All images courtesy of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises unless otherwise noted.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
At a press conference held at New York’s Langham Hotel, Hapag-Lloyd’s CEO, Karl Pojer, revealed some of the exciting new design features of the award-winning German cruise line’s newbuilding expedition ships as well as some updates on its current fleet.
Answering a surge in demand for luxury expedition cruising, in 2016, Hapag-Lloyd placed an order for a pair of cutting edge, 15,650-gt, 452-by-72-foot, ice-strengthened vessels. The line, which currently operates the Berlitz-rated five-plus star cruise ships EUROPA and EUROPA 2, a luxury passenger jet named ALBERT BALLIN and the expedition ships HANSEATIC and BREMEN, is coming off its most financially successful year to date.
The two new ships, the HANSEATIC INSPIRATION and HANSEATIC NATURE, due in October 2019 and in late 2020, respectively, are significantly larger and more advanced than the current, 1991-built, 8,378-gt HANSEATIC, which will be returned to her owners, Hanseatic Tours, once her charter to Hapag-Lloyd concludes in October of 2018. For now, the 6,752 gt, 155-guest BREMEN will continue to sail in conjunction with the two new vessels in expedition cruise service, although she is now nearing 25 years old. Nicknamed “The Love Boat” and with a 70% repeat cruiser factor, the four star ship is sold out for the next year. Further, the BREMEN will adapt Hapag’s new blue bow livery and may be marketed to English as well as German-speaking guests in the near future.
The new ships will be built to the highest ice classification standards for a passenger ship — PC6 — allowing them to break through pack ice up to 35.43 inches thick. They will also boast design elements to help preserve the pristine and delicate environments they will visit. The ships will use low carbon marine gas (versus heavy fuel) in sensitive areas, utilize SCR catalytic converters to reduce nitrogen emissions by 95%, feature fuel-conserving PROMAS rudders, operate at moderate to low speeds to further reduce fuel consumption and utilize power-saving LED lighting.
Distinguishing features will include glass-bottomed balconies that will extend off either side of the ship from the pool area…
…a sliding glass dome to protect the 22,800-square-foot pool area from inclement weather…
…an open bow viewing area for up close encounters with nature…
…and a marina platform at the stern, allowing the launch of zodiacs (up to 17 in all), paddle boards and kayaks for excursions.
Utilizing guest feedback and input from Hapag’s expedition teams and executives, the ship’s interior spaces are being designed by Ocean Architects, a German-based firm. All lounges will feature colors inspired by nature and the places the ships visit, incorporating natural elements such as stone and olive wood tones. While the ships will be structurally identical, they will vary in interior color schemes, with the INSPIRATION’s look aimed for the International marketplace and the NATURE’s geared to the German market. Illumination will be indirect, mood-enhancing and practical (in other words, guests will be able to read the menus in the restaurants) and eschew unflattering downlighting.
There will be a 180-degree observation lounge with full length windows situated above the bridge.
Directly aft of the observation lounge, the 230-seat Hanseatrium will feature an ice bar.
The Hanseatrium will also be the place where all guests can congregate before dinner to recap the day’s sightings and adventures and learn about the following day’s excursions.
The new ships will also feature an Ocean Academy, where they will have interactive access to information (geology, history, flora, fauna, etc.) about the places the ships visit.
There will also be up-to-date and well-equipped fitness areas and spas with a Finnish sauna equipped with windows that will enable guests to watch the passing scenery.
Of the three dining venues on board, there will be a casual Bistro Restaurant at the top of the ship with seating for 100 indoors and 84 al fresco. The Bistro will feature an open kitchen and barbecue area as well as a round-the-clock ice cream bar.
With open seating for 178 guests, the main restaurant will be located in the heart of the ship and offer a different menu each day with gourmet-quality cuisine and white glove service.
There will also be a 44-seat specialty restaurant on each ship. On the INSPIRATION, the culinary theme will be “ceviche-meets-sushi”, featuring specialties from Peru and Japan. The specialty restaurant angle on the NATURE is tbd.
Five overall categories of accommodation range from exterior (Panoramic) cabins to deluxe suites.
Panoramic cabins will measure 226-square-feet and feature full length windows, a sitting area, writing desk, chair, bathroom with toilet and rain shower as well as a heated wall (for drying wet gear and clothing), flatscreen televisions, a mini-bar (with free non-alcoholic drinks), a coffee machine and binoculars. Bedding can be configured in twins or a queen.
French balcony cabins (226-square-feet) and Balcony cabins (291-square-feet, including balcony) will offer the same features as Panoramic cabins.
Junior Suites will measure 452-square-feet, including balcony and feature separate bedrooms with twin or queen bedding, televisions in bedrooms and living areas.
Junior Suites will also have a living space with partitioned dining and sitting areas.
Additional perks in Junior Suites include butler service, bathrooms with twin sinks and a steam sauna, free stocked mini-bars and table reservations in the main restaurant.
Grand Suites will measure 764-square-feet and feature all of the amenities of Junior Suites plus verandas with space heaters, daylight bathrooms with two sinks, a separate bath and rain shower, a separate powder room and first choice of zodiac.
The HANSEATIC INSPIRATION will be floated out of her Romanian shipyard this coming April and towed to Norway for fitting out. She will undergo trials between February and August of 2019 before entering service. The ship will offer cruises in Antarctica, the Amazon region and the Great Lakes. In order to transit the Welland Canal, she will be fitted with folding bridge wings.
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 www.midshipcentury.com 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."