The Europa 2-even the name exudes luxury, style, and quite a Eurocentric flair to life that I have come to learn and love on my eight night sailing to the beautiful Mediterranean. The cost-incredibly expensive, but the experience-unmatched.
The catalogues and call-back service was phenomenal, as well as the website being easy to navigate, although at times a bit outdated, and while the general vaccination, immigration, and visa requirements were clearly listed, it was a while before I realised the sentence "these notices and requirements only apply to citizens of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland." Still, this is a German cruise liner, and it's honestly surprising they even attempted to embrace the outside world at all-unlike the stuffier Europa.
Included cancellation fee and bankruptcy insurance was nice, but as always the terms were very strict. I opted to not.
Because it was clearly impossible for Hapag-Lloyd to arrange travel to a country outside of Germany on an "international cruise ship", it was necessary for me to find travel arrangements myself-sigh.Embarkation commenced sharp at 16:00, ending 18:00, but it was very swift and once onboard we enjoyed the happy reception staff with welcome champagne.
A TOUR OF THE SHIP
The whole ship is all about relaxed luxury, with spaciousness and natural light in a contemporary style while its exterior is sleek. The details are fantastic from indented handrails in the main stairways to leather-covered tissue boxes to polished teak handrails on all balconies. I think I look at handrails too much, eh?
A two-level pool deck is fantastic, with a 49 feet rectangular heated pool and a large sliding glass roof to cover if needed, but the summer Mediterranean meant we never had much of an opportunity to see it in action. Balinese sleep beds were extremely cosy, as we would be lucky to find out multiple times, alongside sun beds, drink tables, bar and food bar (of which Hapag-Lloyd loves to brag about its afternoon waffles), and a retractable movie screen.
It simply is beautiful, contemporary, and high-quality at every turn, with museum-quality art collections, and after a retouch in 2018, everything is super chic and modern. The atrium has grey, black, and chrome with armchair-style seating and the Piano Bar, with a specially commissioned grey Steinway next to the reception desk, in case the nice lady working there wanted a cocktail, because don't we all? A glass viewing wall provides multi-deck natural light, before you walk to a Wempe jewelry and boutique. I, of course, not having a net worth of $10 million, didn't go in except to buy a beautiful Cap'n Knopf. He inhabits our house now.
This is just, a benchmark in cruising and exudes discreet quality at every tun with impressive diversity, flowers everywhere, even, and just in case you thought this wasn't luxurious enough, a caviar night each cruise. A caviar night.
After a long day exploring the beautiful beaches of Europa, head down to the Europa 2 bars and lounges, with Collins, a cigar smoking Cuban beer bar, Sansibar, with indoor-outdoor seating and an a la carte menu with tapas-style nibbles and special wines, Club 2, THE place for comedy and cabaret, the aforementioned piano bar, Belvedere, which also houses the library, the aforementioned waffle-stuffed pool bar, and Grande Reserve, which is just fine wine and weddings. I had neither.
The Europa 2 has more dining venues than its sister ship and, in relation to its relaxed comfortable luxury, no set mealtimes. And the food is simply spectacular. Absolutely amazing. Fancy China and glassware, impressive amounts of cutlery, unusually plentiful tables of four, and each restaurant's detailed individuality, and of course, the food itself.
Weltmeere is the flagship restaurant, and for good reason; an international menu changing daily. Elements serves everything from Indian to Vietnamese to not-so-traditional Chinese dishes, with the aroma of lemongrass, seafood, and lime prevailing. I forgive them this time, but their "Chinese" dishes were often anything but. Sakura I did not get to experience as it packed quick, but Serenissima was my go-to-spot for lunch, with everything from open lasagne to steamed lobster and the chandeliers were stunning. Finally, the French bistro Tarragon, with its famous meal beef tartare made at table, and boy did it live up to expectations, while the Yacht Club Buffet allowed me to experience fine cuisine and a panoramic ocean view.
MY SUITE, AND THEY'RE ALL SUITES
All the "cabins" in the Europa 2 are rightfully called suites, and each with a veranda! I chose the aptly-named Veranda Suite, as it was the cheapest, but it doesn't feel that way, certainly. 376 square feet with a walk-in wardrobe, exclusive living area with a chaise lounge, a bathtub and separate shower, free minibar stocked with beer and soft drinks, a writing/vanity desk, and door-touch keycard holder.
All also have a Nespresso coffee machine and coffees, quiet-close storage trays, and integrated infotainment system as well as one free hour of Internet a day. The layout is well-designed and practical and the overall decor is relaxing and elegant.
The Theatre, a two-level showlounge with LED lighting and a thrust stage is prepared for by the company's own production team and is mostly visual, much to my English-speaking-minority delight. Club 2 also was the go-to place for parties and discussion or the Piano Bar if you're feeling classical.
Knopf Club, Kid's Club, Teen's Club. Everything was cool.
Superb, a centre of serenity and calm, with everything from a beauty salon to three dry saunas to two GOLF SIMULATORS-WHAT?!
Needless to say most everything cost extra but what're you gonna expect, right?
In a word, yes.
Quick, to my chagrin, but relaxed, much to my pleasure.
Amazing, all in all.