Time to don life vests and hop into a zodiac — and don’t forget the champagne!  This Decked! feature offers a top-to-bottom look at Hapag-Lloyd Cruises recently renovated, five star, 184 passenger MV HANSEATIC — one of the world’s highest-rated expedition cruise ships.

Oncoming HANSEATIC at Misty Fjords, Alaska.

Hapag Lloyd Cruises Website

Northbound HANSEATIC Sea Treks: Ten Nights Cruising Alaska Aboard Hapag-Lloyd’s Five Star Expedition Vessel

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Please click on image to see larger version. All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2009 unless otherwise noted.


Operators: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
Registry: Bahamas
Builder: Rauma Repola, Finland
Entered Service: 1993
Gross Tonnage: 8,378
Length: 404 feet
Beam: 60 feet
Draft: 16 feet
Passenger Capacity: 184
Number of Crew: 125
Propulsion: diesel, twin screw
Maximum Speed: 18 knots

HANSEATIC now sports Hapag-Lloyd colors. Courtesy of Hapag-Lloyd.

Hapag-Lloyd’s 8,378 gt MV HANSEATIC is the fourth in a noteworthy line of passenger ships to carry the name.

The first HANSEATIC was originally CP's three funneled EMPRESS OF JAPAN of 1930. Renamed EMPRESS OF SCOTLAND in 1942, she sailed for Canadian Pacific Line until purchased by German-Atlantic Line for a major rebuilding into a modern transatlantic liner. Peter Knego collection.

She carries on a tradition started by German-Atlantik Line’s HANSEATIC of 1958, the heavily-rebuilt former Canadian Pacific EMPRESS OF JAPAN (later EMPRESS OF SCOTLAND). The legendary liner, which also enjoyed a dual career as a deluxe cruise ship, was damaged by fire in New York on September 7, 1967 and subsequently broken up in Germany.

The second HANSEATIC was originally the SHALOM and later sailed as Home Line's DORIC, Royal Cruise Line's ROYAL ODYSSEY and Regency Cruises REGENT SUN. After a failed conversion to a floating spa, the ship sank en route to the shipbreakers under the name SUN in 2001. Peter Knego collection.

Her replacement, the second HANSEATIC, was the 1964-built former Zim liner SHALOM. The ex-Israeli flagship was one of the world’s top-rated cruise ships under the German-Atlantik banner until being sold in 1973.

The short-lived third HANSEATIC was the 1969-built HAMBURG. After the collapse of German-Atlantik Line, the ship went on to sail as the Soviet-owned MAXIM GORKIY and remained very popular until being broken up at Alang in 2009. Peter Knego collection.

The 1969-built “Space Ship” HAMBURG subsequently became the third HANSEATIC but only sailed one voyage under that name before the company shut down in 1974.

Artist's rendering of MV SOCIETY ADVENTURER. Courtesy of Cruise Travel magazine.
MV HANSEATIC Builder's Plaque.

The current appellation was actually built for Society Expeditions as the SOCIETY ADVENTURER but while she was under construction at the Rauma-based Finnyards shipyard in Finland, her owners declared bankruptcy.

HANSEATIC at Victoria, B.C., Canada.

She was completed and sold in 1993 to former German Atlantik Line captain, Dirk Moldenhauer, who revived the red and white Maltese Cross banner of German Atlantik Lines and named the ship HANSEATIC for his newly-established Hanseatic Cruises.

HANSEATIC’s ice-strengthened bow in action.

HANSEATIC was the world’s first five star expedition cruise vessel with a 1A1 super ice classification (the highest a non-purpose-built ice breaker can attain) and a fleet of fourteen zodiacs.

Zodiac versus HANSEATIC off Chenega Glacier, Alaska.
HANSEATIC at Pelican, Alaska.
MV HANSEATIC at Misty Fjords.
HANSEATIC departing Seward, Alaska.

With an 8,600 nautical mile range, HANSEATIC voyages from pole to pole, providing her contingent of 184 pampered passengers the opportunity to visit remote ports of call and explore off-the-beaten-track regions, often landing via zodiac.

