Explore Space at Sea

Swan Hellenic

The SETI Institute is a proud partner with Swan Hellenic, a cruise company that allows people to explore truly off-the-beaten path destinations and cultures of Earth.

In our partnership, we aim to provide our guests with expert insights into the history and latest discoveries in astronomy, astrophysics, astrobiology and planetary science. As you know, while SETI stands for the ‘Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence,’ our research also includes the search for basic life forms within our solar system and the study of life and habitability on our own planet.

SETI Institute scientists will be guest speakers on a select Swan Hellenic voyages. Through our research, our scientists gather data from some of the most extreme and remote environments on our planet to better understand the prospect of life elsewhere and how to look for it. Swan Hellenic sails to many of these faraway destinations, offering our scientists a chance to conduct research and speak to guests about their findings.

These scientists will engage guests with never-before-seen presentations on explorations around Earth and beyond. Our guests will also receive a demonstration of the SETI Institute equipment installed on board, including an advanced, portable, deep-space telescope.

For more information about any of these expeditions visit https://promo.swanhellenic.com/SETI2024


Upcoming Expeditions:

In the Wake of the HMS Beagle Through the Chilean Fjords
February 25 – March 9, 2024

Speaker: Dr. Simon Steel, Galactic Astronomer


  • Cosmic Revolutions: Humanity’s Quest for Meaning and Place in the Universe How did the universe begin? How is life possible? Are we alone in the cosmos? Learn about the technology that may just be on the verge of being able to answer some of the biggest questions science can ask.
  • In the Wake of the HMS Beagle through the Chilean Fjords: Pioneers in Discovery Aboard the HMS Beagle is where Darwin himself contemplated the origins of life. And the 5-million-year-old human quest to find the answer to this question now takes us into the depths of outer space.

Leaving from Ushuaia, explore huge glaciers, dramatic fjords and out-of-this-world scenery. Soak up Patagonia’s wilderness as you pass towering snow-capped mountains. Watch out for local wildlife, including penguins, dolphins, and the Andean condor. And visit charming coastal settlements as you learn about the history of this unique region. Your cruise ends in Valparaíso, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its colorful houses and steep hills.

Simon Steel

South Atlantic Semi-Circumnavigation
March 4-25, 2024

Speaker: Dr. Jeffrey C. Smith, Planetary Science/AI and Data Analytics


  • How Do Astronomers Find Exoplanets?: Thanks to NASA’s highly successful Kepler and TESS Missions, we now know that planets, even Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone, are common. Learn how scientists find these extraordinary planets, some as far as 600 trillion miles away from Earth.
  • Yes, look up! Utilizing AI to Find Exploding Meteors and to Help Protect the Earth from Dangerous Asteroids: Funded by NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, or PDCO (yes, it really does exist!), Dr Smith’s team studies weather satellite data searching for potential asteroid collisions with Earth. Learn how this incredible team of scientists conduct this very important work.
  • Why do Scientists Love Antarctica so much?: Antarctica is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent on Earth and is barely habitable by humans. So why do scientists love it so much? Find out about the potential for scientific discovery waiting on the White Continent.
  • Will we ever really find E.T.?: SETI’s mission is to lead humanity’s quest to understand the origins and prevalence of life and intelligence in the universe and share that knowledge with the world. In this lecture we’ll look at current evidence and how our world might respond to irrefutable evidence of ETs.

Discover the wonders of Costa Rica and Panama on this breathtaking cruise. First, explore the stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and diverse wildlife of Costa Rica. Tour mangrove forests and swamps, and see monkeys, sloths, jaguars, tapirs, and toucans in their natural habitat. Then sail through the busy shipping lane of the Panama Canal, a marvel of engineering connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Your trip ends in Cartagena, Colombia.

