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I’ve learned (thanks to Malcolm Oliver) that Swan Hellenic are set to return, starting in late 2021. I’ve done a few posts in recent years about this line. They used to feature ‘cultural cruising’ – cruises around historic regions, with small ships, guest lecturers, etc. The line closed down in 2017 when their owners, All Leisure Group, went bankrupt. The brand and some others in the All Leisure Group were taken over by G Adventures, who promised that Swan Hellenic would return, but nothing actually transpired.

What’s happened now is that the Swan Hellenic brand has been taken over by private owners, fronted by an Andrea Zito. He apparently has a long history in the shipping and cruise industry, but very much behind the scenes. My guess would be that he is supported by a venture capital company.

That said, the plans are exciting. Swan Hellenic, like the one or two other cultural cruising lines, were previously distinguished by the considerable age and small size of their ships. Well, the revived Swan Hellenic is going even smaller with its ships – 150 passengers! – but they will be new builds. Two ships are apparently under construction (or will be, shortly), to be delivered in the second half of 2021 and early 2022. Cruises on the first one will start in late 2021. They will very much be ‘expedition cruises’ – the Arctic, the Antarctic, the Russian Far East, and destinations in the southern Pacific, including New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

It doesn’t sound as if they will be cheap – indeed, it seems as if the ships will be high-end luxury. The owner is quoted as saying that the line will be pitched at the same level as Le Ponant. The target market will be ‘very experienced travellers’, from the English-speaking world – the US, UK and Australia, plus Europe.

So this is all a bit different from Swan Hellenic’s previous incarnation. It will be interesting to see what happens. They’ve certainly got their timing right – I can’t really see any cruising happening this year, indeed not until well into 2021. The end of that year and early 2022 might be just the right time to launch a new brand, to meet the pent-up demand. I wish them good fortune. Here’s a link to their website.

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