Supply Chain News / Air Cargo / Ocean

Christmas Tree Sets Sail After Epic Journey

Tree undertakes multimodal journey under a tight deadline.

December 20, 2012

Most of us bring the family Christmas tree home strapped to the roof of the car. Hapag Lloyd Cruises, owners of cruise ship MS Europa, does things with a lot more style.

The seven meter (23 foot) Christmas tree that greets the ship’s passengers when they congregate in the atrium of MS Europa underwent a multimodal journey by land, air and water to ensure the passengers enjoy the perfect celebration.

The tree was grown and felled in Austria and started its journey to join up with the cruise ship on the back of a dedicated 12 meter (40 foot) truck and was driven across Europe to London.

At Heathrow Airport, it took a team of eight cargo handlers to carefully load the tree onto one of Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A340-300 flights to Cape Town, South Africa.

Carsten Leder, managing director of Tefra Travel Logistics GMBH, the airfreight logistics provider explains the shipment. “An old German tradition is to deliver high quality trees onto the vessels for Christmas time. The MS Europa was officially voted the ‘Best Cruise vessel in the world’ for the 13th consecutive year and therefore the pressure was on to deliver the trees onto the vessel during its port call in Cape Town. Due to the fact that other European air carriers could not move this delicate cargo, we asked our partners at Southampton Freight Services if they could assist. The rest, as they say, is history.”

Ross Negus, managing director of Southampton Freight Services adds, “When Carsten put the call in and expressed the delicate nature of this shipment, we knew there was only one airline that could offer the flexibility required. Our close relationship with Virgin Atlantic helped secure the business and we’re delighted to have been part of this exciting project.”

Thanks to the efforts of cargo agent Southampton Freight and Virgin Atlantic, the beautiful tree, together with 15 smaller trees, arrived safely and on-time to board the cruise vessel before it set sail for a five-star Christmas at sea for the ship’s 400 guests.

Nick Jones, head of sales at Virgin Atlantic Cargo, said, “It may sound like a long journey for a Christmas tree but MS Europa clearly wanted to give their passengers the ultimate customer experience and that’s a philosophy we share at Virgin Atlantic.”

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