My wife and I are both in our 60s, have taken 30+ cruises on most mainstream lines and some premium/luxury lines, live in New York City and this was our first trip on a European Line.
This is a German ship, owned by a German company that caters to German passengers. The first language of the ship is German however most signage is also in English, the daily program is translated into English along with any other documents delivered to your room. The crew you will deal with are all from Germany and Austria and speak English to some degree. They will greet you in German but switch when they see you speak English. The Officers are German. All announcements are in English and German. The currency onboard is the Euro.
The ship is really beautiful, laid out very well and built and furnished with very high quality material. It does not feel like a cruise ship but rather a contemporary hotel. The space is really amazing for a ship, never a line, always a seat where and when you want it, no chair hogs by the pool or seat savers in the show lounge. The pool area is really great with a monster pool and two decks of lounge chairs all covered with a retractable dome. Show lounge is also great, two stories with seats around small tables and a good size state of the art stage.
Boarding time for all is 16:00 as they want the whole ship ready to go for the new passengers. In NYC the ship personal had the check in counter on the pier, the pier is fixed up like a lounge and you can have cocktails as you check in and chat with you fellow new friends at a table if you like. They send you your ship ID card ahead of time so all you do is get your picture taken, passport checked and board. The crew is there to take your carry on and guide you to your cabin. Our luggage was already there. Wine on ice and snacks waiting. Best boarding process I have ever seen.
We started out with a standard cabin on deck 6 aft. Very large with a large veranda. Very clean, in great shape and very functional. Walk in closed with lots of hangers and storage. Easy place to hand out in. Bed is great, just like home and made so luggage all fits under it. I do not think it can be made into two twins. We had a small issue a few days into the trip. I was amazed how easy it was to talk to all levels of management on the ship. No endless days of stalling by the front desk. All was resolved in a few hours and for our trouble we were moved to a suite on deck ten. Same décor as the other cabin except a lot bigger with sitting area, two bath etc.. Had a butler also. If you check Hapag-Lloyds web site the room pictures and descriptions are very accurate. Best room I ever had on both decks and never had a problem addressed so seamlessly.
Food is geared toward the German palate. You can see only the best ingredients are used. There are 4 specialty restaurants, a main dinning room and a buffet. The specialty restaurants require a reservation which can only be made onboard. On the first night the Restaurant Manger found us and made all of them for us and sent a letter to our room to confirm. Very easy. You can go as often as you want with no charge. All of them except the sushi bar are open for lunch with no reservation required. The main restaurant is open sitting and open for breakfast and dinner with a different menu each day. Plenty of tables for two, four and six. The Buffet is open for all three meals with late day service at the grill. Both indoor and outdoor sitting. Service in all the restaurants is excellent, a white glove affair. All food came hot and cooked to perfection. Services work in teams so food is served course by course to all people at the table at the same time. The Main Dinning Room will do special orders with a days notice. All restaurants are designed for one sitting so there is no table turning. Your specialty reservations are for the night, arrive when you want. Dinner time is 19:00 to 21:30.
This is the part that was a little disappointing for me. There really are none compared to a North American Line. What they have are some daily fitness classes, a lecture in English on some days, a show at 10pm in the lounge 4 or 5 times and music in the different bars and jazz clubs at night. On this trip they had a “Christmas Market” and a beach party also. During the day, even sea days, the ship seemed dead. I would of liked some music by the pool at least. I asked about it and was told this is how Germans like it. There are also no announcements except a report by the captain once a day. I have to say when they do something it is really top shelf. For the beach party they had tables set with silver and china from the ship and endless drinks. Great food almost like transporting the buffet to the beach for the day.
Tips are not expected, encouraged or added to anything. You can give them if you want however they had two events where all the money you spent went to the crew fund. I like this better than the system on North American Ships.
Very easy, no lines or mass hysteria. You got a colored tag for your bags, it was called and you left. The Captain and offers were at the gangway saying goodbye.
Would I go again?:
I really do not know. This was like taking a vacation in Germany however it was moving around the Caribbean. As a side note the info on the Europa 2 web site along with the pictures is very accurate.