“Stay at home” is the global message of the moment. The fleet of the Hamburg-based cruise company Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, which would normally be sailing the seven seas, is now heading for the waters of its home port. The expedition ship, the HANSEATIC nature, will be the first to return and is expected to arrive in Hamburg, Germany, on 20 April. Its sister ship, the international HANSEATIC inspiration, and the two luxury ships, the EUROPA and the international EUROPA 2, are also now on their way back to Hamburg. All three are expected to arrive in the port on 2 May and will remain there for the time being until they can start operating their schedules again. The BREMEN will remain off Auckland/New Zealand.
The two expedition ships, the HANSEATIC nature and the HANSEATIC inspiration, will go to Blohm+Voss for repair work. The EUROPA 2 will head to its berth in Altona and the EUROPA will moor up at the O’Swaldkai. The last of the guests on board the Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ fleet all returned home safe and well on 21 March. The cruise operator brought a total of around 1,000 guests home early from all over the world, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Charter flights had to be organised as scheduled flights had been cancelled.
A special meeting of ships off Barbados
The HANSEATIC nature, which is currently in the North Atlantic on course for Hamburg, has already picked up crew members from its sister ships in Bridgetown/Barbados, the HANSEATIC inspiration and EUROPA, bringing them back to Hamburg. “We wanted to give as many crew members as we could the opportunity to return home as soon as possible. This posed a logistical challenge due to the suspension of flights and the travel restrictions in place currently. Therefore, we took matters into our own hands for the return transport and transformed the journey of our HANSEATIC nature into a “crew cruise”. So we are bringing our crew back to their families safe and well,” explains Karl J. Pojer, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.
Life on board without guests
Even if there are no guests aboard the ships, life on board never stands still. The remaining crew members on the ships are still keeping busy. Meetings are still being held. There are also watches and inspection rounds to carry out. Maintenance and repair work that needs to be done is being completed where possible. Some of this cannot be carried out during normal operation as the crew do not have the time, or the opportunity to tackle it. One of the jobs on the agenda, for example, is a thorough spring clean of the entire ship. Noisy work – that is out of the question when guests are on board – is also being carried out now. There are also various training sessions for the crew.
Walk the Cruise – walking on board to Hamburg in 27 days
To keep fit, the crew on the HANSEATIC nature has started a project called “Walk the Cruise”. The idea is for the crew to cover the entire distance of the ship’s journey on foot, which the HANSEATIC nature is sailing, until it reaches its home port in Hamburg, Germany – a total of 7,600 nautical miles (8,751 miles; 14,084 kilometres). For this reason, every day, on Deck 9 the 138 crew members are each walking, or jogging 28 laps of 135 metres (148 yards). That totals 3.8 kilometres (2.4 miles). They are keeping count on a list and at the end of the 27-day cruise, this should take them to 14,084 kilometres – or around 7,600 nautical miles.