Hanseatic Nature Sails From Hamburg – Other Cruise News: Victory Cruise Lines’ Great Lakes For 2020 – Two New Ships For Albatros Expeditions

by Kevin Griffin

This week sees news of two classes of expedition vessel, the first of three 230-berth “Hanseatic” class ships for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and the second and third of the 200-berth “Infinity” class for SunStone Ships. The Hanseatic Nature sailed from Hamburg on her maiden voyage last week and Victory Cruise Line’s announced that its Ocean Victory would trade to Alaska in 2021. The 8,000-ton Ocean Victory will be the largest “small ship” in Alaska since the 214-berth 8,282-ton Song of Flower, operated by Radisson Seven Seas Cruises and sold in 2003, and Cruise West’s 120-berth 4,280-ton Spirit of Oceanus, sold in 2010. Neatly tying in to the Ocean Victiory story is news that while Denmark’s Albatros Travel will be chartering her for use in Antartica, SunStone ships will build a sister vessel for Albatros, the Ocean Albatros, thus giving the latter two X-bowed sister ships of the “Infinity” class. In North America, meanwhile, the 202-berth sister ships Victory I and Victory 2 will introduce new itineraries next year.

THIS WEEK’S STORY

Hanseatic Nature Sails From Hamburg

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ new expedition ship Hanseatic Nature entered service last week, departing Hamburg on Sunday on her inaugural cruise. The first of three identical 230-berth sister-ships, Hanseatic Nature is a five-star small ship that can accommodate up to 230 guests, or 199 on Antarctic cruises and Spitsbergen circumnavigations.

Hanseatic Nature very first maiden call in Hamburg (Credit: Unimedien)

The naming ceremony of the first of this new trio of expedition ships was held in the Port of Hamburg. All employees were invited on board and the ship’s godmother is Isolde Susset, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ director of expedition cruises.

The Hanseatic Nature left Hamburg for Scotland with her first guests last Sunday. Her route took the 453 x 72 foot ship to the Isle of Skye, the Isle of Lewis and the Orkney and Shetland Islands. From there, Captain Thilo Natke set a course for Norway’s Sognefjord and Aurlandsfjord. The ship’s first cruise finished in Bergen.

The Hanseatic Nature offers 5-star service* with 175 crew members looking after a maximum of 230 guests. This summer, the ship will visit the Arctic for the first time

OTHER CRUISE NEWS

Victory Cruise Lines’ Great Lakes For 2020

The 202-berth sister ships Victory I and Victory 2, which now tour the lakes, seaways, harbours and remote ports of the Great Lakes from May to October, introducing new itineraries next year.

Victory I

Victory I

Victory I will operate a 10-night Toronto to Chicago itinerary with prices from £4,895 per person, all-inclusive and including flights from the UK. She will call at Port Colborne, Niagara Falls, Cleveland, Detroit, Sault Ste Marie, Manitoulin Island and Mackinac Island.

Victory II will operate a 8-night Chicago to Niagara Falls sailing with calls at Muskegon, Green Bay, Mackinac Island, Detroit and Cleveland. Prices start from £3,995 per person, all-inclusive with flights from the UK.

American Duchess - American Queen Steamboat Company

American Duchess – American Queen Steamboat Company

American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) acquired Victory Cruise Lines in January of this year, with the ships undergoing updates and refurbishments over the winter.
In the UK, American Queen is also offering an “Around the States in 40 Days” itinerary for 2020. The cruise will feature a combination of American Queen’s “Mighty Mississippi” cruise on the 166-berth American Duchess, followed by a Chicago to Toronto cruise on Victory I.

The 40-day all-inclusive itinerary is priced from £11,695, with international flights, shore excursions, airport transfers and six nights hotel accommodation.

Ocean Victory To Sail Alaska In 2021

Victory Cruise Lines last week also released details of the design of the upcoming Ocean Victory and her new Alaska voyages. The 200-berth expedition vessel will be the line’s third ship and will debut with twenty Alaska voyages starting in May 2021.

