Expedition cruise ship Bremen
Sitting quietly at the north end of Canada Place on Monday this week preparing for an 18 day cruise to Nome in Alaska was Hapag Lloyd’s expedition cruise ship Bremen. She is one of four specialized cruise ships operated by the company, the others being Europa, Europa 2 and Hanseatic.
Built by Mitsubishi Shipyard, Kobe, Japan in 1990
Owned and operated by Hapag Lloyd Cruises
GRT 6,752 tons
Propulsion 2 × Daihatsu 8 km-32 (2 × 2,427 kW) connected to 2 shafts and 2 x controllable pitch propellers
Speed 16 knots
Passenger capacity 164
Crew: approximately 100
Previous name: Frontier Spirit (2000-2003)
Bremen is the smallest ship in Hapag Lloyd's cruise fleet, but arguably the most versatile by way of having an impressive E4 ice rating, thereby equipping her to safely navigate the ice of the Arctic and Antarctic. Bremen provides a contingent of 12 zodiacs (pictures above left and right) allowing her guests to explore virtually any inlet at any time of the day during her high activity cruises.
In 2003, Bremen identified a previously uncharted island in Antarctica which was appropriately named "Bremen Island" the following year. In 2006, helped by satellite images of sea ice, she sailed the Northwest Passage, a route she will take again In late August this year when she will cruise from Nome via the Northwest Passage to Kangerlussuag in Greenland. She will then make a number of cruises as she heads south for Antarctica with a Christmas call scheduled for the Falkland Islands.
There were two previous Bremens in the German merchant fleet, the first of which was completed in 1929 and which was lost when deliberately set ablaze by a crew member in 1941 while serving as a barracks ship in Bremerhaven. The second was completed in 1939 for Sudatlantique, Bordeaux as the SS Pasteur and in 1940 made a last minute escape ahead of the invading German forces with 200 tons of French gold bullion reserves to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Requisitioned by the UK and operated by Cunard she became a hospital troopship, carrying 300,000 Allied troops around the globe including supplying troops to the Battle of El Alamein. Post-war she remained in French military service from 1945-56, carrying French troops to Vietnam, Algeria, and during the Suez Crisis.
Following lay-up, she was sold to the North German Lloyd Line, refitted and renamed Bremen in 1957. The sale sparked protests in France but to no avail. In 1971 she was sold to Chandris Lines of Greece, the predecessor to Celebrity Cruises. Under Chandris she operated cruises as the Regina Magna (picture above right) until 1974.