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Explore closer to the water via a Swan Hellenic Zodiac expedition boat. Credit: Swan Hellenic

What is cultural expedition cruising? Discover a new way to cruise with Swan Hellenic

Author: Lucy Abbott

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Swan Hellenic has been cruising for 70 years, so it’s safe to say they know what they’re doing. Find out what exactly cultural expedition cruising is, and why you should make Swan Hellenic your next cruise.

Ocean cruising, river cruising, expedition cruising and luxury cruising - we've all heard of them. So, let us introduce you to a gamechanger in the cruising world, Swan Hellenic's cultural expedition cruising concept.

Swan Hellenic has over seven decades of expertise in cruising to the most remote and undiscovered destinations across the globe, bringing you even closer to the action via zodiac boats and exploring at sea level.

The three elegant ships in Swan Hellenic's fleet, SH Minerva, SH Vega (launching July 2022) and SH Diana (arriving early 2023) do not simply bring you to each destination, they immerse you in each one. With alfresco dining options, a heated outdoor pool, a sauna with a view and the Observation Lounge you can enjoy the beautiful scenery as it passes by from almost every location onboard.

If that sounds like your cup of tea, then read on to get even more excited about what Swan Hellenic has to offer...

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What is cultural expedition cruising?

The million-dollar question - what actually is cultural expedition cruising? To put it simply, you'll see more, do more and learn more about a destination.

Cultural expedition cruising goes one step further than expedition cruising, as the action starts straight away - imagine waking up to greet a new expansive view and indulging in a pastry (or two) before joining the expedition team on the top deck to spot an array of local wildlife.

- READ MORE: Win a 10-day Swan Hellenic cruise to Antarctica -

Then, you can join the informative briefing before hopping offboard via the Zodiac expedition boat to explore a new destination - alternatively, on sea days, you can join one of the many expert-led lectures or workshops to expand your mind further.

At the end of every day, your mind will be buzzing with all the new information you have learned. Long gone are the 'where are we again?' questions - you'll be kept completely informed in an engaging and all-encompassing way. That's a cultural expedition cruise for you.

Swan Hellenic Cruises

Explore closer to the water via a Swan Hellenic Zodiac expedition boat. Credit: Swan Hellenic

Visit remote and significant locations

The main element of cultural expedition cruising is, of course, the destinations visited. Swan Hellenic offer an impressive range of itineraries that visit small ports each with unique points of interest.

The Antarctic Peninsula is a standout destination, as the northernmost part of mainland Antarctica. Did you know that 80% of the Peninsula is actually covered in ice? The region is also famous for its diverse and dramatic scenery as well as wildlife - wave at a colony of penguins, admire seals and snap a picture of whales.

When cruising Antarctica you'll cross the challenging Drake Passage, where you will feel like a true adventurer battling the high seas. The South Shetland Islands are also visited - ensure you embark on a Zodiac to admire the unique flora up close.

See what others don't when cruising to the Arctic, another destination that Swan Hellenic offer. Take advantage of your polar ice-class ship which will take you through sea ice and choppy waters to discover countless birds such as puffins and black guillemots as well as humpback, bowhead and beluga whales.

If you're feeling brave you can even plunge yourself into zero-degree Celsius water - did we mention no wetsuits are allowed? If you don't fancy this, you can opt to go sea kayaking where you can paddle up to marine life and icebergs - without getting wet.

Guest speakers are a key part of your cruise and each possesses expertise in a specific field, so there will always be someone on hand to answer your burning questions.

Combining these bold itineraries with expert lecturers brings destinations such as the Antarctic Peninsula and the Arctic to life and certainly makes Swan Hellenic an attractive choice.

Admire a waddle of penguins in the Antarctic Peninsula with Swan Hellenic. Credit: Swan Hellenic

Education onboard

Put down the guidebook, all the information you need will be provided to you by the Swan Hellenic team of experts.

For those that love to learn, you will appreciate the fact that the experts stay onboard for the duration of your cruise.

So get to know the team and, after a busy day of exploring, chat through the highlights of your day with the expedition experts, before heading off for a drink with fellow guests.

- READ MORE: New expedition cruise ships for 2022 -

The expertise doesn't stop there - head over to The Expedition Lab where you can learn how to snap the best pictures of scenery, wildlife and more.

It doesn't matter whether you are shooting on a professional camera or mobile phone, you are sure to pick up handy tips and tricks - even from fellow guests.

Your friendly team of experts will be onboard throughout your cruise. Credit: Swan Hellenic

A five-star base

Practical and pretty - Swan Hellenic's three ships, SH Minerva, SH Vega and SH Diana have it all. All ships boast a PC5 ice-strengthened hull as well as huge stabilisers to ensure you can go further in comfort as well as Scandinavian-influenced design throughout.

Both SH Minerva and SH Vega only take 152 guests (76 staterooms), with 120 crew, so you can get to know your fellow passengers as well as enjoy a tailored and personable service, whereas SH Diana will host a slightly larger 192 guests when she launches in early 2023.

SH Minerva is the line's first ship and optimises the view with plenty of unobstructed windows and viewing decks throughout the ship.

Your main restaurant onboard SH Minerva is the Swan Restaurant, which serves up local cuisine made using the highest quality regional ingredients from each destination you visit.

Both the Observation and the Club Lounge onboard SH Minerva and SH Vega feature panoramic views, the perfect backdrop for meeting up with newfound friends.

All ships reflect Swan Hellenic's commitment to the environment and sail through wildlife sanctuaries purely on battery power for zero-emission sailing as well as staying emission-free in port. There is also no single-use plastic allowed onboard and sustainable materials are used throughout the interior design of the ships.

We could seriously talk all day about how great Swan Hellenic is - so check it out for yourself at

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About Lucy Abbott

Lucy is a cruise journalist who has sailed on a variety of ships, from expedition to river – with her favourite being expedition cruising.

Lucy is interested in new sustainable ways to cruise as well as how cruising is becoming accessible for all.

She works together with Kaye Holland to keep the World of Cruising website up to date with all the latest cruise news.