Monday 12 March 2012

Swan Hellenic's Minerva returns to Service

 Discovery-led cruise ship sails home following its multi million pound refit

Swan Hellenic’s Minerva sailed into Portsmouth today following its multi-million pound winter upgrade programme.

Carrying a maximum of just 350 passengers, Minerva, the discovery led cruise ship spends its days taking discerning travellers to some of the world’s most iconic destinations and hidden gems.

Built specifically for Swan Hellenic and originally named by HRH the Duchess of Gloucester, the vessel has a unique loyalty with both passengers and crew alike.

Minerva boasts a country house style and Swan Hellenic prides itself on its discovery cruising ethos, which was pioneered by the company in 1954. Each sailing is escorted by Guest Speakers who bring each destination to life covering topics as diverse as the legacy of Tsarist and Soviet rule to the archaeology and culture of Greek Islands. Each Guest Speaker is an expert in their field with many considered to be the world’s foremost authority on their subject.

The ship’s company is today preparing the vessel for its first passenger cruise that departs from Portsmouth later this afternoon. HM Band of the Royal Marines will play from the ship’s deck as it departs on a 15 day cruise calling at Oporto and Lisbon (Portugal), Cadiz (Spain), Casablanca (Morocco) and Lanzarote, Tenerife, La Gomera, Santa Cruz de la Palma (Canary Islands) and Funchal (Madeira).

The upgraded ship boasts a number of new and improved features including:

· An additional 32 balconies to existing cabins, increasing the number of balcony suites to 23% of all cabin accommodation

· A new forward facing observation lounge and bar – the Orpheus Lounge – on the top deck, providing guests with expansive panoramic views

· A dedicated internet lounge

· An extension to the popular Shackleton Bar where guests can enjoy pre dinner drinks

· A new outdoor walk round promenade deck

· New en-suite facilities in every cabin

The ship also features a comprehensive library of approximately 5,000 volumes, many written by Guest Speakers past and present; two dining rooms enabling open seating dining, which allows passengers to dine with their friends at leisure plus the gym and spa services have also been relocated and upgraded.

The upgrade marks the first major work on the ship since its original remodelling from a spy ship vessel called ‘Okean’ (named after the Ukrainian shipyard where it was being constructed).

“Minerva’s renovations mark a new chapter in the long history of Swan Hellenic and underline All Leisure Group PLC’s commitment to the future of this popular ship, enabling it to remain at the forefront of cultural discovery cruising for years to come” explains Colin Stone, Managing Director Swan Hellenic. “We took onboard feedback from our passengers to ensure the major refurbishments allow the ship to continue to appeal to our loyal customers but also hopefully appeal to those who are keen to try their first discovery cruise on an intimate ship”.

The ship will start its 2012 season by offering a series of spring cruises around the Canary Islands, Mediterranean and Black Sea. Passengers can explore the flora, fauna and landscapes of the Canary Islands on an Islands of the Sun cruise while the Vintage Iberia & Italy cruise allows passengers to travel up the Guadalquivir River and stay in the centre of Seville – an experience which is unique to Minerva due to her smaller size.

Prices start from £1,495 per person on board the refurbished Minerva based on the 16 March, Vintage Iberia & Italy cruise.

All prices include return flights from the UK (where applicable), transfers, a tailor-made programme of shore excursions in every port, meals and an integrated programme of Guest Speaker talks on board. There are no additional gratuities or hidden extras, and entrance fees to all attractions featured in the shore excursion programme are also included.

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