Your client wants peace, a ship with space with no crowds
Your client loves contemporary, chic and light-filled surroundings
Your client requires fine dining without the fuss of black-tie formal nights
Your client will only accept a suite with a spacious balcony
Your client expects the best pool, fitness and spa facilities
Your client wants access to smart technology in their suite
By Lesley Bellew
Eureka! Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ EUROPA 2 has thrown the cruise rule-book out to sea to redefine luxury cruising. More and more, discerning guests expect space, privacy, stylish but not ostentatious accommodation, flexible fine dining and the ultimate in personal service so it is no wonder EUROPA 2 has been awarded five stars-plus by the Berlitz Cruise Guide 2016 for the third year running.
Well-heeled British guests are now being invited onto this German ship and there is every reason to jump on board the thoughtfully designed 500-passenger vessel with 371 crew. Most passengers are German-speaking but Hapag-Lloyd is now preparing to welcome a broader mix of nationalities, particularly the British, Scandinavians, Dutch and Belgians. All of the crew are bilingual and the minimal captain’s calls are in German and English.
EUROPA 2 is one of the best ships afloat and offers more square feet per guest than any other cruise ship of its size. All 251 suites have a balcony and even the entry level suites are twice as big as the usual offering -, 35-square metres complete with a sofa, coffee table, desk, top-quality beds and bedding, walk-in wardrobe, separate bath and walk-in shower.
There is also a flat-screen TV with access to 150 films and a floor-ceiling cabinet housing a Nespresso machine andneatly-stacked glasses, drip mats, cutlery and crockery – so no rattling! Nothing is forgotten, from beach towels to a beach bag, a shoe horn and even a cloth to clean sun-glasses.
Gratuities are included and so is champagne and fruit on arrival, the minibar with soft drinks that is replenished daily and 24-hour room service with a butler in the higher-level suites. Each suite has internet access plus a Tablet PC and better still, cordless phones so if one guest is not sure where their partner is they can call – much better than scribbled messages ‘I’ve gone to the bar’.
The 114-square metre Owner Suites are uber-chic with original Damien Hirst artwork on the walls, cream wool carpets, a leather Eames lounge chair and footstool, a 15-square metre veranda and a bathroom with whirlpool plus daybed for the ultimate ocean views.
Some 890 pieces of artwork are displayed throughout the ship which complement the clean lines and contemporary Scandi-style furnishings. Light pours in through the doubledeck glass windows and glass-sided lifts so wherever a guest is on the ship it is impossible to forget they are at sea.
Dining is an exceptional experience with no assigned seating or set mealtimes. Guests are therefore not obliged to sit with other passengers if they prefer their own company. The breakfast buffet offers so much choice that guests could be there all day wading through the menu and there is an option to eat inside or outside the Yacht Club restaurant.
There is no extra charge to dine in any of the seven gourmet restaurants but it is best to book, especially for the French restaurant Tarragon, where impeccable service is matched by the finest ingredients. There is a sushi restaurant, an Italian and Asian restaurant to taste-test plus six bars.
ENTERTAINMENT & EXCUSIONS
On every cruise, when the weather’s good there’s a pool party and when the weather’s bad there’s a pool party because those clever designers thought of everything including a retractable roof over the pool area.
Dancing can continue in Sansibar, a nightclub where guests can spill out onto the aft deck to cool down in the sea breeze.
There’s a Jazz Club decked out in vibrant magenta, quite different from anywhere else on the ship and a gentleman’s club where gin-tasting and wine-tasting goes down a treat. The Belvedere Lounge is all cream décor and loveliness, doubling as a restful place for afternoon tea accompanied by a pianist or a lively nightspot in the evenings.
For showtime entertainment, international guest artists and musicians grace the double-height theatre with two performances a night.
Excursions are also a major feature of EUROPA 2’s enrichment programme offering a vast choice of tours from helicopter and speedboat rides to cultural and family-themed tours.
WELLNESS AND SPORT
An oasis of gleaming glass and white walls signals the vast wellness centre. It features eight treatment rooms, three saunas and one steam sauna, Thalasso therapy in the Ocean Spa. Guests requiring privacy can book a Personal Spa which has two massage beds, treatment area, a whirlpool and sauna.
The outdoor pool is one of the longest at sea and there are loungers and funky cabanas for the ultimate in relaxation. The fitness studio is equipped with rows of state-of-the-art machines and a personal trainer can assist guests who require advice or motivation.
An on board bike guide takes guests on mountain bike excursions or there are city bikes which are available on a complimentary basis for independent use. A PGA golf pro is always on board to help guests with their technique via video analysis on the golf simulator and accompanies golfers to various top courses during ports of call on golf-themed cruises.
CHILDREN TRAVEL FREE
Children up to and including 11 years travel free if they are accompanied by their parents or two adults while youngsters from 12 to 15 years travel for £39 a night if they stay in the same cabin as their guardians.
Julian Pfitzner, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ director of product management said: “It is unusual for a luxury ship butEuropa 2 is very family-friendly place with eight family apartments on board.” 2016 will feature 14 selected family cruises and Europa 2 offers comprehensive childcare with facilities for three age groups – 2 to 3, 4 to 11 and 12 to 5 years and there is even a snuggly lounge arranged by the famous German-made teddy bear maker Stieff. Captain Knopf, the mascot on family cruises, is also a Stieff bear.
The 4 to 11 year-olds’ club has a library, research lab, theatre, climbing wall and all the PlayStation and Nintendo Wii’s any child could want. Treasure hunts and other activities are also arranged.
For teens there is table football, a chill out area, iPod chairs, PCs with internet access and sample trips to the spa. Special family day trips ashore are also arranged. Children can also hone their pizzamaking skills with a special visit to the adults’ cookery school which is equipped with Miele appliances.
This summer there will number of incentives to attract bookings from the UK including a 50 per cent off offer for second guests. International guests also benefit from a beverage credit of up to £140, depending on the length of the cruise.
Itineraries include sailings in the Western and East Mediterranean; from Singapore to Mumbai; a Dubai roundtrip along the Arabian peninsula and a Caribbean cruise including a call to Havana, in Cuba. Visit europa2-summer-specials.com where the relevant cruises are presented in a story format.