At the beginning of the week I was invited to enjoy an overnight stay on Hapag-Lloyd Cruises new luxury cruise vessel, the hotly-anticipated MS Europa 2. In between sampling the delightful cuisine and admiring the fine architecture of this superb ship , I took some time out to jot down my initial feelings. Read my MS Europa 2 review and feel free to leave any comments or ask any questions below.
MS Europa 2 is undoubtedly the most contemporary and elegant ship to be launched in the cruise industry. Her sister ship Europa I has already been voted the No. 1 ship in the world by Berlitz Guide for the last ten years. With the launch this week of her big sister, Hapag-Lloyd have certainly raised the bar in the luxury cruise market. With a capacity of 516 guests, as opposed to 384 on Europa I, the new ship boasts the highest space ratio of any ship.
At 40,000 tonnes the ship gives a feeling of unsurpassed space, accentuated by light and openness in all directions. As with Europa I, the height of the ceilings throughout is 1 ½ decks so there is not the possible feeling of claustrophobia which you may get on other ships. Built in the St. Nazaire shipyard in France and with the highest possible degree of furnishings and fittings, the contemporary design uses pale wood throughout which again gives the feeling of space and light; it is hard to believe that a finer ship will be built in the near future. From the main reception area onwards, the ship has the ambiance of a small luxury boutique hotel.
This is truly now an international product with menus etc in both German and English and a bi-lingual crew (totalling 370). Previously MS Europa I catered almost exclusively for German clients, with a small number of bi-lingual cruises each year.
Dining on the MS Europa 2
Europa II has seven Restaurants, the main one being Weltmeere which again is bright and elegant with central light fittings made from high-end Italian hand crafted glass. The central one alone is probably worth around £100,000. All Restaurants are casual and the dress code reflects this; even at dinner, smart / casual clothing will suffice. The Yacht Club serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with outside dining available at the aft of the ship. Serenissima serves Italian food for lunch and dinner, Tarragon is their French Restaurant and Elements is a fusion restaurant. There is also a Japanese Sushi Restaurant Sakura, and Grande Reserve which can be reserved for private functions for between 8 – 12 people.
As you would expect, there are 6 good-sized bars throughout the ship; The Piano Bar and The Belvedere are open all day. The Herrenzimmer (unfortunate name) is the cigar smoking lounge / bar which feels like an old-fashioned club and one of my favourites. Incidentally, there is smoking allowed throughout most of the ship, good news for smokers. In the evening the Jazz Club and Sanzibar are the main attractions. The Sanzibar is in fact open all day and night and is a great place to relax and unwind. It also serves a late a la carte breakfast until 2 p.m. if you miss breakfast in the main Restaurants (10.30 a.m.). There is the Pool Bar for early coffee from 06:30 and full bar services from 09:00 – 18:00. In-Suite service is also available for food and beverage 24-hours per day.
All in all, Europa II will provide some of the best dining alternatives at sea.
Spa and fitness on MS Europa 2
The Ocean Spa and Fitness area are on Deck 5 and offers the highest space ratio of any Spa at sea and totals 11,000 square feet. With a wide range of treatments to choose from, including Hammam, Shiatsu, Hot-stone massage to name but three I found the treatments quite excellent. The products used are Thalgo and Dermalogica, a marvellous French brand which I had not come across before. The Spa also offers an exquisite range of Panpuri exotic products to die for! There are three Saunas of different temperatures, a steam room and two wonderful relaxation rooms where you can relax all day as the sea disappears behind the ship on the horizon.
The final word on MS Europa 2
A final word on Hapag-Lloyd – Europa II is actually the sixth ship to carry the highly traditional name. The first ‘Europa’ was launched in 1890 by its predecessor the North German Lloyd, an operator founded in 1850 by Eduard Cruesmann, who was in fact my great-great-Grandfather! Being in the cruise industry now for 20 years, I still find it amusing that my mother’s maiden name is Cruesmann! Please see below, on board Europa II, a picture of “the Cruesmann Boys” – James (the Director of Sales at The Cruise Line and also my nephew) and myself, Robin Maclear.