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Swan Hellenic Cruises Profile and Fleet
Swan Hellenic is the cultural cruising arm of P&O and offers cruises with a strong educational content in a country house ambience. The main attraction remains the itineraries, the excellent lecture programmes and the opportunity to broaden the mind. Tour programmes are also usually available at beginning and end of each cruise. Swan Hellenic has been navigating the globe for more than 50 years, and in 1997 was acquired by P&O Cruises. Billed as an enriching experience for both veteran and first-time cruisers, Swan Hellenic offers unique itineraries, academic and expert lecturers, and customized shore excursions led by local guides. The experience on this one-ship cruise line, which just this summer launched Minerva II, a new cruise ship, focuses almost entirely on ports-of-call - as opposed to onboard frippery. When the ship is at sea, time is often taken up with guest lectures offered by a series of erudite, mostly British, experts in fields ranging from archeology to wine. The usual onboard cruise diversions - casino gambling, bingo, bad hair day lectures and "sun'n'fun" activities poolside don't apply. All voyages aboard Minerva II feature guest speakers who are authorities in such diverse subjects as classics, history, art, botany, archaeology, marine biology, astronomy and music. All of its restaurants operate on an open seating policy, evening entertainment consists of low-key (but excellent) jazz bands, talent shows by Indonesian or Filipino crew, one-man shows by well known (at least in the U.K.) British actors, and bands that play wonderful-to-dance-to torch songs. Taking on one of the former Renaissance R-series cruise ships, the one-ship Swan Hellenic has, in essence, doubled its capacity from the 300-passenger Minerva to the 700-passenger Minerva II. What this adds to the Swan Hellenic experience is more services (larger spa, more elaborate pool areas) and more expansive facilities, along with a plethora of balcony cabins (approximately 73 percent). And yet, the cruise line has managed to preserve the intimate, elegant ambiance for which it has attracted its legion of loyal (mostly U.K.-based) passengers. It has one of the industry's highest repeat passenger ratios. This is a perfect choice for any Anglophile but it must be noted that a trip on Minerva II is a consummately British experience. It may require an adjustment for Americans - in areas ranging from the way they make a martini to the very reserved demeanor of crew and staff.
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Minerva II: Bermuda registered, built 2001, 30.277 gross tons, 716 passengers, 373 crew members.
Itineraries: Mediterranean, Black Sea, Western Europe, Scandinavia/
Russia, Baltic & Norwegian Fjords, Middle East, India, Maldives, South-East Asia, Africa.