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REVIEW of Hapag Lloyd Hanseatic Inspiration, 5/23/24-5/31/24


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LauraS
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Below is my very long review of my recent experience on this Hapag Lloyd (HL) luxury expedition ship.

Unfortunately I accidentally submitted the review before I was done fixing  spelling errors and typos, so many apologies for that.  But it can still give you an idea how the ship was.

 

One very positive thing I forgot to mention is that unlike on most English language luxury ships, out on the decks, unless there is a party going on, *there is no pumped in pop music*.  That way one can enjoy the sound of the sea from the many comfortable outdoor perches that are available.  I truly dislike pumped in music, usually thumping or wailing, on outdoor decks, and am happy it is not present on HL.

 

If anyone has any specific questions, please ask me on this thread.

 

https://www.cruisecritic.co.uk/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=715896&stay=1&posfrom=1

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Posted (edited)

Hopefully what you had mentioned about it not being a dual language cruise is not the case for our cruise that is in 20 days on the Inspiration because the extent of my knowledge of the German language comes from watching reruns of Hogan's Heroes on tv.

Edited by jeff74
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7 hours ago, jeff74 said:

Hopefully what you had mentioned about it not being a dual language cruise is not the case for our cruise that is in 20 days on the Inspiration because the extent of my knowledge of the German language comes from watching reruns of Hogan's Heroes on tv.

 

🙂

If you booked through a TA, I suggest calling her and having her confirm with HL that you are an English-speaker (and are thus relying on the dual language presentation).

 

On HL's other dual language ship (Europa 2), the English speaking started right in the boarding line when they see your foreigner passport (typically at 4PM, all in a mass).  If it's not happening, speak up immediately, because Sargent Schultz isn't going to be on board.

Also get to know the expedition team as quickly as you can, they speak English, so they can organize you.

Have a wonderful trip!

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I’ve sent an email to the Hapag TA and will follow up with a call this morning.  I’m glad that I read your review.  I have cautious optimism that since it’s an Arctic cruise that there will be a more international crowd.  Thanks for the helpful info!

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So the local TA contact was unavailable and I called the main HL customer service office in Germany.  They assured me that everything would be offered in both German and English despite me relaying your experience to the contrary from last month.  Hopefully your case was an extreme outlier otherwise the “ ugly American” in me might appear in a few weeks lol.

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I am pretty sure you won't have to go "ugly American" on them, because I think you're right that my case was in outlier. Everyone who has main speaking parts  *can* speak in English if they want to or are alerted they need to or have to (the captain, the expedition leader, the expedition team members), and they are nice people, who want to do the right and proper thing, once politely alerted if there is a problem. So even if you're the only Americans on board, once they know that's the case and you say that you want full service English, my guess is it will happen (but it would of course be nice to have it happen starting with check-in and have staff already expecting you, with English menus etc.)  I never asked them when I was on board to start doing English as well as German, because at that point it would have been just to run an experiment and report about it on CC rather than to understand.

Just in case, there is a "customer relations" (i.e., complaints) person on board with an office near reception.  The expedition leader made a point at the beginning of the cruise (appropriately) to let them know if something is not to your satisfaction early on, so they can try and fix it.  There is no 'cruise director' per se.  

Staff  hours for different departments  are announced in the written daily program towards the back -- you should get yours in English (paper and TV -- stewardess can show you key things on TV), after you get your safety briefing in English).  If you have an elective issue, be there 5 minutes before they open, otherwise there may be a German already in line  in front of you.  No one will likely be there in off hours, and staff  expect to leave when their hours are up.  But receptionists are there 24/7 officially for whatever you need, including urgent issues, deck 4, which also has the Hanseatic main Restaurant.

