(3:45 p.m. EST) -- When Hapag-Lloyd's twin cruise ships debut in 2019, they'll combine traditional expedition, high-end luxury and green technology -- along with a whole lot of outside space, including an area on the bow that allows passengers to view the exotic destinations the ships visit.
The German-based cruise line hopes its new ships, Hanseatic Inspiration (designed for the international market) and Hanseatic Nature (created for German-speakers), offer enough wow in a booming expedition and adventure travel marketplace.
Karl Pojer, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd, unveiled details of the 230-passenger ships Thursday at a press gathering in New York City.
"If you want to be on top, you have to deliver quality," Pojer said of the ships, which will debut in April 2019 (Nature) and October 2019 (Inspiration).
Among the highlights revealed Thursday:
- Hanseatic Inspiration will feature three restaurants: a main restaurant, a bistro with outdoor and indoor seating, and a specialty restaurant that will serve a Peruvian-Japanese fusion menu. Reservations won't be necessary, and vegan and vegetarian options will be available at all venues.
- The ships' main spot for activities like expert daily presentations and shore-excursion prep will be called the HanseAtrium, which Pojer calls "the heart of the ship." It will accommodate all 230 passengers, and it includes an ice bar. A second bar will be located in the ships' Observation Lounge.
- Every sailing will include a minimum of 16 expedition team members, a group comprising biologists, glaciologists, historians and geologists.
- Ships will feature the 645-square-foot Ocean Academy, a room created purely for education. Passengers can engage with the interactive media wall to learn about the destinations they're visiting and be presented with scientific information -- in a digestible format.
- Nature is a major theme for the ships. Color schemes are inspired by nature's hues, and the environment was an important consideration. The ships will feature onboard sewage treatment systems, for example. They are certified for the highest ice class available for passenger ships, so they can safely sail the Arctic and Antarctic. "We thought our project should be inspired by nature," Pojer said.
- The ships will feature six different cabin types, including 14 junior suites and four grand suites. All are outside cabins, so no passenger will miss the view even when in their rooms.
- Hanseatic Inspiration will sail a number of itineraries including 16-, 18- or 20-day Antarctic cruises from Ushuaia; 27-day Amazon cruises from Belem to Iquitos; and 14-day Great Lakes cruises from Chicago to Toronto. Experiences might include camping in Antarctica or sipping hot chocolate or bubbly on a glacier.
Pojer described the Hanseatic vessels as five-star ships, and the company is firmly targeting luxury travelers, an area the CEO said is "shifting from having to being."
Each ship will accommodate 230 passengers (199 on Antarctic and Spitsbergen circumnavigation itineraries), and include two tender boats and 17 Zodiac inflatable boats for excursions, a marine deck, 120 cabins and 175 crew. Ships also will feature spas, gyms and pools, which have retractable roofs. A retractable multipassenger glass balcony will extend over the water, some 15 meters about the sea. All excursions are included in the cruise fare.
Inspiration and Nature virtually will be carbon copies -- they use the same blueprint. But in addition to the language differences (due to the varying markets), the featured restaurants will be different, as will the color schemes in cabins and some public spaces. Hanseatic Inspiration will target international passengers from the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as Australia, among others.
The two ships join Hapag-Lloyd's expedition fleet, which already includes Bremen, also geared-toward German-speakers. The original Hanseatic ship, a Hapag-Lloyd charted ship, will leave the fleet in October 2018, returning to the owner. Bookings for Inspiration and Nature will be available January 29.
And while a lot of thought went into the design of the ships themselves, Pojer firmly believes there's more to a cruise than the hardware: "We at Hapag-Lloyd are not trying to sell cabins," he said, "we're trying to sell emotion and experiences."
--By Colleen McDaniel, Senior Executive Editor