Farewell to Swan Hellenic and superior cruising
The impending demise of the up-market, culture-vultures’ formerly British cruise-line, Swan Hellenic, at the hands of its philistine American owner, Carnival Corp., deserves a regretful obituary and a footnote in the history books. Not only did Swan Hellenic offer to many retired British ambassadors the opportunity of a free holiday afloat in return for delivering a few weighty lectures on the countries being visited: it also enabled the (mainly English) middle classes to enjoy the minor luxuries of cruising, in the nautical sense, without being forced to mingle at mealtimes with the lower orders, few of whom seem to be attracted by the prospect of being lectured at by retired ambassadors, bishops, professors or art historians. A certain middle-class smugness certainly characterised the sole Swan Hellenic cruise recently enjoyed by this blog (as paying passenger, not lecturer), but in spite (or because) of this it was a uniquely British, or perhaps English, kind of holiday and it’s lamentable that its only ship, Minerva II, should be renamed and converted next April into a floating casino and Revuebar so as to increase the return on capital for Carnival Corp’s shareholders. They presumably don’t know, still less care, that such iconic figures as Anthony Powell and Mortimer Wheeler used to be patrons of Swan Hellenic cruises, as well as all those ex-ambassadors with their solemn (or less solemn) lectures. So, farewell, the good ship Minerva II!
(Actually, Minerva's swimming pool is far too small, so perhaps it's not such a tragedy after all. And no dancing girls….)
PS: Watch this space for Ephems's Diary of his and his spouse's sole Swan Hellenic cruise, and his holiday snaps from it. Coming Soon.