MV HANSEATIC at Chenega Inlet, Alaska.

In 1997, HANSEATIC was chartered to upscale German-based Hapag-Lloyd, which maintains her loyal following and exotic cruise programs under their aegis in conjunction with the four star, 6,752 gt expedition ship BREMEN. Although HANSEATIC lacks BREMEN’s balconies, her all-outside cabins and public areas are slightly larger and more comfortable than the BREMEN’s and the quality of food and service is a notch or two better.

MV HANSEATIC at Blohm and Voss undergoing her latest refurbishment. Courtesy of Hapag- Lloyd.

When her charter to Hapag-Lloyd was recently extended through 2018, HANSEATIC visited the Blohm and Voss shipyard in Hamburg for her most extensive refit to date.

Detailing detail! HANSEATIC receives her new livery. Courtesy of Hapag-Lloyd.

Emerging in June of 2011, she sported Hapag-Lloyd’s distinctive orange and blue livery, although the red and white Maltese Cross will remain in use as a “product logo” on board.

A corner of one of HANSEATIC's freshly refurbished cabins. Courtesy Hapag-Lloyd.
New paneling and furnishing graces all of HANSEATIC's Deck 5 and 6 cabins. Courtesy of Hapag-Lloyd.

In the 13 day transformation, all cabins on Decks 5 and 6 were fitted with new paneling, furniture and soft fittings and the Columbus Lounge casual dining venue was restyled as the Bistro Lemaire.

MV HANSEATIC in her new Hapag-Lloyd livery. Courtesy of Hapag-Lloyd.

HANSEATIC is a very well-proportioned, handsome ship. Her raked bow, low superstructure and angular but nicely configured funnel and terraced stern are a pleasant visual alternative to today’s average “box of flats” megaship.

Champagne Welcome Aboard MV HANSEATIC.

Here’s a nicely chilled glass of champagne as we board the ship for our top to bottom tour.  Two stairtowers and two lifts facilitate a smooth and uncrowded passenger flow among her seven passenger decks as we head up to Deck 8.

Deck 8

MV HANSEATIC, Deck 8, facing starboard from forward.
MV HANSEATIC, Deck 8, facing aft from starboard.
MV HANSEATIC, facing aft from port Deck 8 wing.
MV HANSEATIC, facing aft along port Deck 8.
MV HANSEATIC, facing aft from starboard Deck 8.

The uppermost level, Deck 8, is a large, turf-lined, open observation terrace surrounding the mast housing and overlooking the midships lido.

Deck 7/Observation Deck

MV HANSEATIC Observation Lounge, facing starboard.

Seen from the outside, the 102 seat Observation Lounge, which begins the public areas on forward Deck 7, sits atop the wheelhouse like a prominent brow. From inside, it is an elegant space offering 180 degree views through full length windows and a stepped up central seating area which also sports a piano and bar.

MV HANSEATIC Observation Lounge Library, facing aft.

The aft bulkhead contains cabinets with board games and a Library with a variety of English and German selections. Warm, burled veneers enhanced by lacquered brass accents make a nice backdrop for burgundy and gold soft fittings. By day, the Observation Lounge is a quiet place for reading or taking in the view while enjoying a drink or a cup of tea (in addition to a full bar list, there is even a tea menu). At night, it is a favorite gathering place for pre or post dinner cocktails, daily recaps of sights and fauna seen and soothing piano melodies.

MV HANSEATIC Beauty Salon, facing port.
MV HANSEATIC Gym, facing aft.
MV HANSEATIC Gym, facing forward.
MV HANSEATIC Deck 7 whirlpool, facing aft.
MV HANSEATIC Deck 7 nook.

Aft of the forward vestibule on Deck 7, there is a salon, small gym, sauna, jacuzzi and bar.

MV HANSEATIC Deck 7 pool, facing aft.
MV HANSEATIC Deck 7 lido, facing forward.

The sheltered midships lido features rows of comfortable deck chairs and a shallow, heated salt water pool. Short, narrow promenades on either side lead to the aft vestibule. The aft portion of Deck 7 is crew space and also where the zodiacs are stowed.

