Knowing that the Hapag-Lloyd Europa 2 had been given a five-star-plus rating in the Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2018 guide – along with sister ship the Europa, the only vessel to receive this honour – made me even more excited to board my four-night cruise.
Our voyage left Hamburg as part of Cruise Days 2017 - the largest cruise festival in the world. We were part of a parade of six cruise ships which was seen off by a crowd of thousands of people and a fabulous fireworks display; what a start to my adventure!
As soon as I arrived onboard I was taken aback by the palatial feeling of the ship. Although this is a small ship carrying a maximum of just 500 passengers, there’s a real sense of understated elegance and luxury. Wide open spaces, high ceilings and rooms decorated in soft palettes with lots of fresh flowers and beautiful artwork make the entire ship feel extremely spacious.
All cabins onboard are suites; mine was a lovely Veranda Suite, which had the best storage and most spacious bathroom I’ve ever had on a cruise. Relaxing in my Jacuzzi bath with a view out over the ocean was amazing, and nothing in the suite had been overlooked – I was welcomed with champagne and fresh fruit, the bathroom had an excellent selection of toiletries, the mini-bar was restocked daily with complimentary soft drinks, and turndown service each evening included sweets or dried fruit!
Unsurprisingly, for one of the finest ships in the world, the food on the Europa 2 is sublime, and there’s a huge selection. During my stay I managed to sample all the restaurants, and each featured delicious food, attentive service and exceptional presentation. As if there isn’t enough to eat during mealtimes, there’s always plenty of snacking options onboard too – whether it be ice cream on the pool deck or the tempting selection of cakes during afternoon tea!
Although the ship is very luxurious, there isn’t a strict dress code onboard; the ship is described by Hapag-Lloyd as “Twenty-one-knots. And no tie”. Throughout the voyage, guests receive extremely friendly service from staff and crew, and although this isn’t an all-inclusive cruise, there is a wide variety of inclusions – from drinks during concerts to the ice creams on deck.
During our stop in Amsterdam I took part in a fascinating walking tour and a wonderful Tuk Tuk ride, but to be honest I was always very pleased to return to the ship – it really did feel like home! Aside from venturing to the shore for excursions, there’s lots to do on the Europa 2, including an award-winning spa and a golf simulator and onboard golf pro! There are also plenty of places to relax onboard – I particularly enjoyed spending time on the beautiful pool deck and listening to the soft piano music in the bar whilst sipping a cocktail. Speaking of cocktails, I would highly recommend the Gingeringa; the ship boasts an impressive collection of over 30 gins, and guests can take part in gin or champagne tasting sessions.
During the day, the ship is very calm and extremely tranquil – it seems impossible to imagine that there are 500 other guests onboard! But in the evening the Sansibar lounge really comes alive with music, laughter and dancing; there’s also an outdoor space towards the back of the ship. This is a perfect place for guests of all ages to relax and unwind, and it was certainly a favourite venue among our group.
While onboard I learnt about the new Expedition ships coming along soon – these look just as fantastic as the Europa 2, continuing the ultra-luxe theme. Just before finishing my amazing cruise adventure, I was able to meet Captain Ulf Wolter. He explained that following our disembarkation the Europa 2 was going into dry dock for an upgrade. I have to admit, I can’t imagine how this magnificent ship can be improved!
If you’d like to embark upon the voyage of a lifetime on the Europa 2, give our Travel Specialists a call or make an enquiry here!