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Swan Hellenic Set to Explore Deep into the Mediterranean


Swan Hellenic has announced full details of its four 2024 cultural expedition cruises in the heart of the Mediterranean. All will be aboard the luxury boutique ship SH Diana, following on from the 10-night cruise Mysteries of Carthage and the Moors” (10-20 August 2024), which will see her sailing from Lisbon, Portugal, through the Straits of Gibraltar – known as the Pillars of Hercules to the ancient world – then along Hannibal’s North African coast and on to Palermo, Sicily.

The four Mediterranean cultural expedition cruises are:

Secrets of Sicily” – 20 to 28 August 2024 – which departs Palermo for an eight-night circumnavigation of the island, calling at Trapani – neighboring the ruins of 7th century BC Selinute, Mazara del Vallo – an extraordinary mix of every culture to leave a trace on Sicily, Porto Empedocle with the UNESCO Heritage site of Agrigento, then the magnificent, fortified city of Valetta in Malta. SH Diana will sail from there to Siracusa – one of the largest and most powerful cities in the ancient world, Giardini Naxos near picturesque Taormina, and finally Lipari, the largest Aeolian Island, before completing this rare circumnavigation cruise to Palermo.

This cruise is one of Swan Hellenic’s Maris Culinary Discovery at Sea Series in partnership with JRE-Jeunes Restaurateurs, the gourmet organisation for chefs under 40 who have already won international acclaim, including Michelin stars to their name. Chef-owner Nikita Sergeev of the acclaimed Michelin-star Restaurant Arcade in Italy will be accompanying this cruise, serving a different signature dish every night of the voyage, leading up to an extraordinary Gala Dinner created to showcase their creativity and skills.

From Magna Graecia to Greece” – 28 August to 5 September 2024 – leaves Palermo for an eight-night exploration of the heart of the Mediterranean, sailing to the volcanic islands of Lipari and Stromboli, then on to Giardini Naxos, and Crotone with its 16th-century castle and Capo Colonna archaeological park. Otranto follows, distinguished by its 15th-century Aragonese Castle, beautiful cathedral and rich Byzantine ruins. Next comes Sarandë,Albania, beloved for its beaches and nightlife, but equally fascinating for the many UNESCO-listed ancient sites nearby. SH Diana will then take her guests on to the charming city of Preveza, Greece, at the mouth of the Gulf of Actium, close to the imperial city of Nikopolis, which Octavian founded in 31 BC to celebrate his victory over Antony and Cleopatra. Itea is the penultimate port of call, just a stone’s throw from ancient Delphi, famed for its oracle, before this voyage concludes in Piraeus, port of Athens.

This cruise is one of Swan Hellenic’s Explore Space at Sea Series in partnership with the SETI Institute and will be hosting renowned Planetary Astronomer Dr. Mark Showalter, who will be accompanying guests throughout the cruise, both aboard and ashore. He will be giving three talks during the voyage: The New Horizons Mission to Pluto and Beyond: An Insider’s View”, “The Chaotic Worlds of the Outer Solar System” and “The Antikythera Mechanism”.

In addition, this cruise is also one of Swan Hellenic’s Chopra Explore & Restore Series in partnership with the leading integrative health company founded by world-renowned pioneer Dr. Deepak Chopra. As such, it offers the option for one, more or all guests cruising together to transform their vacation into a well-being voyage especially curated to foster self-discovery and cultural immersion. Transcending the traditional boundaries of wellness tourism, Explore & Restore pairs inward journeys with outward exploration, resulting in a deeply enriching, healing experience with impacts that last long after the voyage has concluded.

Colors of the Eastern Mediterranean” – 5 to 16 September 2024 –  sails on an 11-night odyssey from Piraeus, calling at Monemvasia, one of Europe’s most well-preserved medieval towns, Adama on the volcanic island of Milos – famed for its early Christian catacombs and ancient theatre, and Rethymnon on Crete, with a history stretching back through the Venetians and Ottomans to the Minoans. Mandraki on the striking island of Nisyros follows, then tiny Symi, with a surprising history for its size, and Rhodes – renowned for its lost Colossus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and UNESCO-listed Old Town, built by the Nights of St John in the 14th century. The inspiring island of Patmos comes next, its religious history linked to the Book of Revelations, followed by Kusadasi on the Turkish mainland, bordering the magnificent remains of the Roman city of Ephesus. Back to island-hopping, SH Diana will call at Chios, birthplace of the poet Homer, and Mytilene, capital of Lesbos, before reaching Canakkale, gateway to the Dardanelles and neighbor of the famed ancient city of Troy, immortalized in Homer’s Iliad. The last full day will be spent cruising the Dardanelles before this exceptional voyage comes to an end in vibrant Istanbul.

Cultures of the East Mediterranean” – 16 to 24 September 2024 – sees SH Diana depart from Istanbul to pass 8 nights hugging the coasts of Greece and Turkey on her way to Cyprus, pausing to explore the secrets of Kavála, known as Neopolis in ancient times, its later Byzantine citadel now surrounded by the winding alleys of an enchanting Ottoman “old town”. The next ports of call are Thessaloniki – thriving second city of modern Greece, with an imposing presence of glorious monuments from across the ages, Volos – homeland of the mythical Centaur and birthplace of Jason and his Argonauts, Chios of Homeric fame, and Kusadasi with 11th-century BC Ephesus and the amphitheater where St. Paul spoke. Heraklion, capital of Crete, follows – famed for The Palace of Knossos, a major center of Minoan civilization and the mythological home of the labyrinth and its Minotaur, then Rhodes and lastly Limassol – the second-largest city in Cyprus, located between the ancient sites of Amathous and Kourion.

Each of these meticulously-curated itineraries aboard SH Diana offers a unique mix of cultural immersion, unparalleled service and unforgettable occasions. From gourmet dining experiences to expert-led excursions, Swan Hellenic is committed to taking every aspect beyond expectations.

In addition, all four of these exceptional itineraries and the preceding cruise, “Mysteries of Carthage and the Moors” (also a Maris Cruise), can be daisy-chained as desired to create personalized, extended voyages of Mediterranean discovery.

SH Diana is Swan Hellenic’s largest cruise ship, accommodating 192 guests in distinctive comfort and style in 96 staterooms and suites. While sharing the unique design features of her sister ships, she also boasts key enhancements, including on-board Tender boats to take guests ashore in addition to and in greater comfort than the customary expedition Zodiacs. Guests are offered a choice of three dining venues and multiple leisure facilities, including a state-of-the-art gym, spa, panoramic sauna, club room and swimming pool with poolside grill.

Swan Hellenic Chief Commercial Officer Patrizia Iantorno comments: „We are delighted to unveil our 2024 Mediterranean cruises aboard the luxurious SH Diana. With its rich history, stunning landscapes and vibrant cultures, the Mediterranean continues to captivate travelers from around the globe. We look forward to welcoming guests aboard for unforgettable explorations of this timeless region.“

Text: PM Swan Hellenic