Jane Archer gives the lowdown on Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ new expedition vessel
Overview: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ new ship Hanseatic Inspiration will come as something of a surprise to customers labouring under the misconception that expedition cruising means roughing it. From the quality of the finish to the spectacular science centre and LED screen depicting whales swimming across the top of the HanseAtrium lounge, this ship oozes luxury. The vessel, christened in Hamburg in October by round-the-world sailor Laura Dekker, holds 230 passengers (limited to 199 in Antarctica and Spitsbergen) and is targeted at German and English speakers.
Prices include all meals, drinks from the minibar, tips and an hour a day of Wi-Fi.
Cabins: Spacious, beautifully designed and well-appointed, with expedition must-haves such as Nordic walking poles and Swarovski Optik binoculars, as well as coffee machines, cabins are comfy. Bathrooms have a heated wall where passengers can dry wet clothes and most cabins have a balcony. Suites and junior suites have butler service.
Food and Drink: Passengers can eat when they wish and sit with their partner (there are lots of tables for two) or share with others in the Hanseatic Restaurant. Nikkei is a more intimate eatery serving a menu inspired by Japanese and South American cuisine – think miso cod and duck with cabbage, corn and chilli. Self-service is a casual alternative. All restaurants are free, but drinks other than in the cabin minibars (soft drinks and beer in cabins, plus spirits in suites and junior suites) cost extra. Choose the Observation Lounge for great views.
Facilities: The HanseAtrium is the hub of the ship, used for socialising and lectures, while the Ocean Academy, open 24 hours a day, is the ‘brain’ – the place to chat to the expedition team and read up on everything, on a touch-screen LED wall, from famous explorers to geology and the climate. The spa pays homage to the environment, with walls made from pressed hay and stone, and glass pots with wooden lids and linen labels. The steam room and sauna are mixed and clothes are not allowed, in keeping with the true German way (wrapping in a towel is acceptable). The pool area is open to the elements, so it’s pretty chilly, especially in the polar regions, but outdoor heaters are available.
The ship carries 17 Zodiacs for shore landings, as well as kayaks and stand-up paddleboards
USP: The outdoor space allows passengers close-up views of the scenery and wildlife. There’s access to the ship’s bow – called the Inspiration Walk – and retractable glass balconies on each side of the hull that give the feeling you’re floating on the water.
For more information, visit hl-cruises.com