Ocean Victory (Artist impression)

Ocean Victory (Artist impression)

The new ship will feature 93 suites, 68 with balconies, two restaurants, an open-deck dining area, observation and lecture lounges, piano bar, library, gym, spa, swimming pool with pool bar and Jacuzzi. Bookings will open in July.

“We are thrilled to continue to share details about our newest expedition vessel, Ocean Victory, as well as our Alaska itineraries,” said American Queen Steamboat Company chairman and ceo John Waggoner. ”We can’t wait for guests to experience the wild and unparalleled landscape of Alaska, an area best explored via our intimate ship, allowing for up-close nature and wildlife viewing.”

The Ocean Victory will feature several innovative design elements, include an X-bow design that will allow for a smoother, more comfortable ride with low levels of noise and vibration. Rolls Royce Zero Speed Stabilizers will also reduce rolling and make cruising more comfortable for guests, and dynamic positioning will resulting in top-rated ship manoeuvrability.

Aurora Expeditions' Greg Mortimer: the first SunStone Infinity class ship

Aurora Expeditions’ Greg Mortimer: the first SunStone Infinity class ship

The ship will easily be able to change positions for expedition operations such as zodiac boarding, while also minimizing its environmental impact.

The ship is the second SunStone “Infinity” class newbuilding, set to debut in late 2020. Ocean Victory will also be built to Polar Code 6 (Ice Class 1A).

Ocean Victory will sail twenty Alaska cruises of 7 to 10 nights from May through September 2021. The vessel’s small size and shallow draft will enable her to access places that bigger ships can’t.

Two New Ships For Albatros Expeditions

As part of a northern and southern rotation, and before she goes to Alaska, the Ocean Victory is scheduled to begin service from Ushuaia to Antarctica for Albatros Expeditions on December 22, 2020.

Ocean Atlantic chartered by Albatros Expeditions

Ocean Atlantic chartered by Albatros Expeditions

Meanwhile, Albatros Expeditions has confirmed plans to add another “Infinity” class expedition vessel to its fleet in 2022. The ship, to be named Ocean Albatros, will operate in both Antarctica and the Arctic, and on cruises between these core expedition areas.

The Ocean Albatros will join the new Ocean Victory, that will also be operated by Albatros during the Antarctic summer season, from December 2020 and is to be chartered to Victory Cruise Lines for operations in Alaska for the summer seasons.

Albatros has also announced the appointment of Hans Lagerweij as president of its international businesses. Lagerweij has extensive experience in the expedition and small ship cruise industry, and in the past was responsible for managing Quark Expeditions and more recently Victory Cruise Lines.

Lagerweij said: “Many expedition cruise companies are focusing on features such as under water lounges, helicopters or submarines for their new builds. At Albatros Expeditions, we have chosen vessels that are enhancing an authentic expedition experience which customers are looking for”.

”The proven and patented X-Bow design gives our passengers a more enjoyable sailing, by improving guest comfort and safety, and even reducing seasickness. It provides very low levels of noise and vibration and gives us the ability to better maintain speed, ensuring we keep to our expedition schedules in rougher seas”.

Lagerweij also stressed the importance of five zodiac loading points. “Where most expedition vessels only have two, with five this leads to less waiting time for Albatros guests, so they can spend more time off the ship exploring the wonders of our world. Also, it gives us the opportunity to deploy zodiacs more quickly when we have unexpected wildlife encounters.”

Albatros owner Soren Rasmussen stressed the benefits of the unique Zero Speed Stabilizers: “These offer a proven reduction of the roll of the ship of 80% to 85%, even if the ship is not moving. This offers more comfort to our guests, while at the same time making our zodiac operators easier, even in more challenging conditions”.

Despite the vessels being expedition and explorer-focused, guests will also enjoy all the the modern comforts and amenities of today’s luxury cruise ships.

(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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