Expedition cruising is not new to Hapag-Lloyd — the cruise line has pioneered cruise routes since the mid 1990s — but Hanseatic Inspiration takes the adventure to a deeper level because she has two huge advantages; she has the highest polar class rating (PC6) to push through solid ice of up to 90cm and the capacity to sail for up to 36 days without bunkering, which allows long sailings such as the 32-night semi-circumnavigation of Antarctica from Ushuaia, Argentina, to Christchurch, New Zealand, in February 2022.
Another feature is a retractable bridge, which will gives Hanseatic Inspiration her access through locks and into the Great Lakes of North America. She is one of only a handful of ships with a licence to sail the Canadian lakes.
A huge boot/mud room and cleaning area, to avoid any contamination during travels, is an important inclusion while the glass-floor viewing balcony 60mtr above the sea gives guests the chance to watch wildlife in the water.
The 230-passenger ship will carry a maximum of 199 passengers on Antarctica or Spitsbergen voyages to ensure the best possible guest experience because only 100 people can go ashore at one time. Excursions include overnight camping and kayaking in Antarctica.
Hanseatic Inspiration’s eco-credentials are promising, running on low pollutant MGO which has a sulphur content of 0.1%. She has a Promas rudder with a special propeller to reduce fuel consumption and a selective catalytic converter, which reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by almost 95%.
Bow thrusters and stabilisers run on ecological oil and biodegradable lubricating oil is used in the propeller shafts.
Above the engine room, the eco-focus includes glass bottles in cabins being replenished with water twice a day, no single-use plastics, straws made of sugar cane, bathroom amenities supplied in recyclable plastic bottles and the spa uses only natural products, again in recyclable packaging, and spa bookings are online to avoid wasting paper.
Smoking will be banned on the ship from October 2020.
Hanseatic Inspiration is bilingual (English and German) and carries 175 crew. It accepts guests from the age of 6, although children can only stay in the grand or junior suites with parents. Her sister ships Hanseatic Nature and Hanseatic Spirit, which launches in 2021, will be German speaking only.
An open bridge policy means guests are welcome on the bridge, while the ship’s Ocean Academy with touch screens and Leica microscopes gives guests the chance to learn more about the regions they visit.
Safety is at the core of all expeditions with guides who specialise in geology, wildlife and glaciers including winner of the Royal Geographical Society Polar Medal winner David Fletcher who was British Arctic Expedition Survey Governor and has almost five decades’ experience of life in polar regions. He will lead two trips in January and February 2020.
Nightly lectures concentrate on the next day’s adventures on the 17 Zodiacs and two e-Zodiacs which are being trialled by Hapag-Lloyd.
High-end design and style
While the cruises are tailored to adventure expeditions, the ship’s accommodation is at the high end of design and style.
The majority of the 120 cabins have a balcony, apart from a handful of 226 sq ft panoramic and French balcony cabins. There are 14 junior suites and a 764 sq ft grand suite. Contemporary design and quality joinery create a luxury hotel feel — nothing rattles and curving cupboards are streamlined with ‘push and open’ doors rather than handles.
There is ample cupboard space, thick wool carpets, top-class beds and fine white linen alongside a good-size walk-in shower room complete with a practical ‘hot wall’ for hanging damp clothes and towels.
Lighting is carefully thought out, in the cabins a nightlight turns on when guests enter the room and there are one-touch choices for 50% lighting or brighter reading lights.
In each cabin there is a pair of Nordic walking sticks and a pair of Swarovski binoculars, worth about £1,500, and all guests receive a waterproof backpack as well as the use of waterproof jackets to save bringing such heavy items in their luggage.
Natural colours and textures
Public space is also generous with a theme of natural colours and textures including slate and wood. Huge screens bring the outside in with 24/7 films of moving icebergs, wildlife and sea views by the reception and in the Hanseatic Lounge.
The Observation Lounge with 180-degree views, a library, bar and ‘firepit’ is another comfortable space with designer furniture and a piano to enjoy afternoon tea or relax between expeditions.
There are three restaurants. The Hanseatic, for 178 diners, has seating for two, four, six and eight guests. The Lido serves buffet breakfast and lunch with indoor seating for 84 and al fresco seating for 100. There is no extra charge for Nikkei, the 44-seat Japanese-Peruvian specialty restaurant, but booking is necessary.
Cruise prices include all excursions, one hour of free Wi-Fi a day, fruit in cabins on request and 24-room service, welcome bottle of Champagne in cabin and gratuities. Soft drinks in the minibar are free (alcohol is included in suites). Alcoholic drinks are chargeable in the bar.
A 16-night Antarctica expedition, round-trip Ushuaia, departs December 1. The cruise only fare (including flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia) starts at £12,426 per person.