Hapag-Lloyd Cruises plans to set sail again starting at the end of July 2020, with extensive hygiene and preventive measures. The cruise company will restart cruises from Hamburg with their ship, the Europa 2, and their expedition ship, the Hanseatic Inspiration.
Per German authorities, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has agreed to only welcome guests who reside in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. As a result of the positive developments with regard to containing COVID-19 in these countries and the comparatively short distances to the departure point, it is assumed that the risk of infection from people resident in these countries is similarly low.
Passenger numbers will be reduced by 40%, with a passenger count of 150-300 guests onboard. The basis for the resumption of cruise operations is 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, summarized in a ten-point plan that can be accessed here.
“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. We have taken our time because the safety of our guests and crew and the trust of those in charge of the German ports is very important to us,” says Karl J. Pojer, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, in a statement. “For the relaunch, in accordance with the German authorities, we have agreed to exclusively welcome guests who reside in Germany, Austria and Switzerland on board at first. 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.”
Before the cruises even begin, mandatory disclosure of health information is required. Also, the use of thermal imaging cameras will be used upon embarkation, and there will be a staggered and controlled boarding process ensures that comprehensive prevention measures will be taken, and distance will be maintained from the start.
The crew will also undergo a thorough health check. They will complete a period of quarantine before they start their duties and will be given a PCR test. Crew members will have their temperatures checked each day before they start their shift. There is a supervised medical team onboard, emergency and contingency plans in place, and a comprehensive training and safety program for the crew as part of the new health and safety concept. The medical team has been expanded, and a public health manager will be responsible for the implementation of preventive and hygiene measures.
The small luxury and expedition ships from the Hapag-Lloyd Cruises fleet offer plenty of space, and therefore satisfy the rules regarding social distancing. For areas where this is not possible, such as during embarkation and disembarkation or in the elevators, guests onboard will be given a care set, which includes face masks. All cabins are spacious outside cabins, mainly with balconies, providing private places to retreat to onboard.
All ships are equipped with thermal imaging cameras and a mobile laboratory to rapidly detect viral diseases, such as COVID-19. Cold fogging devices will be used for area-wide deep cleaning of suites, cabins and public areas. In addition, the number of disinfectant dispensers onboard has been significantly increased.
The new standards will be seamlessly integrated into life on board so that the enjoyment of our guests is as unimpaired as possible: the crew–to-passenger ratio of 1:1 means individual and personal service. The number of seats available in the restaurants will be reduced, and the opening times will be extended. There will be no self-service in the restaurants, the buffets, or in the bars. All meals can also be served in cabins, with 24-hour room service available. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises also guarantees a 100% fresh air supply in the cabins and all public areas.
“Our relaunch will be carried out in a controlled fashion, and we are going above and beyond the requirements set forth by the authorities. Between each cruise, we will purposely have a reset day without guests on board. Our reset day is for general cleaning and disinfection of the entire ship and will help to establish the new procedure. Our aim is to make our guest’s time onboard safe, care-free, and enjoyable, by observing the necessary rules in regards to maintaining distance and providing personal and individual service. Our small ships offer ideal conditions for this,” says Pojer.