 

Keep in mind the stewardess (likely a Filipina with better English than German though it helps to avoid slang and jargon and speak clearly and slowly), is not a butler or general problem solver like on Silversea.  Her duty, other than orienting you initially to your cabin, is to clean 2x/day (unless you put the do not disturb sign out) and keep the mini-bar stocked with your requests (I had my list of requests and preferences written out in advance, to keep the first day flow going quickly for her). Everything else goes through reception triage.

 

One more thing I didn't mention:  Germans value and expect  punctuality.  So don't be late for Zodiak rides, spa and other appointments. This may mean coming a couple minutes early (in case the elevator is slow -- which it often is).  Then there is just a general politeness expectation , e.g.,  "hello" when you enter a venue (like the boutique, a restaurant if there is  a host standing there or line-up of waiters etc.), and goodbye.

If you talk to other guests, if they're older, don't immediately go first-name with them (if at all), that is not customary (i.e., no, "Hi, I'm Jeff from Texas"), but if you get seated close to someone, either nod or say "Guten Abend" (Good evening) before you sit down.  One older couple I sat next to landed up asking me about the Japanese venue and though we talked for 20 minutes, we never exchanged names, and the wife still felt she had to semi-apologize and say "I hope we didn't disturb you".  Immediate boistrous familiarity is not the norm, but there are friendly people curious about foreigners.

 

 

 

 

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Absolutely! It's refreshing to hear about your experience aboard the Hapag Lloyd luxury expedition ship. The absence of pumped-in pop music on the decks is a definite plus in my book too. There's something serene about being able to soak in the natural sounds of the sea without any artificial distractions. Thanks for sharing your review!

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  • 2 weeks later...

thank you for your review !

i am just back from the new (?) Crystal Symphony  with very mixed feelings 

happy to join the ms europa on 2nd August and the Europa 2 on 19th September 

suppose i will go to crystal in a better room as the very narrow single cabins - I have to pay more as for  my Ocean suite on the  2 with a jacuzzi  ... for a one week cruise  ok it is not all inclusive

and despite prices of wines increased still no 500 $ for a DomPérignon  

i still have 4 vouchers bankrupcy caused, but i think i only will execute 2 

made some small comments and immediately the crystal cheerleaders to counter me ...

 

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4 hours ago, vistaman said:

thank you for your review !

i am just back from the new (?) Crystal Symphony  with very mixed feelings 

happy to join the ms europa on 2nd August and the Europa 2 on 19th September 

suppose i will go to crystal in a better room as the very narrow single cabins - I have to pay more as for  my Ocean suite on the  2 with a jacuzzi  ... for a one week cruise  ok it is not all inclusive

and despite prices of wines increased still no 500 $ for a DomPérignon  

i still have 4 vouchers bankrupcy caused, but i think i only will execute 2 

made some small comments and immediately the crystal cheerleaders to counter me ...

 

 

I think there are 2 reasons the "Crystal cheerleaders" "counter" you; you come from a European perspective that seems to be very "old school" and the majority of those who don;t agree with you come from the American perspective. Also, English isn't your first language and I think you sometimes use words that don't convey exactly what you really mean. Your point on the amount of money luxury cruiseing costs is very valid and I think it might be time for you to spend it places more to your personal liking.

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1 hour ago, Texas Tillie said:

 

I think there are 2 reasons the "Crystal cheerleaders" "counter" you; you come from a European perspective that seems to be very "old school" and the majority of those who don;t agree with you come from the American perspective. Also, English isn't your first language and I think you sometimes use words that don't convey exactly what you really mean. Your point on the amount of money luxury cruiseing costs is very valid and I think it might be time for you to spend it places more to your personal liking.

English actually is my 3rd language  😄 ...  i do speak Dutch, French English German and i do have a minor knowlegde of Italian  enough to order meals  and to ask directions an buy tickets and order taxi's 

what is "old school" ? may i give one example : my welcome bottle of Champagne Jacquart Mosaique  was in a cooler  - not in a bucket with ice   that is considered as "cheap" only done in the  cheapest  restaurants ... and not done by other cruise companies in the luxury level.

