Cruise and Ferry Review - Summer/Spring 2020

1 1 2 itineraries,” says Isolde Susset, HLC’s director of expedition cruises and travel. “It’s quite difficult to find educated and knowledgeable people who speak English and German and want to stay longer on a ship, but we have a lot of captains and crew who like to work with us. When it comes to captains, we usually choose from our existing crew members because they need to have the experience to understand how the ice and the waves are behaving and whether it’s safe to do activities like zodiac tours.” Susset adds that HLC also has experts who give lectures onboard the ships and help guests explore the destinations. Onboard the Hanseatic-class ships, these experts can often be found in the onboard Ocean Academy, which took two years to develop. The space provides a haven for learning with its interactive digital wall, microscopes and experts like geologist Heike Fries, who is on hand to make even the smallest of rock particles exciting for guests. In addition, the venue hosts insightful lectures by experts like polar consultant David Fletcher who has sailed with HLC since 1993 and has 15 years with the British Antarctica Survey under his belt (from the 1970s). Despite his ongoing expertise, Fletcher is subject to the same rigorous certification process as every other expedition leader, lecturer and guide who steps ashore in Antarctica. “There are multiple levels of documentation that have to be fulfilled,” he explains. “We can’t land in South Georgia unless we have a new certificate every season. There’s a flurry of people to get this certificate now because of the extra ships. I know the place like the back of my hand, but legislation changes all the time. You have to be on top of it.” Fletcher’s mission is to show HLC’s guests what is happening in Antarctica with the hope that they will return home and spread the word. “The greatest ambassadors are the people who come back and want to look after it [our planet],” he says with a deep concern for the environment that is based on experience. “Climate change is a natural phenomenon, but we’ve almost certainly added to the speed of it. We wrote papers back in the 1970s and now it is coming home to roost.” Protecting the environment is a key part of HLC’s DNA and business strategy. “This year we are banning heavy fuel oil on all our ships,” says CEO Karl J. Pojer. “Marine gas oil is a lot more expensive, but we see it as an investment in the future. If you want to be market leader you must also be an environment leader. I am not only the CEO of a company, but also the father of a 20-year- old daughter. I think environmental sensitivity is increasing.” CFR HLC’s onboard experts help guests take a detailed look at fossils found in amber under microscopes INTERV IEW Photo: Susan Parker