Swan Hellenic’s Kimberley season in limbo

SH Minerva continues to be hold up in Uruguay

Montgomery Reef, Kimberley | Credit: Lauren Bath/Tourism WA

Swan Hellenic‘s inaugural season of Western Australia’s Kimberley region this year is in limbo. The five-star cultural expedition operator’s first ship, SH Minerva, is currently out of service, and future voyages on the 76-stateroom vessel aren’t showing online until November 2023, LATTE can reveal.

SH Minerva had been flagged to operate four rotations on an 11-day Kimberley itinerary between Darwin and Broome in July and August, tailed by an 11-day voyage from Darwin to Cairns. The port calls of Minerva in Broome and Darwin are still listed on the relevant websites, but the next listed cruise on Swan Hellenic’s website for the ship is an Antarctica departure from Ushuaia, Chile on 28 October 2023.

That leaves a void of some seven months, and puts in doubt the operation of SH Minerva to New Zealand, the South Pacific, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Northern Australia, as originally scheduled.

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Currently, Minerva appears to be docked at a port in Fray Bentos, Uruguay – according to several websites that identify the location of ships around the globe – instead of its planned semi-circumnavigation of Antarctica.

At the end of January, Swan Hellenic issued a statement regarding SH Minerva in relation to negotiations and discussions about the acquisition of a company that is currently the registered owner of the vessel.

“The necessary application to the Central Bank of Ireland was finalised some weeks ago and has already been submitted. Approval of the transaction is expected to take 2-3 weeks. Pending the issue of this license by the Central Bank of Ireland, Swan Hellenic has decided to postpone the reactivation of SH Minerva,” Swan Hellenic said at the time in late January.

That resulted in the cancellation of the 31-night cruise of Antarctica, departing on 7 of February 2023. No further sailings have since operated.

Quizzed by LATTE this week on the situation with the Kimberley sailings, a spokesperson for Swan Hellenic said: “Unfortunately the situation is still pending and we are waiting for the deliberation from the counterparts.”

In September last year, Swan Hellenic’s SVP Global Sales and Marketing, Alfredo Spadon, told LATTE the cruise operator would lean heavily on the Australian market and trade to help push sales for the Kimberley program.

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