On 28 January 1891, the AUGUSTA VICTORIA dropped anchor overlooking Gibraltar. The cruise continued to Genoa in glorious weather. A glamorous ship of this nature had never before been seen in many Mediterranean ports. In some places, the cruise pioneers were greeted with gun salutes, while in Constantinople (Istanbul) even the sultan himself paid a visit.
On 22 January 1891, the floating rococo palace, the AUGUSTA VICTORIA, put to sea. The guests on the first "excursion", described by Albert Ballin as "daring travellers", among them many British ladies, admired the splendour of the mirrored rooms (such as the elegant "Ladies Room"). To go on board a steamship for enjoyment was deemed exotic and - more than that - unseemly. Especially for female guests. Isn't a cruise of this kind too strenuous, both mentally and physically, for the weaker sex? It is quite evident that the later general director of Hapag did not share this attitude. In addition to his wife, Marianne, there were a further 67 women on board.
The first cruise came to be because it rankled the visionary Albert Ballin to see the magnificent North American express steamer, AUGUSTA VICTORIA, bobbing idly up and down at anchor during the winter. Who would voluntarily cross the Atlantic at this time of year, defying fierce storms? Against resistance from his head-shaking colleagues on the Hapag board, Albert Ballin had his way: in January the shipping company dispatched the AUGUSTA VICTORIA to the Mediterranean. The demand for tickets at up to 2,400 gold marks was enormous. Thus was born the idea of the luxurious pleasure cruise on which modern-day cruises are modelled.
There were thirteen shore excursions on the agenda once the luxury steamship had passed the Bay of Biscay, where, due to the severe swell, even the band fell silent. On 28 January 1891, the AUGUSTA VICTORIA dropped anchor overlooking Gibraltar. The cruise continued to Genoa in glorious weather. A glamorous ship of this nature had never before been seen in many Mediterranean ports. In some places, the cruise pioneers were greeted with gun salutes, while in Constantinople (Istanbul) even the sultan himself paid a visit.
In March, the Hapag flagship returned to Cuxhaven to the enthusiastic welcome of thousands. Following the success of the premiere voyage, the shipping company adopted cruising as a firm part of its programme from then on. And over the course of the next 125 years, further innovations were to enhance the fame of the shipping company: the first purpose-built cruise ship; the first on-board indoor swimming pool; the first expedition ship with a high ice class; the ship offering the most space ... Hapag-Lloyd Cruises reinvents the cruise time and time again. Yet one thing has always stayed the same: for 125 years, guests have found fresh flowers in their cabins - just as in Ballin's time.
Historic pictures © Hapag-Lloyd AG, Hamburg