In August 2013, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will be offering a Northwest Passage itinerary on the only 5-star expedition vessel in the world, the Hanseatic. The Hanseatic’s cruise will be guaranteed bilingual, departing Kangerlussuaq, Greenland on August 16, 2013 for a 24-days voyage starting in Greenland and cruising north of the Arctic Circle and ending in Nome, Alaska on September 9. It is one of the most famous sea routes in the world and has been both a myth and challenge for centuries.

The Hanseatic premiered the Northwest Passage for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises in 1994. Since then both Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ expedition ships, the Hanseatic and the Bremen have successfully cruised through the Northwest Passage a total of twelve times. In summer 2009, for the first time in Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ history, both ships met in the Northwest Passage, traveling in opposite directions.

This legendary route does not come without challenges. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Bremen Captain Mark Behrend, who has travelled successfully through the Passage stated: “The challenges of this route begin long before the actual journey starts. The length of the journey means we have to make an accurate forecast of all the provisions we will need, including fuel, drinking water and food, to maintain the high standards aboard the ship.”

Hanseatic Captain Thilo Natke, who also has successfully crossed the passage added: “Despite global warming and retreating ice, it continues to be essential for the ships to have the appropriate ice class, without which the passage can be extremely dangerous. Thanks to their reinforced hulls and the highest ice class (E4) for passenger ships, the Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ ships HANSEATIC and BREMEN are ideally equipped to conquer the Northwest Passage on their own. The voyages offer guests natural spectacles and fascinating ice formations (Disko Bay, Greenland), along with seafaring traditions and a spirit of discovery.”

The legendary passage for the Hanseatic starts in Greenland and crosses Disko Bay, where guests can observe the bizarrely -shaped icebergs. The ship will then cross the Canadian Arctic, the heart of the Northwest Passage. Thanks to its shallow draught, the Hanseatic is able to sail close to the Canadian Arctic coast, giving guests box seats on the outer decks for viewing the rugged and icy panoramas of the shores. Guests will be thrilled to encounter caribou, polar bears, musk oxen, bald eagles, and whales, while taking full advantage of the many Zodiac landings to explore the impressive glacial coasts along the route.

Other planned highlights (weather permitting): a visit to a former whaling base on Herschel Island; a landing in Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island, including a visit to the wreck of the "Maud," in which Roald Amundsen conquered the Northwest Passage; zodiac landings in Peel Sound, the Franklin Strait and Larsen Sound; and a stop in Barrow, Alaska, the most northern city in the world.