Europa 2 may be the world’s best cruise ship. The 2017 edition of the ‘Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships’ guide lists Europa 2, with its sister Europa, as the only 5-stars-plus cruise ships worldwide.
Europa 2 visited Sydney recently, docking in White Bay rather than at the Overseas Passenger Terminal. Travel agents and media gained the chance to go aboard, look around and explore the facilities.
The ship exemplifies understated luxury – nothing loud or flash, just superb taste throughout. If you like casinos at sea, Europa 2 is not for you.
There are many distinctive aspects. A golf pro sails aboard at all times; you never know when passengers need a tip or two. A tablet PC is placed in each cabin; and the cabins are suites, with espresso coffee available in every one and drinks flowing free.
Obviously, sailing on Europa 2 does not come cheap, but that doesn’t mean prices are prohibitive, or that elderly passengers predominate. Families and children are catered for as well, with all sorts of special touches for kids.
The ship is highly popular with wealthy families, confirms onboard international hostess Jessica Stobaugh, as it offers true family apartments, even a private dining room for children.
“Our last cruise was a Christmas cruise and it had about 40 children aboard,” Stobaugh comments. The Knopf Club caters for kids aged 2-3, Kids’ Club for ages 4-10, Teens’ Club for ages 11-15. Children under 12 cruise free when sharing with full-paying adult.
The price need not be too huge. Australians who look around might find it possible to buy a 13-night cruise aboard Europa 2 from Hamburg to Lisbon from about EUR 6000 per person.
Europa 2 is is owned and operated by Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and was built in 2013 at Saint-Nazaire in France. The ship in a nutshell: 225 metres long, about 500 passengers in 251 cabins with a crew of 370.
Both German and English are official languages aboard and most crewmembers speak English, which imparts an international flavour without the problems caused by having to translate.
During the 2017-2018 season, Europa 2 will call at 22 maiden ports including Port Canaveral, Messina, Puerto Chacabuco and Stanley in the Falkland Islands. This year, the ship’s director of sports and fitness, three-time German Olympic champion Maria Höfl-Riesch, will offer special fitness classes.
All 244 suites have verandahs and flat screen TVs. Décor is light, elegant and minimalist, with special touches like silver leaf ceilings. There are complimentary butlers, Champagne is excellent, drinks are free and unlimited in suite minibars, and restaurant food is superb.
The largest restaurant is Weltmeere, located at the stern of ship. Elements serves Asian cuisine; Tarragon serves French food and Serenissima offers authentic Italian dishes. Yacht Club Restaurant is another option. Then there’s Sushi Restaurant Sakura and, for special occasions and at a fee, Speisezimmer. All up, there are eight restaurants and six bars. All that on a ship carrying just 500 passengers.
What about stowaways? Cruise director David Wilms says that he knows of only one instance – a local who came aboard in Greenland and was so impressed with the surroundings he decided not to leave. It didn’t take long to spot him, however and his stay was short-lived.
Written by Peter Needham