Swan Hellenic Reviews

Year Started: 1950
Ships in Fleet:

Summary: Only one ship (the Minerva) for 350 passengers, refurbished in 2012, now sailing mostly history-based cruises to European sites of antiquity.


Swan Hellenic Editor's Review


It began in the 1950s when the Swan travel agency, operated by two brothers by the name of Swan, was asked to organise a tour for visitors interested in the antiquities of Greece. The archaeologist, Sir Mortimer Wheeler, was employed as guest lecturer.

From this developed a full programme of cruises, in which well known academics, writers and clergymen were regularly featured as guest lecturers, both on board ship and on site. The company prided itself on never repeating, exactly, any itinerary, but it concentrated, as the name suggests, on classical sites in the Aegean sea, around the coats and islands of modern Greece and Turkey It also, however, visited classical and other ancient sites in north Africa (including Egypt) and the eastern Mediterranean. Unlike most commercial cruises, in which the on board entertainment is as important as the destinations visited, Swan Hellenic cruises landed almost every day in order to visit historic sites, and travel between sites was undertaken by the ship overnight. The operation was characterised by an English ethos of high culture, although it had an international following.

The Experience

A limited Room Service menu is available. Further details are detailed in your cabin folder on board.

During the day, the general atmosphere on board is informal and casual clothing, including shorts, is perfectly acceptable. However, just as at a land based resort, we ask you to cover swimwear when entering the ship from the open decks. 

There is a small self-service laundry on Aegean Deck where washing powder is provided. A valet service, offering laundry and pressing is available on board and will be charged to your on board account. A laundry bag and order form is provided in your cabin. Dry cleaning is not available on board Minerva.



The line proclaims, "There's a sense of occasion every evening in the elegant Swan Restaurant. Open from early until late, there are no sittings or seating plans on board. You're free to dine on your own, or with newly-found friends. Just let the Maître d' know your preference on the day. Menus include gourmet choices and often feature dishes that reflect the destinations to which we travel. Fresh ingredients are brought on board at many ports. Dishes are cooked to order and our wine waiters will be happy to recommend labels from our extensive wine list."


Breakfast, lunch and dinner are arranged on an open sitting basis and may be taken in the The Swan Restaurant or the Veranda. Opening times will vary according to the daily programme.


44 Balcony cabins
100 Outside cabins
(74% outside cabins including 23% balcony cabins)

Some single occupancy cabins are available. 

All cabins have the following:
- en suite private facilities
- Built in wardrobe
- Personal safe
- Direct telephone
- Hand held hair dryer
- Television 
- Binoculars
- Toiletries
- Shower cap 
- Bathrobe

- Slippers 

Kid's Excursions

no children's programs - children are allowqed but are solely the parent's responsibility.

Fellow Passengers

350 fellow passengers - mostly well educated, interested in history and education. Some solo travelers.



In the evening, the dress code varies according to your chosen restaurant. The Veranda is smart casual for ladies (dresses or blouses with skirts or trousers) and for gentlemen, long trousers and shirts with collars.

In the Swan Restaurant gentlemen are required to wear a jacket and tie (unless advised differently on board by the Cruise Director).


As a courtesy to other passengers the dress code will be observed. Please ensure you are correctly dressed to avoid any embarrassment on entering your chosen dining area.


Shore Excursions


Swan Hellenic’s shore excursion programme offers an extensive, inclusive range of excursions, the cost of which is included in your cruise fare, worth up to £1000 per couple on a typical two week cruise.

Our tailor-made shore excursion programme offers a wide choice of excursions in each port, catering for a range of abilities.  Depending on the itinerary you might enjoy panoramic scenic drives in Norway, botany walks in Greece, a cruise along the Bosphorus in Turkey, hikes along the Dragon’s Back in Hong Kong for dramatic views of the city and surrounding islands or exhilarating jeep rides to experience the awe-inspiring landscape of Jordan’s Wadi Rum. Other highlight excursions focus on museums, archaeological sites, cathedrals and churches, iconic landscapes and coastlines, each of which offers an insight into the country visited. 

Half day, full day, evening and overnight stays make the most of each destination.  A half day in port offers visits to the key sites, while a full day allows you to choose both a morning and an afternoon excursion, and includes time for lunch on board.  Late night sailings or overnights in port extend the experience in cities such as Singapore, Yangon, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong and Mumbai.  

All entrance fees, tips to drivers and guides are paid on your behalf by Swan Hellenic – there is no obligation for any further tipping.

On Excursions casual clothing with flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. It might also be useful to bring an umbrella and/or a raincoat for an unexpected shower. Please remember that, if visiting a church or other holy place, you should cover your shoulders and be prepared to cover your head; shorts are normally not accepted in these places. 

At some ports Minerva will be at anchor outside the port and passengers will be taken ashore by ship's tenders or by local boats. Tenders run a service between the ship and the shore. Announcements will be made on board advising timings. Our crew is always on hand to help. We respectfully request that you follow their instructions for your safety when embarking / disembarking the tenders. Flat shoes are more suitable when using a tender to go ashore.


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