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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Swan Hellenic
Founded1950, as Swans Tour Agency
Key people
Andrea Zito (CEO)

Swan Hellenic is a British cruise line specialising in expedition tours of historical or cultural interest aimed at the upper end of the cruise market. Swan Hellenic was first established as Swan's Tours in the 1950s as a tour operator carrying guests to historic sites, providing enrichment throughout their trips. In 1983, Swan Hellenic was acquired by P&O and became a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc in 2003, but it ended operations in 2007 after Carnival discontinued the brand. Shortly after, All Leisure Holidays Group purchased and revived Swan Hellenic, but ended its operations in 2017. G Adventures acquired the brand later that year and planned to revive it for a second time in 2018, but sold the brand to a private group in 2020, which plans to resume Swan Hellenic's operations with its first-ever new-build ship in 2021.


1950s–1983: Swan's Tours

In the 1950s, a British travel agent called Swan's Tours, operated by a father and son (W.F. Swan and R.K. Swan), was asked to organise a tour for visitors interested in the antiquities of Greece. Archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler served as a guest lecturer on the tours. The tours developed into a full programme of cruises, a concept known as "cultural cruising,"[1] in which well known academics, writers and clergymen were regularly featured as guest lecturers, both onboard ships and on site. Swan's Tours prided itself on never repeating an itinerary and focused its business on touring classical sites in the Aegean sea, around the coasts and islands of modern Greece and Turkey. It also visited classical and other ancient sites in north Africa (including Egypt) and the eastern Mediterranean. In contrast to most commercial cruises offered at the time, in which the onboard entertainment was as important as the destinations visited, Swan's itineraries included almost-daily port calls for visits to historic sites, placing a high emphasis on the destination-oriented nature of its business. The operation was characterised by an English ethos of high culture, although it had an international following.

1983–2007: As subsidiaries of P&O and Carnival

In 1983, P&O acquired Swan Hellenic from the Swan family. In 2003, it became a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc after Carnival merged with P&O Princess Cruises. Under Carnival, the characteristically small 300-passenger ship Minerva was replaced in 2003 by the 600-passenger Minerva II. This led to criticism that the intimacy of the original cruise concept had been compromised.

On 7 April 2007, Carnival officially ceased Swan Hellenic's operations,[2] and transferred Minerva II to the Princess Cruises fleet with the new name of Royal Princess.[3] Swan Hellenic's demise was also compounded when Martin Randall Travel launched a series of cruises to fill the niche Swan Hellenic had left.[4]

2007–2017: First revival

On 15 March 2007, following news of Carnival folding the Swan Hellenic brand, Lord Sterling, the former chairman of P&O, announced that he was buying the Swan Hellenic brand and intended to relaunch the cruise line as soon as a suitable vessel could be located.[5] All Leisure Holidays Group (ALG) subsequently acquired Swan Hellenic, joining it with sister brand Voyages of Discovery.[6][7] The revived brand intended to begin operations with Minerva in May 2008, but the maiden voyage was later postponed after the ship's generators incurred problems.[6] For her inaugural season, Minerva was scheduled to sail itineraries to the Baltic, Scandinavia, and Mediterranean.[7]

In January 2008, Swan Hellenic announced it would begin operating river cruises in 2009, offering itineraries sailing on the Danube from Vienna and on the Rhône from Lyon.[8] The cruises were operated in partnership with A'Rosa Cruises, and were offered with packages that included land excursions and gratuity charges.[8]

On 4 January 2017, it was reported that ALG had gone into administration, leaving 400 passengers abroad. The Civil Aviation Authority was instructed to repatriate them and future bookings for 13,000 others had been cancelled with pending refunds.[9] The news came one day after the company announced it was cancelling its first itineraries of 2017, seen as a precursor to the ending of operations after profits had declined in recent years.[10][11] That month, Grant Thornton's Eddie Williams, administrator to ALG, told BBC: "The cruise operations [of Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery] have been significantly loss-making over a number of years and the ongoing cost of funding these operations by the tour operations has created significant cash issues for the entire group, which has ultimately led to the administration of all businesses."[9] Following ALG's closure, Minerva, the only ship operating for Swan Hellenic, was laid up in Marseille awaiting sale.[12]

2017–present: Second revival

In February 2017, G Adventures announced it had acquired the Swan Hellenic brand, with the plan to restart operations in 2018.[12] Itineraries were scheduled to be released that summer, though none were ultimately publicized and released for sale.[12]

