The modern self-image of this tradition-steeped profession

"And who might you be?" enquired the guest. Ulf Wolter smiles as he recounts this recent experience while on board. Wolter was welcoming the arriving guests onto the ship with his fellow crew members - shaking hands, exchanging pleasantries and the like. Then came the surprise question. Wolter answered truthfully: "I'm your captain." The guest's face betrayed their shock at his response. "I imagined the captain of such a ship to look, well, different."

Ulf Wolter takes it all in good humour. He earned the four stripes on his shoulder over thirteen years ago, on his first captain's post aboard MS HANSEATIC - one of the Hapag-Lloyd Cruises expedition ships. Since those beginnings, he has assumed command of the EUROPA 2 - the five-stars-plus flagship of the Hapag-Lloyd fleet. With his youthful appearance, many guests underestimate Wolter's age. He reassures his guest: "Not to worry. You're in capable hands."

A ship's captain has ultimate authority; as the most senior member of crew, he represents the owners of the ship. At sea and outside sovereign waters, it is his duty to ensure the safety and security of all on board. In the words of Ulf Wolter, "The captain is the chief." If a decision needs to be made quickly, one could hardly ask all 370 crew members for their opinion first.

Nevertheless, operations on board largely resemble those of a modern business. There are three departments - engineering, hotel and navigation - and each has its own hierarchy. Aboard the EUROPA 2, the hotel department is the largest. It is responsible for the suites, restaurants, kitchens and spa. Wolter explains: "It's the most important department for the guest. After all, I merely sail the ship from A to B."

Ulf Wolter represents the modern image of the profession as a firmly established decision maker within a team. He uses daily meetings to ensure that he is abreast of the current situation on board. This occasionally involves resolving issues and, often enough, that in turn means mediating conflicts within the crew. After all, wherever you have this many members of staff working alongside each other for weeks on end, disagreements cannot be ruled out. Other than that, the duties of the modern captain are remarkably similar to those of a corporation's chairperson of the board: communication, responsibility and representation.

The captain cultivates his image as a contemporary manager rather than as the cliche of a man dressed to the nines in his parade uniform. Aboard the EUROPA 2, there is no captain's table; the captain instead opts to eat in the same restaurants as the guests, often pulling up a chair to join them for a conversation. This modern interpretation of the captain's position reflects the innovation that is so central to Hapag-Lloyd Cruises even now, 125 years since its inception. We set standards whilst ensuring that we are never too proud to part with antiquated customs. You could call that sovereignty.

A key part of this is the Hapag-Lloyd Cruises tradition of captains inviting interested guests to the bridge in order to exchange thoughts and ideas, further opening up the fascinating world of cruises. Ulf Wolter encountered the aforementioned guest from the entrance at one of these get-togethers. They shook hands once again, and the guest thanked Wolter for an enjoyable cruise. "Not a problem," responded the captain, "the pleasure is all ours."

Cruising on board MS EUROPA 2

A casual lifestyle for a maximum of 500 guests  - enjoy plenty of personal space and the freedom to be yourself. Find out for yourself what makes the EUROPA 2 so unique and join one these cruises.

The paradise of the South Seas

from Colon to Tahiti from 18.11.2016 to 05.12.2016,
17 days, cruise number EUX 1634

Untouched beaches, colourful diving locations and exotic flora and fauna: the South Seas remain one of the most idyllic dream destinations on the planet – especially on board the EUROPA 2.

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In the lands of smiles

from Hongkong to Singapore from 19.03.2017 to 04.04.2017, 16 days, cruise number EUX1706
South East Asia has many faces. Dive into a fascinating world with metropolises such as Singapore and unspoilt natural beauty, a spiritual past and the rapid pace of the future.

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