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Top Hapag-Lloyd Ships
Hapag-Lloyd's five cruise ships offer onboard and in-port experiences that range from luxury to upmarket soft adventure. Traditionally, Hapag-Lloyd has catered to German-speaking passengers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, though the line is beginning to court English-speaking travelers from the U.S., U.K. and Australia and is tweaking some onboard offerings accordingly.
All five vessels are top-of-the-line (and, budget-wise, fares are on the high side), but each has a different personality and specialty. The 28,890-ton, 408-passenger Europa, the best known, offers a formal luxury cruise experience as it essentially travels around the world each year. (Few if any itineraries are repeated.) Both 8,378-ton, 184-passenger Hanseatic and 6,752-ton, 164-passenger Bremen are expedition vessels with E4 ice ratings, the highest given to passenger ships. They travel to the Arctic and Antarctic, as well as other exotic regions. Hanseatic is classed as a five-star ship to Bremen's four, and the former has slightly upgraded cuisine and enrichment in addition to larger staterooms.
The 30,277-ton, 698-passenger, Columbus 2 is on lease to Hapag-Lloyd until May 2014, when it returns to Oceania's fleet as Insignia. The ship caters to a less formal traveler than does Europa, with a small kids center, expansive spa and the same approach to creating unique itineraries.
The real excitement for Hapag-Lloyd is the launch of its first new-build since 1999. Europa 2, unveiled in May 2013, is a 40,000-ton, 516-passenger vessel aimed every bit as much at the ultra-luxe market as Europa, but its target audience is a younger, more active traveler. Families, in particular, are catered to with dedicated kids facilities that appeal to all youngsters, from toddlers to teens.
Regardless of the ship, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises attracts a well-heeled, predominantly German-speaking clientele. Regular passengers -- most passengers 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 ship, tends to draw travelers who want a more classic luxury experience. And Europa 2, drawing on top-notch features found on Europa, is the cruise line's jazziest, most contemporary ship, featuring dynamic art collections and sophisticated enrichment and entertainment that range from a kitchen studio for cooking-related courses to a jazz club. Its appeal is primarily to younger, less traditional luxury-minded travelers, including families. Hapag-Lloyd has also dedicated Europa 2 as its "bilingual" ship, reaching a more international passenger base with enhanced materials and activities particularly geared to English-speaking passengers.