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Swan Hellenic - 2024 Northwest passage (canadian high artic) & Greenland


BillK400
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I am looking to book a cruise on Sawn Hellenic ship Vega to Greenland/Northwest Passage Sept. 2024. Wondering if anyone has any experience with the cruise line/ship. Very little info here on CC about the company. Thanks!

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  • Host Jazzbeau changed the title to Swan Hellenic - 2024 Northwest passage (canadian high artic) & Greenland

I will be sailing to Greenland on the Vega next month, and can share some impressions afterwards. On paper, this expedition cruise sounds great, and I’m looking forward to the experience.

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Hi Bill -

My mother, who is 85, found this cruise and wants to go - with myself and my husband (spry in our early 60s), also in Sept. next year. 


The lady at cruise norway said, basically, if you can travel by plane, you should be able to do this. 

She is so excited and it would be great to have something to look forward to, but I'm a little worried that this is, well, optimistic. She uses a cane for long walks and just got portable oxygen, which she hasn't had to use yet but is preparing to have some for practice walks (COPD). 

We are not big cruisers and it's hard to tell -- just as a stranger on the internet, would you mind telling me if this seems too ambitious? Mom would love to know if having an old lady on board would seem annoying or inspiring.....

Thanks! 

 

SV

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I think it’s great that your mom is interested in exploring this part of the world!
 

I know of people with mobility limitations who traveled to Antarctica on expedition cruises - some of them never left the ship, once they were onboard - but they still had an opportunity to experience and enjoy the region, just by being there and “present” in the environment, on deck or observing from the warmth of a lounge.  Others went on the zodiac cruises, but chose not to participate in any of the landings.  They still had a good time.
 

However, I think this is a question to discuss with the tour organizer, or the cruise company - they may have policies, guidelines, rules around this.

 

Not every cruise to the Arctic is an expedition cruise - perhaps you might also explore other options with itineraries that involve fewer physically demanding elements?  But I also think it would be useful to find out about Swan Hellenic’s approach to clients who may have some mobility limitations - do they do anything to help make the Arctic accessible to all?  

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

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On 8/1/2023 at 12:26 AM, hbbae said:

 

But I also think it would be useful to find out about Swan Hellenic’s approach to clients who may have some mobility limitations - do they do anything to help make the Arctic accessible to all?  

Thanks -  they say everyone needs to be able to walk up a steep gangplank and walk a short distance on even ground. But they don't say how quickly one has to do it! We'll make some more calls, but I think a more accessible trip might be in order. 

Appreciate your thoughts. 

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We will also be on next month's cruise. 

 

This will be both our first expedition and luxury type of cruise. We are hoping we don't get too spoiled by it and get turned off regular cruising.

 

See some of you onboard!

Edited by SleeStack1
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On 7/31/2023 at 9:26 PM, hbbae said:

 But I also think it would be useful to find out about Swan Hellenic’s approach to clients who may have some mobility limitations - do they do anything to help make the Arctic accessible to all?  

 

 

Update: So, taking your advice, I made another call to Swan Hellenic directly and spoke to someone who said, yes, they could help someone who can walk but needs a little extra help. Oliver was warm, friendly, knowledgeable and reassuring. For example, they can help if she just needs a wheelchair to get up the gangway (I almost said gangplank, but she hasn't been found guilty yet!). And if there's a shore excursion that looks manageable, like a visit to a museum, if she gets tired and needs to go back early, that's not a problem. ... So it looks like we're going!!!

Thank you so much. 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

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That's great - I'm glad they were responsive.  I think it's best when the cruise operator knows in advance that someone may need some extra assistance or service along the way, it helps them prepare.  And it's also good that you're trying to be realistic upfront.  I think just being in that part of the world is a gift, regardless of how physically active one may be within it.  Enjoy your planning!

