Swan Hellenic: Luxury Expedition Cruises to Remote Destinations

Swan Hellenic SH Diana at port in Halifax, Canada

Contributors John and Sandra Nowlan describe their Swan Hellenic ‘Explore and Restore’ themed expedition cruise that featured wellness guru Deepak Chopra.

Swan Hellenic, the venerable British touring and cruise company, has welcomed guests since the early 1950s.

It now has new owners, three new expedition ships, and three unique themes that should appeal to anyone, especially seniors, who want to combine luxury, learning, and adventure.

Meeting the Swan Hellenic Fleet

Comfortable main lounge on SH Diana
Comfortable main lounge on SH Diana

We recently joined Swan Hellenic’s newest ship, SH Diana, for an itinerary that took us from New York to Halifax.

Swan Hellenic Leaving New York on a misty evening
Leaving New York on a misty evening

This cruise had a Deepak Chopra Wellness theme with scheduled stops at Martha’s Vineyard, Provincetown, and Boston, plus a sail through the Cape Cod Canal. 

Launched in Finland in May 2023, the 192-passenger SH Diana is the largest of the three expedition ships in the Swan Hellenic fleet. The other two, SH Minerva and SH Vega, have similar profiles but guest capacities of just 152. 

Zodiacs and kayaks are stored near the stern, but Diana adds two tender boats. All three combine ice-certified strength for Arctic and Antarctic exploration with modern Scandinavian design, excellent cuisine, friendly service, and outstanding creature comforts.

Learning from Naturalists on SH Diana

Oceanographer Ed Sobey discusses the geology of the Cape Cod area.

Oceanographer Ed Sobey discusses the geology of the Cape Cod area.

Naturalists are an important part of any expedition cruise, especially in the Arctic and Antarctic. On our relatively short cruise, we were fortunate to have two well-qualified experts on the Swan Hellenic team. 

Dr. Anthony Jinman from Britain is one of the few people in the world who has reached both the North and South Poles on skis. His slide and video presentation of these near-impossible feats was compelling. 

The second lecturer was Dr. Ed Sobey, an oceanographer from Seattle. He talked about the ice age and erosion forces that created the giant sandspit known as Cape Cod. When we entered the Cape Cod Canal, Dr. Sobey gave a running commentary from the bridge over the PA system. 

Approaching a railway bridge on the Cape Cod Canal
Approaching a railway bridge on the Cape Cod Canal

In 1909, construction began on the 17.4-mile artificial waterway that runs from Buzzards Bay in the south to Cape Cod Bay in the north. The waterway runs under a railway and two major highway bridges. A swift tidal current changes direction every six hours with the tide.

Explore and Restore on Swan Hellenic

Deepak Chopra discusses his philosophy
Deepak Chopra discusses his philosophy

The main feature of our cruise from New York was its “Explore and Restore” theme with wellness guru Dr. Deepak Chopra and his team.

The author and new age guru recently signed an exclusive contract with Swan Hellenic for six cruises this year and more in 2025. 

His opening seminar reviewed his philosophy: the interconnectedness of mental, emotional, and physical health. Then for the next six days, his team took over with yoga, meditation, and self-help seminars based on Chopra’s teachings. 

Daily yoga and meditation sessions
Daily yoga and meditation sessions

His team leader on the cruise was 20-year veteran Jennifer Johnson, Senior Director of Programs and Products. She said her goal for guests who partake in the Chopra activities is a greater understanding of themselves and of other cultures.

By combining Chopra’s techniques with the facilities of a modern expedition ship, Jennifer Johnson added that guests can have both a fulfilling inner journey and a very satisfying outer journey.

Swan Hellenic Themed Itineraries

Like the other two ships in the fleet, SH Diana will stay four months a year in the Antarctic and four months in the Arctic. 

Like our cruise, the other weeks are spent repositioning and visiting worldwide ports that offer adventure and discovery. Every voyage on Swan Hellenic Cruises includes one of three themes, including Chopra. 

Fine Cuisine

The second Swan Hellenic theme is Culinary. With few exceptions, the cuisine on our Chopra cruise was outstanding, but Swan Hellenic’s new affiliation with Europe’s JRE – Jeune Restaurateur will raise the bar. 

This association of young chefs offers what they call “the pinnacle of gastronomy” and has grown since 1974 to include 350 restaurants. Now, Swan Hellenic culinary-themed cruises will invite JRE chefs aboard to create signature dishes every night, culminating in an extraordinary Gala Dinner that showcases the chef’s passion and skills.

Fine menus, fine service at dinner
Fine menus, fine service at dinner
Swan Chantilly, a signature dessert on Swan Hellenic
Swan Chantilly, a signature dessert on Swan Hellenic

Exploration

The third Swan Hellenic theme will focus on ”Exploration of Earth and Beyond.”

In partnership with the SETI Institute (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence), experts advising NASA will come aboard to discuss and illustrate the latest astronomy, astrophysics, astrobiology, and planetary science discoveries. An advanced telescope will be installed for guest use during these out-of-this-world theme cruises.

Carving a Spot in the Growing Expedition Cruise Market

Expedition cruising on Swan Hellenic (credit: Swan Hellenic)
Expedition cruising on Swan Hellenic (credit: Swan Hellenic)

Swan Hellenic faces stiff competition in the growing expedition cruise market, but its unique features should make it stand out. 

All the rooms are bright and spacious, with plenty of closet space, very comfortable beds, and clever Scandinavian design. Every room includes an electric fireplace and slippers in two sizes.  

All staterooms and suites have electric fireplaces
All staterooms and suites have electric fireplaces

Bathrooms are very functional, but there is no bar soap, only liquid dispensers. Emphasizing sustainability, plastic water bottles are not used. Instead, guests are issued stainless steel bottles with water-filling stations throughout the ship. The Internet is free but very complicated to access. New technology should allow the company to improve its service. 

Coffee, tea, and snacks are available throughout the day. Complimentary beer, wine, and spirits, including good-quality non-alcoholic beer and wine, are also included daily. 

Breakfast and lunch are buffet style, but dinner is a special occasion with white linen tablecloths, excellent menu choices, and servers in formal white jackets and bowties.

We had lobster on three occasions and outstanding lamb shank and osso buco. 

Maine lobster was offered three times including this surf and turf.
Maine lobster was offered three times including this surf and turf

On our “Explore and Restore” cruise, all menus included a few healthy choices approved by Dr. Chopra. Many were vegetarian, but not all, and included Pistachio-Crusted Salmon and Beef with Potatoes and Peas. 

Crew bidding farewell to guests on the last night of the cruise
Crew bidding farewell to guests on the last night of the cruise

Even though the Swan Hellenic brand is almost 75 years old, it remains little known to the casual luxury market. The company’s goal now is to make it more accessible to potential guests who are active and curious about wellness, cuisine, culture, history, and geography. 


All photo credits: John and Sandra Nowlan, unless otherwise noted.


Disclosure: The Nowlans were guests of Swan Hellenic but any opinions expressed in this post are their own. 


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