30 December 2019

„Each individual needs something special“

Expeditions to remote parts of the world, golf trips or garden journeys, or exclusive beach barbecues in an island: Hapag Lloyd Cruises’ extraordinary programme of excursions and trips

Whales ahead – this call is not uncommon on sailings of expedition ships operated by Hapag-Lloyd Cruises in Arctic or Antarctic waters. Of course, unlike many past centuries, the call is no longer used to hunt the marine mammals. Instead, it means that the captain will slow down the ship and the passengers on board will have a lot of time to watch the giants of the ocean and take pictures. Passengers travelling with Hapag-Lloyd Cruises are in for extraordinary experiences: The cruise company, part of TUI Group, is one of the leading providers of luxury and expedition cruises. Accordingly, its excursion programme also comprises extraordinary options.

“Each individual needs something special they want to tell when they get home” say Sarah Schramm (Shore Excursion Manager) and Katharina Seidel (Travel Concierge) working for the Hamburg-based cruise line. “Many of our guests have already travelled a lot and are searching for new experiences.“  With MS EUROPA and MS EUROPA 2, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises operates two luxury cruise ships meeting the highest standards: Since their launch, the two ships have been awarded the 5-stars-plus ranking as the ‘best ships in the world’ by the highly renowned Berlitz Cruise Guide. The shipping line also operates the expedition ships BREMEN, HANSEATIC nature and HANSEATIC inspiration. The expedition ships set sail for the Arctic in the European summer and Antarctica in the European Winter – with their itineraries including calls in the South Pacific, Chile’s fjords, the Azores or the Cape Verde islands. “These voyages offer the passengers a genuine expedition feeling and a unique experience of nature,“ says Schramm.

In the polar regions, the shipping line does not operate a conventional excursion programme. Where there are no ports, zodiacs – inflatable boats perfect for excursions – take small groups of guests ashore. This is the only way for them to explore the remote, otherwise inaccessible sites from a unique perspective. The expedition cruise passengers are accompanied by a number of experts from different areas – biologists, glaciologists, historians, geologists or ornithologists. The experts provide lectures on board and accompany the shore excursions. They enable the guests to gain deeper individual insights into the wonders of nature they encounter during their shore excursions and zodiac tours.

For the luxury cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, just as other cruise lines, cooperates with providers of high-quality excursion programmes. “However, our groups are and remain smaller. On walking tours, the maximum group size is 20 participants,” says Seidel. “Moreover, the groups are usually accompanied by a cruise staff member.” The cruise line also offers exclusive voyages such as golf trips or trips to the most beautiful gardens in England, accompanied by garden art historian Carsten Seick. “We also organise spontaneous beach barbecues in an island, or charter small yachts for exceptional day tours,” outline Schramm and Seidel.

The potential destination ports include more than 500 locations around the world. Preparations start up to two years ahead of departure. “We have already started to inform the global agencies when we are going to arrive in 2021,” explains Travel Concierge Katharina Seidel. “We have also started to purchase some trips, for instance overland safaris in South Africa.” Apart from the group trips, the function of a Travel Concierge also aims to make the most individual wishes of passengers come true. “Excursions with a private tour rep and individual contents, tickets for musicals or opera evenings, or a table in a beach in a luxury resort watching the sunset – there is no wish we have not been asked to fulfil,” says Seidel. “And we are able to fulfil 99 per cent of all wishes, even those voiced at very short notice aboard the ship.”