The first of the new luxury expedition cruise ships, the SH Minerva, was delivered to her owners and began a positioning voyage to Antarctica ahead of her maiden voyage later this month. The ship also represents the relaunch of one of the oldest brands in the educational cruise and expedition market.
The 10,500 gross tons SH Minerva was officially completed and handed over to Swan Hellenic on December 3 by the Helsinki Shipyard. The ship, which was completed in just 26 months after signing the contract, left Cuxhaven, Germany on December 6 after crossing the Kiel Canal. Her first scheduled stopover is in Tenerife as she sails to Ushuaia, Argentina, from where the ship’s inaugural cruise will begin on December 29. The first expedition is expected to last 10 days crossing the Drake Passage, visiting the South Shetland Islands and sailing around Antarctica. Peninsula.
A private baptism ceremony for the SH Minerva took place at the shipyard on November 23 and was followed by the final sea trials. The Helsinki Shipyard reports that the trials went according to plan and were completed within a demanding schedule demonstrating the maneuverability and stability of the cruise ship at maximum speed.
The new cruise was specially designed as the first in a series of three polar expedition ships. As ships sail around the world, the focus has been on high latitude operations. the SH Minerva Features a 5 megawatt diesel-electric propulsion system with selective catalytic reduction and a PC5 ice-reinforced hull with extra-large stabilizers for improved passenger comfort.
the SH Minerva is designed to be completely self-sufficient for up to 40 days or 8,000 nautical miles. The ships are equipped with an exhaust gas cleaning system, advanced sewage treatment systems and waste storage facilities necessary to operate in polar sensitive areas. In addition, preparations were made to implement battery technology that would allow quiet operation.
Like other new cruise ships under construction for the shipping market, the SH Minerva offers luxurious accommodation to its passengers as well as amenities such as a restaurant, lounge and club room with large windows to admire the scenery as well as a stargazing platform. It has a capacity of 152 passengers in 76 cabins and suites and is operated by a crew of 120 people.
the SH Minerva will be followed by her sister ship on SH Vega (NB517) and the slightly larger NB518, both of which are already under construction at the Helsinki shipyard.
The Swan Hellenic brand dates back to the 1950s, when a father-son team in the UK launched trips to Greece and began to organize educational trips on Greek charter passenger ships. The brand developed a loyal following and in the 1980s was acquired by P&O which supplied dedicated vessels. The brand became part of Carnival Corporation after the acquisition of P&O, but in 2007 they announced they were shutting down their operations. The brand was sold to a series of investors and relaunched for a while by the All Leisure Holiday group, before the company filed for bankruptcy in 2017.
Current investors bought the brand in 2020 and have announced plans to relaunch operations as a luxury expedition cruise line. The keel of the second cruise ship, the SH Vega, was laid in February 2021 and should enter service in spring 2022 followed by the third cruise ship before the end of 2022.