A world premiere: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ BREMEN is the first cruise ship ever to circumnavigate the Arctic. She will make a full transit of both the Northwest Passage and the Northeast Passage within one season for the first time. The adventure will last a total of 72 days. The expedition cruise ship operated by TUI’s subsidiary has already departed for the third and final part of the itinerary. She is expected to arrive in the Norwegian port town of Bergen on 26 September. The expedition cruise had launched in Norway, departing from Tromsø, north of the polar circle, on 15 July.
The Northwest Passage extends through the Canadian Arctic, while the Northeast Passage extends through the Russian Arctic. On the second part of the itinerary, the Northwest Passage, BREMEN was escorted and supported by the Canadian icebreaker Terry Fox. “Peel Sound and Larsen Sound were very special sections of our itinerary,” says captain Jörn Gottschalk. “On these parts of the route, the ice could have made it very difficult or even impossible for our ship to sail through the passage. In that case, we would have had to reverse.” For the final part of the journey, Gottschalk has again handed over command to captain Ulf Sodemann, who had already been in charge at the start of the circumnavigation of the Arctic.
Expedition cruises aboard the 111 metre-long BREMEN cruise liner combine the comfort of a cruise with adventure and the opportunity to experience nature. Experts travelling on the ship, including geologists, glaciologists, biologists or historians, give talks and lectures on board and accompany the shore excursions. The vessel hosts no more than 155 guests and 100 crew members. As the itinerary has been subdivided into three parts, passengers can join or leave the premiere cruise at several ports. The final part of the itinerary extends from the small US town of Nome on the Bering Strait in Alaska through the East Siberian Sea, Kara Sea and Murmansk to the final destination in Bergen. Thirty years ago, navigation through the Northeast Passage extending through the Russian Arctic between Asia and Europe had still been prohibited. “Obtaining all permits required is a big challenge,“ explains captain Gottschalk. “Another challenge relates to the ice conditions. On our expedition cruises, we continually have to adjust to the different climatic conditions. We always search for alternatives in good time. This is part of the special appeal of these voyages.“ Gottschalk also stresses that the experience of a well-coordinated team is indispensable on cruises in a region such as the Arctic. The highlights of the voyage included a meeting with HANSEATIC nature on 8 August, the first of three new expedition cruises of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, off Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic. It was the first time the two expedition ships of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises met at sea.
Thanks to her reinforced hull, highest polar class for passenger ships and shallow draught, BREMEN can carry out voyages through a solid ice cover of around 50 centimetres. She also has Zodiacs on board – motorised inflatable boats, some of which are electrically powered, enabling the passengers to go ashore even in remote sites that would otherwise be inaccessible. Just as all other ships operated by Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, BREMEN is powered with low-sulphur Marine Gas Oil fuel on voyages through the Arctic and other sensitive areas – on Arctic itineraries, the shipping line has already used this fuel since 1993, despite higher costs and in the absence of a legal obligation.