Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

History, Review, Itineraries, Ships, Deck Plans, News

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Hapag-Lloyd Cruises fleet

Review of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises (officially Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten) is based in Hamburg Germany. The cruise company is subsidiary of Hapag-Lloyd AG (German-Chilean container shipping line / one of the world's oldest and largest). Until 2017, HL Cruises was 100%-owned subsidiary of Europe's leading travel group TUI AG (based in Hanover Germany).

Company history

The Hapag-Lloyd company was created in 1970 via merger between two of Germany's oldest steamship companies - "Hamburg-Amerikanische Packfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft" (Hapag) and "Norddeutscher Lloyd". Both shipping companies were created in the 1840s to carry freight and passengers between Germany and the USA.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises logo

On July 12, 2017, TUI AG sold its remaining 8,5 million shares in Hapag-Lloyd AG, which raised about EUR 244 million. The operation was open market block trade (Accelerated Book Building) to a guaranteed minimum price close to the day’s market closing. Prior to this trade (since March 2017), TUI AG disposed a total of 6 million Hapag-Lloyd shares in individual open market transactions. By disposing of all its Hapag-Lloyd shares, TUI AG concluded the corporation's non-core business disposal program defined after the TUI AG and TUI Travel PLC merger in December 2014. The revenues were used TUI's tourism business (hotel brands and cruise ships).

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises remains part of TUI AG.

Hapag-Lloyd cruising experience

As a product, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises offers higher-end luxury travel deals, featuring:

  • Hapag-Lloyd's cruise ships are top-of-the-line and offer in-port and on-board experiences ranging from expedition to luxury. All vessels are budget-wise, as fares are on the high side, but each features a different personality and specialty.
  • The best known Europa offers a formal luxury experience as it travels around the world with few if any repeated itineraries. Both Hanseatic and Bremen are expedition ships with the highest given to passenger ships E4 ice ratings. They travel to the Antarctic and Arctic, as well as other exotic regions. Bremen is classed as a four-star ship, while Hanseatic boasts five stars and has upgraded enrichment and cuisine in addition to larger cabins.
  • The launch of the first Hapag-Lloyd new-build since 1999 was a real excitement for the line. Europa 2 debuted in May 2013, aiming at the ultra-luxe market and younger and more active target audience. Families are catered to with kids facilities appealing to youngsters, from toddlers to teens.
  • The last one, Europa 2, draws on top-notch features of Europa. She is the line's most contemporary and chic ship, featuring dynamic art and sophisticated entertainment that ranges from a jazz club to a kitchen studio for cooking courses. Its appeal is to younger, less luxury-minded cruisers, including families.
  • The all-suite Hapag-Lloyd Cruises ships Europa and Europa 2 provide the largest space-per-guest ratio of any cruise ships currently sailing. All Europa 2 staterooms have balconies. The Hapag-Lloyd company has also dedicated ms Europa 2 as the "bilingual" ship of the line, reaching an international passenger base with enhanced activities geared to English-speaking guests.

New ships

Next is shown Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' new expedition cruise ship design. Two such Polar-Class vessels are scheduled for launch in 2019. Their names are Hanseatic Inspiration (launch 2019 October) and Hanseatic Nature (launch 2019 April).

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises new expedition cruise ship design (bow view)

The new ships are of the same design (sister-ships), each with max capacity 230 passengers (199 passengers on Antarctic cruises), 3 restaurants, extensive wellness area, water sports marina (aft), a fleet of Zodiacs (large-capacity inflatable boats used for landings and shore tours).

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises new expedition cruise ship design (aft view)

In mid August 2017, MS Bremen (launched in 1990) received "Polar Code" certificate that allows the vessel to operate in polar regions. All its fleetmates were also due to receive the certificate by Hapag-Lloyd’s 2018 Arctic season. Polar Code (adopted by IMO) contains regulations abot polar cruise vessels' construction and onboard equipment, as well as crew training requirements. In 2017, as part of the HL fleet's routine drydocks, all ships were brought in line with the Polar Code's requirements. MS Bremen was scheduled to operate 3 Arctic cruises (2018-2019 season), including one Northeast Passage (summer 2018).

Itinerary of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

Currently, Hapag-Lloyd offers a wealth of "high-end luxury" cruises for well-heeled travelers. The line's signature destinations are the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, as well as Caribbean, Asia, Australia, plus expedition itineraries to Antarctica and Alaska (Northwest Passage).

The current Hapag Lloyd cruise ship fleet includes the following vessels:

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises re-introduced its well known Summer Specials campaign to the international marketplace, applying to 5 Europa 2 Asia & Middle East voyages selected in April and May 2018, with its own dedicated website (europa2-summer-specials.com) where the relevant sailings are detailed. Not only does the site offer information about the casual luxury lifestyle enjoyed onboard the 5-star plus ship but also insider tips on the ports visited in this colourful region. 

