Few cruise ships draw the kind of passengers that 350-passenger Minerva does. For the last 60 years, Swan Hellenic’s chartered vessels have attracted a mostly British clientele — along with a handful of Anglophile Americans — looking for an in-depth educational experience as they view the ancient and modern world through the eyes of the ship’s outstanding onboard experts.
What We Love
Best Library Afloat: This handsome wood-paneled room, which features a generous selection of books chosen with the ship’s itineraries in mind, has a comfortable, quiet lounge ambience. It’s possible you just might disappear for the afternoon into a riveting story about early exploration in the ancient world.
The Social Experience: The ship attracts passengers who like to meet others, and there are ample opportunities to mingle at meals, where the maître d’ seats you at communal tables. You can also mingle at group lectures and shared experiences ashore, as all excursions are included in the fare.
The Ship Has Been Refreshed: In early 2012, Minerva underwent a major refit that added an observation lounge and a new deck of roomy balcony cabins.
Best Known For
Varied Worldwide Itineraries: As Swan Hellenic has a very high percentage of repeat clientele, the line’s itinerary planners are always creating unique cruises that call on new ports — one year Minerva might spend the winter circumnavigating South America and the next cruising Southeast Asia.
Lecture Program: Tied to the destinations are specialty lecturers who come from universities, the media, government, or clergy to share their knowledge in a most palatable way — while injecting British humor into the mix.
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Who It's Best For
The Genuinely Curious: Those who loved their high school and university days will find this floating island of education a delight as it takes the educational setting and plunks it right where history happened — and is still happening today.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Manners Matter: Swan Hellenic Brits tend to be reserved and polite in more formal settings such as meals, lectures, and excursions. Loud, brash behavior is frowned upon, but that doesn’t extinguish the fun that naturally happens when everyone aboard has chosen the right cruise.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.
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Minerva at a Glance
- Line: Swan Hellenic
- Number of Passengers: 350
- Ship Size: Small
- Launch Date: 1996
- Refurbish Date: 2012