Hapag-Lloyd Cruises to Resume Sailings, Not Yet for U.S. Guests

MS Europa 2 fashion2sea cruise
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' Europa 2. Photo courtesy of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises plans to resume cruising by later this month with new extensive hygiene and COVID-19 preventive measures designed to keep guests healthy. Cruising will restart in Hamburg with Europa 2 and the expedition ship, Hanseatic Inspiration.

While both ships are international (English and German spoken onboard), Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will only accept travelers from Germany, Switzerland and Austria on these resumption-of-service voyages. Currently, the line is not accepting guests from any other countries. That includes many other E.U. countries as well as Australia, the U.S. or Canada.

Karl Pojer, CEO, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, said the line has taken its time because of the importance of the safety of guests and crew, as well as the trust placed in the line by those in charge of German ports. "For the relaunch, in accordance with the German authorities, we have agreed to exclusively welcome guests who reside in Germany, Austria and Switzerland onboard at first," said Pojer.

He continued: "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.”

New Hygiene and Safety Protocols 

When those voyages resume on Europa 2 and Hanseatic Inspiration, passenger numbers will be reduced by 40 percent so passenger counts will be 150 to 300 guests, depending on the ship.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises said in its press release: "The basis for the resumption of cruise operations are the guidelines of the relevant authorities, which have been produced in coordination with CLIA Deutschland shipping companies and in collaboration with experts." The Hapag-Lloyd Cruises prevention and safety concept onboard will be based on these new guidelines.

The line also cited positive developments with regard to COVID-19 containment in those three countries, as well as the comparatively short distances to the departure point. So, the line's press release said, "it is assumed that the risk of infection from people resident in these countries is similarly low."

That said, "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," the statement continued. 

The relaunch will be carried out in a controlled fashion, going above and beyond any requirements set forth by the authorities in a new 10-point plan of health/safety protocols.

Adding a Reset Day 

Among the more interesting facets? Between each cruise, the line will purposely have a "reset day" without guests onboard. In contrast, normally cruise ships have same-day turnarounds (embarkation of one cruise/disembarkation of the next).

But Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will leave a day between —both avoiding departing and arriving passengers being in close contact and giving more time for cleaning and sanitation."Our reset day is for general cleaning and disinfection of the entire ship, and will help to establish the new procedure," said Pojer.

He said that's necessary to make guests' time onboard safe, carefree and enjoyable, and to observe necessary rules for social distancing and providing personal and individual service. "Our small ships offer ideal conditions for this,” he said. 

Health Checks, Additional Steps

In addition, here are other new steps: 

  • Before the cruise begins, a mandatory disclosure of health information form will be provided to guests and must be signed before boarding
  • Thermal imaging cameras will be used upon embarkation
  • A staggered and controlled boarding process will also be used and distance maintained between guests from the outset
  • Crew members will be given a thorough health check, undergo quarantine before beginning their duties and will take a PVR test
  • The ships will have a supervised medical team onboard; they'll have emergency and contingency plans in place, and crew will undergo comprehensive training as part of the new health and safety concept
  • The medical team has been expanded and there is a public health manager, responsible for implementing the new preventive and hygiene measures
  • A minimum of five feet in social distancing will be maintained in public areas, and where it's not possible, such as in boarding or on elevators, guests will receive a care kit that includes a face mask
  • All ships will have 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 deep cleaning of suites, cabins and public areas
  • The number of disinfectant dispensers on board has been significantly increased
  • The number of seats available in onboard restaurants will be reduced and opening times extended
  • There will be no self-service in restaurants, buffets or bars
  • All meals can also be served in cabins, with 24-hour room service available
  • Hapag-Lloyd Cruises also guarantees a 100 percent fresh air supply in cabins and all public areas.]

More detail is available at www.hi-cruises.com/travel safely.

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