OnboardHapag-Lloyd's four cruise ships offer onboard and in-port experiences that range from luxury to upmarket soft adventure, but all cater primarily to German-speaking travelers. Most passengers hail from Germany, Austria and Switzerland (with a small sprinkling of non-German speakers onboard some cruises), and cuisine, entertainment and enrichment programs are stylistically Germanic.
The best known ship in the fleet is the ultra-luxury Europa. Onboard, all passenger accommodations are outside suites, most with private verandahs. Bathrooms have separate showers and full-sized bathtubs, and are stocked with premium toiletries.
There are four restaurants onboard. In the Europa Restaurant, the main venue, passengers are assigned tables for dinner but can dine at any time they choose within opening hours. Two specialty restaurants Include Venezia, which focuses on regional Italian cuisine and is open for lunch and dinner daily, and Dieter Muller, a restaurant overseen by the eponymous German chef, known for his three Michelin stars. The Lido Restaurant is a standout buffet venue that offers a mix of help-yourself options and breakfast and lunch dishes prepared a la minute. In the evening, it transforms into a more formal, sit-down venue with table service.
As Europa is continually traveling the world (with very few repeat ports from cruise to cruise), its enrichment program focuses on world affairs, culture and history.
While not a dedicated family ship, Europa does have a Kinder club that's better suited for younger children (10 and under).
Hapag-Lloyd operates two expedition ships, Hanseatic and Bremen, and both have the highest ice class rating given to passenger ships (E4). Both are able to navigate in the Arctic and Antarctic and have a draft shallow enough to cruise the Amazon River. Each is equipped with inflatable Zodiac rafts that allow travelers an extra-intimate perspective.
The 184-passenger Hanseatic is the more luxurious of the two. It features cabins with all-outside views (though no balconies) that are generally more spacious than the norm, ranging from 237 – 474 square feet. Staterooms are equipped with flat-screen televisions and DVD players and a video-on-demand system that offers free e-mail access. There's a marble bath and mini-bar, stocked free of charge on a daily basis. Cabins on its Bridge Deck receive butler service. All staterooms have access to 24-hour room service.
The Marco Polo Restaurant is Hanseatic's main dining venue and features classically prepared European cuisine. The more casual Columbus Lounge offers alfresco dining and buffet or a la carte menus at breakfast and lunch. In the evening, the Columbus Lounge becomes the ship's alternative restaurant, offering different styles of cuisine.
Daytime entertainment onboard revolves around enrichment activities in Darwin Hall, the ship's lecture venue. The ship's recreational facilities include a fitness room and sauna, and bicycles, Nordic Walking poles, fishing rods and snorkeling equipment are available while in port.
The 164-passenger Bremen has fewer luxury amenities than Hanseatic. Its cabins are more compact (ranging from 194 – 258 square feet), and all have ocean views via panoramic windows or portholes. A handful of balconies are available.
Most meals are served in The Club, the ship's only restaurant; at breakfast passengers can dine alfresco on the Lido Deck. The Club also houses the ship's bar. The ship's destination-oriented enrichment program includes lectures from regional experts and a well-stocked library.
Bremen has a small heated pool and a sauna. And, as with Hanseatic, recreational toys such as bicycles, Nordic Walking poles, and snorkeling gear are available for passenger use; this ship also has kayaks to borrow.
The most recent addition to Hapag-Lloyd's fleet is Columbus 2 (which formerly cruised as Oceania's Insignia). The 698-passenger ship, under lease to Hapag-Lloyd through October 2014, has more options, from cabin styles to dining venues, than any other ship in the fleet. It's aimed at a wide range of travelers, including families, and, like Europa, rarely repeats a cruise intinerary. It's also more informal than Europa, though still graciously elegant.
Columbus 2 is primarily geared to German-speaking travelers, with less effort made to accommodate non-German speakers than Hapag-Lloyd's other three ships.
Staterooms on Columbus 2 range from small, inside categories with no windows to expansive suites with butler service and massive verandahs. All come with private bathrooms, flat-screen televisions, mini-fridges, and supremely comfortable bedding.
Columbus 2 has four restaurants onboard, and its main dining venue is Albert Ballin, which offers open-seating dining and a wide choice of dishes. Other options include the Polo Grill, a steakhouse; Restaurant Toscana, specializing in Italian fare; and the Lido, an indoor-outdoor venue that serves both buffet and a la carte options.
The Ocean Spa on Columbus 2 is the most beautiful in the Hapag-Lloyd fleet, and features an outdoor thalassotherapy pool, steam and sauna in both men's and women's locker rooms, a beauty salon, gym, and treatment rooms for massages, facials and the like. The ship is geared for golfers; onboard there's a golf cage and a resident golf pro, and cruise destinations include shore itineraries to famous courses.
Columbus 2's family facilities include clubs for children of all ages, including a teen-only venue.
