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SH Diana exploring Mandal on her way to the Norwegian fjords


Iconic company’s third and largest ship – the first to explore ashore with comfortable tender boats as well as zodiacs – is set for weeks of unique Arctic exploration before taking cultural expedition cruising worldwide

Today, Saturday the 6th of May 2023, Swan Hellenic announced that its third purpose-designed cultural expedition cruise ship, SH Diana, had reached Mandal two days after its gourmet naming ceremony celebrations in Amsterdam.

Mandal, the southernmost town in Norway, is renowned for the country’s largest wooden church, sandy beaches and the Furulunden forest park, rich in wildlife, from wild deer to swans and ducks.

SH Diana is the latest in a series of elegant, high ice-class, cultural expedition cruise vessels designed for premium discovery experiences worldwide, with a strong bias for extreme latitude areas. Featuring a 4.6-megawatt diesel-electric propulsion system with selective catalytic reduction and a PC6 ice-strengthened hull, she is fitted with extra-large stabilisers for exceptional passenger comfort. At 125 m long, the 12,100-ton vessel has been specially designed to explore the most inspiring and inaccessible places on the planet. 

Complying with the latest environmental regulations, SH Diana is completely self-sufficient for up to 40 days or 8,000 nautical miles, and equipped with exhaust gas cleaning, advanced wastewater treatment systems and the waste storage facilities required for operating in sensitive polar areas. Moreover, Swan Hellenic’s strong sustainability commitments mean it has already been prepared to implement zero-emission battery technology, which would also make it possible to operate silently in port, marine reserves and other sensitive natural areas.

Providing spacious 5-star accommodation for 192 guests in 96 spacious staterooms and suites, the vast majority with large balconies, SH Diana is operated by an onboard team of 141 to provide the highest levels of personal service.

Distinguished by the same elegant design as her acclaimed sister ships, with open-plan interiors, unobstructed sea views and extensive deck areas, SH Diana nevertheless boasts certain key differences, salient among them a dedicated presentation and lecture theatre overlooking the lounge, and on-board tender boats to take guests ashore in addition to the customary expedition zodiacs. Like her siblings, SH Diana features a state-of-the-art gym, spa, panoramic sauna, superbly equipped restaurant and cellar, club room and swimming pool with poolside grill.

SH Diana is now in the third day of the cultural expedition cruise “Norway Explored,” an 11-day odyssey through the fjords up almost the entire Norwegian coast that will reach Tromsø on the 14th of May 2022. Throughout their voyage, guests are enjoying varied menus that range from freshly-cooked healthy eating options to gourmet delicacies which include original Italian and Asian fusion dishes specially created for the iconic company by award-winning Consultant Chefs Andrea Ribaldone and Sang Keun Oh.

In addition, the cruise is one of the first in the Maris series of culinary discovery at sea, which brings a renowned JRE-Jeunes Restaurateurs chef on board. In this case, it is Michael Ammon, the owner and chef of the Michelin-starred Gasthaus Jakob in the Bavarian Forest, renowned for innovative terroir-based specialties. Michael is serving a different characteristically astonishing signature dish every night, building to the climax of an extraordinary Gala Dinner created to showcase his creativity and skills. What’s more, Michael will also be putting on a cooking show that reveals select secrets of his art, and leading gastronomic excursions ashore to explore the local culinary traditions and specialities.

Dr Terje Leiren will be accompanying the maiden cultural expedition cruise throughout, sharing his expert knowledge, insights and company with the guests on board. Terje is Professor Emeritus of Scandinavian Studies and History at the University of Washington, Seattle, and was the University’s first holder of the Sverre Arestad Endowed Chair in Norwegian Studies (2007-2017). Terje gained his Ph.D. in history at the University of North Texas and taught at the University of Oslo before joining the University of Washington in 1977. He served as Co-General Editor of the University of Washington Press book series, “New Directions in Scandinavian Studies”, and is the author of four books and over 40 academic articles on Scandinavian history. He has also contributed to several television documentary programmes broadcast on PBS and the History Channel on topics ranging from the Vikings to World War II.

SH Diana’s voyage to Tromsø opens a season of maiden cruises exploring the magic of Norway and the Artic, from the dramatic majesty of the fjords to the wild glacial mountainscapes and surprisingly abundant wildlife of the Svalbard Peninsula. 

Come late Autumn, having completed her Arctic Season of 7 cultural expedition cruises, SH Diana will make her way back down the western seaboard to the Mediterranean, marking Swan Hellenic’s historic return to the region for which the concept of cultural expedition cruising was originally created. Then she will go further, taking it worldwide as she continues through the Suez Canal to the Paradise Islands, Madagascar and Southern Africa on her way to Antarctica.

Many of these cruises will be enriched by partnerships with unique organisations, including further Maris chefs, participation in Citizen Science programmes and the presence of world-renowned scientists from the SETI Institute. Each SETI scientist will come aboard for the duration of a cruise, providing guests with expert insights into the history and latest discoveries in astronomy, astrophysics, astrobiology and planetary science, as well as the quest to find other forms of life within and beyond our solar system.

Swan Hellenic CEO Andrea Zito commented: “You could easily miss this charming town while sailing north. But we’re proud to explore it, with its distinctive church, peaceful forests and varied wildlife. And it’s not only here that our guests will see what others don’t. It will be a constant feature of their cruise, like every Swan Hellenic cultural expedition cruise, as they immerse themselves in unique days of fjord exploration, making their way up almost the entire coast of Norway. Guest feedback on the new SH Diana and our Maris experience is already exceeding all expectations. We can’t wait to see how this grows and develops as she voyages worldwide.”

Text: PM Swan Hellenic