Northwest Passage cruises 2011-2012

Hapag Lloyd was the world's first cruise line with a Northwest Passage Cruise itinerary. In 2011, MS Bremen was the world's first ever cruise ship crossing the Passage from Kangerlussuaq Greenland  to Nome Alaska. In 2012, MS Hanseatic made a full transit with a 25-days itinerary leaving from Nome AK (on August 14) and ending in Reykjavik Iceland (on September 7).

Hapag Lloyd Cuba cruises

In 2016 (October and November) ms Europa 2 visited Cuba for the first time. Two cruise itineraries included the Cuban ports Havana (city tour), Santiago de Cuba (city tour), Cienfuegos, Isla de la Juventud.

Both itineraries were one-ways, leaving on October 24 (12-day from La Guaria (Venezuela) to Havana) and on November 6 (13-day from Havana to Colon Panama).

The current list of passenger shipping lines offering cruises to Cuba includes:

  • Carnival Paradise leaving from Tampa Florida - cheapest prices (from USD 480 pp) since June 2017
  • Royal Caribbean (ship Empress of the Seas) from Miami and Tampa since April 2017
  • MSC Cruises (ship MSC Opera, leaving from Havana)
  • Holland America (ship Veendam) leaving from Fort Lauderdale since December 2017
  • Oceania Cruises (ships Marina and Regatta) since 2017, Cuba circumnavigation, stops in Cienfuegos and Havana, also part of some Panama Canal transition itineraries.
  • NCL (ship Norwegian Sky) 4-day itineraries with Havana overnights - since May 2017
  • Azamara Cruises (ship on Azamara Quest from Miami)
  • Compagnie du Ponant (yacht Le Ponant, leaving from Miami Florida)
  • Pearl Seas Cruises (ship Pearl Mist, leaving from Fort Lauderdale Florida) since January 2017
  • Thomson UK / Marella Cruises (ship Marella Dream) 7-day, leaving roundtrip from Jamaica (Montego Bay) to Havana
  • Lindblad Expeditions (chartered sailing ship MS Panorama II, leaving from Havana)
  • Celestyal Cruises (ship Celestyal Crystal, leaving from Havana and Montego Bay Jamaica)
  • Grand Circle Cruise Line (ship MV Clio / ex Tere Moana) one-way from Miami to Havana, or the reverse from Havana to Miami (embarkation/disembarkation in port Cienfuegos).
  • International Expeditions (leaving from Havana, charter flights out of Miami)
  • Victory Cruise Lines - MS  Victory I (former MS Saint Laurent) - fly-cruises from Miami to Havana (home-port Cienfuegos /departures)
  • Note: According to the current Cuban law, US citizens of Cuban origin (born in Cuba) are not allowed to visit the island country (including on cruise ships). Regardless of their US citizenship status, Cuban-born Americans were denied booking on cruise itineraries visiting ports in Cuba. However, the situation changed in April 2016, after Carnival Corporation negotiated with the Cuban government for allowing ships with Cuban-born passengers, as such US citizens are allowed to visit the country on USA-Cuba charter flights. The Carnival-fathom cruise line started Miami to Cuba cruises in May 2016 with the transferred from P&O UK ship Adonia (now Azamara Pursuit). The brand was terminated in April 2017.
  • Alaska Airlines offers regular nonstop flights to Havana from Los Angeles (California USA). An 80-min ling JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale (Florida) to Havana costs less than USD 100. Previously, air travel from USA to Cuba was thought charter flights only.

(animal cruelty) Faroe Islands cruise boycott

In mid-July 2016, Hapag-Lloyd became one of the three cruise ship companies (together with Disney and AIDA) that have banned Faroe Islands (a Danish territory) as destination part of their North European itineraries.

The boycott is due to the island nation's traditional mass slaughter of pilot whales each year. The protected by Denmark gruesome practice of killing whales is called “Grindadrap Grind". Locals use motor boats to drive a pod of whales into a harbor. The defenseless animals are dragged to the shallow water and brutally slaughtered by locals armed with knives (16-19 cm / 6 8 inch long) while their families cheer them on. The killing party even rip out baby whales from their mothers.

Faroe Islands have population of about 50,000 and kill each year over 1,000 pilot whales. You can see the cruise ship schedule of Torshavn - Faroes most visited port. All cruise lines with scheduled visits to the Faroes are accused of supporting the brutal whaling practices. Whaling is still officially approved and carried out by the "civilized" countries Japan, Norway and Iceland, killing over 2000 whales each year and trading in whale products.

HL's response was to the "Faroese Pilot Whaling Act" by the local government, which continues to allow pilot whales to be culled or massacred. It also empowers local authorities to imprison (for up to 2 years) people found guilty of impeding these whaling activities - despite all the international condemnations.

Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace are among the largest organizations taking direct actions against the "Faroese Pilot Whaling Act". Most of the available online haunting images of slaughtered whales lying in a sea of blood are released by these organizations.

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