One of our Cruise Experts, Debbie Stevens, recently joined Hapag-Lloyd’s MS EUROPA 2 for a 4-night voyage from Southampton to Lisbon. In our blog today, she shares with us her first experience of this six-star luxury ship.
Having pulled into Southampton I saw EUROPA 2 for the first time and was struck by how clean she looked set against the light blue skies of the south coast. I’ve been lucky enough to travel on a few of the world’s most luxurious ships and the feeling of excitement when seeing them for the first time is something that will never leave me.
The ship’s reception was the first public space I observed. It was incredibly spacious and offered a decor that effortlessly mixed tranquil fabrics and impressive art sculptures. I was offered a cool glass of Pinot Grigio while being serenading by the ship’s pianist before making my way towards my suite.
I had been allocated an Ocean View Veranda Suite for my trip and it proved to be everything I could possibly have expected. Every bit of space is maximised – even down to a large pop-out 3-dimensional mirror hidden between two push latches!
In terms of amenities, my suite had everything that you expect on a luxury cruise ship. I had a mini-bar stocked with beer, soft-drinks and champagne and this was replenished daily (not the champagne part unfortunately). I was also given a complimentary iPad for the duration of my trip which came in very handy for researching ports and keeping in touch with loved ones back home. As is the case with many of the major cruise lines, WiFi is available throughout most of the ship, but it can be quite costly if you are a habitual browser.
The colour scheme used in my suite was in-keeping with the ship’s public spaces, while every piece of furniture was equipped with soft closing doors. My bathroom was rather plush and I was extremely impressed with the inclusion of an all-singing, all-dancing jacuzzi bath!
I should also mention that my suite was quite close to the elevators – but I am happy to report that the noise was minimal, even when the night was in full swing and fellow guests were returning from the bars and nightspots.ll.
The crew aboard MS EUROPA 2 are mainly German/Eastern European and all speak extremely good English. I liked the fact that the staff were not over powering, they were there to look after you, but not to get in your way. Nothing was pushed upon you, like it can be on larger vessels. Sometimes you always feel like they are trying to sell you something, but I never experienced this once on EUROPA 2.
One thing that did grab my attention onboard were the amazing pieces of artwork. I am told that EUROPA 2 is home to some 890 different pieces of art, including a few from the famous Damien Hurst. There is always at least one artist onboard and they are more than happy to talk to you about any of the different pieces around the ship. It was a great way to learn more about the wonderful world of art.
Every daily program (EUROPA 2’s daily digest of what is happening onboard) is in English as well as German and there are relatively few bi-lingual announcements, which was a relief! There was no one telling you that bingo is due to start in five minutes followed by the belly flop competition at the pool side. It was a far more luxurious affair onboard, but mixed with a casual laid-back feel.
Entertainment was by dance troop “Earth” and I have to say I enjoyed 3 consecutive nights of some of the best Tango dancers and acrobats I have ever seen, not only at sea but in any show in London. The sound was fabulous and the dancers were incredible! Following every show I would make my way to my favourite place onboard, the Sansibar.
EUROPA 2’s main restaurant is the Weltmeere and is open dining with a large selection of tables for two. Very theatrical in its décor and ambience, it is the ideal place to enjoy a fine meal after a wonderful day ashore exploring. There is also a private dining area for 12 people in the Speisezimmer. Here you are offered a delicious 4 course meal at an additional charge of roughly 80-100 Euros per person.
EUROPA 2 offers guests several Restaurants: The Tarragon, French Orientated cuisine; The Serenissima, Italian cuisine; Weltmeere, the main dining room; Speisezimmer, the special private restaurant; Sakura, Sushi cuisine and the Yacht Club restaurant, which offers informal dining al-fresco. Wine connoisseurs can also enjoy the Grand Reserve, a private wine tasting for up to 12-guests.
The food onboard was very good, but they also catered very well for guests with dietary requirements. I have to have a gluten free diet and every morning I would find gluten free bread to accompany the delicious smoothie that was made especially for me from almonds, milk and fresh berries. It was the little things like this that truly showed what a cruise aboard EUROPA 2 is all about – the guest!
EUROPA 2 also has a kids club onboard. The Knopf Club, for two to three year olds, The Kids Club for four to ten year olds and The Teens Club for eleven to fifteen year olds. There are also childcare services options available, but these do incur additional charges.
Deck 5 is where the fitness centre and sports and golf simulators can be found. I am a gym fanatic and have to say found the gym to be extremely well equipped with some of the most up to date sports treatments available as well as personal training. The Spa is a most pleasant and tranquil area with complimentary mint and herbal waters. Just don your robe and off you go into the land of luxurious relaxation and pamper treatments.
Overall my experience aboard EUROPA 2 was a positive one. I was impressed with the level of service onboard, the facilities and the little touches here and there that really did make the biggest difference.
If ultra-luxury is what you are looking for then look no further than Hapag-Lloyd and EUROPA 2.
If you would like more information regarding MS EUROPA 2 please visit click here to visit Hapag Lloyd Cruises UK. Alternatively, please call 0800 542 0858 or send us an email.