SH Vega Visits Ireland and Dublin - on the River Liffey

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SH Vega on the River Liffey, Dublin, Ireland - June 2023 SH Vega on the River Liffey, Dublin, Ireland - June 2023

Many of us will know the Swan Hellenic name but few will know that it has been given a rebirth, in 2020, with three new ships and varied itineraries that cover the globe.

The opportunity to learn, explore and in some cases contribute to knowledge is an important factor for many when choosing a holiday. Swan Hellenic have a long legacy of discovery tours, with their first cruise in 1954 organised for the Hellenic Travellers’ Club, which had been founded by Lord Byron in 1906. Head of Classics at London University, Francis Kinchin-Smith led the cruise and invited three guest lecturers for the 14-day cruise around the sites of ancient Greece.

SH Vega has just completed her inaugural circumnavigation of Ireland, stopping at Bantry, Dingle, Galway, Portrush and the Causeway Coast before heading to Skye in Scotland and down to Dublin allowing more people to see and experience Ireland's sights.

When I first see her from the Samuel Beckett Bridge looking down towards Dublin Port, she is moored at Cruise Berth 18 right beside the Thomas Clarke Bridge, more commonly known as the East Link and the Point / 3 Arena.

As I walk closer along the north quays, the iconic twin red and white towers of Dublin’s Poolbeg stand as if in admiration, much like a dozen tourists stopping by to photograph her, because SH Vega is a fine-looking ship.

SH Vega in Dublin with Poolbeg Towers
SH Vega in Dublin with Poolbeg Towers


I had the opportunity to spend some time aboard SH Vega in Dublin on her first visit to the Irish capital.

From here, as I write, she is currently sailing to Iceland via Scotland and the Faroe Islands.

The 76 staterooms and suites on board are plush and roomy with plenty of storage, each with its own en-suite and some adjoining for the convenience of families. Downstairs at Basecamp, a place to keep wet gear such as boots and jackets which are provided by SH. A crackling imitation log fire provides some home comforts on the colder trips. The restaurants and dining rooms are spacious with room to sit close or on your own, and dress code is smart casual.

Wet Gear Lockers at Basecamp on SH Vega
Wet Gear Lockers at Basecamp on SH Vega


Explorer Antony Jinman, who famously made it to both poles becoming the 12th Briton to do so was on board to talk about his background and his role as one of the company’s expedition leaders. An expert on the polar regions, you can tell from his enthusiasm and natural communication skills that he can’t help but to motivate even the most ardent of lounge lizards. And not just in the extremely wild parts of our beautiful planet Earth but also when SH Vega is touring in other parts of the world, such as the incredibly scenic west and north coasts of Ireland.

See What Others Don’t is the motto of Swan Hellenic.

This motto is not just four words, you can tell from everyone involved here at Swan Hellenic that they live by it too. This is the way to cruise, the combination of seeing places that you might not already have, enjoying the ocean waves, eating plenty of food but more importantly the chance to learn and to contribute to your own and others knowledge.

This is shown in their partnerships with various scientific institutions such as with the Philippe Cousteau Foundation to monitor the health of the oceans, and SETI who will have seven experts on board in 2023 including astrophysicists and astronomers, including a former NASA Deputy Administrator.

RIBs for Expeditioning on SH Vega
RIBs for Expeditioning on SH Vega


SH Vega is a polar class vessel meaning that she can navigate icy waters to a depth of 1.2 metres year-round conforming to PC5 standards. With stabilisers twice the size of the legal requirement, she is a smooth sailing ship. Helpfully for any rough seas there is a library and conference room midships for as much comfort as possible when reading, researching, a space for tutorials and relaxation.

Gastronomes should be delighted as well, each cruise features a famous chef through a partnership with JRE – Jeunes Restaurateurs who will create a different signature dish every evening, known as Maris – Culinary Discovery at Sea. Chef Arjan Kuipers from Dutch restaurant De Ertepeller is on board the onward journey from Dublin to Iceland.

This elegant ship only carries a maximum of 152 guests, so you feel like you are part of a small community.

SH Vega at Cruise Berth 18, Dublin
SH Vega at Cruise Berth 18, Dublin


And this diminutive size enables SH Vega to reach places that other, larger cruise ships cannot. So in bad weather the ship can change course to make landfall in more sheltered locations while other ships are forced to stay at sea. As a passenger of course this means more time on land, exploring, learning and photographing.

Indeed even here in Dublin, SH Vega’s small size allowed her to use Cruise Berth 18, which nearly all cruise ships can’t use – it’s closer to the city and gives fine views up the Liffey towards the Samuel Beckett Bridge allowing passengers to see what others don’t.

See what Others Don't - View of Dublin's River Liffey from SH Vega
See what Others Don't - View of Dublin's River Liffey from SH Vega


In between all of that exploring, expeditioning, learning and sightseeing there is time to relax, in the aforementioned library but also in the pool, the sauna or the gym.

SH Vega - what a fine ship to be visiting a fine city, I hope to see her again soon.

Dublin's River Liffey where SH Vega berths
Dublin's River Liffey where SH Vega berths


For my next cruise SH Vega on one of its Arctic expeditions would most likely be my choice, perhaps Greenland to Nova Scotia in Canada, the country I have just come back to Ireland from.

Last modified on Wednesday, 07 June 2023 23:53
Darren McLoughlin

Irishman and International travel photographer in search of the best bits of Ireland. Leading photography tours and experiences in Ireland.

Contributor to New York Times / Sunday Times / Irish Times / Echtra Echtra and Eonmusic

Cancer survivor.

Ask me about travel in Ireland or about photography in Ireland.

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