On 22 July 2020, a team led by former cruise industry executive Andrea Zito announced it had purchased Swan Hellenic from G Adventures.[13] Zito, who had helped to broker the sale of Swan Hellenic to G Adventures in 2017 while working for V-Ships Leisure, said the revived brand will retain its British heritage and maintain the breadth of international offerings provided in the past by honing in on its focus on exploring different cultures across global destinations.[1] The revived brand will launch with offices in Düsseldorf, London, and Monaco.[13] Swan Hellenic is scheduled to begin operations with the brand's first-ever new-build, an expedition vessel built by Helsinki Shipyard in Hietalahti, scheduled for delivery in August 2021 for a November 2021 debut, with a sister ship slated for delivery in January 2022 for an April 2022 debut.[13][14] The 152-passenger vessels, originally reported as commissioned for Russian river cruise operator Vodohod, are designed to sail in the polar regions and the tropics.[13][14] The vessels, temporarily named Vega 1 and Vega 2, will be built to Polar Code, measure 110 metres (360 ft) long, 20 metres (66 ft) wide, and have a maximum crew capacity of 120.[13][14]


Future fleet

Ship Built Entered service for Swan Hellenic Gross tonnage Notes Image
TBA 2021 November 2021 Temporarily named Vega 1.[13][14]
Under construction at Helsinki Shipyard.[13][14]
Scheduled to debut in November 2021.[13][14]
TBA 2022 April 2022 Temporarily named Vega 2.[13][14]
Under construction at Helsinki Shipyard.[13][14]
Scheduled to debut in April 2022.[13][14]

Former fleet

Ship Built Years in service Gross tonnage Former names Notes Image
Miaoulis 1952 1954 1,714 GT Originally built for the Greek Government and owned by Nomikos Lines.
Ankara 1927 1959[15]–1974 6,178 GT Built in the United States for New York and Miami S.S. Co., later Clyde Mallory Lines.
Sold to Turkey in 1948.
Chartered from Turkish Maritime Lines for a total of 105 cruises.
Orpheus 1948 1974–1996 4,145 GT Munster, Theseus Operated as the Liverpool to Dublin ferry Munster.
Operated as Orpheus as charter from Epirotiki Line.
Minerva 1990 1996–2003
12,892 GT Saga Pearl, Explorer II, Alexander von Humboldt Operated as Saga Pearl for Saga Cruises in summer 2003.
Operated as Explorer II for Abercrombie & Kent from 2003 to 2005.
Operated as Alexander von Humboldt for Phoenix Reisen from 2005 to 2008.
Laid up in Marseille after ALG ended operations and sold in September 2017.[16]
Minerva underway in Black Sea Krasnodarskiy Kray Sochi 8 October 2015 (cropped).jpg
Minerva II 2001 2003–2007 30,277 GT R Eight, Minerva II, Royal Princess, Adonia Operated as R Eight for Renaissance Cruises in 2001.
Operated as Royal Princess for Princess Cruises from 2007 to 2011.
Operated as Adonia for P&O Cruises from 2011 to 2018.
Began sailing as Azamara Pursuit for Azamara in August 2018.
Funchal ( Portugal )06 (cropped).jpg


  1. ^ a b Kalosh, Anne (22 July 2020). "Who and what's behind Swan Hellenic's rebirth". Seatrade Cruise News.
  2. ^ Hayhurst, Lee (15 March 2007). "Lord Sterling agrees deal to buy Swan Hellenic from Carnival – 15 Mar 2007". Travel Weekly.
  3. ^ Jones, Jana (17 October 2006). "2007's new ship launches". NBC News.
  4. ^ The Daily Telegraph (18 December 2006). "New Cruises Hope to Match Swan". News story. Retrieved 25 February 2009.
  5. ^ The Cruise Ship Report, 15 March 2007 Swan Hellenic, Despite Losing Its Only Cruise Ship, Gets New Life Retrieved from The Cruise Ship Report on 18 March 2007
  6. ^ a b Shearing, Caroline (23 May 2008). "Swan Hellenic's relaunch postponed". The Telegraph.
  7. ^ a b "Discovery World Cruises becomes Voyages of Discovery". Cruise Industry News. 26 June 2007.
  8. ^ a b "Swan Hellenic Launches River Cruising Programme". Cruise Industry News. 28 January 2008.
  9. ^ a b "All Leisure Holidays stops trading". 4 January 2017 – via
  10. ^ Spencer, Kerry (3 January 2017). "Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery Cancel Cruises Scheduled to Depart This Week, Citing Operational Reasons". Cruise Critic.
  11. ^ Honeywell, John. "Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery have cancelled the first cruises of 2017". Cruise Trade News.
  12. ^ a b c Bond, Mary (2 February 2017). "G Adventures acquires Swan Hellenic brand". Seatrade Cruise News.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Bond, Mary (22 July 2020). "Swan Hellenic reborn, revealed as the owner of two expedition newbuilds on order at Helsinki Shipyard". Seatrade Cruise News.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kalosh, Anne (1 July 2019). "Re-entering cruise market, Helsinki Shipyard nails two expedition newbuilds". Seatrade Cruise News.
  15. ^ COLIN STONE. "SWAN HELLENIC REFINES THE ART OF DISCOVERY CRUISING". Magazine article. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  16. ^ van Rooy, Charl (18 September 2017). "134m passenger vessel sold by Peter Insull and ready for new life at sea". Super Yacht Times.
This page was last edited on 15 September 2020, at 11:33
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