About Hapag-Lloyd CruisesHapag-Lloyd Cruises is a four ship fleet (with Europa 2, its first newbuild in more than a decade, currently under construction and set to debut in 2013). However, Europa, Hanseatic, Bremen and Columbus 2 all have very different personalities and offer unique cruise experiences.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is part of one of the oldest shipping companies in the world. You can spot orange Hapag-Lloyd containers stacked on wharves, racing by on double-stack trains and being towed by semis on highways around the world. And, as a longtime division of Hapag-Lloyd AG, its cruise arm shares the same roots and history.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is today a 100 percent-owned subsidiary of TUI AG, which is Europe's leading travel group. It is the result of the merger in 1970 of two of Germany's oldest steamship companies, Hapag (Hamburg-Amerikanische Packfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft or Hamburg America Line) and Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL - North German Lloyd). Both companies were founded in the 1840's to carry passengers and freight between what is now Germany and the United States. Hapag was founded in Hamburg, while North German Lloyd served Bremen. At the time of the companies' founding, both ports were city-states and longtime rivals.
Both lines prospered, and by the 1890's were building large, fast, luxurious ocean liners. Hapag claims to have commissioned the first purpose-built cruise ship, Augusta Victoria, in 1891. In 1896, Hapag's Furst Bismarck crossed to New York in 6 days, 11 hours and 44 minutes, making her the fastest ship in the world. In 1899, NDL commissioned the first four-funnel liner, Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse.
In 1911, Hapag launched the first of three giant sisters, the largest ships in the world: Imperator, Vaterland and Bismarck. At the start of World War I, Hapag was the world's largest shipping company with 175 ships. Those ships that survived the war, including the three giant sister ships, were forfeited to the allies as reparations. (NDL was permitted to retain a few ships.) The three giants became famous for their new owners. Imperator had an illustrious career as the Cunard flagship Berengaria. Vaterland was rechristened Leviathan and served as flagship of the United States Lines. Bismarck sailed for White Star Line as Majestic.
Both German companies built new ships in the 1920's. Notable among them were Hapag's Columbus and NDL's Bremen and Europa, the fastest ships of their day. In 1934, the German (Nazi) government became majority stockholder in both lines. Those ships not lost in action during World War II were seized as reparations. Europa, for example, sailed for many years as the French Line's Liberte.
After the war, Hapag concentrated on freight traffic, while NDL returned to the passenger trade. Hapag was the first line to transport standard containers, and Hapag and NDL pooled resources to build the world's first dedicated container ships, which sailed under the name Hapag-Lloyd Container Line.
After the merger, Hapag-Lloyd AG discontinued its transatlantic passenger service. However, in 1981 the line returned to cruising with the launch of Europa, a ship that set the standard for luxury and service in the German market. Seventeen years later and now under the brand name of its new subsidiary Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Ltd., it introduced its new flagship, the fifth to be called Europa.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises FleetThe present Hapag-Lloyd Cruises motor fleet comprises four ships: the luxurious flagship Europa; expedition ships Hanseatic and Bremen; and Columbus 2, which offers a more informal take on the Europa experience.
The luxurious Europa is a 28,890-ton ship that carries just over 400 passengers in all-suite accommodations. It offers unparalleled pampering by its crew of 280. Launched in 1999, Europa underwent refurbishments in 2004, 2007 and 2009 that have enhanced its children's playroom, provided cosmetic upgrades to cabins (and resulted in the creation of new spa-oriented staterooms), redesigned the spa and fitness facility, and added the fantastic Sansibar indoor-outdoor lounge.
Hanseatic, commissioned in 1993, measures 8,378 tons and carries 184 passengers. It combines the luxury of a top-rated cruise ship with the adventure of an expedition vessel by offering spacious cabins, fine dining, a high level of service, onboard lectures by renowned experts and Zodiac excursions.
Bremen, built in 1990, measures 6,752 tons and carries 164 passengers. It is the first expedition ship to offer some cabins with private balconies.
Columbus 2, the most recent addition to the Hapag-Lloyd fleet, is its biggest ship, measuring 30,200 tons and carrying 698 passengers. While similar in some ways to Europa -- especially when it comes to cruising all over the world -- Columbus 2 offers more options and choice in all aspects, from bars and restaurants to spa and family-oriented facilities.
Fellow PassengersAll four ships of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises attract a predominantly German-speaking clientele. The company's reputation in Germany is that of the premier German line. Regular passengers, and most are repeaters, travel all the ships of the line, choosing their sailing by itinerary, but each ship has its own niche. Columbus 2 attracts more families. Hanseatic appeals to active adults who want pampering on expeditions, while Bremen, which also is oriented to adventure-minded travelers, features a quality experience at a more moderate price point. Europa, its most traditional-minded ship, tends to draw older (and more prosperous) passengers. These are generalities, however, and one is likely to find persons of all ages on all ships. Passengers tend to be upscale, well-educated, conservative and self-entertaining, and are interested not only in visiting new parts of the world, but also in learning about their ports of call.
While there are no single accommodations, the line sets aside a certain number of cabins on each voyage for single occupancy and offers them on a guarantee basis.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is making an attempt to expand beyond its German-speaking passengers by offering bilingual sailings on Europa, Hanseatic and Bremen that will accommodate non-German speakers.
Cruises are air-inclusive (and port transfers are included in fares). Travelers can opt to pay extra for business- or first-class upgrades, which Hapag-Lloyd Cruises facilitates.
In addition to organized shore excursions, the line prides itself on making individual arrangements for its passengers, which include scheduling golf matches, booking tables at restaurants, renting cars and finding private local guides.
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