The iconic cultural expedition cruise pioneer’s second purpose-designed ice-class ship has reached Cape Town, concluding a spectacular Antarctic season visiting new and rarely-visited areas
Today, Saturday the 25th of March, Swan Hellenic announced that SH Vega’s closing cruise of the 2022-2023 Antarctic season, which departed Ushuaia on the 5th of March, has reached Cape Town, South Africa, from where she is about to embark on a series of unique cultural expedition cruises of the West Coast of Africa. Her extraordinary 20-day voyage crossed the Drake Passage, explored the South Shetland Islands the Antarctic Peninsula and South Georgia. Finally, she then sailed on to Cape Town via Gough Island and Tristan da Cunha, the most remote island in the world, last visited by a ship in 2019.
SH Vega’s first Antarctic Season has seen it take around 1,200 guests on 11 cruises of singularly spectacular regions and locations, including the Falklands, Portal Point, Port Lockroy, the volcanic Deception Island, The Lemaire Channel and the massive A76-A iceberg that’s as big as the Spanish island of Majorca or the US state of Delaware. Capping it all was the technically demanding Gullet passage, which is rarely visited due to the narrowness of the channel, but rewards passengers with an exceptionally exciting navigation experience. Despite some truly challenging weather, the ship’s crew and expedition team managed to complete more than 120 expeditions in almost 5 months, keeping everyone safe in compliance with the company’s rigorous, industry-leading protocols while making their dreams come true. What’s more, over 400 guests ventured on exclusive kayaking expeditions during the season.
The innovations and successes of these cultural expedition cruises have driven fast-growing interest in the resurgent cruise pioneer, with its Instagram followers ballooning from 5,000 to around 30,000 in just 4 months, taking Swan Hellenic’s coverage to 156,000, and profile visits to 160,000.
SH Vega’s Antarctic season saw guests discover several new and never-before-visited locations south of the Lemaire Channel. Unforgettable moments on the Peninsula itself included a 2-hour Orca encounter at Useful Island, in which a group of curious Orca lingered and played around the ship, plus a long hike from Whalers Bay up to a stunning viewpoint, completed by over half the guests. One of the cruises was also lucky enough to stop in the middle of a group of over 100 playful humpback whales.
All the cultural expedition cruises saw guests mixing with specialist lecturers and seasoned expedition guides able to offer eye-popping insights into the geography, wildlife and cultures of the places and areas explored. Many guests also participated in leading citizen science programmes, contributing valuable data obtained during their expeditions and on board.
Swan Hellenic CEO Andrea Zito commented: “We’re extremely proud of our guests’ wholehearted appreciation of SH Vega’s first Antarctic cultural expedition cruises. Even in some truly severe weather conditions, including the notoriously challenging Drake Passage, the exceptional seakeeping characteristics of the ship and expertise of the crew meant the comfort of our guests was never compromised and we could take them safely on nearly every planned expedition to see what others don’t, experiencing an average of two a day. Now we look forward to taking our guests to discover unique sites along the West African Coast for the first time in our history. This is the beginning of an exciting new era for adventurers with curious minds.”
Text: PM Swan Hellenic