ON THE DECK WITH: Hapag-Lloyd
By Ernie, 16 May 2012, Wednesday 5:10 PM
Sebastian Ahrens, Managing Director, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
Hapag –Lloyd Cruises operate in the ultra-luxury sector. Given the tough economic climate in Europe how has your company fared in these tough times?
Cruises continue to have enormous potential. The luxury segment is developing very well, too – also with regards to the positive overall development of the market and the ever greater and more diversified volume market. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises succeeded in further increasing the sales figures, the passenger numbers and the average rate per day and passenger in the business year 2010/2011.
I am convinced that the demand will continue to grow – with the commissioning of the EUROPA 2 in the spring of 2013, we will further enhance our leading role in the luxury segment and address new target groups, namely working people and families. More and more families go aboard, particularly in the summer months. Children currently account for 10% of our passengers, with a rising tendency.
Hapag-Lloyd is well known for servicing well the German speaking markets. Is the product relevant in the English speaking markets and is the company adapting its product to gain greater traction in markets such as the UK, United States and Canada and Australia?
The majority of the guests are from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Nevertheless, the English speaking market is very interesting for us. UK, United States and Canada are the most important regions for us after the German speaking markets. Booking numbers for Australia are also increasing. For this reason, our cruises on board our new-built MS EUROPA 2 will be geared towards English-speaking guests, with fully bilingual itineraries. The EUROPA as well as the expedition ships HANSEATIC and BREMEN will continue to offer a number of bilingual cruises, operated in German and English. With the COLUMBUS 2 we do additionally have a cruise ship, exclusively operated in German.
Europa constantly rates as the finest and most luxurious of the smaller cruise ships. What makes the Europa so special?
The EUROPA boasts the most generous space per passenger at sea, love for detail, a large number of crew members in relation to the number of passengers for a first-class and very personal service as well as numerous customised offers. All of these features account for the very high quality standard and the sense of luxury aboard the EUROPA. I believe that in the background, the way in which the ship management operates on the basis of our European understanding of luxury and thus provides our offer with our very personal touch and idea of quality also plays a part. I am convinced that the DNA of the EUROPA is incomparable.
Europa 2 comes on line in 2013. Is this ship going to deliver something different to what the client has been able to experience on the Europa?
First of all, we have a novelty for the English speaking markets: all cruises will be “international”, meaning they will be conducted in both German and English for the duration of all cruises. English-speaking guests will feel comfortable on every cruise on the EUROPA 2. Most of the entertainment on-board, does not rely on language. The on-board announcements will generally be reduced to a minimum and made in German and English at all times.
Aside these facts, the EUROPA 2 will in every concept detail represent a modern and casual interpretation of luxury cruises in terms of her architecture, her restaurants and her entertainment programme. We have therefore consciously decided to do without cruise traditions such as the Captain’s Dinner. For the first time for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, the entertainment programme will feature spectacular productions, performances and light shows. Also the restaurant concept will be synonymous with diversity and flexibility – flexible mealtimes, no assigned seating, and plenty of tables for two. There will be eight restaurants to choose from among them, three speciality restaurants with Mediterranean, French and Asian cuisine, as well as a Sushi Bar. There will also be an on-board cooking school.
New standards will also be set with regards to environmental protection – the EUROPA 2 is the first cruise ship equipped with catalysts (SCR = process of Selective Catalytic Reduction), which reduce the emission of nitrogen oxides by almost 95%.
And one of the most important facts in terms of accommodation: the EUROPA 2 will for example exclusively offer Veranda Suites with balconies each measuring at least seven square metres facing the sea, a novelty in the cruise market.
I am convinced, that the sister ship of the world’s only five-star-plus ship MS EUROPA (acc. to Berlitz Cruise Guide 2012) will be a perfect addition to our fleet!
You have recently added the Columbus 2. Is that vessel also going to operate in the ultra-luxury category or is designed to fit more into the contemporary market?
The COLUMBUS 2 will be positioned in the four-star segment, the so called “premium segment”. It is a family-oriented ship with a brand new kids and teens club and the COLUMBUS 2 does also fit the needs of first-time-cruisers. We will offer a range of German-language cruises (no biligual cruises).
Hapag Lloyd also operates in the Adventure arena with the Hanseatic. Please tell us a little bit more about that product.
Our English speaking guests are very much into expedition cruises, in the UK market especially demand for Antartica and Arctic expeditions is very strong. We do offer bilingual cruises on board both expedition ships. Our expedition ships HANSEATIC (5-star according to Berlitz Cruise Guide 2012) and BREMEN (4-star plus acc. to Berlitz Cruise Guide) with the highest ice class for passenger ships are ideally suited for cruises off the beaten track. The destinations range from the polar-regions, Kamtchatka, island paradises in the South Seas, Micronesia and the Amazon. Experts accompanying the cruises, zodiacs are available for 164 guests (BREMEN) and 184 guests (HANSEATIC).
Generally speaking the niche products will establish themselves in the luxury segment as they offer a more customised and intimate alternative as well as extraordinary experiences. In addition to introductory cruises, unique expedition destinations such as the Arctic, Antarctica or the Amazon, an increasing number of theme cruises will be in demand.
For the benefit of UK travel agents how is your product represented in this country and do you have a local booking facility?
Our sales representative Mike Flanagan presents Hapag-Lloyd Cruises in UK. Furthermore we have a sales support team here in Hamburg to co-ordinate all sales activities. Information, booking forms and contact details for customers as well as for travel agents are to be found online (www.hl-cruises.com).
For agents wishing to learn more about Hapag-Lloyd what sales resources or sales aids are available to them in the UK?
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is offering travel agencies the opportunity to gather information in English on all Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ products at www.cruise-campus.com. Furthermore we offer for example a monthly newsletter and sales support (such as promotion material) etc. for travel agents in UK. For further information please see our website or regarding our sales conditions and commissions please contact [email protected].
By Ernie, 16 May 2012, Wednesday 5:10 PM
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