Deck 6/Bridge Deck

MV HANSEATIC Wheelhouse, facing port.

Deck 6 begins with the large wheelhouse and its open wings.  The bridge is especially large for a ship the HANSEATIC’s size, enabling an “open bridge” policy where passengers can visit almost any time they like (except in port and under certain sea conditions).

The view from the HANSEATIC's bridge off Chenega Glacier.

An officer is usually on hand to offer insight into how the equipment works.

MV HANSEATIC Starboard Deck 6 wing, facing aft.

The teak wings continue aft past officers’ accommodation to passenger suites and cabins.

MV HANSEATIC Starboard Deck 6 passage, facing forward.

Aft of a block of suites, passages on each side lead all the way back to the former Columbus Lounge, now the Bistro Lemaire, and its sheltered stern terrace.

That was then: The Columbus Lounge, facing starboard.
That was then: Columbus Lounge, facing forward.

Until June of 2011, the 102 seat Columbus sported pleasant lemon cream colored soft fittings, wicker furniture and long banquette seating enhanced by natural light from either side and aft.  Although serving the same function, it is now called the Bistro Lemaire.  Dynamic new furnishing and soft fittings give it an edgy, contemporary feel.

This is now: Bistro Lemaire, the former Columbus Lounge, shown facing aft, sports new fittings and a new name. Courtesy of Hapag-Lloyd.

The Bistro Lemaire is HANSEATIC’s open seating breakfast and lunch buffet, often accompanied with a barbeque or special function on the terrace. On select nights, the space is “spiced up” with special decorations to suit the culinary themes of “Ethno Dinner”, a reservations-required, non-tariff specialty restaurant.

MV HANSEATIC Bistro Lemaire terrace, facing port.

An adjoining terrace just outside seats an additional 60 passengers.

Deck 5/Explorer Deck

MV HANSEATIC, facing aft from Deck 5 fo'c'sle.

Deck 5 begins at the open fo’c’sle, where passengers can venture while HANSEATIC sails through picturesque passages for an up close view.

MV HANSEATIC, starboard Deck 5 prom, facing aft.

Inside the superstructure, there is a block of passenger accommodation that leads aft to the reception and tour desk in the aft vestibule. Finite open promenades are located midships on either side.

MV HANSEATIC Reception Lobby, facing port.
MV HANSEATIC Photo Gallery, facing forward.

On the port side a photo gallery leads aft to the Explorer Lounge and a small terrace on the fantail.

MV HANSEATIC, Explorer's Lounge, facing aft/starboard.
MV HANSEATIC Explorer's Lounge, facing forward from starboard.

The HANSEATIC’s largest public room, the Explorer Lounge was designed to seat the ship’s entire passenger complement of 184 plus an additional 12 occupants. By day, it is used for various games and functions and at night, it serves as a special cocktail and show venue (usually just the ship’s musicians or a visiting artist when in port). There is a large central dance floor and stage aft and a bar on the forward/starboard side. The decor is pleasant with dark wood veneers, polished brass and blue, gold and brown soft fittings.

MV HANSEATIC Deck 5 fantail, facing starboard.

A narrow terrace on the Deck 5 fantail can be accessed via the Marco Polo Lounge or the Bistro Lemaire terrace, just above.

Deck 4/Marco Polo Deck

Deck 4 begins with crew quarters.  Passenger accommodation commences aft of the forward vestibule.

MV HANSEATIC Deck 4 passageway.
MV HANSEATIC Aft Deck4 Lobby, facing starboard.
MV HANSEATIC Boutique, facing aft.
MV HANSEATIC Port Deck 4 Passage, facing aft.

A boutique is adjacent to the aft vestibule on the starboard side and a gallery leads aft to the Marco Polo Restaurant.

MV HANSEATIC Marco Polo Restaurant, facing aft.
MV HANSEATIC Marco Polo Restaurant, facing forward.

The open seating Marco Polo Restaurant accommodates all of HANSEATIC’s 184 passengers and an additional 12 guests.  It has tables for two, four, six and eight in a handsome setting with full-length picture windows, wood-toned veneers, polished brass accents and black enamel-framed seating.  Service is on fine china with elegant stemware, silver plate cutlery and starched linens.  Daily lunch and dinner menus are specially printed (English versions are printed for non-German speaking guests) and service is…exemplary.

