Mighty Baobabs and majestic volcanic mountains between untouched rainforests and wonderful beaches, make Madagascar, the jewel of the Indian Ocean. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will be offering two expedition trips through Madagascar and Southern Africa in December 2012 and December 2013 onboard the MS Hanseatic and the Bremen, with maiden calls on both itineraries. The Hanseatic, the world’s only 5-star expedition ship and the Bremen, a 4-star plus expedition ship, according to the 2012 Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships, were created to provide intensive exploration in the most elegant surroundings for a maximum of 184 guests on the Hanseatic and 164 guests on the Bremen.

An exotic flora and fauna has developed on Madagascar that does not exist anywhere else on earth. There are more than 12,000 species of plants recorded on Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world. Guests will experience lemurs in pristine nature, animals in the wild, and wonderful beaches on romantic coasts.

Winter 2012: The Hanseatic will make stops at six new ports along her tropic adventure in December 2012, which include stops in the following new ports in Madagascar: Maroantsetra, Nosy Hara, Morondava, Nosy Ve, and Toliara and a first time stop in Mozambique, at the picturesque city of Ilha dos Portugueses.

Optional shore excursions: Hiking in Masoala National Park to see lemurs in the rainforest, canoeing to Lokobe Nature Reserve, zodiac landings on Nosy Lakandava and Nosy Hara for swimming between coral reefs and rock formations, a safari in Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa, and a visit to the Addo Elephant Park, also in South Africa.

Trip Details: This 16-day itinerary is from December 3-19, 2012, from Port Louis/Mauritius to Cape Town/South Africa. Rates start at $7,750 per person for an outside cabin.

Winter 2013: Guests will join the Bremen as she calls on the west coast of Madagascar for the first time. New ports of call in Madagascar include: Nosy Hara, Mahajanga, Morondava and Nosy Be.

Optional shore excursions: Hiking in Lokobe Nature Reserve to admire gigantic trees and bird watching, a boat ride to Nosy Komba, also know as “lemur island,” snorkeling on Nosy Lakandava and Nosy Hara, a visit to the Zulu village of Kwabhekithunga in South Africa and a safari to view the “Big Five,” also in South Africa.

Trip Details: This 17-day itinerary is from December 1-18, 2013, from Port Louis/Mauritius to Cape Town/South Africa. Rates start at $7,020 per person for an outside cabin.