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8 hours ago, vistaman said:

English actually is my 3rd language  😄 ...  i do speak Dutch, French English German and i do have a minor knowlegde of Italian  enough to order meals  and to ask directions an buy tickets and order taxi's 

what is "old school" ? may i give one example : my welcome bottle of Champagne Jacquart Mosaique  was in a cooler  - not in a bucket with ice   that is considered as "cheap" only done in the  cheapest  restaurants ... and not done by other cruise companies in the luxury level.

 

Like I said earlier, you need to spend your cruising money someplace that is more to your standards. Not every line can please everyone. Life is too short. Happy Cruising!

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8 hours ago, Texas Tillie said:

 

Like I said earlier, you need to spend your cruising money someplace that is more to your standards. Not every line can please everyone. Life is too short. Happy Cruising!

yes I am moving to the Regent Voyager where my ice cream for lunch  is served in a chilled metal cup not in carton and to the ms Europa where I have to pay 230€  for a Dom Pérignon instead of 500 $  -  😍 

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22 hours ago, Texas Tillie said:

 

I think there are 2 reasons the "Crystal cheerleaders" "counter" you; you come from a European perspective that seems to be very "old school" and the majority of those who don;t agree with you come from the American perspective. Also, English isn't your first language and I think you sometimes use words that don't convey exactly what you really mean. Your point on the amount of money luxury cruiseing costs is very valid and I think it might be time for you to spend it places more to your personal liking.

Perhaps you would care to explain the difference between an 'European'....'old school' perspective of luxury and a new school perspective.

 

Does the USA have a different definition of the word luxury?

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5 hours ago, English Voyager said:

Perhaps you would care to explain the difference between an 'European'....'old school' perspective of luxury and a new school perspective.

 

Does the USA have a different definition of the word luxury?

 

Vistaman comes across as someone more comfortable in an upper crust pre World War II society that doesn't really exist anymore. That being said, as I first mentioned, since English is not his first language, it might be that he isn't expressing himself with words that convey how he really feels. My point is if you aren't happy with what you are offered with a specific line, it's time to move on. Life is too short.

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Posted (edited)
48 minutes ago, Texas Tillie said:

 

Vistaman comes across as someone more comfortable in an upper crust pre World War II society that doesn't really exist anymore. That being said, as I first mentioned, since English is not his first language, it might be that he isn't expressing himself with words that convey how he really feels. My point is if you aren't happy with what you are offered with a specific line, it's time to move on. Life is too short.

You have not answered my question.

 

Rather, by emoji and word, yet again denigrate Vistaman.

 

If you have cruised with Hapag-Lloyd Cruises you would know that it is neither pre World War 2, nor upper crust.

 

What it does do is attempt to live up to the word 'luxury'.

 

 

 

 

Edited by English Voyager
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Posted (edited)
38 minutes ago, English Voyager said:

You have not answered my question.

 

Rather, by emoji and word, yet again denigrate Vistaman.

 

If you have cruised with Hapag-Lloyd Cruises you would know that it is neither pre World War 2, nor upper crust.

 

What it does do is attempt to live up to the word 'luxury'.

 

 

 

 

 

It's nice to see you posting again, EV.  I hope you have had opportunity since Covid to go back on the lovely Europa2.  I agree that HL certainly is not pre-WW2 in any way.  

 

HL still remains my favorite line overall so far, and the MS Europa is my favorite overall luxury ship (in part because of the regular Ocean Sun Festival outstanding classical music).  The Europa 2 sadly does not have such a festival, though depending on the voyage, she may have classical music guests.

