Cruise Line Focus

Cruise line focus: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is Germany’s most established luxury cruise line and after cornering the German cruise market, it’s branching out to the rest of the world.


Hapag-Lloyd offers on-board and in-port experiences that range from luxury to upmarket soft adventure. This is the expedition cruise ship Hanseatic in the Arctic.

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Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is the modern iteration of Germany’s historic passenger line, which for decades battled against Britain’s Cunard and White Star Line’s for the Blue Ribband.

The current Hapag-Lloyd Cruises was founded in 1970 and is Germany’s most established luxury cruise line.

It was founded by the merger of Hamburg America Line (which had been around since 1847) and Norddeutscher Lloyd (which was founded in 1857).

Both companies were large shipping lines and the cargo division, Hapag-Lloyd AG, remains one of the largest in the world, but the passenger shipping arm, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, became a much smaller, far more niche iteration.

Today, the cruise line’s four ships are known for offering small-ship luxury, a cruise experience more akin to being a guest aboard a private yacht than a cruise ship.

There’s even a private jet on hand to collect passengers for fly-cruise itineraries, if they wish.

Each offers on-board and in-port experiences that range from luxury to upmarket soft adventure, as such, passengers tend to be retirees and older, and they’re almost exclusively German.

This is beginning to change though, as Hapag-Lloyd has recently begun to target international cruise passengers, including Middle Eastern and South African guests. Most passengers still hail from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.


Europa is Hapag-Lloyd’s former flagship and the most luxuriously formal of the all its cruise liners. She is mostly deployed on grand voyages and world cruises.

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The Hapag-Lloyd cruise experience

Each ship has its own unique approach to the cruise experience.

The two expedition cruise ships, Bremen and Hanseatic, offer four and five-star cruises respectively.

The 8,378-ton, 184-passenger Hanseatic is one of the most luxurious expedition ships afloat, with upgraded cuisine and enrichment in addition to larger staterooms compared to the 6,752-ton, 164-passenger Bremen.


Bremen is the smallest of Hapag-Lloyd’s ships, like Hanseatic, she most commonly cruises the poles. (Picture courtesy From the Deck Chair).

Both have E4 ice ratings, the highest given to passenger ships and cruise the Arctic and Antarctic, as well as other exotic regions, such as the Galapagos, South Pacific and Far East.

Hanseatic appeals to active adults who want pampering on expeditions, while Bremen, which also is oriented to adventure-minded travellers, features a quality experience at a more moderate price point.

The 1999-built, 28,890-ton, 408-passenger Europa, most recently refurbished in 2017, is well-known for her formal luxury cruise experience, offering grand voyages and world cruises every year, with very few cruise itineraries repeated during the year.


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Dubai is a frequent port of call and turnaround port on her itineraries, along with Cape Town in South Africa.

In 2013, Hapag-Lloyd launched its first newbuild since Europa. The new flagship of the fleet, Europa 2, is a 40,000-ton, 516-passenger uber-luxurious cruise liner aimed at a younger, more active super-rich cruise set than Europa.

There are dedicated kids facilities on-board, along with teens lounges and nurseries for babies.

Europa 2 is the cruise line’s ‘jazziest’, most contemporary cruise ship. She features dynamic art collections and sophisticated enrichment and entertainment that range from a kitchen studio for cooking-related courses to a jazz club.

Hapag-Lloyd has also made Europa 2 its “bilingual” ship, reaching a more international passenger base with enhanced materials and activities particularly geared to English-speaking passengers.

Types of passengers on a Hapag-Lloyd cruise

Regardless of the ship, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises passengers are predominantly German-speaking and are extremely well-heeled. Most will have cruised with Hapag-Lloyd several times, aboard several different ships based on their diverse itineraries.

Cruise ships in the Hapag-Lloyd fleet:

Europa 2


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