Jeff Smith

Costa Rica & Panama Canal Discovery
April 20-30, 2024

Speaker: Dr. Benton Clark, Science Advisory Board, Biophysics/Space Science


  • Are We All Martians?: Scientists have now discovered that a certain group of rocks, some found in Antarctica and others in African deserts, are actually from Planet Mars. Discover how they might have got there and what the future of humans on Mars looks like.
  • How to Build a Robot for Exploring the Planets: It’s more than just rocket science. Learn about the latest Rovers now driving around Mars. They are not just the most expensive cars ever built; they are also the only ones capable of sustainably operating on Mars.
  • Searching for Life in Our Solar System, and Beyond: From the planetary bodies around us that could have hosted life at one time in their history to the search for intelligent beings in the furthest known universe, the search for life beyond our planet is comprehensive, complex and endlessly fascinating.

Gaze at amazing glaciers and icebergs as you sail from Ushuaia to the wilderness of the South Shetlands. Immerse yourself in the magnificent landscapes of Antarctica. Meet Adelie penguins and snow petrels on the South Orkneys. Explore South Georgia and encounter the world's largest macaroni penguin population. And observe some of the world's rarest animals on Gough Island and the islands of Tristan da Cunha, before ending your trip in Cape Town.

Ben Clark

Spirit of the Celts
May 24 – June 4, 2024

Speaker: Dr. Douglas Caldwell, Planetary Science/Exoplanets


  • Extrasolar Planets - from Speculation to Understanding: In the last three decades, we have gone from speculating about the existence of exoplanets to confirming more than 5,400 of these planets orbiting other stars. Discover current scientific understanding of exoplanets and learn about what scientists hope to do next.
  • Earth as an Exoplanet: To help us better understand the limited information we get from observations of exoplanets, scientists are developing technology that will allow them to observe the Earth from a distance.

Join us on a journey of discovery as we embark on a cultural exploration cruise through the heart of the British Isles. From Portsmouth's historic port to the Scottish Highlands' rugged beauty, you'll visit some of the most fascinating and enchanting destinations in the world. Along the way, immerse yourself in local cultures and traditions, and explore this remarkable region's rich history and heritage.

Doug Caldwell

High Arctic of Svalbard
July 10-20, 2024
Speaker: Dr. Michael Garrett, Science Advisory Board, Radio Astronomy/SETI


  • Exploring the Cosmos for Signs of Extraterrestrial Life: The question of whether we are the sole intelligent inhabitants of the Universe has intrigued humanity for millennia. Join Professor Garret on an exploration of the possibility of technically advanced societies beyond our solar system.
  • Unveiling the Mysteries of the Universe: Advances in Astronomy and the Future of Space Exploration: As science hurtles forward into the cosmos, we’re confronted with the stark reality that the universe still guards many of its secrets with a cosmic shroud. Learn what pieces of the puzzle are missing in order for us to become a truly spacefaring society.
  • Radio Astronomy’s Odyssey: From Cosmic Whispers to the Square Kilometre Array: Embark on a journey through the history of radio astronomy, from the serendipitous discovery of cosmic radio waves at Bell laboratories to the cutting-edge technologies that have redefined our understanding of the universe today.

Discover the rarely visited High Arctic. Sail from Tromsø through the wilderness of Bear Island, and explore the icy landscapes of the Svalbard archipelago. Marvel at the Monacobreen Glacier, listen to Alkefjellet’s bird cliff, and take in Svingeldalen’s vistas. Cruise around Cape Lee and Dolerittneset before venturing to Koefoedodden on Hopen Island. Then stop at the village of Skarsvåg before heading to Alta, 'the city of the Northern Lights'.

Michael Garrett

From Magna Graecia to Greece
August 28 – September 5, 2024
Speaker: Dr. Mark Showalter, Planetary Astronomer


  • The New Horizons Mission to Pluto and Beyond: An Insider’s View: Mark Showalter was a member of the New Horizons science team for its historic flybys of Pluto in 2015. Mark will discuss this pioneering mission and its scientific significance. He’ll also explain what life was like behind the scenes at New Horizon.
  • The Chaotic Worlds of the Outer Solar System:  Dive into the world of planetary rings and moons with Mark. Discover what was learned on the Voyager flybys of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, and find out how the seemingly simple laws of physics can sometimes lead to remarkable results.
  • The Antikythera Mechanism: An ancient shipwreck was discovered off the coast of the tiny Greek island of Antikythera in 1900. Among the artefacts recovered was an astronomical clock - pre-dating the invention of the geared clock by 1200 years! Learn about this deeply fascinating discovery.

