Ah, my journey with Swan Hellenic was nothing short of extraordinary, and I’m thrilled to share the highlights of this unforgettable voyage:
- Awe-Inspiring Corinth Canal Passage: Our cruise began with a breathtaking passage through the famous Corinth Canal. The ship’s slow, graceful glide through this narrow waterway left us all in awe, setting the stage for an adventure of a lifetime.
What is different: Size matters. Ther Corinth Canal can accommodate a maximum ship width of 82 feet. The 12,000-ton SH Diana is 75 feet wide! Larger ships simply won’t fit.
- Elegant Touch at Ephesus: During our visit to Ephesus, we were treated to the utmost luxury with the provision of frozen towels. It was such a refreshing and indulgent way to recharge after a day of exploring this ancient marvel.
What is different: Sometimes luxury is unexpected. Because the ship provides onboard tour guides instead of third parties onshore, the ship could provide this amenity.
- Insightful Onboard Tour Guides: Swan Hellenic’s own tour guides truly enriched our experiences in each port of call. Their depth of knowledge and passion for storytelling brought history and culture to life in a way that was both engaging and enlightening.
What is different: Continuity. Because the ship tours are small, with the same onboard guide and staff you see around the ship, passengers bond with the guides and the staff on ours recognizes people.
- Pre-Tour Lectures: The night before each new adventure, we gathered for captivating lectures. These sessions not only piqued our curiosity but also provided valuable context for what lay ahead, making every day of exploration even more rewarding.
What is different: When education becomes entertainment. Swan Hellenic does expedition cruising. You come onboard expecting to learn, both from speakers on board and in-house tour guides on shore.
- Distinctive Bow Design: The ship’s uniquely rounded bow was a conversation starter, a symbol of the elegance and sophistication that defined our voyage.
What is different: Wow factor design. The large circular deck area at the bow can be ideal for observing sea life. It is also a great space for a private party.
- Whisper Smartphone App: The Whisper smartphone app kept us effortlessly connected to the ship’s activities and provided fascinating insights about the destinations we visited, enhancing our sense of discovery.
What is different: Touring on your terms. On other tours, you might be trying to keep up with the guide and hear what they are saying. The Whisper app lets you choose how near or far you wanted to stand and still hear what is going on.
- Exclusive Despotiko Island: Our discovery of the hidden gem that is Despotiko Island felt like uncovering a secret treasure. Its unspoiled beauty and serene atmosphere made it a cherished memory.
What is different: Exclusivity. We had a specially arranged tour. If you wanted to visit otherwise you would need to get to the nearby island of Antiparos and either charter a boat or find a local boat operator who also gives tours to the uninhabited island.
- Daily Inclusive Tours: One of the joys of this cruise was the inclusion of daily tours, allowing us to immerse ourselves fully in the culture and history of each port without any extra planning or cost.
What is different: Someone else makes the arrangements. On most other cruises, you pay your basic cruise fare, then book shore excursions “a la carte” in advance or once onboard. The most popular ones might sell out quickly.
- Personalized Service: The crew’s warm hospitality was exceptional. They quickly learned our names and our preferred drinks, making us feel like cherished guests rather than passengers.
What is the difference: You feel like a local. It’s a smaller ship. 192 passengers maximum. With about 140 crew, the passenger to crew ratio is almost 1:1. It is easier for the staff to get to know your name.
- Cabin Parties: The cabin parties were a delightful surprise. They brought together fellow travelers and fostered a sense of camaraderie that made the voyage even more enjoyable.
What is the difference: All-inclusive redefined. On other cruise ships, hosting a party is like planning a small reception. You buy canapes and alcohol from the ship. On Swan Hellenic, we asked to hold a party and it was gratis.
- Social Connections: The smaller ship size created an intimate atmosphere, and it was incredibly easy to strike up conversations and form friendships with fellow passengers.
What is different: It’s a friendly bunch. Different cruise lines have different personalities. Some people can be impressed with their own self-importance. That was rare to nonexistent on the SH Diana.
- All-Inclusive Luxury: The convenience of not having to worry about extra expenses allowed us to relax and fully savor every moment of our cruise.
What is different: It’s hard to spend more money. You do not start your cruise with the expectation you will spend hundreds or thousands in onboard expenses. We received no bill at the end of our cruise.
- Transportation Choices: Whether we opted for Zodiac adventures or the comfort of upscale tenders, Swan Hellenic ensured we had the right choice for every excursion.
What is different: When getting to shore can be a pleasure. Few ships have Zodiacs. Some cruise lines use versions of lifeboats as ship-to-shore tenders. Tenders on the SH Diana felt more like luxury cars.
- Connected at Sea: Staying online with reliable and high-speed internet was a bonus, allowing us to share our incredible journey with loved ones back home.
What is different: I thought reliable internet at sea was impossible. Internet connectivity on cruise ships is notoriously bad. It can be expensive. On the SH Diana, it was excellent and free, included in the fare.
- Memorable Keepsakes: The personalized videos sent to us afterward were a heartwarming touch, offering a wonderful way to relive our voyage whenever we wished.
What is different: If a picture is worth 1,000 words, what about a video? Although we are awaiting our video, we saw a preview on the last night of our cruise. Thanks to our onboard professional photographers and innovative drone footage, the video is spectacular.
- Artistic Cabin Ambiance: Our cabins were adorned with real artworks, adding a touch of culture and sophistication to our private sanctuaries.
What is different: Sophistication. Like hotel rooms, some cruise lines might furnish cabins expecting excessive wear and tear. Swan Hellenic knows someone who books an expedition cruise appreciates the finer things in life.
- Effortless Exploration: Swan Hellenic’s attention to detail truly made being a tourist a breeze. We could focus entirely on the joys of discovery without any logistical worries.
What is different: Touring in a bubble is good. We opted out of tours, choosing to explore on our own in a couple of ports. It took only a short time to appreciate the “bubble” the ship organized tours provide. No problems like Hop-on, Hop-off buses that are off schedule or touts trying to sell taxi tours at high prices.
- Boutique Cruise Experience: Escaping the crowds and experiencing a more intimate, boutique cruise made us feel like privileged travelers rather than part of a mass-market crowd.
What is different: Small ship cruising is different. The small ship experience means it can be easy to make friends fast. Touring in a small group has a feeling of exclusivity.
- Central Port Access: Docking right in the heart of town in select ports was incredibly convenient, allowing us to maximize our time for exploration and immersion in local culture.
What is different: When smaller means better. The ship is small! It can get to older piers in harbors off limits to larger cruise ships. This means docking, not tendering is the practical option.
Swan Hellenic offered us a cruise experience that was not only enriching but also deeply memorable. It was a voyage of discovery, connection, and sheer delight that will forever hold a special place in our hearts.
- Regional flights to the port of embarkation and/or disembarkation (ONLY available for Antarctica cruises starting or ending in Ushuaia, Arctic cruises starting and ending in Longyearbyen and Kangerlussuaq)
- Group return transfers from the airport to the cruise port (via our included accommodation where applicable)
- One night pre-cruise accommodation with breakfast in a 4/5-star hotel or onboard
- All meals onboard
- Onboard accommodation in a stateroom selected category
- 24-hour room service
- Coffee, tea, soft drinks and selected alcoholic beverages available 24-hours per day
- Lecture programmes by our experienced expedition team and guest speakers
- One selected shore excursion/expedition activities per port of call (Kayak not included, bookable for a fee on board)
- Branded Swan Hellenic expedition parka and use of rubber boots in Polar Regions
- Standard WiFi
- Onboard gratuities & port taxes
Cover photo: Corinth Canal
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