Swan Hellenic – awarded ‘Best Cruise Line’ in the Guardian Travel Awards 2007 - today launches a brand new Discovery Cruises brochure, previewing new itineraries available aboard Minerva from 22 November 2009 until 14 May 2010.

Offering small ship cruising options worldwide with a country house style ambience, the new brochure features seven new Antarctica winter expedition cruises for 2009/10. Voted ‘World’s Best Antarctica Expedition Ship’ in 2005 and 2006 by Condé Nast Traveller magazine, cruises to the White Continent are always accompanied by an expedition team of research scientists, ecologists, historians, naturalists and zoologists. Owing to the relatively small size of Minerva, guests have unusually good opportunities to explore ashore – an exciting experience that sheer passenger numbers and logistics on larger ships will not allow.

There are also four new itineraries via the Suez Canal back to the Mediterranean in May 2010. Included in these is time to explore Madagascar – an unspoilt land of jungle teeming with tropical wildlife, some of which can be found nowhere else on earth; while lovers of antiquity will delight in Jordan, where exotic Aqaba and the ancient rose-red Nabatean city of Petra offer an exotic and magical insight into a Middle Eastern lifestyle.

New ports that have been added include the ancient city of Kerch in the Ukraine and the volcanic island of Lipari in the Aeolian Islands. Minerva will also sail up the Guadalquivir River for an overnight stay in flamboyant, friendly Seville. Renowned for travelling to lesser-known areas, Swan Hellenic’s new Discovery Cruises programme is no exception. In Greece, for example, visits are included to the islands of Tinos and Skyros, the ports of Volos and Kavalla, Katakolon for Olympia, and Gythion for Mystra.

Swan Hellenic also operates a no-fly programme, with all cruises to Scandinavia, the Baltic and around Ireland departing and returning to Dover. Those who prefer not to fly need not be limited as they can enjoy the Midnight Sun on the North Cape, circumnavigate the Emerald Isle, visit the battlefields of Northern France, and enjoy all that the Mediterranean cities have to offer.

As ever, Swan Hellenic passengers booking a Minerva cruise are in distinguished company. Guest speakers – archaeologists, historians, geologists or diplomats – bring the destinations to life, offering interesting and informative talks about places visited on the voyage, and are often also available for further exploration of the issues over an informal drink or dinner on board. Swan Hellenic is unique too in including a programme of tailor-made excursions at every port it visits, as well as open-seat dining, all gratuities (on board and ashore) and a specially-produced Cruise Book for each voyage, containing articles on all the destinations featured in the itinerary.

Prices for Swan’s Discovery Cruises are from £1,856 pp* with early booking discounts of up to 40% available before 31 March 2009.

*Fares include early booking savings and are per person based on two sharing an inside, twin-bedded cabin. All meals, flights (if applicable), on-board entertainment, on-board gratuities, port and airport taxes, baggage handling and overseas transfers, plus free parking at port of departure or free return coach transfers from central London on cruises that begin and/or end in the UK, are included in the price.

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