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4 hours ago, LocalNYtraveller said:

You are most welcome. Now to finish the spreadsheet I'm making comparing travel insurance quotes! Just occurred to me as I typed that perhaps there is a thread on that here. I'll look shortly. I have the benefits from a Sapphire Reserve card from Chase (there's an annual fee but it has great travel benefits, I heard), a company called Starr and one called Arch Roamright. It's all pricy, but planning so far ahead for an 84 year old I think we want the "cancel for any reason" option....

Hope you and your husband have a marvelous trip!! 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for calling and posting on this board. I am so relieved to hear that you received a kind response. We reported on their forms that my husband needs to use canes but did not know how they might respond once we joined the cruise. 

 

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On 7/30/2023 at 3:07 PM, BillK400 said:

I am looking to book a cruise on Sawn Hellenic ship Vega to Greenland/Northwest Passage Sept. 2024. Wondering if anyone has any experience with the cruise line/ship. Very little info here on CC about the company. Thanks!

Bill, is this the 15 day cruise (Canada and the high artic) or the longer Northwest Passage one?

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Whatever Travel Insurance, you choose, make sure that you are covered in the event the company collapses. What I am being told is that you must buy your insurance within a very short period of time after you make your very first deposit. I just lost a good sum of money on a cruise with Vantage cruise line. Be very very careful. On a positive note, I did Antarctica when I was 75 and I am doing the Swan Hellenic Greenland and Northwest passage cruise next month. I do wish I would hear more from Swan Hellenic to help me prepare for this cruise.

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10 hours ago, georgiajohnson said:

Whatever Travel Insurance, you choose, make sure that you are covered in the event the company collapses. What I am being told is that you must buy your insurance within a very short period of time after you make your very first deposit.

Different policies (even from the same company) may have different rules about timing.  But the bigger issue is to make sure the cruise line is on the insurer's "covered supplier list."  Swan Hellenic is NOT on Allianz's list.  [Vantage was as late as February 2023, but was taken off sometime before July 2023.  Policies issued when it was on the list should retain coverage.]

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  • 4 weeks later...

For those who will be sailing on the Vega soon - I am currently on the Vega, we will be wrapping up on Tuesday in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.  I am very happy with the ship, the crew is outstanding, and the food is A++.  The zodiac boarding process is very smooth, and I had great confidence in the crew who were assisting with this,  Unfortunately I had a medical issue, so I haven’t done as many excursions off the ship as I would have liked.  I think their communication around the nature of excursions could be improved - it wasn’t until I was on this ship that I learned that there were both included and optional excursions, and I didn’t think enough information was provided about either category, nor was it clear whether the optional excursions cost additional money, or whether they were asking for signups simply in order to get a headcount.  There was a 48 hour window to sign up for both the optional and included excursions, and this was also confusing to me (why sign up for an included excursion?). Not sure if this will carry over into future voyages, but this was my experience.

 

We had rough seas crossing from Iceland to Greenland, and a number of people became seasick.  Other than that, this is a very smooth sailing ship.  I cannot say enough good things about the crew.  You will be well taken care of.  

 

The focus of my cruise was Greenland - it is hilly.  At some ports there were shuttles.  Ask lots of questions about the excursions when you’re onboard, in case the information provided in the briefings isn’t sufficient.  And mention any mobility concerns.

 

For the Northwest Passage cruise that begins on Sept 5, my understanding is that all the cabins are booked, and there will be 120 passengers.  My sailing had 58 passengers I think - so the staff-to-guest ratio was 2:1.  Martha Stewart was along for the ride for part of my cruise, and you can read all about that in social media.

 

I would travel again on the Vega in a heartbeat, if I have another opportunity in the future.  (Next year’s prices look a little steeper.). Happy to answer any questions, if I can.  Have a great time, safe travels -

Edited by hbbae
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3 hours ago, hbbae said:

it wasn’t until I was on this ship that I learned that there were both included and optional excursions, and I didn’t think enough information was provided about either category, nor was it clear whether the optional excursions cost additional money, or whether they were asking for signups simply in order to get a headcount.