 But I also like the Europa (as you know, German only officially, though staff speak varying degress of English).  This is because despite loosening in the evening dress code on Europa to match the business casual style on Europa 2, which I'm ok with, there are still some old style luxury features.  I also like that there is on average an older clientele (since I belong to the latter group 🙂). Some Europa pax I talked to say they would not set foot on the Europa 2 because it is "too modern" in overall style (though they do like the food and the wine list of hundreds of  wines, even more expansive than on Europa).  I am fine with and appreciate  the modernity there (especially the decor), but the itineraries are often to very hot places which I have trouble tolerating, and the AC on HL overall is sometimes not as strong as I would like, i.e., not like that on English/American focussed lines.

I am currently in a very nice suite on Holland America with my DH, and though it is not a "ship within a ship" and there are sometimes lines and odd rules,  I am also enjoying that experience, but in different ways (e.g., the specialty Japanese and French restaurants on board are very good, as is the "blues" club, and the option to easily get simple good hamburgers and pastrami sandwiches  in the casual venues, which I often miss on HL when I eat one fancy meal after another,   is welcome! ).

 

It is fun to mix and match and have good food, service, and attention, regardless of what is called "luxury".

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Catlover54
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@Catlover54  Thank you for your kind words.

 

Unfortunately due to various factors I have not been able to travel abroad since Covid, but I do enjoy greatly reading threads on Luxury Cruise Lines in general, and HL cruises specifically.

 

Enjoy the remainder of your current cruise.

 

 

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11 hours ago, English Voyager said:

@Catlover54  Thank you for your kind words.

 

Unfortunately due to various factors I have not been able to travel abroad since Covid, but I do enjoy greatly reading threads on Luxury Cruise Lines in general, and HL cruises specifically.

 

Enjoy the remainder of your current cruise.

 

 

sorry to hear you were enable to cruise 

in 2021 I was diagnosed with a medical condition and I prefer to do 7 days cruises and unfortunately  some HL  cruises are too long or in the full summer  - i can stand + 30° C at all 

 

I got 5 vouchers " special initiative" for Crystal after the bankrupcy  - I did execute one  - my experience onboard the Symphony was of such a kind i simply cannot do all the other 4 next year. 2 will be enough 

I did 4 cruises on the Silver Dawn , 3 were very good the last one was a disaster and last year I was on new Explora  - one of my greatest cruise disillusionment ever.

 

Concerning  new Crystalcruises :the history does repeat itself :  the slightest critic you are making here you are countered  ...

 

 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, vistaman said:

sorry to hear you were enable to cruise 

in 2021 I was diagnosed with a medical condition and I prefer to do 7 days cruises and unfortunately  some HL  cruises are too long or in the full summer  - i can stand + 30° C at all 

 

I got 5 vouchers " special initiative" for Crystal after the bankrupcy  - I did execute one  - my experience onboard the Symphony was of such a kind i simply cannot do all the other 4 next year. 2 will be enough 

I did 4 cruises on the Silver Dawn , 3 were very good the last one was a disaster and last year I was on new Explora  - one of my greatest cruise disillusionment ever.

 

Concerning  new Crystalcruises :the history does repeat itself :  the slightest critic you are making here you are countered  ...

 

 

Cruising does create some great memories.

 

Our very first luxury cruise was on the unique Radisson Diamond catamaran which departed from Greenwich.

 

 

This spoilt us for small ships, as we then moved onto Seabourn's 'three sisters' which departed from Tower Bridge.

On one occasion the Pride was moored alongside the warship HMS Belfast, and we had to walk across it's deck to board the Pride.

On that cruise, in St. Petersburg, Seabourn had been given permission to cruise up the Neva river and dock opposite the Hermitage Museum, and what should be in front of us...the Europa.

 

Enjoy your upcoming cruises.

Edited by English Voyager
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2 hours ago, English Voyager said:

Cruising does create some great memories.

 

Our very first luxury cruise was on the unique Radisson Diamond catamaran which departed from Greenwich.

 

 

This spoilt us for small ships, as we then moved onto Seabourn's 'three sisters' which departed from Tower Bridge.

On one occasion the Pride was moored alongside the warship HMS Belfast, and we had to walk across it's deck to board the Pride.

