Hapag-Lloyd To Order A Third Hanseatic Class Ship – Other Cruise News: Azamara To Include South Africa – Recent River Line Changes

by Kevin Griffin

As the German and international cruise markets continue to grow TUI Group has chosen to order a third 230-berth “Hanseatic” class expedition ship, for delivery in 2021. And with the addition of a third ship, Azamara Club Cruises has announced that South Africa will be added to its itineraries in 2020. Finally we have a look at changes on the river cruise line scene in the UK.


Hapag-Lloyd To Order A Third Hanseatic Class Ship

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has been given approval by parent company TUI Group to order a third expedition cruise ship.
The newbuilding will be a sister to the 230-berth Polar Class 6 ships Hanseatic Nature and Hanseatic Inspiration, which will be delivered by Norwegian shipbuilders Vard in 2019.

HANSEATIC nature & HANSEATIC inspiration – Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will soon launch the planning and negotiation process for the vessel, which is to be delivered in 2021.

The order for the new ship was announced at TUI Group’s annual Investors’ Day conference held on board TUI Cruises’ recently-delivered 2,900-berth Mein Schiff 1, the second of that name, in Hamburg on May 8. The first is now sailing as Marella Explorer.

TUI Group decided to order the new ship following strong growth by all three of its cruise brands. TUI Cruises average passenger occupancy rate remained in the same range, at 99.7% in 2016 to 98.9% in 2017, while Marella Cruises recorded steady 99.6% occupancy and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises saw its occupancy rate increase from 73.8% to 76.4%. All three brands will welcome new ships between 2018 and 2023.

Mein Schiff 1 at Kiel (Photo Stephen Gergs)

Mein Schiff 1 at Kiel (Photo Stephen Gergs)

TUI Cruises increased its average fare per passenger day to €148, up €1. At Marella Cruises, the average per diem was £136 (about €151), up from £127 (about €141). And at Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, average per diem increased by €5 to €600.

“Forecasts for cruising are excellent,” said TUI Group ceo Fritz Joussen. “Sea voyages are becoming increasingly popular among families and younger people… And we are only at the beginning of this trend.”


Azamara To Include South Africa

The Azamara Quest, ex R7 (Courtesy Azamara Club Cruises)

The Azamara Quest, ex R7 (Courtesy Azamara Club Cruises)

As part of its South African programme, Azamara Club Cruises will offer six round trips out of Cape Town with Azamara Quest during the first half of the year from January 2020 and Azamara Journey arriving in December.

Azamara will be expanding its global coverage soon by calling in South Africa and the African continent for the first time. Each voyage will also offer immersive land programs that take travelers to the heart of Zulu culture, South Africa’s most famous wine region and beyond. The cruises can be paired with with pre- and post- Micato Safari trips.

Masai Mara, Kenya (Photo Stefano Fermi)

Masai Mara, Kenya (Photo Stefano Fermi)

For example, on a five-night “Kruger to Cape” program participants meet the Micato team in Johannesburg to explore the Kruger game reserve and visit the Western Cape, known for top-quality and restaurants. A five-night “Wild Wonders of the World” post-cruise program will visit Victoria Falls (with optional helicopter tour) and include a dawn game drive through Botswana’s Chobe Game Reserve.

Shore excursions include a flight past Mount Kilimanjaro and over the Great Rift Valley to Kenya’s Masai Mara game reserve, where participants spend the night at the Neptune Mara Rianta Luxury Camp on the Mara River.

Oceania Cruises' Sirena (Ex R4)

Oceania Cruises’ Sirena (Ex R4)

In South Africa, on a day trip to Shakaland, a living monument to Zulu culture, travellers will be met by a Zulu guide who leads them through the village. Participants will learn how to make a sword and shield as well as build a traditional Zulu beehive grass hut.

On February 20, 2020, Azamara Quest will then embark on the line’s second world journey, from Cape Town to Southampton.

Azamara will also operate five ex-UK sailings from Southampton in 2020, as well as a number of other itineraries with UK calls.

The 176-berth Bellejour

The 176-berth Bellejour

For the first time, all three of Azamara’s “R” ships will meet on October 8, 2020 in Koper, where the cruise line will host a Grand Evening’ in port before the vessels sail together for Venice.

Azamara Club Cruises will be joining Oceania Cruises, who have been sending “R” class ships to South Africa for many years now.

Recent River Line Changes

As well as the arrival on the international scene of Crystal River Cruises in 2016, there have been a number of changes in the UK river market in the past two or three years.

The 136-passenger Serenade 1

The 136-passenger Serenade 1

In an expanding market, and going against the flow, one loss was CMV Voyages, who withdrew from operating three river cruisers, the 176-berth Bellejour and Belvedere and the 170-berth Explorer, in 2017 in favour of adding new ocean cruise ships.

Two UK-based operators, however, Titan Travel and Fred. Olsen Cruises, have started their own one-ship river cruise lines on European rivers. One of these will go to two ships in 2019.

For many years Titan represented Uniworld River Cruises in the UK, and when Uniworld decided to set up its own UK office, Titan decided to add a ship of its own in the 130-berth Serenade 1 in 2017 on the Rhine.

The 156-guest river cruise boat Brabant

The 156-guest river cruise boat Brabant

And in 2019 Titan will add a second ship, when it re-introduces the 176-berth Bellejour, on the Danube.

At the same time, Fred. Olsen Cruises established its own Fred. Olsen River Cruises by acquiring the 156-berth Brabant and operating her for Fred. Olsen’s account between April and early November 2018.
English is the advertised language on board and, despite sailing largely in the Eurozone, the on board currency is Sterling.

Fred. Olsen Travel, the line’s agency arm, had for many years represented AMA Waterways in the UK, and when AMA opened its own UK office Fred. Olsen Travel replaced its representation of AMA by taking on the UK agency for Amadeus Waterways.

(Kevin Griffin is managing director of specialist cruise agency The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)

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