In what is likely to be one of only a few new cruise ship orders placed in 2020, Helsinki Shipyard Oy announced it has entered into a contractual agreement with the start-up expedition cruise line Swan Hellenic for a luxury expedition cruise ship. The order comes as a follow up to a previous order for two cruise ships that the new line placed with the shipyard earlier in 2020.
The third vessel ordered by Swan Hellenic, like the two vessels already in the orderbook, represents according to Helsinki Yard a new generation of expedition cruise vessels. Each of the ships is designed for the global cruise market, with an emphasis on high-latitude cruises.
The third order, however, is for a slightly larger vessel than the two Swan Hellenic previously contracted for with the shipyard. With an overall length of 410 feet, the third vessel is longer than the previous two orders which are for 377-foot vessels. The gross tonnage of the third ship increases to 12,000 versus 10,500 gross tons for the previous orders. The passenger capacity also increases from 152 to 192 passengers in 96 cabins and suites. The first two exploration cruise ships will have a crew of 120 while the third will be manned by 140 in crew. Each of the cruise ships will have an ice-strengthened hull designed for exploration and polar cruising with the first two designed for year-round polar cruising with a P5 rating while the third cruise ship is for more globular operations with the lower P6 classification. All three of the vessels will be powered by a 4,6-megawatt diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system with selective catalytic reduction and a 3-megawatt maximum battery package
“The new order is significant for Helsinki Shipyard, as it shows our customers’ confidence in our operations and is also a strong signal of the long-term nature of our operations,” says Carl-Gustaf Rotkirch, the shipyard’s CEO. “In these times in the world, this is a very good signal, not only for Helsinki Shipyard but also for the Helsinki maritime industry and the whole country’s maritime cluster.” Helsinki Shipyard, which resumed operation in May 2019, is the relaunch of one of Finland’s oldest shipbuilding operations.
Construction on the first of the three cruise ships, which has been named SH Minerva, began in September when the first 347-ton block of the ship arrived from Klaipeda and was placed in the drydock in Helsinki for assembly. The first ship will set sail for Antarctica in November 2021 with her sister ship expected to launch in April 2022. Design for the third cruise ship has already started Helsinki Shipyard reported and construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2021. The vessel will be delivered to Swan Hellenic at the end of 2022.
“The procurement of the main equipment for the third vessel to be built for Swan Hellenic has already started on a fast schedule, as our main goal is to stick to the schedules agreed with the customer. This is a pleasant challenge for all of us”, says Ville Korpela, project manager for the new order.
Announced in July 2020, the project is the relaunch of one of the historical brand names that pioneered educational cruising. Launched in the 1950s by a British tour agency to provide excursions to explore Greek antiquities, with expert lecturers and guides, Swan Hellenic pioneer in the category. The brand continued as a niche operation until being acquired by the British P&O line in 1983. After P&O merged with Carnival Corporation, the brand was sold in 2007 and operated by the All Leisure Group until that group filed for bankruptcy in 2017. The Swan Hellenic brand was sold and later acquired by a group of private investors who plan to relaunch it as a luxury expedition cruise line.