Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 365 out of 500
Accommodation: 155 out of 200
Food: 312 out of 400
Service: 320 out of 400
Entertainment: 81 out of 100
Cruise: 322 out of 400
Overall Score: 1555 out of 2000
Size: Boutique Ship
Cruise Line: Hapag-Lloyd Expedition Cruises
Former Names: Frontier Spirit
IMO Number: 8907424
Builder: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Japan)
Original Cost: $42 million
Entered Service: Nov 1990/Nov 1993
Registry: The Bahamas
Length (ft/m): 365.8/111.5
Beam (ft/m): 55.7/17.0
Draft (ft/m): 15.7/4.8
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel (4,855kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 6
Total Crew: 94
Passengers (lower beds): 164
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 41.1
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 1.7
Cabins (total): 82
Size Range (sq ft/m): 174.3-322.9/16.2-30.0
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 18
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 2
Wheelchair accessibility: None
Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts
Casino (gaming tables): No
Slot Machines: No
Swimming Pools: 1
Hot Tubs (on deck): 0
Self-Service Launderette: No
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: Yes/164
Onboard currency: Euros
A fine, strong expedition ship for in-depth discovery
Overview. This ship will suit anyone who enjoys the natural world, and traveling in remote, unspoiled areas. Venturing on the wild side of cruising, Bremen has some superb destination-intensive itineraries, with a good degree of comfort and useful documentation, including port information and maps. It’s a charming, very friendly ship with a homely, welcoming ambience that’s hard to beat.
The Ship. This purpose-built all-white expedition cruise vessel, equipped with 12 Zodiacs and a helicopter pad, has a handsome, wide, squat, contemporary profile and good equipment. Its wide beam provides good stability and the vessel’s long cruising range and ice-hardened hull allows it access to remote destinations. The ship carries the highest ice classification for passenger vessels.
Sutainable tourism is the norm. Zero-discharge of waste matter is fiercely practiced; this means that absolutely nothing is discharged into the ocean that does not meet with the international conventions on ocean pollution (MARPOL). Equipment for in-depth marine and shore excursions is provided, including a boot-washing station with three water hoses and boot cleaning brushes.
There is almost a walk-around deck - you have to go up and down steps at the front of the deck to complete the ‘walk.’ A large open deck aft of the mast provides a good viewing platform that’s also useful for sunbathing on warm-weather cruises.
The ship has a good number of public rooms for its size, including a forward-facing observation lounge/lecture room, and a main lounge (The Club) with a high ceiling, bandstand, dance floor and large bar, and an adjacent library with 12 bookcases (most books are in German).
Bremen is a practical expedition cruise vessel, nicely refurbished in 2009 when flat-screen TV sets were placed in all cabins, and the number of Internet-connect computers was increased to four. Arguably, it is a better expedition vessel than Hanseatic, and, although not quite as luxurious in its interiors and appointments, the ship has a loyal following. Its cruises will provide you with a fine learning and expedition experience, particularly its Antarctic cruises. All shore landings and tours are included, as is seasickness medication. There’s a fine array of expert lecturers, and a friendly crew. The ship has two microscopes, and a plankton-collection net for in-depth studies.
The onboard ambience is completely casual, comfortable, unstuffy (no dressy clothes needed), and very accommodating. Passengers appreciate the fact that there is no music in hallways or on open decks. The reception desk is open 24 hours a day, and there’s an ‘invitation to the bridge’ policy.
Arctic/Antarctic Cruises. Parkas (waterproof outdoor jackets) and tough ‘snow-grip’ boots are supplied, but you should take strong waterproof trousers and thick socks, plus thermal underwear. Each of the fleet of 12 Zodiacs (rubber-inflatable landing craft) is named after a place or region: Amazon, Antarctic, Asmat, Bora Bora, Cape Horn, Deception, Jan Mayen, Luzon, Pitcairn, San Blas, Spitzbergen, and Ushuaia. On Arctic and Antarctic cruises, it is particularly pleasing to go to the bridge wings late at night to stargaze under pollution-free skies - the watch officers will be pleased to explain star formations.
