delight (best fruit we've tasted in a long while). Gratuities included but service was excellent. I was too lazy to attend most of the lectures and had too many books to read to spare the time for them but my husband went to a number and thoroughly enjoyed them. Excursions (also included) were good and very well organised. Two criticisms: 1. For some reason, the films and transmitted lectures in the cinema both failed to synchronise pictures and sound. This was very distracting and a great pity because it was a great little cinema. 2. We flew out to Lisbon on Monarch Airways. Had we known in advance, we would have booked our own flights separately after swearing, in the past, that we would never fly Monarch Airways again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
I spent my early years in the Royal Navy and so there was a touch of nostalgia about this Mediterranean cruise. Like being back in the wardroom but with no work to do!To begin with we were suddenly upgraded to an outside cabin about two ... Read More
I spent my early years in the Royal Navy and so there was a touch of nostalgia about this Mediterranean cruise. Like being back in the wardroom but with no work to do!To begin with we were suddenly upgraded to an outside cabin about two weeks before boarding. This was in effect worth £800 each for my wife and I ,and it put us in a positive mood. The whole organization of the flights and trip was awesome.the title of our cruise was A Mediterranean Palette and it took us around Italy France Spain and Morocco to all those places where artists loved to work. We ended up in Lisbon. at each stage there were coach trips organized with the price included in the package. however, if you wanted to just wander around each port or hinterland on your own you could. Our speakers were very experienced and knowledgeable and we liked the democratic way in which the speakers, crew and passenger were all mingled in an informal way and much chatting went on each day.The food quality and choice was almost too much and the service from the Filipino stewards was sometimes overwhelming!the public room, cinema and library were intimate and peaceful havens.all in all this was a five star experience. It claimed to have a country house atmosphere and this describes it admirably. We will be going again.. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Minerva Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.7
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 3.4
Public Rooms 5.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 2.0 2.6
Family 1.0 2.6
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.9
Enrichment 5.0 3.9
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 4.0 4.3

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click