What was the answer–are the optional excursions at extra cost?

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I do not know - I am traveling with a small group, and our tour director signed us up for excursions.  I don’t know if these were the included or optional ones.  I’m not aware of any printed material that discusses these excursions; general summaries are displayed on video boards as part of the daily calendar.  As I mentioned in my message, I’ve had a medical issue - so I am reporting on what I know, which is mostly ship-based, in case that is helpful for others, and also why I suggested that folks check on what’s what when they are onboard. 

 

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I’ve now learned rhat the optional excursions do cost money, which makes sense.  
 

Among the people I’ve talked with, there’s been general agreement that more clarity about the excursions, and exactly what they consist of, would have been desirable - not only during the booking process,  but even while we’re here on the ship.  This is the part of the cruise that still seems to be a bit of a work in progress.  The “rebranding” of SH is still relatively new, 14 months.
 

More time in the ports that are towns would also have been welcomed.

 

 

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Additional random bits, as I think of them -

 

The two-part parka is heavy, and is suitable to the task.  Unisex sizing.  The boots are standard muck boots.  I think we’ve only had one wet landing, but this will vary based on itinerary and circumstances.  They sometimes refer to zodiacs as “pontoon boats”.

 

Base camp, from which the zodiac landings depart, is spacious and well equipped.

 

The mandatory safety drill was thorough.

 

There was a polar plunge, I think about 20% of the guests participated, and they seemed to have a good time.  There was supposed to have been a kayaking excursion, but it was canceled due to conditions.

 

There have been a few zodiac cruises, 60-90 minutes each.  These haven’t gone quite as far afield as as been the case on some other expedition cruises I’ve taken with other operators.

 

The senior expedition staff is heavily oriented towards polar explorers.  Their lectures are quite interesting, but not always oriented to the area we are sailing in.  There might be a shift change coming up in Kangerlussaq, regarding the expedition team leader.  There are a couple of naturalists onboard, and an astrophysicist.  Also a professional photographer. There have also been guest presenters, from within the groups that are taking part in the cruise.  The expedition lounge is a super comfortable place from which to view the lectures.  Supposedly it is possible to watch these presentations live from your tv, but that feature has not worked in my room.  However, all presentations are recorded for later viewing, and turnaround time is pretty quick.

 

Make sure to let them know if you want to be woken up for northern lights.  They did not automatically do this on the one night when the aurora could be seen, and there was much discussion about this the next day, resulting in a change in practice.  (Though I don’t think the lights have reappeared since, at least not that’s been announced.). Whale sitings are usually announced, but these have been during the day/evening.

 

We’ve had pretty good internet access, better than I expected - make sure to follow the login instructions completely.

 

The sail through the Kangerlussuak Fjord was beautiful, and sailing out through it should be wonderful, if that’s the way your cruise is starting - the mountains will get taller as you progress outwards towards the sea -

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

We are just off this cruise and it was fantastic! Responding to the question about mobility issues, my husband received lots of help getting on and off the zodiacs and in the dinning room, one waiter immediately appeared at his side when there was a buffet. He did get off the ship for some of the zodiacs wet landings and a there was always help to get off the zodiac. On several occasions the very nice young ship's doctor was helping the expedition team at the landing sites.

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My husband and I was the Greenland/Northwest Passage cruise on September 5, 2023. It was our first expedition cruise. We loved it!  The crew was very nice and helpful. Don't worry about having walkers or mobility limitations. They will help you get on and off the zodiac, they take their time to assist you. There were a gentleman on our expedition was walking with 2 walking canes. He went went on most of the expeditions. The Food was excellent! I am glad there were small portions, you can always order more. The letures was great, the expedition team was helpful and friendly, they were very easy to talk to.  I don't know about other expedition ship, but I enjoyed this very much. I would totally go back and sail with them again.

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  • 6 months later...

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