Said Zito, ‘We are proud of what everybody has done. I have a fantastic team working with me of the highest industry professionals. Compared with other European shipyards, the yard quality here is definitely at a different level. The architects [and] everybody have done a fantastic job.
‘Thanks to the design by the yard and architects the work is of an extremely high level, the safety of this vessel is of extremely high standards and the sustainability and the environmental protection of this vessel is fantastic.’
An ‘unbelievable level of resilience’
The CEO’s commendations were reflected by Rotkirch, who brought attention to the success of building the ship in the face of multiple challenges, ‘Operations in the yard have shown an almost unbelievable level of resilience in finishing this beautiful vessel,’ he said. ‘In the midst of multiple crises, the [shipbuilding] operation continued almost without delay. First pulling through the first vessel in the series, SH Minerva, in November last year [during the COVID-19 pandemic] and then finishing SH Vega in the chaos following the war in Ukraine, creating turmoil of sanction considerations among suppliers and a reduction of subcontracted workforce, Ukrainian and others.’
Patrizia Passalaqua, Zito's wife and the ship’s godmother, described the vessel as ‘wonderful’ and ‘beautiful’ before smashing the bottle against the helm as part of the traditional naming festivities.
Closing the cremony, the shipyard’s project manager Jonas Packalén commented, ‘This is a proud day for us all. SH Vega is every bit as beautiful and elegant as her twin sister. We wish her and her crew fair winds and following seas, with special thanks to everyone involved in the project for their unstinting dedication.’
Swan Hellenic’s second purpose-designed expedition cruise ship sets sail from Helsinki to Copenhagen shortly after 3 p.m. local time as part of a short, introductory cruise with Capt. Tuomo Leskinen at the helm.
The vessel will then sail to Norway to commence its first cultural expedition cruise of the Arctic, an 11-day exploration of the Svalbard Archipelago, departing Tromsø on July 20.
The inaugural season will include the Arctic and the Svalbard Peninsula, Iceland’s landscapes of ice and fire, Greenland, the Northwest Passage and the wilds of Northern Canada. In late autumn, SH Vega will make its way down the US East Coast over 12 days, taking in ports from New York, Norfolk and Charleston to Miami.
From November, the vessel will offer a range of 11- to 21-day cultural expedition cruises of Antarctica through to March 2023, when she sails up the West Coast of Africa to the Canary Islands and Western Europe, brining passengers to the Celtic lands of Britain and Ireland on the way to a second Arctic season.
This concludes with a crossing from Greenland to Nova Scotia, followed by the Caribbean and then Brazil in October 2023.
Accommodating 152 passengers in 76 staterooms and suites – the vast majority with large balconies – with capacity for 120 crew, SH Vega continues a series of high ice-class, cultural expedition cruise vessels built for extreme latitude areas. It features a 5-megawatt diesel-electric propulsion system with selective catalytic reduction and a PC5 ice-strengthened hull with extra-large stabilisers for exceptional passenger comfort.
At 113mtr, the 10,600gt ship has been specially designed to explore the planet's most inaccessible locations.
Like its twin ship SH Minerva, the vessel has been designed to meet the latest environmental regulations and is self-sufficient for up to 40 days or 8,000 nautical miles.
Preparations have been made to implement battery technology which would also make it possible to operate silently. The vessels are equipped with exhaust gas cleaning, advanced wastewater treatment systems and the waste storage facilities required for operating in sensitive polar areas.
Gastronomy and hotel operations
Philipp Reutener, who created the Swan Hellenic experience onboard SH Minerva, oversees hotel operations. Executive Chef Avhier Singh, who has experience in high-end hotels and cruise lines, also comes across from SH Minerva. While onboard SH Vega’s sister ship, the chef worked on menus including original Italian and Asian fusion dishes created for Swan by award-winning consultant chefs Andrea Ribaldone and Sang Keun Oh.
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