Luxury ships for Hapag-Lloyd and Ponant readied as lines look to post-Covid cruising

Hanseatic Spirit was launched earlier this week for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, while Ponant has taken delivery of Le Jacques Cartier, the latest vessel in its Explorer class series.

Both ships have been constructed at VARD facilities, and both are destined for the luxury cruise market, but Hanseatic Spirit is being built by VARD in Romania, while Le Jacques Cartier is being built by VARD in Norway.

Le Jacques Cartier was delivered to luxury French line Ponant

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The shipyard is a subsidiary of cruise ship building giant Fincantieri.

While the global cruise industry remains shut down, with tentative steps being taken by some lines to resume operations, the luxury cruise sector is positioning itself as a key alternative in the post-COVID marketplace.

Although Hanseatic Spirit and Le Jacques Cartier belong to two separate German and French luxury cruise lines, they share a lot in common. Both are the last in their series, and while Le Jacques Cartier was delivered in Norway, Hanseatic Spirit will now make the 4,000-mile trip for her final outfitting in Norway, prior to a scheduled 2021 delivery.

Both ships are also destined for source markets that could be seeing a return to cruising in the near future.

Hanseatic Spirit was floated out ahead of final fit out and delivery to Hapag-Lloyd

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The German cruise lines TUI and AIDA are already preparing to restart operations as Germany emerges from the crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, and French authorities have given the go-ahead to CroisiEurope to resume river cruising.

The Hanseatic ships are part of Hapag-Lloyd’s ultra-luxury expedition arm

Hanseatic Spirit is the third of three 230-guest ultra-luxury ships for Hapag-Lloyd and will be marketed exclusively at the German-speaking cruise market. Unlike sister ships Hanseatic Inspiration and Hanseatic Nature, she will be an adults-only ship.

Le Jacques Cartier joins six sister ships in Ponant’s luxury explorer-class. With 92 rooms and suites, all with balconies or private terraces, and an underwater sensory lounge, she is one of the most luxurious expedition ships in the world.

The Explorer-class ships in Ponant’s fleet feature an underwater lounge

“The delivery of Le Jacques Cartier is a success. It marks the completion of the Explorer series, which has revolutionised the concept of ocean voyages,” said Jean Emmanuel Sauvée, CEO of Ponant.

“These six vessels combining cutting-edge technology and respect for the environment are the symbol of a new generation of ships flying the French flag,” he added.

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