Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ new godmother is a seal

HANSEATIC spirit christened off the German coastline by guests on zodiacs

HANSEATIC spirit | © Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has officially named its latest ship, HANSEATIC spirit, after a grey seal named Nemi.

The adults-only expedition ship, the third in a fleet of three sister vessels, was christened last week off the island of Helgoland on the German coastline near Hamburg.

100 guests aboard the christening cruise, coupled with spectators on land and on the water, experienced the expedition christening in front of Germany’s only offshore island.

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“I will baptise you, you beautiful ship, in the name of HANSEATIC spirit!” said Ulrike Meinfelder who had the champagne bottle smashed on the bow of the new Hapag-Lloyd Cruises expedition class ship.

Meinfelder, a veterinarian at the Friedrichskoog seal station, took over the representation of the symbolic godmother of the 230-passenger luxury ship as the real godmother, Nemirseta (called ‘Nemi’), is a gray seal and a foundling (adopted and cared for by others since a pup).

For Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, the christening trip with the offshore baptism is a sign of respect for the ocean as a habitat. The passengers of the HANSEATIC spirit experienced the christening ceremony in the style of an expedition – in the ship’s own Zodiacs, as they circled the ship.

Julian Pfitzner, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, commented: “For the christening of the HANSEATIC spirit we made a conscious decision on an expedition destination at the gates of Hamburg and with the symbolic sponsorship of Nemi for the HANSEATIC spirit we would like to enter into a long-term cooperation with the seal station.”

Nemi, the foundling grey seal

Pfitzner said the cruise line could look to auction off nautical charts for the benefit of seal station, and host staff from Friedrichskoog onboard the vessel for guest presentations.

Ulrike Meinfelder, representative for Nemi, pulls the rope that sends the bottle of champagne cracking into the bow of HANSEATIC spirit, watched on by Julian Pfitzner, CEO Hapag-Lloyd Cruises; and Captain Axel Engeldrum.

Added Meinfelder; “I feel honoured and very happy to represent Nemi at the ship’s christening today and would like to thank you very much on behalf of the seal station for your cooperation. Nemi is a curious seal and is an excellent match for an expedition ship, where the transfer of knowledge about flora and fauna and the protection of travel destinations are of central importance.”


The latest ship in the Hapag-Lloyd Cruises fleet was christened in the presence of Isolde Susset, Head of Expedition Cruises and Tourism; Axel Engeldrum, Captain of the HANSEATIC spirit and Julian Pfitzner, CEO Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. After the ceremony the godparents and guests drove with the Zodiacs in a small convoy to the Heligoland south beach and celebrated the successful baptism in an expedition style with a relaxed reception with fish rolls on land. A festive christening dinner was held on board in the evening.

HANSEATIC spirit‘s maiden voyage is a nine-day sailing roundtrip from Hamburg via Sweden and Denmark.

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