Minerva II on the Black Sea

Beth Habian’s article “Spain… plus Italy and Corsica — Cruising the Mediterranean with Swan Hellenic” (Nov. ’05, pg. 6) was right on target. The Minerva II offers a unique cruise experience. My 15-day Black Sea cruise, Aug. 20-Sept. 3, ’05, greatly exceeded my expectations.

We had six excellent guest speakers who greatly enhanced our ability to appreciate what we saw on our port visits. Lectures on ancient Greek and Roman culture, the Crimea War and the First World War battle at Gallipoli greatly added to my historical knowledge. Cambridge Professor John D. Ray’s lecture on the “strangeness” of the Black Sea held us spellbound. All of these lectures were well attended.

We had a variety of entertainment, including four classical music recitals, a Russian marine choir with folk dancing and, in Batumi, Georgia, a troop of adults and youngsters folk dancing.

I stayed in a superior-plus cabin (Deck 7), and my 15-day cruise cost $8,380, which included a single supplement of $1,397 and airfare from London to Athens and from Istanbul back to London. Our itinerary included port visits in Greece, Turkey, the Ukraine, Russia and Georgia. A selection of excursions at each port were covered in the cost, except for some day-long trips.

If you want a “Las Vegas on the Sea” experience, Swan Hellenic is not for you. If you enjoy challenging learning experiences, well-traveled and very interesting companions and first-class treatment, you can’t go wrong. Indeed, I have already signed up for a cruise on Minerva II entitled “A Gateway to Africa” for October ’06.


Arcadia, CA