Swan Hellenic To Be Revived Using Vodohod Ships – Other Cruise News: Roald Amundsen UK Cruises 2020 – Ponant Back To Eight Ships

by Kevin Griffin

After last week’s demise of Cruise & Maritime Voyages in the mid-size sector, this week’s news is exclusively from the small ship sector. The biggest news is the return of Swan Hellenic Cruises using two ships presently under construction in Helsinki for delivery to Vodohod in 2021 and 2022. Elsewhere, Norway’s Hurtigruten have announced four ex-UK cruises they intend to operate this September as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic hopefully recede. And France’s Ponant, at the beginning of its own post-Covid 19 recovery is now up to operating eight ships.


Swan Hellenic To Be Revived Using Vodohod Ships

Swan Hellenic, the 70-year-old British discovery cruise brand, is to be revived using two 152-berth Russian ships now under construction in Helsinki.

Swan Hellenic is making a return to the cruise business with two new expedition ships (Artist impression, July 2020)

Swan Hellenic is making a return to the cruise business with two new expedition ships (Artist impression, July 2020)

John Warner, formerly vice-president, global sales of Toronto-based G Expeditions, is general manage of the new Swan Hellenic. Warner has had this idea for some time, having tried to revive Swan Hellenic at least as far back as February 2017.

Heading the new Swan Hellenic is Andrea Zito, former senior vice president of marine operations and newbuilding at Silversea. Zito is chief executive of the newly-formed line. Zito and Warner will be supported by senior vice president, sales and marketing Alfredo Spadon, formerly of MSC Cruises and Silversea, and vice president of marketing, Mario Bounas, formerly of Royal Caribbean.

The new company, with offices in Cyprus, Monaco and the UK, has acquired the Swan Hellenic brand and is thus now building two new expedition ships, each with seventy-six staterooms and aimed at providing for 152 guests with a crew of 120.

The first ship will be named in London in November 2021, before setting sail for Antarctica. The second will sail in April 2022 from St Petersburg en route to the British Isles and Iceland, before venturing into the Arctic summer of 2022.

After completing their Polar seasons, both ships will sail around the world, visiting a range of countries from New Zealand to Brazil and Papua New Guinea to the Philippines.
Warner, who is also UK managing director of Russian river cruiser Vodohod, said the new line would be “British in heritage and pioneering spirit, but international in its outlook.”


Roald Amundsen UK Cruises 2020

After a successful return to sailing the Norwegian coast on June 16 and international expedition cruises from Germany on June 26, Norwegian operator Hurtigruten has announced further plans to offer a full schedule of cruises, with fourteen of its sixteen ships returning to service in August and September.

Roald Amundsen - Hurtigruten (Photo: Tor Erik Kvalsvik / Kleven / Hurtigruten)

Roald Amundsen – Hurtigruten (Photo: Tor Erik Kvalsvik / Kleven / Hurtigruten)

Following on these successes, it has announced a series of four 5-night expedition cruises around the British Isles this September.

The newly-built (2019) Roald Amundsen will accommodate only 350 guests on each sailing, with with all cabins outside and half having their own balcony the opportunity to visit destinations such as the Isles of Scilly, Fowey, Rathlin Island, Fort William, Oban, Fishguard and Waterford, among others.

The four sailings will depart from Portsmouth (September 2), Liverpool (September 7), Glasgow (September 12) and Liverpool (September 17).

Anthony Daniels, UK general manager for Hurtigruten said, ”Having operated in Norway throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and having recently restarted regular operations in Norway, our robust health and safety procedures on and off board mean guests can relax and enjoy their UK short break.”

Hurtigruten’s 2020 British Isles itineraries will operate as follows;

• Voyage 1 – ‘Enchanting islands and coastal towns’
September 2, 2020 – Portsmouth
Ports: Falmouth – Isles of Scilly – Waterford – Ramsey Island – Fishguard
September 7, 2020 – Liverpool

• Voyage 2 – ‘Isle of Man, Isle of Skye and the magnificent Scottish Highlands’
September 2020 – Liverpool
Ports: Douglas – Loch Sunart – Portree – Fort William
September 12, 2020 – Greenock

• Voyage 3 – ‘Natural Habitats, Wild Nature and Fascinating History’
September 12, 2020 – Greenock
Ports: Oban – Stornoway – St Kilda – Rathlin Island
September 17, 2020 – Liverpool

• Voyage 4 – ‘Magnificent gardens, unspoiled islands and rich history’
September 17, 2020 – Liverpool
Ports: Pembroke Dock – Cork (Cobh) – Isles of Scillly – Fowey
September 22, 2020 Portsmouth (Disembarking)

Ponant Now Operating Eight Ships

Ponant (Logo)On Thursday of last week, French operator Ponant was able to announce that it had eight ships back cruising, with half of them operating itineraries within France. These included Le Lyrial sailing 7-night itineraries from Nice, L’Austral departing Marseilles, Le Bougainville from Bordeaux and Le Dumont D’Urville from Le Havre.

In addition, there is Le Bellot, cruising in Iceland, Le Boreal in Spitsbergen and Le Paul Gauguin in Tahiti, departing Papeete on a 7-night round trip.

Le Dumont d'Urville (Courtesy Studio PONANT - Frédéric Michel)

Le Dumont d’Urville (Courtesy Studio PONANT – Frédéric Michel)

The line has also stationed two ships, Le Soleal in Tahiti and Le Laperouse in New Caledonia, awaiting the green light from Australian and New Zealand authorities to cruise the South Pacific again.

Ponant will also restart its Kimberley cruises on board Le Laperouse  once state border closures in the Northern Territory and Western Australia are lifted.

Le Soleal and Le Laperouse are fully crewed and for the last four months, they have been waiting to cruise once borders reopen. The peak Kimberley season is between April and September but the season could be estended.

Fincantieri's subsidiary Vard Will Build The First Arctic LNG Cruise Vessel For Ponant (Artist impression, Stirling Design Int.)

Fincantieri’s subsidiary Vard Will Build The First Arctic LNG Cruise Vessel For Ponant (Artist impression, Stirling Design Int.)

The line has introduced a string of stringent health and safety protocols before embarkation, while on board including social distancing with daily tracking and monitoring. It is also compulsory for guests to wear face masks in public areas and on Zodiacs. Restaurants will not serve buffets offering only table service.
There will also be reduced capacity at the ship’s theatre and entertainment venues.
If necessary, Ponant will cut back on passenger numbers but most of its ships can only accommodate up to 260 passengers or fewer anyway.

Ponant’s latest hybrid-electric polar exploration ship, the 270-berth Le Commandant-Charcot, will enter service next April, when she debuts in the Arctic.
Itineraries include voyages to the Geographic North Pole and the far reaches of the Antarctic down south, many of which remain unexplored.

Le Commandant-Charcot  will offer unprecedented experiences and activities such as viewing these icy panoramas from a hot air balloon, exploring by electric hovercraft, assisting scientists or, for the qualified, diving beneath the ice as well as dog-sled excursions.

(Kevin Griffin is managing director of The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)

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