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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
Recently my husband and I took a cruise on bi -lingual Europa 2 from Limassol to Dubai. Our interest was two-fold: we wanted to see Petra and transit the Suez Canal, and we wanted to experience the ship. We flew to Larnaca, Cyprus where ... Read More
Recently my husband and I took a cruise on bi -lingual Europa 2 from Limassol to Dubai. Our interest was two-fold: we wanted to see Petra and transit the Suez Canal, and we wanted to experience the ship. We flew to Larnaca, Cyprus where we rented an apartment for a few days, and then caught a cab to Limassol, our embarkation port. We arrived just before the posted embarkation time of 4PM, handed over our luggage, boarded, downed a fast glass of bubbly and went to our cabin. We were shocked (and pleased)to see that all our luggage was there — within 15 minutes of boarding. Our cabin was an entry level one. We had booked a guarantee and ended up on deck 7 in an ocean suite. This consisted of a room of 301 square feet, with a balcony of 75 square ft. I believe that about 80% of the cabins are this size. The bathroom had a tub and a separate shower (with built-in bench) and one sink. The walk-in closet had double hung bars and multiple drawers and shelves. In the cabin there was also additional storage space, a Nespresso machine, and a clever split door covering the make-up mirror, which lit up when opened. There was a complicated lighting/dimming system that required a booklet to explain — we did not attempt to learn this. Ditto with the phone system. The bed linens are top quality and changed every 3 days. Before dinner we took a stroll around the ship and were struck by how spacious it all felt. The 2 forward elevators are glass and the the elevator landings have large windows, which adds to the expansive feeling. Although the ship was not full (350 out of a possible 510), I could tell that this ship would never be crowded and there would never be jostling for deck chairs. The ship is decorated in muted shades of beige, cream and gray — quite a modern feel, yet soothing. Well, time for a pre-dinner glass of wine! And here we hit our first snag. The first bar we found was in the lobby. The is not the best location as the space is brightly lit, and offers an overly enthusiastic piano player. We wanted to sit at the bar, but found it too noisy so moved to the far side of the room. We wanted to order a bottle of wine, which we would then have had taken to our dinner table. Although we never got the full story, it seems that the only wine bottle storage is in the main dining, on deck 4. This means that a server has to physically retrieve your chosen (or partially consumed) bottle. This took a long time which is not the fault of the server but a design flaw in the ship. In fairness, I believe most Europeans have an aperitif or cocktail before dinner and this would not have been a service issue. Let’s go into dinner. We chose the main dining room, which is a stunning room with blown glass chandeliers. It was surprisingly quiet and I think that was because there are a variety of noise barriers — varying raised levels of seating and varying ceiling levels. What a pleasant evening! The next day we continued our exploration of the ship. There is a large area devoted to the beauty parlor, exercise room, steam room and massage rooms. We didn’t sample any of these. There is a library split into 2 — one side books, one side computers. Internet was not free. I was surprised at the excellent selection of English language books. There is an art gallery, complete with curator who gave tours of the extensive art collection on the ship. There is a teaching kitchen for passengers, although classes are only in German. However, Hapag-Lloyd has done a clever thing in that each voyage has an international hostess who is fluent in German and English and is available to translate in the kitchen, and anywhere else that is required. Ours was Angela Hidde, who was a gem. There is also a movie theatre where the English enrichment lectures (there were 3) were held. There are numerous bars, our favorite being the Sansibar. However, with the exception of the uninviting lobby bar, none of them had a bar and barstools — rather they were set up as cocktail lounges. So there was little chance to socialize with other passengers. Let’s talk about the food. In a word — spectacular -- from presentation to service to taste. In the morning you could eat in the partially open air Yacht Club, the main dining room, or have room service. Breakfast was similar to that of other luxury lines,but offered more cured meats, cheeses and smoked fish. One morning I asked for Eggs Benedict and was told I could not get them until 8am — I don’t know why. When the main breakfast was over you could have late riser’s breakfast in Sansibar. Then at about 11am it was time for bouillon by the pool. Lunch could be taken in the main dining room, selected specialty restaurants or the Yacht Club. We always ate at the Yacht Club since the weather was so nice. Here, I was knocked out by the selection, beginning with 8 kinds of lettuce for salad, a whole prosciutto plus other cured meats, numerous hot dishes and aterrific selection of cheeses. The Food and Beverage Manager told me they had 80kinds of cheese, and 40 kinds of fish (not counting shellfish). Then it’s waffles by the pool and/or tea in the Belvedere lounge. At dinner the specialty restaurants required reservations for the evening, but no stated time — your table was yours for the evening. The main dining room and the Yacht Club did not required reservations. The menu selections in all the restaurants was not large, but quite variedand I always found more things to order than I could possible consume. The Yacht Clubhad an amazing array of cold lobster, oysters, mussels and shrimp every evening. Next is entertainment. First — the theater. It is on 2 levels with about 2 feet between each row of swivel chairs — very comfy. We were lucky to have aboard a classical music group called Ensemble Mini who put on three shows. Another night there was a acrobatic show and one we missed that featured performers on roller skates. There was also a 2 part tribute to Simon and Garfunkel. We thought the entertainment was terrific — and we are people who generally skip the entertainment on other ships. In the Jazz Club I caught a good trio and I heard there was a great Sinatra impersonator. The was not a port intensive trip, but for each port there was at least one tour in English. The tours were good and priced similarly to other luxury lines. On our last day we had to disembark very early in the morning, as did other passengers. I was stunned to see that the main dining room was open for a full breakfast at 4:30am. There was also a continental breakfast in the lobby. As we reluctantly walked down the gangway we saw all the officers bidding farewell to the passengers. Regarding costs, we paid for the trip in Euros and it cost us about the equivalent of $12,000. Drinks are not included, but when you order anything alcoholic you just give the server your cabin number -- no need to show your room card. In fact, you do not even give the ship your credit card until a day or so before the end of the cruise. Final thoughts. This is not a ship where you will make new friends. Although most of the German speaking passengers speak English and were cordial, they were not very outgoing. They did not seem outgoing even among themselves. The bars do not lend themselves to socializing and I assume this is a cultural preference. I think that once Europa 2 attracts more English speaking passengers this will change. On our cruise there were 14 English speaking guests; we were the only Americans. Would I go back? In a Hamburg minute! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Other reviews on the Europa 2 provide a detailed description of the ship's amenities. My previous cruise on the Europa 2 was in July 2014, with embarkation in Southampton, and cruising through Portugal, and Spain. This year I had ... Read More
Other reviews on the Europa 2 provide a detailed description of the ship's amenities. My previous cruise on the Europa 2 was in July 2014, with embarkation in Southampton, and cruising through Portugal, and Spain. This year I had combined a 7 day cruise from Athens to Istanbul, with a 12 day cruise from Istanbul to Athens which called at Turkish Ports, and different Greek Islands. Prior to embarkation, I had elected to stay 2 nights in Athens at a hotel, Hotel Herodion, recommended by my Cruise Agent, but with reservation, and all transfers, which were as smooth as silk, arranged by Hapag-Lloyd. CRUISE 14-21 SEPTEMBER 2015: Embarkation: Embarkation is not permitted before 16.00. It is a very civilised affair. The combination boarding/key card is provided prior to departure. Check-In is arranged by Deck Number, one's photograph is taken, one is offered champagne, and then one is then at liberty to chat with fellow guests, or be escorted to one's suite. Safety Drill: English speaking guests are provided with the mandatory Safety Drill separated from the bulk of the German speaking passengers. On this cruise, about 12 guests were led to the Cinema for a briefing. Reservations for Speciality Restaurants: Reservations are permitted during the normal opening hours of the 4 Speciality Restaurants. They can accommodate 210 guests, and on this cruise,with the total number of guests amounting to 412, there was no rush, having embarked, to make a reservation. Entertainment: The poor quality, and variety, of the Theatre Shows on this seven day cruise was my major source of complaint, a situation highlighted by the complete turnaround on the following 12 day cruise. Hapag-Lloyd do need to consistency from one cruise to another. Excursions: Unfortunately, my ability to participate in all of my booked ship's excursions was severely restricted by recurring bouts of ill health, but of those I was able to undertake they were up to Hapag-Lloyd's usual high standards. II must register a word of praise for all the staff in the Shore Excursions Office for their exemplary service, and kindness, in dealing with my short notice cancellations of booked excursions. CRUISE 21 SEPTEMBER-3 OCTOBER: This cruise was fully booked with the full complement of 500 guests being on board. Of the Speciality Restaurants, the 'Tarragon' French Restaurant having been recently voted the best at sea resulted in there being a 'wait list' of 50 suites for an evening reservation. Apart from the 'Sakura' Sushi Restaurant, the Speciality Restaurants are open for lunch without the need for a reservation, so anyone faced with difficulty in obtaining an evening reservation should consider opting for lunch. Entertainment: Compared to my first cruise, the Theatre Entertainment was in a completely different league in terms of quality, and variety, being comprised of a classical sextet, an old style variety show comprised of several acts, an amazing magician, a South American singer with her accompanying musicians, and an American singer, living in Germany, whose rendition of songs from Hollywood Musicals, and The Great American Song Book was stunning. Disembarkation: Having Hapag-Lloyd make my transfer arrangements resulted in a disembarkation that was totally stress free. I entered the Terminal to find my luggage had been retrieved, placed on a trolley ,with both a porter, and the driver standing by. SUMMING UP: The title of this review has been chosen to reflect the friendly, and relaxed , atmosphere on the Europa 2. This was particularly evident during the second cruise when I was the only English speaking guest on board. All the services normally provided to English speaking guests were made available, even down to the Captain's announcement in English from the Bridge. Two officers invited me to dinner. The Shore Excursion Office offered to provide me with someone to translate a German guided Excursion. Both staff, and German/Swiss guests made great efforts to make my cruise so enjoyable. Little wonder that Hapag-Lloyd's Europa 2 is my favourite ship. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
What a beautiful ship that is! Due to the fact that it is new the outside of the 225 metres ship is off course top notch - once entered things are even more impressive. The Lobby is comparable with a Dubai 5 Star Suite Hotel and the ... Read More
What a beautiful ship that is! Due to the fact that it is new the outside of the 225 metres ship is off course top notch - once entered things are even more impressive. The Lobby is comparable with a Dubai 5 Star Suite Hotel and the glas-elevators going from deck 4 to 10 are stunning. You are actually not really feeling like you are on a ship at all the first minutes. They do have a max of 500 guests - with the tour now there were about 470 = more or less fully booked but on a ship of that size you could carry twice more and that advantage of just beeing with 470 you can feel every minute onboard - it never feels loaded and crowded there. 7 restaurants are onboard - i am totally surprised about the level of quality they can serve on that stunning ship - its almost like you would eat in a 1 star Michelin Restaurant. All restaurants are a la carte except the Yachtclub (Buffet) and the Sansibar (Bar with Snacks). Have eaten Italian, French and also in the Asian Restaurant as well as in the Sushi place where food is just awesome. Portions are a bit smaller but very fine made with just really good ingredients (where do they get that that fresh?) - the wine and champagne lists are complete and top wines they serve by glass as well. The prices are astonishing low, for a bottle of "normal" champagne 40 Euros, Dom Perignon or Roederer Cristal for a 160 Euros a bottle - you wont find that elsewhere. Longdrinks and other cocktails for about 5/6 Euros - glasses of wine and softdrinks about 3 Euros etc = that has been a nice surprise. Acutally you can eat fine dinners which are all inclusive (even a la carte restaurants) and drink the choice of your favourite drink for almost no fee. The Spa and the Fitness Center are situated on deck 5 - with a full 200 squaremetres balcony for the spa and large windows for the Fitness - equippment is top notch as well as the service - quite rooms with marble warmed beds, large hottub etc etc and different saunas - again i was surprised what they are able to offer - never thought a ship could do that + it stays exclusive and you never have to search for machine to use in the Fitness area since they have plenty. Spinning room is availbale as well with about 15 bikes. The Service is then off course fine as well since 370 crew members are serving 400/500 guests - you always find someone to serve whatever your needs are - i noiced in the Sansibar restaurant that a kid asked for mashed potatos which was not on the card but after checking they made it fresh for this boy - this kind of service i just can imagine must be difficult on larger ships... also the waffle service at the pool with fresh fruit is "hit" for the travellers and surely for the kids onboard - they do have btw a 10 percent max kid policy which makes it not too loud ;-) I did not really use the tours offered - just the tender service every 20 minutes for each port, just programs like champagne and gin tastings which were offered on the ship i attended and were fully happy with that... i think they do have 37 gins onboard ;-) so you can try some of them... During the day when many are visiting places and attending tours the staff is cleaning the ship from A to Z - they do have one employee just cleaning the wooden railing all year long ! never thought about that a ship needs that much of attention. Anyway - will go there again and made actually the next booking - since the waters from Barcelona to Rome were that calm and the temperatures that high this summer i took the Northern Europe Tour for next year - sure i will enjoy it ! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
Best ship ever! Stunning, amazing, there are no words to describe the infrastructure. It is clear that it concerns a German cruise line, but that is also the Unique selling point of this product. Food, service, ports, it was all ... Read More
Best ship ever! Stunning, amazing, there are no words to describe the infrastructure. It is clear that it concerns a German cruise line, but that is also the Unique selling point of this product. Food, service, ports, it was all just perfect. The WOW-effect is in all the details. Kids for free, welcome packages for the kids. For the baby we just ordered in advance all pampers, milk solutions, drinks, food, ... and it stood all prepared with toys in the suite. The cruise line also has 2 expedition vessels, that experience they also use on tis luxury vessel. They have scientists on board giving lections, but they also have zodiacs. When we were in Corsica the captain gave order to put the zodiacs in the water. We were able to do a very surprising trips through the hidden bays of Calvi. 7 restaurants, 6 bars, biggest gin collection on board of a ship, highest ratio passenger/staff that exist, biggest basix cabins (suites) that exist. And this ship is more like a boutique hotel, it can not be compared with any other vessel so far. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
The Europa has been called by Berlitz as the “best cruise ship Americans never heard of”. We have been several times on Crystal, Regent and Seabourn but this was our first time on Europa. A good opportunity to see if we agreed with ... Read More
The Europa has been called by Berlitz as the “best cruise ship Americans never heard of”. We have been several times on Crystal, Regent and Seabourn but this was our first time on Europa. A good opportunity to see if we agreed with that evaluation! We selected Europa primarily for the itinerary: 18 nights to Norway, starting in Hamburg and ending in Kiel, Germany. What we liked about the itinerary was more port stops and land-intensive opportunities, in addition to plentiful fjord experiences. In a nutshell: There are a lot of things to like about the Europa, but for us, unfortunately, there are also dislikes to note. We found the ship itself very appealing: A grand dame of a certain age that has kept her figure and is meticulously groomed and maintained. Europa exudes class. Here are our ‘pluses’: • Ship condition and cleanliness: Superb, best of any luxury ship we’ve been on. Even though she is older, you really wouldn’t know it from the condition of the fittings. • Suite size, storage, layout, cleanliness, bed comfort and service: Absolutely the cleanest suite ever. The suite stewardess (who did the cleaning and service) is a German professional trained in the hotel business. Little touches like an unobtrusive night light in the niche in the tub, which also held a fresh orchid, and tons of wooden hangers in the walk in closet show attention to detail. The very clever use of storage space makes the suite ‘live’ even bigger. The bathroom was wonderful – soaking tub, walk in shower, all that storage space again behind mirrored ‘medicine cabinets’ and under the sink. And in a footprint about the same size as other luxury lines we’ve been on. • Restaurants: Food quality, variety, service. Again, best in class, particularly in main dining room. MS Europa is very generous with luxury ingredients and there was no repetition in main dining room during our cruise. Top notch European trained staff delivers impeccable service. The specialty restaurants also delivered top quality. Buffets at Lido Café were very generous, varied and fresh. • Reasonable Internet prices (by the minute) • Shore excursions: Quite reasonably priced (particularly for Norway, which is notorious for high prices), comprehensive and interesting. We booked more shore excursions through the ship than we usually do because we felt they offered good value compared to private arrangements. We were very pleased with our decision. • Pool deck: Has a real pool (15 meters/about 50 ft) that is warmed to 28 degrees C. Half is covered with a Magrodome, to protect against the elements. • Entertainment quality: Quantity wise, not a lot, but what there is, is top notch (musicians, singers, lecturers). Neutral: • This is a very formal ship. For some, that could be positive. But I think for people used to flexibility on dining times, table company and dress code for the evening, this could seem stifling. As is typical on German ships, you are assigned a table in the main dining room that is yours for the duration of the cruise. There is only one seating, including in the alternative restaurants. Dress codes are pretty strict. For cruises 16+nights, there are 2-3 formal nights with tuxes and evening gowns. The rest of the nights are suits and ties for the men. The most casual is jacket without ties for the men ☺. You can go to Lido Café for dinner without a jacket, but most men wore them there, too. • For many Americans: the language. This is a German ship and the language spoken on board and on shore excursions is German. Written material (as a default) is in German but you can ask for English, including an English language daily newspaper. The clientele are 99% German (or German speaking Swiss and Austrians). All announcements are in German. Having said that, you can get along, since the staff all speak English and a lot of your fellow passengers speak English also. There was a separate safety drill conducted in English for the few non-German speakers on board. But it sure helps to know German. And the minuses: • Smoking policy: We knew about the policy before we booked, so it was no surprise, just quite unpleasant. Smoking is allowed on all decks, all verandas, and two of the bars (Sansibar and Havana Club) also allow pipe and cigar smoking. In the Piano Bar, smoking allowed in one corner, but since the bar is located in the Atrium, which is open and the main public area on Deck 4, you might as well be smoking all over. Restaurants inside (main dining room, Venezia and Dieter Muller) are non-smoking, but you get to inhale the cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke from Havana Club on your way down the corridor to get there ☹ Lido Café allows smoking outside on one side. • Expensive for what you get, since Europa is not all-inclusive. You even have to pay for water at the table during lunch and dinner. Soda is also extra. Wine list is well priced and has a great selection but still…for what we paid for comparable suites on competitors, we expect beverages to be included. (Suite mini bar has complimentary bottled water, soda and beer.) • Service attitude: I praised the service above and I mean it sincerely for restaurants and suite stewardesses. However, there is a definite attitude of “Not my job” for anything that goes beyond the boundary of defined service roles. This was especially noticeable at Reception and since this is the central ‘control point’ for most inquiries, it was pretty annoying and disappointing. By contrast, on other luxury lines, if a staff person did not know an answer, they would cheerfully go out of their way to make sure they got it for you. • Embarkation: Unlike Crystal, Regent or Seabourn, you cannot board even 5 minutes early. About half an hour before check in, Hapag-Lloyd did have some snacks and champagne in the terminal hall. When embarkation began, it was very slow compared to other lines we’ve sailed on. Would we travel with the Europa again? Only if she offered an amazing itinerary we couldn’t refuse. The biggest problems for us are the smoking policy and the price/value ratio. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
I have not looked forward to explaining my feelings about what Douglas Ward (Berlitz Cruising & Cruise ships) has promoted as "this years star performer". Indeed Mr Ward was on board my cruise for the first few days ... Read More
I have not looked forward to explaining my feelings about what Douglas Ward (Berlitz Cruising & Cruise ships) has promoted as "this years star performer". Indeed Mr Ward was on board my cruise for the first few days inspecting, and I spoke with him. I and my New York taxi driver found the Manhattan terminal a poor start. We passengers had to pass before the ship's doctor to be asked if we were fever free, and, paperwork complete and drink offered, we were escorted aboard. The Europa2 appears to have had no financial limit to the interior design budget. It felt to me like a perfect show home which was resentful of intrusion. Our Balcony Suite on deck 5 was well positioned mid ships for the stormy seas on departing NY, although I had a feeling that the ship does tend to roll given half a chance but I know nothing of hull design. Despite the magnificent cabin/bathroom fit out it was a surprise that the double bed is made of two singles, with single mattresses and single top quilt things, which we hate, and had changed. The sound proofing in the cabin walls was not good enough, and the hi tech light switches will remain unexplainable. The couch was superb but only one gets a leg rest inside (or on the balcony) at a time so to speak! The housekeeping for the suite was fine without being perfect. Small items were not always restocked. The balcony cushions were often stored in the suite at night or during a storm and the balcony glass was not cleaned during the voyage. However the mini bar was kept full of beer and soft drinks. The room service menu was very limited choice and the food delivered was poor. Generally I found boarding and leaving the ship (including the tendering) poorly managed, nor did I like the choice of ports and beaches. New York in December is foul as were the next three days and the sea state. The final disembark onto packed coaches with bags rammed in to the hold to take us to a very poor Miami hotel "arrivals lounge" was not a good final memory. Entertainers were on board for many days before single shows were put on. For the big show seats in the theater ran out. Stage introductions were often read from cards by the overly formal and uniformed Cruise Director. The cinema was used to store Christmas decorations for many days and then the odd children's film was shown. The magnificent Jazz Bar was little used. During a classical concert the ship's horn was sounded three times and the Tannoy used in the room! However the bar service and the bar list were superb with low prices and NO service charge. In the restaurants wine lists were more confused and harder to understand. In frustration we asked if there was a senior sommelier and he appeared but without a wine list we could have discussed. Restaurant dinners commonly took two and a half hours and many small courses, so in effect you could not arrive at just any time, you needed to arrive early. One early reservation made via phone call to reception did not appear on the restaurant list and we were sent away. The restaurant manager then made all our bookings for the week himself. Some food was of course good,(Caviar night, & sorbet served with Vodka or Champagne poured over it), but time and again I was disappointed. I even disliked the lobster that was offered. As I say above room service food was worse. German cake baking is not French (obviously) and more the pity. Table settings were perfect as was table service. The young staff were charming and spoke enough English after they rattled off German first. English speakers were not identifiable to the staff until they spoke. One of the specialty restaurants, Sakura needed to be entered through the buffet (Yacht Club). Smoking areas (of which there are many) often were next to non-smoking seats and this could be unpleasant. Lectures were high quality and included a Nobel Laureate but were aimed at the German clientele. The superb simultaneous translation was just like one imagines is on offer at the UN. Coffee Nespresso pods in the cabin were great but the milk used in hot drinks was unpleasant. As usual I regret never seeing the gym/spa area. The pool was fairly standard. I must stop but, considering there were less than 400 passengers on this cruise and the Captain and junior German staff worked hard, I was not impressed enough to make it likely that I would return. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
Background: My wife and I are both in our 60s, have taken 30+ cruises on most mainstream lines and some premium/luxury lines, live in New York City and this was our first trip on a European Line. Ship: This is a German ship, owned by a ... Read More
Background: My wife and I are both in our 60s, have taken 30+ cruises on most mainstream lines and some premium/luxury lines, live in New York City and this was our first trip on a European Line. Ship: This is a German ship, owned by a German company that caters to German passengers. The first language of the ship is German however most signage is also in English, the daily program is translated into English along with any other documents delivered to your room. The crew you will deal with are all from Germany and Austria and speak English to some degree. They will greet you in German but switch when they see you speak English. The Officers are German. All announcements are in English and German. The currency onboard is the Euro. The ship is really beautiful, laid out very well and built and furnished with very high quality material. It does not feel like a cruise ship but rather a contemporary hotel. The space is really amazing for a ship, never a line, always a seat where and when you want it, no chair hogs by the pool or seat savers in the show lounge. The pool area is really great with a monster pool and two decks of lounge chairs all covered with a retractable dome. Show lounge is also great, two stories with seats around small tables and a good size state of the art stage. Boarding: Boarding time for all is 16:00 as they want the whole ship ready to go for the new passengers. In NYC the ship personal had the check in counter on the pier, the pier is fixed up like a lounge and you can have cocktails as you check in and chat with you fellow new friends at a table if you like. They send you your ship ID card ahead of time so all you do is get your picture taken, passport checked and board. The crew is there to take your carry on and guide you to your cabin. Our luggage was already there. Wine on ice and snacks waiting. Best boarding process I have ever seen. Cabin: We started out with a standard cabin on deck 6 aft. Very large with a large veranda. Very clean, in great shape and very functional. Walk in closed with lots of hangers and storage. Easy place to hand out in. Bed is great, just like home and made so luggage all fits under it. I do not think it can be made into two twins. We had a small issue a few days into the trip. I was amazed how easy it was to talk to all levels of management on the ship. No endless days of stalling by the front desk. All was resolved in a few hours and for our trouble we were moved to a suite on deck ten. Same décor as the other cabin except a lot bigger with sitting area, two bath etc.. Had a butler also. If you check Hapag-Lloyds web site the room pictures and descriptions are very accurate. Best room I ever had on both decks and never had a problem addressed so seamlessly. Food: Food is geared toward the German palate. You can see only the best ingredients are used. There are 4 specialty restaurants, a main dinning room and a buffet. The specialty restaurants require a reservation which can only be made onboard. On the first night the Restaurant Manger found us and made all of them for us and sent a letter to our room to confirm. Very easy. You can go as often as you want with no charge. All of them except the sushi bar are open for lunch with no reservation required. The main restaurant is open sitting and open for breakfast and dinner with a different menu each day. Plenty of tables for two, four and six. The Buffet is open for all three meals with late day service at the grill. Both indoor and outdoor sitting. Service in all the restaurants is excellent, a white glove affair. All food came hot and cooked to perfection. Services work in teams so food is served course by course to all people at the table at the same time. The Main Dinning Room will do special orders with a days notice. All restaurants are designed for one sitting so there is no table turning. Your specialty reservations are for the night, arrive when you want. Dinner time is 19:00 to 21:30. Activities: This is the part that was a little disappointing for me. There really are none compared to a North American Line. What they have are some daily fitness classes, a lecture in English on some days, a show at 10pm in the lounge 4 or 5 times and music in the different bars and jazz clubs at night. On this trip they had a “Christmas Market” and a beach party also. During the day, even sea days, the ship seemed dead. I would of liked some music by the pool at least. I asked about it and was told this is how Germans like it. There are also no announcements except a report by the captain once a day. I have to say when they do something it is really top shelf. For the beach party they had tables set with silver and china from the ship and endless drinks. Great food almost like transporting the buffet to the beach for the day. Tipping: Tips are not expected, encouraged or added to anything. You can give them if you want however they had two events where all the money you spent went to the crew fund. I like this better than the system on North American Ships. Disembarkation: Very easy, no lines or mass hysteria. You got a colored tag for your bags, it was called and you left. The Captain and offers were at the gangway saying goodbye. Would I go again?: I really do not know. This was like taking a vacation in Germany however it was moving around the Caribbean. As a side note the info on the Europa 2 web site along with the pictures is very accurate.   Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
WRANGEL ISLAND, Russia – The announcement came over the ship’s PA system at 3:35am: “There’s a polar bear dead ahead of us.” Within minutes passengers appeared up on deck, some still in their PJs, looking at the polar bear ... Read More
WRANGEL ISLAND, Russia – The announcement came over the ship’s PA system at 3:35am: “There’s a polar bear dead ahead of us.” Within minutes passengers appeared up on deck, some still in their PJs, looking at the polar bear swimming near the ship just off Wrangel Island, in the eastern Russian Arctic. It was a bright, sunny day (the sun had risen at 1:44am), and this was our first polar bear sighting of several to come. We were 500km north of the Arctic Circle and the ocean was unusually calm; we could see the bear’s head reflected in the water as he turned to look at us. What an experience – and only one of so many during this 16-day cruise on board Hapag-Lloyd’s Hanseatic, the first non-Russian ship to be allowed to visit Wrangel Island. Indeed, we saw no other tourists during the entire trip. This was truly an expedition adventure once we had donned parkas and rubber boots and left the ship in the rubber Zodiacs. Guided by a team of specialists, we were off to navigate through the sea ice on a sightseeing excursion, or to go ashore to discover abundant flowers and wildlife in the bleak landscape. But back on board the 180-passenger “world’s only five-star expedition cruise ship” (according to Berlitz, the global education company of language training fame) we lived in luxury, in comfortable staterooms with gourmet meals served on Rosenthal china – including 27 varieties of bread and rolls baked freshly every day for breakfast Antarctica receives much of the travel publicity these days. But while the Arctic has no penguins, it certainly has a wealth of other life as we discovered – from the 48 bird varieties (some in flocks numbering in the hundreds of thousands) and 18 land and sea mammals to the Eskimos and other Russians. It was fascinating enough to explore the Arctic tundra most of us had hitherto only read about in school. But we could add to that the experience of being with the people who live far north of Siberia, with their Russian/post-Soviet or Eskimo heritage. So please come along to sample some of the highlights on what turned out to be a most unusual and interesting cruise adventure. TUESDAY: After a Miami Air charter flight from Vancouver we joined the ship in the remote Alaskan town of Nome, a port during its brief ice-free summer. While most of the passengers were from German-speaking countries, this was considered an international cruise so all communication was bilingual. WEDNESDAY: We paused offshore in the Bering Sea to look at a deserted settlement site on King Island, where Inupiat Eskimos had lived for thousands of years. The last villagers moved to Nome in 1970, leaving behind houses built on stilts on impossibly steep slopes The abandoned wooden structures were now collapsing, and stared eerily back at us with eye sockets where windows used to be. FRIDAY: We lost Thursday as we crossed the dateline. Provideniya, a former Soviet military port and our first contact with Russia, lay ahead. We’d heard Russia was angry with Europe, North America and Australia over international sanctions, and could have cancelled its permission for us – a German ship – to travel in Russian waters. But all went well and we were allowed ashore to explore this bleak outpost. Many of the buildings had been abandoned, some had been painted in bright colours but the town still had a dreary appearance. “We get about three days of sunshine a year,” said one resident. With mists hanging low over the town, this wasn’t one of them. We saw a folklore show - Russian dancers in traditional costumes gliding on to the stage or kick-dancing with arms crossed, and also Eskimo story-telling dances. Then we cruised 8km to Bukhta Slawyanka (Plover Cove) for our first exploration of the tundra. This was also the first of many wet landings, so we were wearing the boots and parkas lent to all passengers as the Zodiacs ran up on the beach and we jumped out at the water’s edge. This time the mists wreathing the hills and sitting low over the ocean, the patches of blue (but poisonous) monkshood flowers on land, the abandoned boats and buildings – all created a scene of wonder and beauty. SATURDAY: We visited Lorino where traditionally costumed local Eskimo dancers sang and danced the stories of their Chukchi ancestors for us. We sampled local food: a delicious fish soup made from Arctic char, gray whale and walrus muktuk (blubber and skin), reindeer meat. The temperature was an unusually warm 20 degrees, the ocean completely flat. SUNDAY: The small village of Neshkan welcomed us with another folklore show; dogs tore at the remains of a recently slaughtered gray whale on the beach. “The village was created by the Soviet government in the 1950s as a collective farm, to bring together the reindeer herders of the area,” Sylvia Stevens, one of our expert guides and lecturers, told us. The village of 700 still had six reindeer herds and supplemented its economy with fishing. It was so remote only pensioners were paid in cash, while others used barter or coupons. The district centre of Lavrentiya was a weekly 250km flight away, or four to five days of off-road travel. MONDAY: Today brought a birder’s delight as we cruised along the cliffs of Kolyuchin Island, home to hundreds of thousands of guillemots, kittiwakes, cormorants and puffins. “The guillemots lay a single egg on the narrow ledges,” said Stevens. “At two weeks, the chick has to jump down to the sea where its father takes care of it until it can fly, often paddling as much as 40km in a day until it is independent.” TUESDAY-FRIDAY: Wrangel Island came into view and thankfully the sea ice had broken up enough for us to pick up the two rangers and a biologist who would stay with us during our visit to one of Russia’s most restricted nature reserves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve. And what a surprisingly fascinating place it was – given its location astride longitude 180 degrees in such a remote and inhospitable part of the planet. “Wrangel and nearby Herald Islands were untouched by glaciers of the last ice age,” Stevens said, “so they look much as they did in the Pleistocene era when wolly mammoths roamed the land until they became extinct around 2000 BC. Wrangel is best known today as having the greatest concentration of polar bear dens in the world.” Wrangel was also the home of 417 plant species - at least 23 of which grew nowhere else. Considering that the summer temperature hovered just above zero, we were amazed to see so many plants and flowers like the forget-me-nots when we went ashore on Komsomol Beach. On the other hand, as one of the largest walrus “haul out” sites in the world, Cape Blossom had far more walrus bones than blossoms. A couple of teenage boys decided it was time for a quick dip – a very quick dip as they rushed and staggered back out of the zero-degree ocean far more quickly than they had gone in. But the little brown woolly bear caterpillar which Stevens spotted didn’t mind the cold. These creatures live for 14 years (normal caterpillar life is three weeks), completely freezing every winter and thawing out every short summer until they spin a cocoon and turn into Isabella tiger moths. Arctic ground squirrels were busily collecting food for the long winter, pausing every so often to sit up in a meerkat-like pose. Now it was polar bear time. We spotted them swimming and walking on ice floes, including a mother with cub – but were glad not to see them when we went ashore, guarded by one of the guides armed with a rifle. SATURDAY-WEDNESDAY (including two Tuesdays as we crossed the dateline again): Winds whipped up five-metre waves in the Chukchi Sea, our only patch of stormy weather. Later, we watched seven orca (killer) whales following an injured gray whale in Bering Strait. Then we spotted about 100 walrus males hauled out on the beach of Big Diomede Island and swimming nearby, and went out in the Zodiacs for a closer look at these tusked creatures which can weigh up to 2,000kg. On Yittigran Island we walked in the long grass of Whalebone Alley, named for its carefully arranged whale skulls and other bones, especially ribs, and stones. And so back to Nome we sailed, grateful for the mostly good weather and lack of mosquitoes, treasuring our memories of the eastern Russian Arctic tundra in summer with its amazingly varied wildlife and vegetation, its inhabitants and their history. And that 3:35am wakeup call: “There’s a polar bear dead ahead of us.” Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2014
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 ... Read More
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.   Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2014
Arrive in Ushuaia after an overnight stay in Buenos Aires. 13 hour flight from London then a 4 hour job from Buenos Aires. Board mid afternoon and sail an hour later. Bremen is a great little expedition vessel with 4*+ luxury. 170 ... Read More
Arrive in Ushuaia after an overnight stay in Buenos Aires. 13 hour flight from London then a 4 hour job from Buenos Aires. Board mid afternoon and sail an hour later. Bremen is a great little expedition vessel with 4*+ luxury. 170 passengers or so, mainly German but this voyage had 22 Noble Caledonia booked Englanders ! And we were put into our own group for everything so we all got to know each other very well. Ages ranged from mid 50s to mid 70s but all active and relatively fit - which you need to be for a holiday like this. Next day at sea saw us equipped with boots and parkas. Then it was 2 days in the Falklands, 3 days at South Georgia and 6 days in the antarctic peninsula. Landings all by zodiacs, all wet except Port Stanley. Saw all the different penguins and seals. Also humpbacks, orcas, fin and minke whales. If you are into birds then you would be in heaven. Cabin, food and services on board better than Cunard. Lectures given in German then in English so we didn't miss out on anything. Dining is casual, we were told Hanseatic, their 5* vessel, was more formal. Weather not bad. Mainly overcast and we got caught in a blizzard in Sth Georgia which was interesting. Drake Passage crossings were a bit lumpy but not bad at all. Days were quite tiring. Often 3 landings a day which was great but we were all a bit knackered by the end. But I think we all would have loved the trip to last longer. Anyone looking for an antarctic experience should check out these holidays. A tad more expensive but worth it. A proper antarctic experience.   Read Less
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