The embarkation at Southampton was a poor experience.
The cruise had commenced on the 23 June in Hamburg, with Southampton being the first port of call on the 25 June.
On arriving at Southampton, there were no porters or representatives of Hapag-Lloyd to assist with carrying one's cases onto the ship.
At reception, on enquiring if there was anyone to show one to one's Stateroom the response was that no-one was available.
Given the fact that the Europa 2 was only launched in 2013, it was surprising that sound insulation between Staterooms is so poor.
On one side of my Stateroom I could hear a young child crying, especially in the early hours of the morning, and on the other side two people holding a conversation.
Reception did offer to move me, but the Staterooms on offer were in a worse location on the ship.
The final, negative, surprise was that water at mealtimes was a chargeable item.
Not what one would expect of a luxury Cruise Line.
Now for the outweighing positives.
The entry level Staterooms, at 300 sq. ft., are extremely well designed, and are kept immaculate by the Stewardesses.
The Europa 2 is kept looking pristine by the staff.
The public areas are extremely elegant and spacious.
The staff are uniformly friendly, and helpful, and spoke excellent English.
The restaurants that I tried served some of the best food I have ever eaten both in terms of the quality of ingredients, and the combination of flavours.
Wines were reasonably priced, and staff, while not Sommeliers, appeared to be knowledgeable in the advice they offered.
Unfortunately, the English speaking passengers did not sign up for either English guided tours, or attend Port Lectures that were offered in English.
Hapag-Lloyd issue, with the initial documentation,very useful English language Mini Guides on the Ports of Call, as well as further information sheets throughout the cruise, which are helpful for independent sight seeing.
I signed up for several of the tours guided in German, and while they were expensive they were of very high quality, and, I thought, value for money.
The Guides were extremely good in terms of their knowledge, and presentation skills.
Especially good were the specific guided walking tours through the old parts of a City which lasted between four to four and a half hours.
Entertainment on the ship was mixture of stage shows, by the resident theatre group, which were reminiscent of 'Cirque du Soleil', and performances by artists who were brought on board at various Ports of Call.
Introductions to Shows were in both German, and English.
As expected, the majority of the passengers were German.
I found them to be very friendly, and willing to chat either in English, or if they could not speak English they were prepared to help me with my poor knowledge of German.
When I had my bad fall, and hurt my back, during an excursion, several came up to me to ask how I was, and wish me a speedy recovery.
And the Tours Office, without my even mentioning anything, cancelled the charge for the excursion as I had not completed it.
To sum up, the cruise experience on the Europa 2 was such that I would have no hesitation in booking another cruise.