There’s good news today for luxury expedition cruise lovers: Hamburg-based Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has just announced plans to build two new five-star expedition cruise ships. Scheduled to debut in the spring and fall of 2019, the two as-yet-unnamed ships will be designed expressly for service in the Arctic and Antarctic, and will boast the world’s highest polar ice class (PC6).

Full Steam Ahead! Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is building two brand-new, five-star expedition cruise ships. Rendering courtesy of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

Full Steam Ahead! Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is building two brand-new, five-star expedition cruise ships. Rendering courtesy of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

Karl J. Pojer, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, said “The former director Albert Ballin invented the modern cruise concept 125 years ago. We are perfectly positioned in the luxury market with our cruise ships EUROPA and EUROPA 2. In this anniversary year, we are charting the course for the future. Already we operate successfully in our expedition segment, which offers growth potential for 5-star cruises. Our new-builds will help us to develop further the expedition segment and offer a modern interpretation. They will also serve to strengthen our leading position in this market, in particular at the international level.”

Albert Ballin was the director of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises at the turn of the last century. He is widely credited with creating the world’s first pleasure cruise, aboard the striking Augusta Victoria in 1891. Ballin himself was a passenger, onboard to oversee the actual progression of the voyage. Ballin’s spirit of adventure and willingness to go a different route lives on in Hapag-Lloyd’s cruise ships and itineraries to this day.

Of the two newbuilds, one will be set aside exclusively for the German-speaking market. The other vessel will operate cruises for both German and English-speaking guests.

At 16,100 tons apiece, each ship will measure 138 metres (452 feet) long, with a width of 22 metres, or 72 feet. They can hold 240 guests each in 120 staterooms and suites, most of which will feature private balconies. Each ship will have three restaurants, a modern spa and fitness area, plenty of public rooms, and will be run by a crew of up to 170, for a passenger-to-crew ratio of 1.4 to 1. Each will also carry its own fleet of nimble Zodiac rafts for going ashore in the world’s most remote places.

Hapag-Lloyd is no stranger to the expedition cruise market, with two purpose-built expedition ships (Hanseatic and Bremen) offering voyages to the Arctic and Antarctic that have been designed for German-speaking clients, along with select voyages for English-speaking guests.

Hapag-Lloyd's fleet also includes the gracious EUROPA 2 - the highest-rated luxury cruise ship in the world. Photo courtesy of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

Hapag-Lloyd’s fleet also includes the gracious EUROPA 2 – the highest-rated luxury cruise ship in the world. Photo courtesy of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

Two years ago, I sailed on a quick preview cruise through Greece aboard Hapag-Lloyd’s magnificent EUROPA 2 – the highest-rated luxury cruise ship in the world. Meticulously designed and graciously managed, she too carries a fleet of Zodiac rafts for more in-depth excursions ashore. Everything about this ship was five-star all the way – and it doesn’t hurt that she has her own very catchy theme song that’s played upon departure.

Although exact itineraries haven’t yet been announced for the two new expedition ships, you won’t want to hesitate to book passage once they’re released. These are two new ships that are going to sell out very, very quickly.

Click here to read our Voyage Report from onboard Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2!

 

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