Hapag-Lloyd Cruises (HLC) will recommence sailing next week, with a heavily reduced passenger count and extensive hygiene and preventive measures. The service reboot begins with a series of five-day voyages from Germany to Scandinavia and eight-day cruises to the Norwegian Fjords and Baltic Sea.
The cruise company will resume cruises from Hamburg to Norway and the Baltics on luxury ship EUROPA 2 (from 31 July) and expedition cruises to the South Funen Archipelago on HANSEATIC inspiration (from 2 August). Passenger numbers will be trimmed by 40%, down to between 150-300 guests onboard.
The German cruise line’s return to service has been coordinated with CLIA Deutschland shipping companies and in collaboration with experts. The HLC prevention and safety concept onboard will be based on a 10-point plan that aims to enable a safe and comfortable cruise while meeting the highest hygiene standards.
In brief, the measures include boarding procedures and mandatory screening, distancing rules, crew testing, filtered air conditioning, restaurant table reductions and longer hours, no self-service, thermal body cameras and face masks, intensive cleaning and the appointment of a Public Health Specialist on each ship – further details outlined below.
In accordance with the German authorities, HLC has agreed to only welcome guests who are residents in Germany, Austria and Switzerland at this time. Due to the positive developments with regard to containing COVID-19 in these countries and the comparatively short distances to the departure point, it is assumed that the risk of infection from people residing in these countries is similarly low.
“We have taken extraordinary measures in preparation for this relaunch and are faced with a new travel reality with significantly stricter prevention and hygiene standards. We have taken our time because the safety of our guests and crew and the trust of those in charge of the German ports is very important to us,” said Karl J. Pojer, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.
“For the relaunch, in accordance with the German authorities, we have agreed to exclusively welcome guests who are resident in Germany, Austria and Switzerland on board at first. In the next phase, we will evaluate whether we are able to allow guests who are resident in other countries to travel with us, depending on the development of the infection rate in those countries.”
“Our relaunch will be carried out in a controlled fashion, and we are going above and beyond the requirements set forth by the authorities. Between each cruise, we will purposely have a reset day without guests on board. Our reset day is for general cleaning and disinfection of the entire ship and will help to establish the new procedure. Our aim is to make our guest’s time onboard safe, carefree and enjoyable, by observing the necessary rules in regards to maintaining distance and providing personal and individual service. Our small ships offer ideal conditions for this,” Pojer added.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ prevention and safety concept
- Before cruises begin, the mandatory disclosure of health information will be provided to guests and will need to be signed. Also, the use of thermal imaging cameras will be used upon embarkation, and there will be a staggered and controlled boarding process ensure that comprehensive prevention measures will be taken, and distance will be maintained from the start.
- The crew will also undergo a thorough health check. They will complete a period of quarantine before they start their duties and will be given a PCR test. Crew members will have their temperatures checked each day before they start their shift. There is a supervised medical team onboard, emergency and contingency plans in place, as well as a comprehensive training and safety program for the crew as part of the new health and safety concept. The medical team has been expanded and there is a Public Health Manager, responsible for the implementation of preventive and hygiene measures.
- Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ small luxury and expedition ship fleet offers ample space, and therefore satisfy the rules regarding social distancing, with a minimum distance of 1.5 metres in public areas. For areas where this is not possible – such as during embarkation and disembarkation or in the elevators, guests onboard will be given a care set which includes face masks. All cabins are spacious outside cabins, mainly with balconies, providing private places to retreat to onboard.
- All ships are equipped with thermal imaging cameras and a mobile laboratory to provide rapid detection of viral diseases, such as COVID-19. Cold fogging devices will be used for area-wide deep cleaning of suites, cabins and public areas. In addition, the number of disinfectant dispensers onboard has been significantly increased.
- The new standards will be seamlessly integrated into life onboard so that the enjoyment of guests is as unimpaired as possible: the crew-to-passenger ratio of 1:1 means individual and personal service. The number of seats available in the restaurants will be reduced, and the opening times will be extended. There will be no self-service in the restaurants, the buffets or in the bars. All meals can also be served in cabins, with 24-hour room service available. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises also guarantees a 100% fresh air supply in the cabins and all public areas.
More detailed information available at hl-cruises.com/travel-safely
Lead image: EUROPA 2 in Hamburg | Credit: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises