The 152-passenger SH Minerva marks the rebirth of the British cruise brand Swan Hellenic, which built a loyal band of followers during a long history going back 70 years. Following the demise of the line in 2017, the name was bought by a new standalone company which is building two expedition ships.
The first -- named in honour of the former Swan Hellenic's sole ship Minerva -- was launched in the winter of 2021, with a second ship -- SH Vega -- due for delivery in May 2022.
With 76 cabins and suites across four categories, the majority with balconies, the 10,500-ton polar ice-class vessel with extra-large stabilisers has a high crew to passenger ratio and is aimed at replicating the personal service and immersive cultural itineraries provided by the original brand with updates reflected in the new vessel.
Cabins on the nine-deck SH Minerva are located across three of the seven passenger decks. Sixteen Oceanview cabins measuring 204 square feet are situated on Deck 4. On Deck 5 there are 30 Balcony cabins that are 301 square feet with private 64-square-foot balconies. Also on this deck are two Suites that measure 473 square feet, with a 129-square-foot balcony. These staterooms feature a flame-effect fireplace. The uppermost cabin deck on Deck 6 has 24 Balcony cabins, two Suites and a pair of Premium Suites. These expansive two-room staterooms, overlooking the aft of the ship, measure 525 square feet and have 129-square-feet wraparound verandas. They have a separate bedroom with a super king-sized bed, living room with a fireplace and a walk-in wardrobe.
Standard amenities in all cabins include bathrooms with glass-enclosed rain showers, a desk, seating, TV with film channel, hair dryer, safe, mini-bar, and robes. A complimentary 24-hour room service menu is available and meals can also be ordered from the restaurant menu during regular dining hours.
SH Minerva is decorated throughout in an elegant and understated Scandinavian style. Deck 3, the lowest passenger deck, has a "mud room" -- to prepare for shore excursions -- library, photography lab, hair salon and medical centre. The Swan Restaurant, which is the main dining room, is situated on Deck 4 and can seat all passengers in one sitting. Menus feature international and local, seasonal cuisine along with healthy options. Wines are included with meals and there is also a for-fee speciality wine list. Private dining experiences, at extra cost, are available at the Chef'sTable in the main restaurant and these meals will showcase a bespoke menu paired with different wines. Also on Deck 4 is the reception area.
On Deck 6 the Swan's Nest is an observation point overlooking the prow of the vessel. Situated on Deck 7 are the panoramic Observation Lounge, located forward, and the heated outdoor pool. Also on this deck is the casual Club Lounge and bar, which is the social hub of the ship. It offers 24-hour dining, including freshly-made pizzas, tapas, burgers, wraps and salads. The lounge bar is also the venue for daily afternoon tea and has a self-serve coffee station. The gym, sauna and spa are on Deck 8 and there is a stargazing area on Deck 9.
All meals, an open bar, shore excursions, onboard lectures, Wi-Fi and tips are included in the fare. On polar expeditions rubber boots are available for the duration of the sailing and passengers receive an expedition parka to take home.
SH Minerva operated in Antarctica in November 2021 and 2022 sailings will feature New Zealand, the South Pacific, Asia and British Isles, including the 33-night "Semi- Circumnavigation from Antarctic Peninsula to Ross Sea" itinerary from Ushuaia to Dunedin.
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