Review: Swan Hellenic's expedition ship SH Vega - Cruise International

Review: Swan Hellenic's expedition ship SH Vega

By Rebecca Barnes | 18 Nov 2022

SH Vega, Swan Hellenic

SH Vega, Swan Hellenic

SH Vega is the second ship from recently revived cruise brand Swan Hellenic, and it’s turning assumptions about expedition cruising on their head

In stark contrast to sailing the Mediterranean or Caribbean waters, expedition cruising has traditionally been no frills, no glamour and definitely devoid of creature comforts, making up for it with the excitement of exploring some of the most remote parts of the world.

However, a newly relaunched expedition cruise line is helping to change this perception with its five-star looks and state-of-the-art technology.

Swan Hellenic was founded in the 1950s when British travel agency Swan’s Tours, operated by a father and son, organised a discovery cruise that sailed to Greece’s historical sites, with 128 university society members and three guest lecturers on board to provide added enrichment.

The line never repeated the same itineraries twice, and took guests to places that, at the time, were undiscovered by even the most adventurous travellers. Fast-forward 70 years and the rebirth of the brand, under new ownership, is taking it in a more premium direction while continuing to honour its British roots.

Kayaking in Antarctica

Kayaking in Antarctica on a Swan Hellenic cruise. Picture: Martin Bianco

Allowing guests the chance to “see what others don’t”, new-build ship SH Vega sails to the world’s most isolated destinations and lesser-known ports of cultural, geographical or wildlife interest. With a Polar Class 6 ice-strengthened hull and extra-large stabilisers for smoother sailing, the 152-guest ship is a sea-going sustainability superstar.

Features include an advanced wastewater treatment system and dynamic positioning technology that allows the ship to remain in place without having to drop anchor into fragile seabeds. In Base Camp, guests are briefed and get changed in preparation for expeditions or Zodiac tours.

Meanwhile, the science laboratory is for picking the brains of guest scientists, joining a workshop on cloud observations or analysing water samples.

Swan Hellenic SH Minerva SH Vega

Identical sister ship SH Minerva, Swan Hellenic. Picture: Martin Bianco

No matter where you are on the boutique ship, floor-to-ceiling windows treat you to clear views, while the understated ‘Scandi-luxe’ interior never distracts from the ever-evolving landscapes outside. There’s no theatre or Broadway-style entertainment on board – the show takes place outside.

We loved the forward-facing Swan’s Nest observation deck and stargazing deck for those crystal-clear nights.

Staterooms and suites are spacious and elegant with a high-spec yet welcoming feel. The majority have good-sized balconies, and all categories feature holographic flame-effect fireplaces that give a cosy vibe, no matter where you are sailing.

Three dining venues offer both international and local cuisine inspired by regional ingredients: The Swan Restaurant is the main venue, while the Club Lounge serves 24-hour tapas-inspired dining and fresh pastries. And in honour of the great British tradition, ‘High Seas High Tea’ is served daily.

For those seeking something a little stronger, the Observation Lounge is the place to enjoy a cocktail while listening to low-key music and swapping stories of the day with fellow sailors.

After a day ashore, guests can unwind in the spa, which uses La Mer and Lajatica products. The panoramic sauna with its incredible view is also a popular spot to relax. There’s even a gym for those with more energy to spare, plus a heated outdoor pool, hot tub and poolside seating so you can drink in the scenery wherever you are in the world.

Swan Hellenic SH Minerva SH Vega

Zodiac tour on an expedition cruise with Swan Hellenic. Picture: Martin Bianco

Book an expedition cruise on SH Vega

An 11-night Antarctic Peninsula cruise on SH Vega, departing on December 4, 2022, costs from £9,250 per person and includes return regional flights, transfers, one shore excursion or activity per port of call and one night pre-cruise accommodation. Visit swanhellenic.com

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