I’m putting up this review almost 11 months after our first cruise on Europa 2, as I noticed recent reviews are sparse. In part, that’s probably because the ship gets booked up so far ahead by the German market that very few non-Germans manage to get cabins. Since our Venice to Mallorca cruise on Europa 2, we’ve done another one on Seabourn Odyssey and one on Crystal Serenity, both good but which make us realise we love Europa 2 even more. We’re now booked to go again next year.
Here are the pros and the cons:
The ship is incredibly spacious, beautifully designed, has high ceiling heights, modern art and is taken into dry dock to refresh every two years. Design is Northern European and fresh, light and modern rather than the standard US ‘country club’ vibe. It feels like a top end 5 star+ designer luxury hotel at sea where every little thing flows and works together. By contrast Crystal Serenity seems like a half-refurbished 4 star hotel and Seabourn Odyssey like a tired 5 star.
With just over 500 passengers and so much space there as never, ever, a fight for loungers or seats on outside decks.
The pool deck is excellent, with a good choice of sunshine and shade and nice parties on some evenings. Spotlessly clean and a nice deep pool for a proper swim. Bouillon with sherry is on tap from mid morning.
Food is exquisite whichever restaurant you choose. Lobster and king crab claws in the buffet restaurant, foie bras for breakfast if you fancy it in the first class Weltemeere MDR (excellent variety at dinners there). The Italian, French and Asian speciality restaurants are all superb in terms of decor and cuisine. We only found that Sansibar, the bar/nightclub on the aft deck, did lunches on our final days and really enjoyed those in a beautiful shady beach club environment.
Non-German passengers have an English-speaking hostess (we were so lucky with ours, Lisa, who was absolutely charming), but almost everything is bilingual.
The double-heighted theatre is exceptional and most shows are musical and to a very high standard.
For pipe and cigar smokers, the bar Collins (open 24 hours) is the height of sophistication.
We had a Penthouse Suite which was magnificent, modern and we were thoroughly spoiled by two amazing butlers. But next time we will go for a standard suite as these are very roomy and there are so many places you want to be on deck. It’ll be interesting to see next time if the VIP service we felt we received was due to our high suite level, the fact we weren’t German or if it’s the same level of service across the board! Cabin servicing very efficient and all spotlessly clean. Nice bespoke toiletries.
Everyone on Reception was charming. Wait staff on the whole were excellent, mainly from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and all seemed to work together well.
The captain and crew were brilliant. Frank, the hotel director, hosted a table for us with Lisa one night and was a delight. The captain, Ulf Walter, was very much present and inspired great confidence in the ship and Hapag Lloyd. I believe he is off to captain the new HL inspiration. Saddened that we hadn’t seen the volcano erupt at Stromboli one evening, he decided to go back around the island again the following night for a second, successful, view. Zodiacs were suddenly launched one day to explore caves near Capri and we were greeted by crew on another tender with Champagne.
The wine list is exceptional and pretty good value for money...Whilst alcohol must be paid for, there are often complimentary drinks and cocktails and international passengers receive an onboard credit for alcoholic beverages.
Enrichment was pretty good (in English as well as German)...it’s funny when you are the only ones to turn up to an enrichment lecture though (it’s done in English after a German one). Had an amazing lobster cookery course in their high end cookery school.
We loved the ports chosen apart from Messina in Sicily. Capri and Mahon were fabulous. Excursions well priced but not many in English.
Fellow passengers are pretty refined, classy and keep themselves to themselves. A younger crowd than on Seaboirn or Crystal.
If you aren’t German you are going to be one of a dozen or so international guests. So don’t expect to make lifelong friends or spend your cruise chatting. That’s fine by us! Hapag Lloyd markets these as international cruises but no-one has told the Germans that and they often ask (nicely, I hasten to add) why you are there!
Insufficient staff and long waits sometimes in speciality restaurants. Sakura, the Japanese Restaurant, was particularly poor in service one evening. The weekly caviar night seem to be when things fall apart.
Smoking on balconies allowed (fine by us) but this will put off many people.
Drinks (actually not even mineral water) in bars and restaurants not included. We didn’t mind as we had an OBS and the choice was terrific and the gin tasting free.
Few English excursions.
All in all, if you’re looking for a classy cruise don’t be put off by the fact you aren’t German. This was a real eye opener...they really know how to do hospitality and to enjoy themselves. We’re so pleased we are going back but worry that the second time can’t possibly be as good!
Large, airy, modern with beautiful balcony. Terrific butlers. No complaints at all other than complicated lighting.