Swan Hellenic and Helsinki Shipyard recently announced the float out of the Swan Hellenic Diana, marking a significant advancement in the construction of one of the last cruise ships being ordered for the luxury expedition market. The expedition travel business has seen substantial growth in recent years as travellers sought out “bucket list” journeys outside the typical vacation areas.
Expedition sailing used to be more destination-focused and offered excursions to explore regions like the Arctic and the Antarctic. Still, in recent years, the ships that were initially rudimentary in their accommodations have been replaced with luxurious ships. Over 40 cruise ships have entered the market in the last five years, adding more than 8,500 beds.
As one of the last orders for the sector and a reflection of the market’s gradual shift, the SH Diana was floated from Helsinki’s Shipyard Hall on 23 January.
She is about 15% larger than the previous two Swan Hellenic cruise ships, increasing from 10,600 gross tonnes for SH Minerva and SH Vega to 12,100 gross tonnes for SH Diana. She is 22M longer than her fleet mates at 125M, with nine decks and a capacity of 192 passengers and 141 staff.
A dedicated Multifunctional Room next to the Observation Lounge, a Private Dining Room for special occasions, and two tenders that give passengers a comfortable alternative to Zodiacs for adventure landings are just a few of the outstanding facilities that Swan Hellenic brings to her sister ships. She is the first of their ships to have a fleet of 15 Zodiacs, eight kayaks, and shore tenders, each of which can hold 48 passengers. The new ship was built to Polar Class 6 standards as opposed to the preceding two, which had ice-strengthened hulls and were Polar Class 5.
All ships include spacious outdoor areas to take in the sights, expedition facilities, and a crew of knowledgeable guides, speakers, and lecturers who can fill passengers in on the history and culture of the places they visit. The ship’s hybrid diesel-electric power system allows it to go up to 8,000 nautical miles, and it has a range of up to 40 days at sea. The ship has a total of 141 crew members.
Each Swan Hellenic ship offers three different dining options, including outdoor dining, reflecting the premium nature of the market. Other amenities include a salon, spa, sauna, heated outdoor pool, and fitness centre. Room sizes range from 20sm (the size of a basic stateroom) to more than 40sm (the size of a premium suite), and most rooms also include a private balcony.
The CEO of Swan Hellenic, Andrea Zito, is delighted with the building progress and quality of the SH Diana, a Polar Class PC6 vessel with cutting-edge ship technology and sustainability that will start service in April as scheduled. Our visitors can choose between tender boat and adventure zodiac shore exploration for the first time on our cultural expedition cruises, and we can’t wait to have them join us!
Swan Hellenic placed an order for its third cruise ship in October 2020, not long after Zito revealed plans to resurrect the historic brand, which goes back to the 1950s and the beginnings of the current expedition industry. Ships SH Minera and SH Vega were launched in December 2021 and July 2020, respectively. In June 2021, construction began on the third vessel. A few months later, the ship was launched into service after the steel blocks had been fabricated at the CRIST shipyard in Poland and shipped to the Helsinki assembly facility.
The cruise line has updated its status to say that the SH Diana is now being fitted. According to the shipyard, the sea testing will begin early March and run for around a week. On 15 April, the SH Diana will start its first voyage from Italy, where she will sail the Mediterranean before venturing north to the Arctic. In December of 2023, she goes from Africa to the Antarctic for the first time.
Following the explosive expansion and steady stream of new vessels entering the exploration market. TGrowth in the luxury cruise market is expected to accelerate in the near future. There are 25 vessels on order for that market, with deliveries running to 2028. More than 18,000 berths can be handled by those new ships.
Consumers’ preference for smaller ships equipped with high-end amenities and services may be seen in the rise of expedition cruising and, more recently, luxury ships.