Hanseatic Nature: it’s First Northwest Passage

Since 1906, only a few ships have ventured on this marvelous route, made possible by the Arctic summer. This marks the 21st time that Hapag Lloyd has offered its guests this extraordinary journey and the very first for the Hanseatic Nature.

The first ship in Hapag-Lloyd Cruises‘ new expedition fleet has successfully completed the Northwest Passage, a journey that began on August 14, 2023, in Seward, Alaska, and concluded after a month of exploration, tracing the footsteps of the greatest polar explorers, in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. In doing so, the Hanseatic Nature has continued the tradition of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ expeditions, which began over twenty years ago with the expedition ships Bremen and Hanseatic of that era.


The Northwest Passage, a sea route spanning approximately 5,800 kilometers, connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, passing through the Arctic Ocean and the surrounding waterways north of the American continent, including the Canadian Arctic archipelago. The last ship to successfully navigate this route was the former Bremen in 2019 when it completed an extraordinary Arctic circumnavigation. Now, with the Hanseatic Nature, the new generation of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises‘ expedition fleet has set sail, following in the footsteps of the great 19th-century adventurers. It remains a captivating myth, with a history written by legendary pioneers, and today it continues to be one of the most challenging and less frequented expedition routes.

For Captain Jens Troier, it was also a special experience, his first time tackling this itinerary, forever connecting him to the Hanseatic Nature, the well-knit crew, and the guests of this journey. “Despite intensive preparation, it’s always something special when you finally set sail. The myth of this historic route is palpable when facing ice conditions and weather. Our specially built expedition ship for these routes has proven to be exceptional. Observing orcas, narwhals, belugas, and polar bears, as well as outings with our Zodiacs along the glaciers, was as breathtaking as the sunsets that followed the astonishing crossing of Bellot Strait, both on the way there and on the return. I was particularly impressed by the amazing landing on Long Island, which we circumnavigated partly by ship and partly by Zodiac, followed by an unforgettable sunset,” Captain Jens Troier said about the special moments of the journey.

For the 230 guests aboard the Hanseatic Nature, the journey was the primary goal in this expedition itinerary, giving them the opportunity to witness the vastness and unique nature of this region firsthand and learn from the Inuit’s life in harmony with nature. Lectures by the professional expedition team, including geologists, glaciologists, ethnologists, and many other experts, enriched these onboard experiences. Onboard discussions certainly covered natural sciences and wildlife, but also the history of legendary polar explorers and Inuit culture. During Zodiac outings and onshore excursions, guests often encountered traces of historic expeditions.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises boasts decades of experience and expertise in these extreme routes. Ice conditions change every year, requiring great navigational skill to constantly adapt navigation to current circumstances. The construction of the Hanseatic Nature, with the highest ice class rating for passenger vessels (PC6), plays a fundamental role in this. Along with sister ships Hanseatic inspiration and Hanseatic Spirit, this small and modern expedition ship (maximum 230 guests) was specifically built for these challenging routes. An agile ship with the smallest possible draft, reinforcements in the hull and along the waterline, and load-bearing components close to the water’s edge provide the navigation team with flexibility to navigate through dense ice fields. The three sister ships have very extensive autonomy and can remain at sea for up to 34 days without external support.

In 2024, the sister ship Hanseatic Spirit will follow this historic expedition route during the Northwest Passage from Seward to Kangerlussuaq. In the summer of 2009, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises‘ former Hanseatic and Bremen sailed together with approximately 350 passengers from both sides through the Northwest Passage, meeting in Gjoa Haven. It was the first time in history that two cruise ships accomplished this feat. In the summer of 2025, the Hanseatic Inspiration and Hanseatic Spirit will simultaneously sail along this renowned maritime route, continuing the tradition of pioneers like the new generation of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises‘ expedition fleet. They too will meet, depending on ice conditions, during the crossing.

Unique journeys, capable of offering the uniqueness of remote places on Earth while reliving the great emotion of retracing the tracks of great pioneer journeys, all in the comfort of the latest ships in the Hapag Lloyd Cruises fleet.

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Gabriele Bassi