River operator Scylla expands into ocean cruising with Bremen buy

PHOTO: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Bremen was built as Frontier Spirit in 1990 and has sailed for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises since 1993

Longtime river cruise specialist Scylla AG is branching out into ocean cruising with the purchase of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Bremen in 2021. The sale price was not disclosed.

Follows creation of own river brand, VIVA

For family-controlled Scylla, which has been in the river cruise business since 1973, the acquisition is a big step forward. After concentrating purely on building and managing river vessels chartered to other operators, the company established its own river brand, VIVA Cruises, last year.

Now Scylla—based in Baar, a small town close to Zug in central Switzerland—aims for further growth by expanding offshore. Scylla CEO Arno Reitsma said the company had been looking for an ocean ship comparable in passenger capacity to a typical river vessel for this move.

‘The Bremen is perfect for that,’ Reitsma said, stressing that Scylla’s broad nautical and technical expertise will help to get the ocean cruise project off the ground. Scylla currently manages 31 river vessels carrying up to 220 passengers each. Bremen, originally designed for a maximum of 184 passengers, fits right in.

28 years under Hapag-Lloyd banner

Karl J. Pojer, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, called Bremen a very special and popular ship, but said the company will concentrate on its Hanseatic-class newbuild expedition vessels that have the latest technology and environmental features.

Bremen will leave its fleet in May 2021, just as Hanseatic Spirit arrives as the third newbuild in the series. The Hamburg-based operator said Bremen will be renamed after its sale to a Scylla affiliate and will operate outside the German source market.

The final brochure featuring the ship is going to be released next week, on Jan. 22.

Built as Frontier Spirit

The Bahamas-registered Bremen has been Hapag-Lloyd ever since it was first chartered in 1993. The ship was built in 1990 at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan and first traded as Frontier Spirit for Frontier Cruises. After an overhaul at Rendsburg-based Nobiskrug Shipyard, Frontier Spirit was renamed Bremen in November 1993. Two years later a Hapag-Lloyd affiliate purchased the vessel.

Posted 17 January 2019

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Frederik Erdmann

Author Bio ▼

German Correspondent Frederik Erdmann is Seatrade's German cruise correspondent since 2002. Following secondary school graduation he joined the port agency network, Sartori & Berger, on a vocational training program. After subsequent studies of Business Administration, Frederik Erdmann held various positions at Sartori & Berger until 2010. After a period of working with the Flensburg Chamber of Commerce, he was appointed Designated Person Safety/Security, Environment and Quality of the coastal ferry operator, Wyker Dampfschiffs-Reederei. As a maritime trade press correspondent and visiting lecturer of the Flensburg University of Applied Sciences, Frederik Erdmann concentrates on ferry and cruise ship management, port development as well as safety and security in passenger shipping. He is also a member of the Flensburg Chamber of Commerce's Tourism Committee.

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