Minerva starts her new life

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moulds.jpgMinerva is back. With not a moment to spare, the Swan Hellenic cruise ship returned to Portsmouth today after a multi-million pound refit, ready to embark on a quasi-maiden voyage to the Canary Islands.
Refit hardly seems an adequate word to describe the work that has been undertaken over the past few months in Bremerhaven, Germany – I detailed it here recently.
Captain John Moulds (above) has spent the winter in sub-zero temperatures overseeing the work instead of sailing the ship in warmer waters. I asked him what were the best new features on the ship.
“After being in command of Minerva for many years now, this refit has given us the opportunity to address many areas that our loyal passengers have requested improvements on in recent years. I have personally been working with the ship’s company and the shipyard throughout the upgrade and have seen these changes first hand. The satisfaction in being able to deliver on all those comments has been great indeed.
“One of the comments I have heard over the years is that passengers would like more public areas and space.  By increasing the size of the Shackleton Bar, creating the new forward observation lounge and bar – to be named the Orpheus Lounge – and by improving the outside deck space, we have effectively extended all of the inside and outside public areas on board. 
“The Orpheus Lounge is spectacular, and I’m looking forward to the response from passengers, as not only does it offer fantastic panoramic views, it also provides a new venue for evening entertainment, that is of course fully sound proofed for the purpose.
“As well as the new public areas, of course the cabins are vastly improved. The extension of all cabins on the Sun Deck now enable us to offer a significantly increased number of Balcony Suites – up to 44 from the previous total of 12, so this will be a huge improvement.”
The work also included mechanical improvements and Capt Moulds is confident the ship’s manoeuvrability will be significantly improved which, opening up the possibility of visiting some “smaller, hidden gems” among the world’s destinations. “The new Rolls Royce technical propulsion unit will also improve the ship’s efficiency and reduce our environmental impact.”
Not everything went totally to plan – the ship should have arrived in Portsmouth a day earlier. Capt Moulds said: “As with all things, everyone wants to see the improvements instantly, but of course preparations take a lot longer than finishing touches.  So maintaining people’s expectations and keeping to deadlines has been a challenge, but one which I was confident we would always overcome.”
Now there’s a year of exciting cruising ahead. “I enjoy cruising the around the British and Irish coasts as there are just so many interesting and diverse landscapes to explore so I’m looking forward to cruising these waters again this year, said Capt Moulds.
“In contrast, sailing across to the Far East will be incredible and the welcome we receive in that part of the world is always so warm. When the ship returned to the Philippines a couple of years ago, the crew were overwhelmed as they got the chance to meet so many of their families there.   The ship will visit the Philippines again in January 2013.”
And for the future, he is hoping the planners will find a way to take Minerva back to the Amazon and possibly to the Orinoco or the Chilean fjords.
In the meantime, I’ll be taking a look at the ship’s new facilities when I spend a few days on board in the Mediterranean at the beginning of April.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:53+00:00 2 March 2012|Cruise News, Cruise Ships|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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