(10:10 a.m. EDT) -- German cruise line Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has set its sights on getting more UK passengers onboard its cruise ships in the next year.
At a press briefing in London, Hapag-Lloyd executives revealed that the strategy to attract more international passengers was squarely focused on Britons, saying expectations were for the UK to make up seven and a half percent of the line's total bookings.
In order to attract passengers, Hapag-Lloyd will be offering cruises that call in the UK and cruises that depart from the UK in addition to a complimentary 200 euro beverage package for all international passengers booking their first cruise on two of the line's ships -- Europa 2 and Hanseatic.
Julian Pfitzner, Director of Product Management for the 500-passenger, ultra luxury Europa 2 said the line was committed to bringing the ship to UK shores and was even considering offering a round-Britain cruise on Europa 2.
"We will see many more UK ports on our itineraries [in the future]," Pfitzner said. "And more cruises departing from the UK."
Pfitzner also said the 200 euro onboard credit offer would come into effect on bookings beginning Autumn 2014. A specific date has not yet been set.
CEO Karl Pojer said the moves had been decided based on feedback from UK passengers, who had repeatedly raised the subject of Hapag-Lloyd's luxury vessels charging extra for drinks onboard, while gratuities and meals at all seven onboard eateries are included in the cruise fare.
Pojer said: "We listen to our international customers, and we know there are needs that are different from the German market … From the feedback we have heard that the subject of all-inclusive is always coming up."
"The offer [of 200 euros for beverages] is more an "inauguration kit," if you will. We want our clients to be able to choose what they want to do with it. But we don't want to include everything; it's not our philosophy."
Pojer said Hapag-Lloyd was hoping to source 15 percent of its passengers from outside Germany. The line is increasing marketing in the UK, US and Australia as well as The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Scandinavia, but saw the English-speaking market as having the biggest potential for growth.
--By Jamey Bergman, UK Production Editor