On that cruise, in St. Petersburg, Seabourn had been given permission to cruise up the Neva river and dock opposite the Hermitage Museum, and what should be in front of us...the Europa.

 

Enjoy your upcoming cruises.

i also have greaat memories on the 3 seabourn triplets 

and then the Odyssey came together with the cutbacks 

 

that Radisson Diamond was once in Antwerp - everybody found it "weird" 

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1 hour ago, vistaman said:

i also have greaat memories on the 3 seabourn triplets 

and then the Odyssey came together with the cutbacks 

 

that Radisson Diamond was once in Antwerp - everybody found it "weird" 

Two particular memories of the Diamond are the restaurant with it's stern floor to ceiling windows, and the first time on a zodiac travelling between the twin hulls.

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On 6/17/2024 at 8:25 AM, vistaman said:

i also have greaat memories on the 3 seabourn triplets 

and then the Odyssey came together with the cutbacks 

 

that Radisson Diamond was once in Antwerp - everybody found it "weird" 

Ahhhhh- those wonderful triplets.  Truly luxury cruising.  

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15 hours ago, CruisingAlong4Now said:

Ahhhhh- those wonderful triplets.  Truly luxury cruising.  

On the Pride, after dinner one evening I asked the waiter if  'After Eight' mints were available.

He said he would check.

The Head Waiter apologised that they were not available, but they would obtain some at the next port of call which was Copenhagen, and two days away.

 

True to his word I was duly offered the mints.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, we finally got back in town from our trip where we took an Arctic cruise on the Hanseatic Inspiration and it was really incredible.  There were about 20 people on the cruise that preferred English over German which was nice when it came to the excursions on the zodiac because the guides only had to speak English since they grouped us together in the same color group.

 

The trip was more scenery based than wildlife based but we were still able to see quite a few animals including checking off polar bears from the list along with many different types of birds, some reindeer, walruses and even a blue whale.

 

One aspect of the trip that I thought would be useless for us but proved to be very convenient was having a butler.  That service was included with the jr suite that we booked given that was the only cabin class besides the grand suite that would accommodate our family of 3.  Going that route was also cheaper than booking 2 rooms which was what we had to do for the Celebrity Flora last year.

 

Our butler was a very kind and thoughtful person that helped us with getting our parkas and boots on the first day and often brought us dinner to eat at our cabin.  The dinners take quite long (2+ hours) in the main dining room and we ended up moving towards just choosing what we wanted from the MDR and had our butler bring it to us so we could eat at the much less drawn out pace that we're used to.

 

While I have almost all positive things to say there were a few negatives.  While the food was mostly good to very good there was not a huge selection and my wife said that the fish dishes were mediocre.  The smoke from cigars was a little unpleasant at times when we would walk by the pool and it would sometimes waft down to our balcony from other cabins upwind from us.  My final negative was that although the excursions were great that they were also often short (45-90 minutes).

 

As far as pointers for anyone that books an expedition cruise with Hapag-Lloyd in the future I would say the following:

 

  • Pay in Euros.  They have an unfavorable exchange rate if you book in USD (1.2 vs the actual 1.08 at our time of booking)
  • They only supply one set of binoculars for the cabin so bring along others from home if possible.  You can also try asking for an additional pair from the front desk which is what we did.
  • Our paperwork said that you could only bring 1 piece of check-in luggage per person and 1 "personal item" to carry on the plane. We asked our TA if that meant we couldn't bring a roll-on suitcase and we were told that was correct.  This turned out to not be the case and a German family that we spoke to told us that personal item meant a roll-on over there and that it was generally understood that you could also bring what the US considers a personal item on top of that.
  • With this being an expedition cruise, the dress code for dining is much more relaxed than other cruise ships.  Wearing nice jeans and sneakers wasn't something that would draw attention in the MDR for dinner with the average attire for men being business casual clothing.  In the Lido, I would often go to breakfast straight from the gym.

 

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