MS Europa 2 Review
Ian Warren – 06-05-2013 – Hapag-Lloyd - MS Europa 2
I was fortunate to be given a place onboard Hapag-Lloyd‘s new luxury ship MS Europa 2, for the overnight cruise on 6th May 2013, which was part of her launch celebrations. We left Southampton late afternoon on the Monday for a cruise in the English Channel, returning to Southampton late afternoon on Tuesday.
Ship Facts & Figures – Europa 2 is 40,000 tonnes, has 7 passenger decks and all grades of passenger accommodation have a veranda. She will carry a maximum of just 516 passengers, with 370 members of crew to look after them. Europa 2 is the first Hapag-Lloyd cruise ship where both English and German are the official languages spoken onboard for every departure, giving an international cruise experience.
Dining Options – There are a large number of seats in each restaurant, but there are no set seating plans or set dinner sittings, so can eat wherever or whenever you want to.
The largest venue onboard is the Restaurant Weltmeere, situated at the stern of the ship, serving food of the highest level, under the direction of Executive Chef Stefan Wilke. Other venues include Restaurant Tarragon, serving French orientated cuisine, Restaurant Elements, where you can enjoy Asian cuisines, including traditional Chinese dishes, and Restaurant Serenissima serving authentic Italian fare, from antipasti to espresso.
The Yacht Club Restaurant offers a mix of dishes prepared specially for you by the chefs, and items you can choose from the extensive buffet. Alternatively you might like to try the Sushi Restaurant Sakura.
For an additional charge it is possible to reserve Speisezimmer for a private function to celebrate a special occasion, or to dine with friends and family.
There is no fixed dress code on Europa 2, but smart casual is recommended for the evenings onboard. For gentlemen a jacket or summer suit would be appropriate, but a tie is not compulsory.
I found that the standard of the food, and the service we received, was exceptionally good.
Onboard Facilities – There is a good sized swimming pool, in an area with enough comfortable sun-loungers for every passenger. In the event of bad weather, then a retractable glass roof covers the entire pool area. The Ocean Spa is substantial in size and offers a comprehensive menu of treatments from professional beauticians, physiotherapists, medical masseuses and pedicurists, and there is also a separate area for the hairdresser.
There are two golf simulators onboard, offering a selection of the top golf courses in the world. There will be a PGA professional on all cruises, and packages to play different courses in the ports of call are available to purchase.
Other facilities include a fitness area, boutique, library, auditorium / 3D cinema, and a Culinary School (there is a charge for this). Any children onboard are well catered for, with the Knopf Club (ages 2 – 3), Kids’ Club (ages 4 – 10) and the Teens’ Club (ages 11 – 15). It is worth noting that children up to the age of 11 can travel free when sharing with full-paying adults, and those aged 12 – 15 pay just £39 per night, when sharing with full-paying adults.
Accommodation – There are 244 suites ranging in size from the veranda suites (301sq ft + a 75sq ft veranda), up to the owner’s suite, which is 1,066sq ft + a 161sq ft veranda). In addition there are 7 family apartments, which are each made up of 2 x 215sq ft living areas, and 2 x 75sq ft verandas.
Whichever grade you choose you will be pleased with the attention to detail which went into furnishing them all, whether it is the silk hangers for delicate fabrics, or the Nespresso machine for your first coffee of the day. All suites have a veranda, a flat screen TV, tablet PC and portable telephone. As well as a bottle of champagne upon arrival in your suite, you will also have a free mini bar stocked with beer and soft drinks. In the Grand Suite and above, the mini bar will also contain a selection of high-quality spirits, and you will also benefit from the service of a butler.
Entertainment – The Theatre is the venue for spectacular shows, and guest artists, as well as performances from the ship’s own band. We saw a preview of their brand new show ‘Water’ and it was amazing. Then you have the Jazz Club, the 3D cinema, and a selection of bars to choose from. These include the Herrenzimmer, for those who love peace and quiet, the Sansibar which is open from morning until late at night. During the day you can have a drink and snacks, and it is then the venue for some late night dancing to the music played by the DJ. You can also choose the pool bar, the piano bar, or Belvedere.
What is Included? – Hapag-Lloyd cruises are generally sold on a ‘cruise only’ basis, although from time to time there are some packages offered with flights from London. The price paid includes a welcome cocktail, full board during your cruise, including all meals and snacks during the day, a mini bar in your suite with soft drinks and beer, and gratuities. Also your entertainment and use of the fitness area, golf simulators etc are included.
Summary – This was my first time on a Hapag-Lloyd ship, and I must say that I was very impressed. She has a lot to live up to, following in the footsteps of the highly acclaimed MS Europa which, according to The Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships, is the World’s highest rated cruise ship, but I don’t see any reason why she can’t.
No other cruise ship has more space per passenger, so you will never feel crowded. If you generally cruise on luxury ships, and enjoy a casually elegant onboard lifestyle, or you are considering one for a special occasion, you shouldn’t be disappointed with the experience on the MS Europa 2.