German cruise line Hapag-Lloyd was named “Best Fleet Worldwide” by a prestigious cruise ship guide publisher. The Hamburg-based line operates five luxury ships, including three expedition vessels, and is better known in Western Europe and the UK than in the US.
Insight Guides Cruising & Cruise Ships, which is the former Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships, on October 1, 2023 revealed that Hapag-Lloyd, the luxury cruise line based in Germany and largely catering to the German market, received a 5-star rating in its annual review of cruise ships.
The high ranking bestows the “Best Fleet Worldwide” title to Hapag-Lloyd. Its ships are the only vessels to all earn 5 stars during the guide’s evaluation process.
Hapag-Lloyd operates the 400-guest Europa, which launched in 1999, and the 500-guest Europa 2, which debuted in 2013. Additionally, the line introduced its New Expedition Class with three vessels, Hanseatic nature and Hanseatic inspiration, both entering service in 2019, and Hanseatic spirit, which launched in 2021. All three expedition ships accommodate 230 guests.
Within the small ship category, Insight Guides also named Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2 cruise ship as the “Top-Rated Cruise Ship in the World” after she received top scores. Sister ship Europa followed in second place. The small ship category evaluates vessels accommodating between 251 and 750 guests.
The cruise line’s expedition ship Hanseatic Spirit earned the publication’s top spot in the boutique ship category, reserved for vessels carrying between 50 and 250 guests, followed by her sister ships Hanseatic inspiration and Hanseatic nature.
While Hapag-Lloyd caters to the German market, most of its voyages are listed as international cruises, meaning that communication is provided in both German and English.
Insight Guides, which for many years was known as the highly-regarded Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships, reviewed and evaluated 341 ships worldwide. You can take a look at the 2024 guide right here.
The 2023 guide was its 39th edition. Publication had paused during the pandemic years and has now resumed operations under the new name. The longtime editor of the publication, Douglas Ward, is well known among cruise industry insiders.
“It was my wife who pointed out that it is the first time in the history of my cruise guidebook, that any company has achieved the highest scores for all the ships in their fleet – and the only cruise line to achieve a five-star rating in the new guidebook! I extend my heartiest personal congratulations,” said Douglas Ward, guide book author.
For its part, Hapag-Lloyd celebrated the achievement with its chief executive officer praising the cruise line’s employees, both onshore and aboard ship.
“The recognition of the daily efforts of the crews on board and on land, their dedication to exceptional quality and excellence brings me great joy and pride. At the same time, it serves as motivation for the future,” said Julian Pfitzner, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.
Europa 2, now the world’s top-rated cruise ship, features seven stateroom categories, including Owner’s Suite, Grand Penthouse Suite, Penthouse Suite, Grand Ocean Suite, Family Apartment, Ocean Suite, and Veranda Suite. Butler service is provided in Penthouse and higher suites.
The ship has several dining venues: Weltmeere, for international cuisine, Tarragon, specializing in French specialties, Elements, offering Asian fare, Serenissima, featuring Italian favorites, and Sakura, offering Japanese dishes. Al fresco dining is available in the Yacht Club restaurant, and the ship has a wine bar called Grande Reserve.
Europa 2 is known for classic excursions as well as active tours such as rafting, and “Discovery” trips aboard small aircraft. Culture and history experts typically offer onboard programs.
The ship sails a wide variety of global voyages. An upcoming Caribbean cruise, a 12-day sailing on November 25, 2023 from Miami to Barbados, for example, features port calls at St. Maarten, the US Virgin Islands, and Bonaire, among others.
Hapag-Lloyd’s expedition ships operate worldwide itineraries to far-flung destinations such as Antarctica and the Arctic, Central and South America, the South Pacific, the Russian Far East, and Scandinavia. Expedition voyages focus on nature, wildlife, and local cultures, and each ship accommodates landings using Zodiac craft.
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