27 December 2019

Exploring distant worlds with a zodiac

The inflatable motor boats are a special highlight of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ expedition ships

Ice landscapes far away from civilisation: for many guests, a journey to the Arctic or Antarctica with Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream. They even have a chance to go ashore and watch seals or penguins in sites normally inaccessible to ships or other boats – thanks to zodiacs. “On our expeditions, zodiacs are often launched in the water several times a day,“ explains Isolde Susset, Director Product Management Expedition Cruises. “They enable our guests to explore nature from a unique perspective in small groups and without any major waiting times.”

Zodiacs are robust inflatable boats with a rigid floor and buoyancy tubes. The air reserves secure the boats’ ability to float and stay safe in the water. Due to their flat floor, the boats powered by an outboard engine are particularly well suited to land on coastlines or beaches. ”We also use the zodiacs for expeditions in Antarctica, for instance, to take the guests ashore in otherwise virtually inaccessible sites,” says Isolde Susset.

Going ashore with a zodiac is exciting right from the very start. Once the crew have identified a potential landing site, they first launch an exploration boat to select the best landing site. Shortly thereafter, one zodiac after another will launch from the expedition ship, steered by specially trained zodiac drivers. The guests are split into groups, and they step into the zodiacs via a platform with trained boarding operations. The passengers immediately sit down and slip towards the seats assigned to them. Getting up during the trips is prohibited! The passengers also have to hold fast. Each group has a particular time slot for their shore excursion in remote areas – before other guests repeat the fascinating experience.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ new expedition ships HANSEATIC nature, HANSEATIC inspiration and HANSEATIC spirit (scheduled to launch in May 2021) ach have 17 own zodiacs and e-zodiacs powered by environmentally friendly electric drives. BREMEN, launched in 1993, also has twelve own zodiacs and has offered e-zodiacs since 2015. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises was thus the first cruise company to use this environmentally friendly technology on expedition cruises back in 2015.