Discover the wonders of the Mediterranean on this voyage in partnership with Chopra (more details below). Experience the rich history, culture, and cuisine of Sicily, Italy, Albania, and Greece. Sail through sparkling waters, and discover ancient cities, charming islands, and stunning landscapes. Explore the ruins of a legendary oracle, cruise through a narrow canal carved into rock, and imagine seeing the spectacle of a real volcanic eruption.

Mark Showalter

Voyage to the Northwest Passage
September 9-25, 2024
Speaker: Dr. Uma Gorti, Astronomer/Star and Planet Formation


  • Star and Planet Formation: Stars and planets form deep within the densest parts of molecular clouds of hydrogen in galaxies when gravity overwhelms all other forces. Follow the unlikely birth story of stars and their resultant planetary systems.
  • Astrochemistry: Where does everything come from? Hydrogen and some helium were made in the first three minutes at the beginning of our universe. Follow these elements on their journey from the beginning of the universe to everything we know in our world today.

Your Arctic Discovery voyage leaves from Greenland, and circles around Baffin Bay in the Canadian Arctic. Then you’ll sail to the Northwest Passage among mountainous icebergs, charming fjords and some of the world’s most active glaciers. Spot polar bears and narwhals, discover landscapes covered in arctic willow and purple saxifrage, encounter Inuit communities, and explore a spectacular region visited by some of history’s greatest explorers.

Uma Gorti

Greenland to Nova Scotia exploring the Canadian Arctic
September 25 – October 10, 2024
Speaker: Bill Diamond, SETI Institute CEO


  • The Search for Life Beyond Earth – How it Works, How it’s Going, and Why it Matters: Humans have long pondered the question ‘Are we alone in the Universe?’ Learn how Swan Hellenic connects its passengers to extraordinary destinations all over the world that connect directly to the research of the SETI Institute.
  • Astrobiology, Field Expeditions and the Search for Life Beyond Earth: This talk explores the fascinating work of astrobiologists in the field and in the lab and how their work connects to the study and search for life beyond Earth and a better understanding of life right here at home.

Visit parts of the legendary ice-filled route that challenged great explorers on this epic Northern Canadian Discovery voyage. Sail from Greenland through the iceberg capital of the world, and gaze in awe at the straits and fjords crammed with huge icebergs. Watch out for caribou and polar bears on the northern Canadian coast, and you’ll get the chance to hear the stories of the indigenous Inuit people, and discover whaling sites in Newfoundland.

Bill Diamond

Madagasgar and its Islands
October 26 – November 6, 2024
Speaker: Dr. Janice Bishop


  • Phyllosilicates on Mars and What They Tell Us About Water and Habitability: Mars is currently a cold desert, but clay minerals have shown that 3-4 billion years ago, the planet was home to a warmer climate - and probably even rain. This gives us valuable insights into how life might have evolved, both on Mars and here on Earth.
  • Exploring Volcanic Islands as Analogs for Mars (e.g., Iceland, Santorini, Hawaiian Islands, and Canary Islands): Although Mars is a cold and desolate place today, much of the surface is volcanic and early Mars may have resembled volcanic environments on Earth today. Through studying these locations, we are able to retrace the geologic history of Mars.

Set sail from Kenyan capital Mombasa, and journey along the Western Madagascar and Mozambique coasts. Visit Aldabra, home to over 100,000 giant tortoises. Head to Nosy Be, with its fascinating French colonial buildings and nature reserve. Discover Toliara’s mangroves, coral reefs, and Arboretum d’Antsokay, which has over 900 plant species. Your journey ends in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, known for its historic district and vibrant street scene.

Janice Bishop