“The show is not inside; the show is very much outside,” Andrea Zito CEO of Swan Hellenic explained as he described the new ship SH Vega. Understated elegance was a phrase repeated to describe the ship throughout the couple of days I was onboard; to me it sums it up nicely. SH Vega is the second of Swan Hellenic’s purpose-built ships featuring elegant Scandi-design interiors, outdoor spaces and dedicated expedition facilities. Accommodating 152 guests in 76 spacious suites and staterooms, the majority with large balconies, the rooms had more storage space – shelves, wardrobes and drawers – than any other stateroom I have ever stayed in!
Featuring 3 dining venues – the Swan Restaurant, Club Lounge and Pool bar & Grill – we had the opportunity to sample the buffet, a la carte menu, along with a light afternoon tea. The food packed a punch for a ship of its size. Meeting the executive chef and team who produced great food including a delicious baked onion appetiser is always a privilege, however it was a ship tour with one of the ships Expedition Team that topped off our brief visit.
I’m usually spellbound by cruise line expedition team members and their tales but Anthony Jinman who showed us around the ship had a particularly interesting story! As Deputy Leader of the Antarctic Quest 21 expedition team, he found himself in the situation of needing to evacuate the team from Antarctica following severe weather further complicated by changing covid travel restrictions and a subsequent cancellation of their return journey mid expedition. They faced being stranded on the Antarctic Peninsula. Who should happen to answer the call for assistance but Swan Hellenic – with SH Minerva in the area, the Captain and crew safely picked up the Antarctic Quest 21 team and transported them back. Anthony heralds from Bristol, clearly passionate and hugely experienced, is the 12th Brit to have skied to both the Geographic North Pole and solo skied to the Geographic South Pole and now finds himself proudly wearing a Swan Hellenic expedition crew uniform having accepted a role with the cruise line. I could imagine listening to one of his onboard lectures whilst sailing in the Polar regions and expect it would be fascinating…
Understandably there isn’t an abundance of leisure facilities onboard SH Vega given the ship’s size. However, there’s a well-stocked library, the gym was very well equipped, the 2 spa treatment rooms offered an array of treatments, including massages and facials as well as beauty options. (I can recommend the hot stone massage – I thought we had set sail during my massage – it just turned out that I was in a deep state of relaxation!) There’s a good size sauna with whirlpool immediately outside, and a nice sized pool deck with bar too. But as Andrea Zito says, “the show is not inside, the show is very much outside.” All in all, there was a good range of onboard facilities given SH Vega is an expedition vessel.
It’s essential that cruise lines embrace innovation in sustainability, and the benefit of new ships such as SH Vega means that investment can be made in the latest technology. We were fortunate enough to visit the state-of-the-art bridge and listen to the ship’s Captain. The hardware ensures that the ship can operate effectively within highly sensitive areas such as the polar regions.
The Swan Hellenic team have been ‘scouting intensely’ to find areas that nobody goes, such as the 1,000 kilometres stretch between Congo and Gabon. This desire to find unexplored, difficult-to-travel-to areas ensures that the brand’s strapline ‘See What Others Don’t’ offers their guests something different.
Swan Hellenic is all about cultural expedition, and with the 2023 itineraries soon to be released there’s a lot to look forward to for this cruise line including their third ship, SH Diana, arriving early 2023.