German cruise line Hapag-Lloyd is an operator with a difference.
Having made its name catering for the increasingly dominant German cruise market, the company set itself the daunting task of going international in 2013 with the launch of Europa 2.
The luxury ship offers huge amounts of space, enviable passenger to crew ratios and itineraries which are tailor made for people who aren’t able to take weeks and months away from work. Even though they could afford to.
It’s all the more interesting after last week’s announcement that the company has agreed a partnership with The Cruise Line, in a deal that included the management of a UK-based call centre.
We spoke to Michael Steffl, the company’s international sales manager, to discuss how the efforts to crack the UK market were going.
How successful have your attempts been with the UK market?
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has increased its international guest base by 42% between 2013 and June 2014. For its marketing activities, the company has selected the UK, the US, Netherlands, Belgium, Australia and Scandinavia as priority international target markets.
The UK has proved a very important international market to us and we are very pleased to see a growing number of British guests.
In the UK, we are currently working with 25 active sales partners and have hosted 100 UK travel agents on board Europa 2 to date
What has been the greatest challenge so far?
Undoubtedly, our greatest challenge has been the lack of brand awareness – and the highly competitive environment within the ultra-luxury cruise sector.
Do you see the UK travel trade as important to your plan?
The UK is our most important international market. It has already proved itself to us and we are very pleased to see a growing number of British guests.
The new destinations for the Europa 2 include ports in southeast Africa among many others. Can you explain the idea behind expanding itineraries to regions such as these?
We expand our itineraries because we want to offer new and exciting destinations in the winter season. This also increases the destination choices open to our guests.
The UK is our most important international market
International sales manager, Hapag-Lloyd
For a prospective UK passenger what distinguishes you from other lines
The following points are Hapag-Lloyd’s key differentiators:
– Our international ship, Europa 2, is relaxed and contemporary while offering an ultra luxury experience.
– With up to 500 guests, the ship offers the greatest space per passenger ratio on a cruise ship anywhere in the world.
– The suites come in at a minimum size of 28 square metres, all with a veranda
– The guest to crew ratio (500:370)
– Culinary diversity (a choice of seven restaurants, all included in the price)
– The spacious Ocean Spa (620 square metres) with four different saunas; onboard themes of fitness and golf (two high-tech golf simulators)
– Mostly one-week cruises making it ideal for working professionals
– The small size of the ship means there is access to unique ports and destinations
– There are also plenty of opportunities to use the onboard zodiacs
– If you wanted to get technical, the ship is the first in the world to use an SCR-catalytic converter, which creates a low-vibration cruise.
Also, we never fail to mention that we have the largest gin collection onboard any vessel at sea! Plus, we have the most expensive art collections and a Miele cookery school.