Special sailings may be under the auspices of various tour operators, although the ship is operated by Hapag-Lloyd Expedition Cruises. Thus, your fellow expedition voyagers may well be from many different countries. Insurance, port taxes, and all staff gratuities are typically included in the cruise fare, and a logbook is provided at the end of each expedition cruise for all participants - a reminder of what’s been seen and done during the course of the adventure.
There’s no ‘bulbous bow’ and so the ship can pitch in some sea conditions; but it does have stabilizers. The swimming pool is small, as is the open deck space around it, although there are both shaded and open areas. In-cabin announcements cannot be turned off (on cruises in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, announcements are often made at or before 7am on days when shore landings are permitted). Sadly, the ship was not built with good cabin soundproofing.
Hapag-Lloyd publishes its own excellent handbooks, in both English and German, on expedition regions such as the Arctic, Antarctica, Amazonia, and the South Sea Islands, as well as exclusive maps.
Accommodation. There are just four different configurations. All cabins have an outside view - those on the lowest deck have portholes, and the others have good-size picture windows. All are well-equipped for the size of the vessel. Each has wood accenting, a color TV and DVD player, telephone, refrigerator (soft drinks are provided free and replenished daily), vanity desk with 220-volt European-style electrical sockets, sitting area with small drinks table, and wireless access.
Cabins have either twin beds (convertible to a queen-size bed, but with individual European cotton duvets) or double bed, according to location, plus bedside reading lights and alarm clock. There is a small indented area for outerwear and rubber boots, while a small drawer above the refrigerator unit provides warmth when needed for such things as wet socks and gloves.
Each cabin has a private bathroom (totally replaced in 2010) with a tiled floor, shower enclosure with curtain, toiletries shelf, washbasin and low-height toilet (vacuum type), a decent amount of under-basin storage space, and an electrical socket for shavers. Large towels and 100 percent cotton bathrobes are provided, as is a range of Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries (shampoo, body lotion, shower gel, soap, and shower cap).
Each cabin has a moderate amount of illuminated closet space (large enough for two weeks for two persons, but tight for longer cruises), although the drawer space is limited - suitcases can be stored under the beds. Some Sun Deck and Bridge Deck cabins also have a small balcony (Bremen was the first expedition cruise vessel to have these) with blue plastic, easily cleanable decking and wooden handrail, but no exterior light. The balconies have two teak chairs and a small drinks table, but are small and narrow, with partial partitions and doors that open outwards onto the balcony, taking up space.
Two Sun Deck suites have a separate lounge area with sofa and coffee table, bedroom with wall clock, large walk-in closet, and marble bathroom with tub and basin.
Dining. The dining room has open seating when operating for mixed German and international passenger cruises, and open seating for breakfast and lunch, with one seating for dinner (assigned seats) when operated solely as a German-speaking cruise. It is fairly attractive, with pleasing decor and pastel colors; it has big picture windows and 12 pillars placed in inconvenient positions - the result of old shipbuilding techniques.
The food, made with high-quality ingredients, is extremely good. Although the portions are small, the presentation is appealing to the eye - and you can always ask for more. There is an excellent choice of freshly made breads and pastries, and a good selection of cheeses and fruits.
Dinner typically includes a choice of two appetizers, two soups, an in-between course, two entrées, and two or three desserts, plus a cheese board (note that Europeans typically have cheese before dessert). There is always a vegetarian specialty, as well as a healthy eating option. The service is good, with smartly dressed, bilingual (German- and English-speaking) waiters and waitresses.
As an alternative to the dining room, breakfast and luncheon buffets are available in The Club, or outside on the Lido Deck (weather permitting), where the Starboard Bar/Grill provides grilled food.
Entertainment. The Club is the main lounge, used as a gathering place after meals and before expedition landings ashore. There is no formal entertainment as such. At the end of each cruise, the ship’s chart is auctioned off one evening to the highest bidder, with profits donated to charity.
Spa/Fitness. There is a small fitness room, a large sauna, and beauty salon with integral massage table. Out on the open deck is a small swimming pool, which is heated when the ship is sailing in cold-weather regions such as the Arctic or Antarctica.