If you are trying to find an adventurous, exceptional and yet cosy way to spend the festive season, you should travel to Antarctica with Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. On Christmas Eve, the passengers will join the crew to sing Christmas carols.

It is mid-summer, and yet it is freezing cold: If you want to be guaranteed a White Christmas, you should go on a cruise to Antarctica. However, it will not be a “White Christmas” in the classical sense: “Very often, our expedition cruise passengers will spend Christmas Eve at sea and only see snow-covered glaciers,” said Isolde Susset, Director of Expedition Cruises at TUI’s subsidiary Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. The cruise line launched expedition cruises to Antarctica on board its expedition ship Bremen as far back as 1990. On one of the journeys through what is in essence a gigantic cold chamber, the passengers and crew discovered a previously uncharted island and a new passage in the eternal ice, now officially included in today’s maps as Bremen Island and Bremen Channel.

With a length of 111 metres, the Bremen combines the comfort of a cruise with adventures and experiences of nature. During the Christmas season, she will be cruising on an itinerary from the Falkland Islands via South Georgia, the South Orkney and South Shetland Islands all the way to the Antarctic Peninsula until 4 January. Over Christmas, the ship will, for instance, call at the long-abandoned whaling station Grytviken in the island of South Georgia, where the passengers will visit a deserted church. “In its eventful history, it served many different purposes including as a warehouse and a shelter for British researchers during the Falklands Conflict,” said Susset. “Visiting the place and the church is one of the highlights of every journey to this region in the Earth.”

Nearly a hundred years ago, an expedition to Antarctica was “advertised” as follows: “Men wanted for hazardous journey to the South Pole. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger.” This advertisement was placed by the famous British polar explorer Ernest Shackleton to hire the crew setting out for an expedition to eternal ice in the South on 1 August 1914. By contrast, today’s explorers travel much more comfortably onboard the Bremen. She can accommodate 155 passengers and 100 crew members, comprising navigators, technicians, service staff, and an expedition team. Thanks to her reinforced hull, the Bremen – which has been granted the highest ice class a passenger ship can have - can cut through a fast ice cover with a thickness of around 90 centimetres. She also provides zodiacs – motor-driven inflatable boats, some of which are powered by electric motors, enabling passengers to go ashore in otherwise inaccessible areas. The sea ice cover only opens up between November and February, offering access to a fantastic landscape: the dark sea, huge icebergs, endless, unspoiled expanses. The guests experience a wildlife paradise with penguin colonies, seals, whales and sea birds. Strict rules have been defined to ensure that this part of the world will remain unspoiled.

“Our guests can escape the typical Christmas rush,” Susset comments on the exceptional travel experience, in particular over Christmas. “Our expedition ships offer itineraries to Antarctica from November every year. Here, the focus is on experiencing pure nature and knowing you will spend the festive season in one of the world’s must unusual places. However, we also offer you a warm place adorned with Christmas decoration to retreat when you get back to the ship after great experiences.” Guests describe the atmosphere on board all Hapag-Lloyd ships as very personal and intimate, as also reflected in the Christmas programme: “On Christmas Eve, the passengers join the crew to sing Christmas carols”, said the Director of Expedition Cruises. “Of course, we also offer a Christmas menu with classical roast goose, sausages with potato salad, fresh truffles and many other culinary delicacies.”

The cruises to Antarctica are always very popular, so that early booking is recommended. However, for the Winter 2019/20 season – which is the local Summer season in Antarctica – guests are offered a wider choice. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will not only offer itineraries to Antarctica aboard the Bremen, but also aboard its new expedition ships HANSEATIC nature and HANSEATIC inspiration with identical design, accommodating up to 199 passengers each.