The first new-build expedition ship under the new Swan Hellenic owner will be christened Minerva, and this news prompted the editorial team at NoFlyCruises to step back in time and delve into the history of this nostalgic ship name, and its three instances over the years. Three instances with a twist, we might add!
Swan Hellenic is a cruise line with a fascinating history and it became a firm favourite for the UK no fly cruise market. The first Minerva was operated by the second owner of Swan Hellenic (which was at the time a brand of Carnival Cruise Line/P&O). The ship was built in 1989, but she was never designed to be a cruise ship, she was intended as a Soviet research vessel. However, as can happen with new-builds, things changed and she was acquired in 1996 and renamed Minerva.
Under Carnival, she sailed with Swan Hellenic until 2003 when she was replaced by the larger Minerva 2 (now Azamara Pursuit). And the original Minerva was renamed. In 2007, Carnival decided to discontinue the brand and it was sold and then acquired by All Leisure Holidays (Sadly no longer with us) who relaunched the Swan Hellenic brand.
Here comes the twist. All Leisure Holidays needed a ship and it just so happened that there was a ship available to charter called Explorer II. This ship, was previously named…wait for it….Minerva, in fact, she was the very same Minerva that previously sailed for Carnival.
So, if you followed that, there will now have been 3 Minerva’s, including the exciting new-build under the new Swan Hellenic owner, but two of them were in fact, the same ship (Surely a cruising first and only?).
We are yet to learn if the new Minerva will operate any UK no fly cruises in the future. She will enter service in November 2021 with 152 passengers and 120 crew. We can certainly see this ice-class ship heading to the breath-taking expedition regions of the North, so we shall cross our fingers on that question.
>>For more about the new Swan Hellenic visit their website www.swanhellenic.com
Pictured top the new Minerva rendering and below the original Minerva ship