The resurrection of the much-loved Swan Hellenic brand, which resumes cruising this spring, is already such a success that the line is planning to introduce a river cruise option for 2009. The voyages will cruise along the Danube and Rhone rivers onboard German A'Rosa vessels.
You may remember last year that Swan Hellenic and its ship Minerva, which had been owned by Carnival Corporation as a result of that company's acquisition of P&O, was put out of business when the parent company transferred its existing ship over to Princess (where it now sails as Royal Princess).
But the historic Swan Hellenic was given a new lease on life when Lord Sterling, the former chairman of The Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O), announced that he'd buy the assets of the line -- including its trademarks and marketing database.
He then acquired a new ship. Well, sort of: He managed to land the original Minerva!
That ship had been cruising in the winter as Explorer II for Abercrombie & Kent, and in the summer as Alexander von Humboldt for Germany's Phoenix Reisen. Minerva resumes its life under the Swan Hellenic banner in May 2008, where it will sail warm-weather voyages to Northern Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa before embarking on a number of longer sailings to South America and Antarctica this winter.
Though the river cruises won't take place until 2009, this newest announcement offers Swan Hellenic fans more options.
As it's now planned, river cruise enthusiasts can sail on 10-night itineraries on the Danube and seven-night itineraries on the Rhone. There will also be a festive 13-night Christmas cruise for 2009/2010 on the increasingly popular Danube.
As is Swan Hellenic's tradition -- a commitment to enrichment onboard and in port, elected speakers will be on each cruise to guide guests through Europe.
Swan Hellenic chairman Lord Sterling said: "We have carefully reviewed the river cruise market in Europe and decided that our best partner will be A-ROSA, which already has an excellent river cruise programme on the Danube and the Rhone.
"Being well acquainted with A-ROSA from earlier years when they were part of the P&O Group, we are confident of delivering a memorable Swan Hellenic travel experience."
Swan Hellenic managing director Anthony Dyson said: "With a maximum number of 100 cabins accommodating just 200 passengers, these river boats offer elegant, spacious cabins, most of which have Juliette (French) balconies. I am confident that these low passenger numbers and the high standard of accommodation, combined with first class food produced by specially selected Chefs de Cuisine, will appeal to Swan Hellenic passengers."
Meanwhile, Minerva will sail an already popular ocean cruise programme to destinations including Northern Europe, the Western Mediterranean, and South America.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief