Boutique cruise line Swan Hellenic has launched a live countdown clock on its website to mark Minerva‘s long-awaited return to sea in March 2012. Colin Stone, managing director of both Swan Hellenic and Hebridean Island Cruises, said last week, “With only 100 days before the newly refurbished MV Minerva sets sail, the ship’s company and our shore side team at Swan Hellenic are all very excited about this next era of cultural discovery cruising.

“With an exceptional amount of interest generated following September’s refurbishment announcement, passengers awaiting Minerva‘s return in 2012 can look forward to experiencing her renowned hospitality, tailor-made shore excursions and enlightening program of guest speakers. Our cruises are exceptional value for money, with inclusive itineraries taking you to the places of interest in each destination.”

Changes to Minerva include extensions of the internal and external public areas as well as a new wrap-around observation lounge, the Orpheus Lounge. Shackleton’s Bar will also be extended and a new Internet Lounge created.

Swan Hellenic has also enlarged 32 cabins by adding balcony facilities, increasing the number of balcony suites to 23 per cent of all cabin accommodation. All 181 cabins will be upgraded with new ensuite bathrooms.