By Craig Forsyth - Partnerships, CLIA UK & Ireland
I was recently lucky enough to be invited to join the Christening ceremony and cruise of Swan Hellenic’s latest ship, the SH Vega out of Helsinki to Copenhagen, and she’s a beauty. Sister ship to the SH Minerva launched last year, carrying up to 152 passengers in 76 staterooms & suites on 3 decks, with 120 crew, in Scandi-design ‘boutique luxury’.
My actual cruise experience is limited but 3 days on board this wonderful vessel really brought home how far the cruise industry has come in recent months, and I would have every confidence in cruising further afield. Huge congratulations to Swan Hellenic, where the welcome was amazing and my balcony stateroom was beautiful and instantly gave me a home-away-from-home feeling. I was blown away by the imitation log fire crackling away at the bottom of the bed and I could easily imagine enjoying returning to the stateroom after a day’s exploring out in the cold. Lots of space & plenty of cleverly designed storage, plus one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in at sea or on land.
In the Observation Lounge on deck 7 you can enjoy a drink with fellow guests or be wowed by a guest lecture or take notes at an excursion briefing with cleverly concealed retractable TV screens. If the weather permits you should definitely go outside on the starboard side to sit in one of the wonderfully designed ‘nooks’ completely sheltered from the wind, or if you’re brave enough, head to the Swan’s Nest, down one deck, for the view, and if even braver peak down over the bow of the ship to see the waters parting smoothly. Heading to the stern you’ll pass through the Club Lounge where 24-hour snacks & refreshments are served and then out to the Pool Bar & Grill for an al-fresco lunch or a sundowner, you can even take a dip in the heated outdoor pool. The Swan restaurant on deck 4 serves up a bountiful buffet breakfast, a la carte lunch and dinner and the food & service were definitely further highlights.
Up on deck 8 you’ll find the gym, really well-equipped with spinning bikes, treadmills, rowing machine, free weights and heaps of other equipment for floor exercise, and after a good workout what better than a ‘sauna with a view’, a generous sized sauna with a huge scenic window and as if that wasn’t enough, you can then pop outside for a soak in the jacuzzi. One day’s workout then means you have no guilt about the next day’s beauty treatment or massage which you can enjoy on deck 3 near the library and onboard medical facilities. This is also where you’ll find ‘base camp’ the jumping off point for the eagerly awaited zodiac excursions. We were lucky enough to sample these sturdy landing craft, doing a few ‘zodiac zoomies’ around the ship.
SH Vega begins her cruising season on 20th July with the Svalbard Encompassed itinerary round trip from Tromso. Expedition cruising is most certainly back and with Swan Hellenic your clients will revel in the ‘sophisticated elegance’ of the brand whilst making memories of a lifetime.