Year Started: 1970
Ships in Fleet: 5
Summary: One of the great European cruise lines; top quality ships mostly filled with the German speaking. English also spoken.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is a five ship fleet based in and serving passengers from Germany.
Europa 2, its first newbuild in more than a decade debuted in 2013. However, Europa, Hanseatic, Bremen and Columbus 2 all have very different personalities and offer unique cruise experiences.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is part of one of the oldest shipping companies in the world. You can spot orange Hapag-Lloyd containers stacked on wharves, racing by on double-stack trains and being towed by semis on highways around the world. And, as a longtime division of Hapag-Lloyd AG, its cruise arm shares the same roots and history.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is today a 100 percent-owned subsidiary of TUI AG, which is Europe's leading travel group. It is the result of the merger in 1970 of two of Germany's oldest steamship companies, Hapag (Hamburg-Amerikanische Packfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft or Hamburg America Line) and Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL - North German Lloyd). Both companies were founded in the 1840's to carry passengers and freight between what is now Germany and the United States. Hapag was founded in Hamburg, while North German Lloyd served Bremen. At the time of the companies' founding, both ports were city-states and longtime rivals.
Both lines prospered, and by the 1890's were building large, fast, luxurious ocean liners. Hapag claims to have commissioned the first purpose-built cruise ship, Augusta Victoria, in 1891. In 1896, Hapag's Furst Bismarck crossed to New York in 6 days, 11 hours and 44 minutes, making her the fastest ship in the world. In 1899, NDL commissioned the first four-funnel liner, Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse.
In 1911, Hapag launched the first of three giant sisters, the largest ships in the world: Imperator, Vaterland and Bismarck. At the start of World War I, Hapag was the world's largest shipping company with 175 ships. Those ships that survived the war, including the three giant sister ships, were forfeited to the allies as reparations. (NDL was permitted to retain a few ships.) The three giants became famous for their new owners. Imperator had an illustrious career as the Cunard flagship Berengaria. Vaterland was rechristened Leviathan and served as flagship of the United States Lines. Bismarck sailed for White Star Line as Majestic.
Both German companies built new ships in the 1920's. Notable among them were Hapag's Columbus and NDL's Bremen and Europa, the fastest ships of their day. In 1934, the German (Nazi) government became majority stockholder in both lines. Those ships not lost in action during World War II were seized as reparations. Europa, for example, sailed for many years as the French Line's Liberte.
After the war, Hapag concentrated on freight traffic, while NDL returned to the passenger trade. Hapag was the first line to transport standard containers, and Hapag and NDL pooled resources to build the world's first dedicated container ships, which sailed under the name Hapag-Lloyd Container Line.
After the merger, Hapag-Lloyd AG discontinued its transatlantic passenger service. However, in 1981 the line returned to cruising with the launch of Europa, a ship that set the standard for luxury and service in the German market. Seventeen years later and now under the brand name of its new subsidiary Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Ltd., it introduced its new flagship, the fifth to be called Europa.
If it appeals to the German palate, you will find it here.Cabins
These are older but ver well maintained ships. Opulent and luxurious.Fellow Passengers
Primarily German speakingm however the crew is fairly fluent in English.
All four ships of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises attract a predominantly German-speaking clientele. The company's reputation in Germany is that of the premier German line. Regular passengers, and most are repeaters, travel all the ships of the line, choosing their sailing by itinerary, but each ship has its own niche. Columbus 2 attracts more families. Hanseatic appeals to active adults who want pampering on expeditions, while Bremen, which also is oriented to adventure-minded travelers, features a quality experience at a more moderate price point. Europa, its most traditional-minded ship, tends to draw older (and more prosperous) passengers. These are generalities, however, and one is likely to find persons of all ages on all ships. Passengers tend to be upscale, well-educated, conservative and self-entertaining, and are interested not only in visiting new parts of the world, but also in learning about their ports of call.
While there are no single accommodations, the line sets aside a certain number of cabins on each voyage for single occupancy and offers them on a guarantee basis.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is making an attempt to expand beyond its German-speaking passengers by offering bilingual sailings on Europa, Hanseatic and Bremen that will accommodate non-German speakers.
Cruises are air-inclusive (and port transfers are included in fares). Travelers can opt to pay extra for business- or first-class upgrades, which Hapag-Lloyd Cruises facilitates.
In addition to organized shore excursions, the line prides itself on making individual arrangements for its passengers, which include scheduling golf matches, booking tables at restaurants, renting cars and finding private local guides.