Jill Sayles went on board Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2 for a trip around the Mediterranean to check it out for the UK market
Preparing for my trip, I’d only heard positive comments about the EUROPA 2. However, when selling luxury cruises, Hapag Lloyd’s ship may not be on the UK travel agents’ radar, given that it’s a German company predominantly selling to that market, with only a small representation in the UK. Mike Flanagan manages the company’s UK sales and Michael Steffl its international sales. I went on board to get the lowdown on whether it really is a good sell for the UK client.
The EUROPA 2 is a modern and casual 5-star-plus luxury ship, which does away with cruise traditions such as the captain’s dinner and timed dining.
With a maximum 516 guests, it claims to have the greatest space per passenger on a cruise ship in the world.
The majority of staff are German who all spoke a high standard of English during my stay. Announcements were kept to a minimum and were in German and English.
My Ocean Suite was comfortable and spacious with a generously-sized veranda and it featured a whirlpool bath. A large window from the bathroom offered lots of light and views through the living area to the ocean.
All suites have Champagne and fruit as a welcome gift, a minibar with soft drinks, beer and water (refilled every day), Nespresso machine, TV flatscreen and tablet computer, plus 150 classic and recent film releases.
The model is that there are no official gala evenings or captain’s dinners, plus no ties. All restaurants are included in the price and 50 per cent of the tables are for two people only. You can eat wherever you want – booking in advance is only required at Tarragon and Serenissima restaurants – and you can stay at table the whole evening. I found this a welcome change.
The restaurants are as follows: the Restaurant Weltmeere serving modern classics; Tarragon has a French ‘savoir – vivre’ menu ; Serenissima cooks up Italian specialities; the Elements restaurant offers Asian food; the Sakura sushi Japanese; the Yacht Club offers al fresco dining and serves grilled dishes and a BBQ; the Grande Reserve serves a good number of high-quality wines.
I tried all the restaurants and the food throughout was of a high standard. I particularly enjoyed breakfasts and the grill/BBQ offerings at the Yacht Club, as well as the excellent Italian food and accompanying Italian wine at Serrenissima.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner are all included.
The bars include Sansibar which was remodelled one year ago, located aft on deck 8 with an indoor and outdoor space. This bar was my favourite due to its relaxed atmosphere and contemporary feel.
There’s also a Piano Bar, a Jazz Club, the Herrenzimmer (with the largest collection of gin at sea), the Belvedere, and a Pool Bar. As a general rule, drinks are not included other than in your suite.
There are 8 treatment rooms at the Personal Spa with treatments such as the Thalgo “Hydra Performance” Repair Treatment – 60 minutes, €103 – or the Thalgo OceaMask – Divine Pampering for Him – 50 mins, €85.
For further relaxation, there’s also the whirlpool, an outside area and a large sauna and hairdresser.
The 210msq fitness studio has a gym and group training sessions. There are two golf simulators and two PGA golf professionals on board for lessons and golf excursions if required.
A refreshing change was the fact that there were hardly any in-suite announcements or gatherings to discuss the next day’s activities. A daily programme is delivered to your suite each evening from which you can get all the information you need.
A two-storey theatre has an LED screen with modern stage technology. I watched an interesting cabaret show with acts explained in English, German and French.
There’s also an auditorium with a 3D cinema, a Jazz club, a DJ at the Sansibar and a captain’s welcome evening.
Elsewhere there’s a jewellers and boutique shop offering popular luxury brands, an art gallery and a library. The ship also has the only Miele-approved culinary school at sea. Wifi is at an extra cost.
SUN DECKS & POOLS
The ship has plenty of space to enjoy the sunshine on its two sun decks. The Promenade Deck 9 has a 15-metre pool and retractable roof. There’s a jacuzzi on deck 11. Relaxing on a double sunbed at the stern of the ship while sailing or enjoying the views when in port was a favourite pastime of mine as well as swimming in the main pool.
Children are welcome on board and facilities include various clubs for them. Children up to 11 years old cruise free and there’s a designated kid’s pool hour each day, plus special excursions and a kids’ buffet. There were only a few families with children on board during my stay and I found having the special pool hour worked well.
My trip was from Athens, Greece, to Civitavecchia port, Rome, Italy with stops on the way including Santorini and Zakynthos, Greece; Catania and Palermo, Siciliy. All tenders were regular and a private transfer to Rome from just outside the cruise terminal was comfortable.
It is a cruise that definitely suits the UK market. There are no language or cultural barriers. It’s also ideal for the younger cruiser because of its contemporary, modern, laid-back vibe, while also appealing to multi-generational families or couples wanting luxury with no unnecessary interruptions.
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- As well as targeting regular ultra-luxury cruisers, also consider clients who enjoy a 5 star plus land holiday/island-based experience.
- EUROPA 2 is excellent for families – family apartments, professional care, kids’ clubs, family excursions. Children under 11 years travel free (when sharing with parents/guardians)
- EUROPA 2 is a casually elegant cruise experience. No formal nights, no fixed dining times, and gentlemen are not required to wear a tie.
- EUROPA 2 has more space per passenger than any other ship resulting in no queues, no overcrowding, and quick disembarkations and embarkations.
SAMPLE ITINERARY: EUX1711 (7 nights) departing Limassol/Cyprus on May 27, 2017 sailing to Piraeus, featuring Santorini – from £3,050 per person cruise-only +49 4030703070 (English-speaking reservations) www.hl-cruises.com