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Swan Hellenic: The best alternative cruise options

Cruise Advice

We kicked off the year with sad news - the demise of Swan Hellenic Cruises.

You young readers may imagine that the Swan part of the Swan Hellenic name referred to the stately cruise ship, Minerva, whose calm and elegant appearance belied the frantic work going on behind the scenes and below the water line. But no, in fact it is the name of the line's founder, Ken Swan, who died in 2005. In fact in the early days the company presented 'Swan's Hellenic Cruises' - it was only later that the name became Swan Hellenic.

And as for the Hellenic part, well that means 'of or relating to ancient Greece or the Greeks of the classical period' - and therein lies the problem. Here is a line that, despite its best attempts, was unable to escape its Hellenic roots (and routes), and somehow never managed to pull off the same successful mix of lectures, shore excursions and congenial company when operating itineraries further afield.

Swan Hellenic - MV Minerva in Lisbon

With Turkey, North Africa, Syria, the Black Sea and to some extent even the Greek islands each becoming, as it were, loci non grati, or whatever that may be in Greek, the writing was on the wall for poor old Swan Hellenic, whose finances were insufficiently robust to withstand the post-Brexit exchange rate challenges.

So what would make a good next trip for all those homeless 'Swans'? A Swan is a very particular type of bird - inquisitive, curious, educated, eclectic, financially comfortable, congenial and energetic. Not for he or she the glamour and glitz of the ultra-luxury, or the busy non-stop entertainment of the megaship. Here is our round-up of the best alternative options:

Voyages to Antiquity

Voyages to Antiquity is something of a Swan Hellenic 'looky likey', an unpretentious environment with inclusive pricing, lectures on board and excellent included shore excursions. Aegean Odyssey carries just 350 like-minded guests on a range of well planned itineraries for in-depth exploration ashore.

Update: Aegean Odyssey is due to join an American company on permanent charter from 2020 - take a look at our article on the best Voyages to Antiquity alternatives.

Voyages to Antiquity - Aegean Odyssy in Dubrovnik, Croatia


Saga Cruises' own ships Saga Sapphire and Saga Pearl II offer appealing UK departures for active travellers who prefer not to fly, an inclusive and interesting holiday experience with great rates for singles, and the benefit of being able to access Saga's own insurance if getting insurance can be an issue for you.

Saga Cruises - Saga Sapphire

River cruising

River cruising is a great option for those who are totally focused on time ashore. The convenience of unpacking just the once sets this head and shoulders above a European coach tour, but with all the benefits - somewhere new every day, time to explore in the company of a guide, as well as independently, with costs controlled as you pay for everything in one lump sum, up front, before you go. Lots of different options are available, so call us to discuss your options.

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AmaWaterways river cruise

A few other options spring to mind, so if you are a homeless Swan, make sure you call us to discuss your needs - we will be delighted to help you find a new nest!

UPDATE: G Adventures has recently acquired the Swan Hellenic name and assets - we will bring you more news on what this means as soon as we have it.

Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising. Most recently she's cruised on Windstar and has also sailed with Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, SeaDream, Ponant, AmaWaterways and Aqua Expeditions. Her favourite destination is the Galapagos however she's also enjoyed cruises in the Mediterranean, Danube, Middle East, East Africa & Indian Ocean, Brahmaputra, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Mekong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Caribbean and the Arctic. When she’s not travelling she loves reading, food and wine.

More about Edwina

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