Deck 3/Amundsen Deck

Deck 3 begins with crew accommodation and includes a large block of passenger cabins.

Deck 2/Darwin Deck

MV HANSEATIC Darwin Hall, facing port.

Deck 2 contains crew accommodation and the hospital off the forward vestibule. Accessed from the aft vestibule is the Darwin Hall, the ship’s 76 seat lecture room and cinema.  All presentations are simulcast in passenger cabins.

MV HANSEATIC Zodiac Changing Area.

Changing rooms with parkas and rubber boots for zodiac landings are located next to the gangway on Deck 2.

MV HANSEATIC totally random carpet shot #1.
MV HANSEATIC totally random carpet shot #2.

Below Decks

MV HANSEATIC Engine Control Room.

HANSEATIC guests can take guided engine room tours.  The ship’s engineer is on hand to provide an extremely detailed look at the machinery.  Tours are free and can be requested at reception.


All accommodation on HANSEATIC features individually-controlled air conditioning, a stocked mini-bar (all juices and bottled water are replenished daily and complimentary),  fruit bowl, fresh flowers, a potted plant, television with English and German stations, a night stand, writing desk, large wardrobes, closets, travel alarm clock, hairdryer, complimentary binoculars, en suite WiFi access and Crabtree and Evelyn brand toiletries.

Category 7 Suites

MV HANSEATIC Suite, facing outboard.

Four spacious 436 square foot U-shaped suites top the HANSEATIC’s accommodation both in luxury and location.  Situated on Deck 6/Bridge Deck, they have two sets of large picture windows and a separate living room.

MV HANSEATIC Suite sitting area, facing aft.

Special suite amenities include a safe and butler service (packing and unpacking of bags, ironing, shoe cleaning, welcome caviar and champagne, daily snacks and petits-fours).

MV HANSEATIC Suite bedroom.

Suites have a separate bedroom with bedding that can be configured with twins or a queen.

MV HANSEATIC Suite bathroom.

Suite bathrooms are especially large and feature marble surfacing, a full tub with massage head shower, twin sinks and plenty of storage.

Category 3, 5 and 6 Cabins

Newly refitted cabins on Decks 6 and 5 feature contemporary soft fittings and walnut-toned paneling. Courtesy of Hapag-Lloyd.

These are the newly-refurbished cabins on Decks 6 and 5, all of which feature a picture window and all the standard cabin amenities previously listed.  All outside cabins except the suites measure 237 square feet.  Butler service is provided for Deck 6 cabins.

Category 4 Cabins

MV HANSEATIC Outside Cabin with picture window.

Located on Marco Polo Deck, these cabins feature a picture window with original furnishings.

Category 2 Cabins

MV HANSEATIC Outside Cabin 419, facing starboard.

These staterooms are located on Amundsen Deck and feature twin portholes with original furnishing.

MV HANSEATIC Cabin 419 bathroom.

Outside cabin bathrooms feature marbled surfacing and showers with massage head controls.

Handicap Access Cabins

MV HANSEATIC Handicap-access cabin, facing outboard.

Although the same size as all other outside cabins, staterooms 321 and 322 have a modified layout and larger doors to accommodate wheelchair passengers.

MV HANSEATIC Handicap access cabin bathroom.

321 and 322 also have modified bathrooms and controls.

MV HANSEATIC cabin toiletries.

End Of HANSEATIC Decked!

Special thanks: Martin Cox, Cruise Director Matthias Mayer, Chief Engineer Sinisa Mrvica, Hotel Director Robert Peukert, Chief Officer Ulf Sodemann, Hostess Helga Spickerman, Lectorin Sylvia Stevens, Isolde Susset, Cindy Tanenbaum, Captain Ulf Wolter

Ocean Liner Fittings, Furniture and Art For Sale at

Peter Knego Videos Link: ON THE ROAD TO ALANG and THE WORLD’s PASSENGER FLEET, Volume Nine

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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