This feature is dedicated to John Mavin who passed away on the 14th July 2016.
“Fair winds and following seas and long may your big jib draw!”
ex Alexander von Humboldt, Saga Pearl/Explorer II, Minerva, Okean
© Edson de Lima Lucas
Steel twin screw motor vessel originally part-built in 1990 at Okean Shipyard, Nikolayev, Soviet Union (Yard No 1) as a research ship, the partially completed the hull being which was sold to Swan Hellenic Cruises, Nassau, Bahamas, in 1994 and fully completed at T. Mariotti Yard, Genoa, Italy (Yard No 595)
- Length: 133.00 m (overall) 122.21 m (between perpendiculars)
- Breadth: 20.30 m
- Depth: 9.00 m
- Draught: 5.83 m (max)
- Tonnage: 12,449 gross/4,349 net/2004t deadweight
- Engines: 2 x Pielstick MAN-B&W PC2-6E – 4 stroke 8 cylinder diesel
- Power: 3480 kW/6960 HP
- Speed: 16 knots (max) 14.0 knots (cruising)
- Decks: 6
- Capacity: 350 passengers
- Crew: 157
- Call Sign: C6NP5
- IMO Number: 9144196
- Register Number: 73986
- Port of Registry: Nassau/Bahamas
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1989: Keel struck. Originally intended to be research ship/“a spy ship” (called OKEAN) for the Soviet navy. Constructed at Nikolayev on the River Ingul in Ukraine. The hull originally had a stern ramp for launching submersibles for submarine tracking.
1990: Building interrupted after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
1994: Sold to Swan Hellenic Cruises, Nassau, Bahamas (V-Ships, Monaco).
December 10th 1994: Launched.
January 1995: Arrived at T. Mariotti Shipyard, Genoa, Italy for completion as a cruise ship.
© Aleksi Lindström
1996 – January 2008: Swan Hellenic – United Kingdom
April 29th 1996: The first cruise from Genoa – Mediterranean.
April 29th 1996: Completion followed by her maiden voyage from Genoa to the Mediterranean.
June 7th 1996: Officially named MINERVA by the Duchess of Gloucester in the Pool of London. The vessel was then put in service, cruising, in Europe and the Mediterranean.
2003: Refit at Lloyd Werft -Germany.
May 1st 2003: Chartered to Saga Holidays and renamed SAGA PEARL, where she continued cruising from Dover to Baltic/Europe.
May 2003 – September 2003: Saga Pearl – Saga Holidays
May 14th 2003: Renamed by British television personality Angela Rippon in Southampton.
“Renamed by British television personality Angela Rippon in Southampton. A ceremony was held on board. She was renamed SAGA PEARL at the Queen Elizabeth II Terminal in the Eastern Docks. Chartered by Saga Shipping for six months between May and November for the next three years, she joined the company’s other ship, SAGA ROSE as a regular caller to Southampton. Designed to have the atmosphere of an English country house, SAGA PEARL has a shallower draft than most cruise ships and was able to navigate into more unusual ports of call. The ship had a worldwide itinerary visiting the Mediterranean, the Norwegian fjords, and the Baltic, as well as the west coast of Africa and Brazil.”
© Nigel Thornton (Dover 21/07/2003)
© John Mavin
September 2003 – April 2004: Explorer II – Abercrombie & Kent
April 2004: She operated as EXPLORER II, Abercrombie & Kent for six months in the year and as SAGA PEARL, for Saga Cruises , in the other six months.
May 2004 – September 2004: Charter: Saga Holidays Inc.- United Kingdom
June 16th 2004: Announcement: “Saga To Dispose of Saga Pearl”. Phoenix Reisen have today confirmed that the current “Saga Pearl” / “Explorer II” will become the company’s third ocean-going ship next Spring. Under the new name ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT the ship will operate cruises for German-speaking passengers, including Amazon and Antarctic cruises.”
September 2004 – May 2005: Explorer II – Abercrombie & Kent
© Andreas Wörteler (Bremerhaven 31/07/2005)
May 2005 – September 2005: Alexander Von Humboldt – Phoenix Reisen – Germany
© Nigel Thornton
September 2005 – April 2006: Explorer II – Abercrombie & Kent
May 2006 – September 2006: Alexander Von Humboldt – Phoenix Reisen – Germany
September 2006: Charter; Phoenix Reisen GmbH, Bonn, Germany
November 14th 2006: Registered Owner; Artica Adventure & Cruise Shipping.
September 2006 – April 2007: Explorer II – Abercrombie & Kent
April 2007 – May 2008: Alexander Von Humboldt – Phoenix Reisen – Germany
March 2008: Explorer II
September 2007 – May 2008: Charter: Abercrombie & Kent – United Kingdom
January 2008: Artica Adventure & Cruise Shipping, Bahamas
April 14th 2008: To be renamed MINERVA operating for Swan Hellenic.
April 20th 2008: Suffered generator problems and sent to Hamburg for repairs. Inaugural cruise from Dover (23/05/2008) cancelled . Renamed whilst in Hamburg.
© Jens Boldt (Hamburg 22/05/2008)
© Aleksi Lindström
© John Mavin
2012: Refit at Lloyd Werft, Germany. Additional 32 wide balconies to existing cabins, remodelled bathrooms in all cabins; a new, large Observation Lounge above the navigation bridge, an extended Shackleton’s Lounge; a larger, dedicated Internet-connected lounge and an expanded library.
February 27th 2012: Left Bremerhaven for Southampton, transformed both internally and externally.
May 2012: Swan Hellenic – United Kingdom
© Cees Bustraan (December 2015)
© Bob Scott
© John White (24/05/2016)
January 4th 2017: The All Lesisure Group consisting of the cruise operators ‘Voyages of Discovery’ and ‘Swan Hellenic’ ceased trading and were placed into administration. The Minerva remains alongside in the Port of Marseille, France.
“Eddie Williams, David Dunckley and Matthew Richards of Grant Thornton UK LLP have been appointed joint administrators of All Leisure Holidays Limited (“ALH”) on 4 January 2017.
ALH provides holidays on 2 cruise ships, the Minerva and the Voyager under the brand names Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery.
Regrettably, and due to the adverse financial position of ALH, the business has ceased to trade resulting in the majority of employees being made redundant and the cancellation of all future voyages.”
All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions. All items included in this article are subject to © copyright. We would like to take this opportunity of thanking: Cees Bustraan, Jens Boldt, Edson de Lima Lucas, Aleksi Lindström, Bob Scott, Saga Shipping, John White and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature.