The cruise commenced in Kiel, and, given the absence of direct flights from London, I decided to spend two days in Hamburg prior to embarkation.
Arrangements for Hotel accommodation, and all transfers, were made through Hapag-Lloyd.
Two days before I was due to fly to Hamburg, the Four Seasons Hotel notified Hapag-Lloyd that it was overbooked.
The latter's response was to book me into the Atlantic Kempinski Hotel, refund me the cost of the Four Seasons, and pay for the Atlantic Kempinski.
Excellent customer service!
All transfers were via Blacklane Limousines, and were excellent.
For the past three years the Europa 2 has been my cruise ship of choice, and many of the things that have made it so remain unchanged and excellent.
However, during the back to back cruises this year, there were noticeable signs of a shortfall in Europa 2's usual high standards which were mainly evident in the Weltmeere main restaurant.
There was insufficient wait staff even to service a markedly less than full restaurant.
The Maitre d', the assistant Maitre d', and on one evening even the Sommelier were delivering and/or serving food.
The cumulative effect on the wait staff over the course of the cruises was that they looked absolutely exhausted but still managed to provide excellent and cheerful service.
One hopes that Hapag-Lloyd will take steps to rectify the situation, thus ensuring that there is not a rapid loss of competent, hard working, and cheerful staff.
Added to the staffing situation in the Weltmeere there were intermittent problems in the Kitchen which resulted in items being served undercooked, or barely warm.
However, overall, the quality, and variety of the food in the Weltmeere was excellent.
On one evening I enquired if they had any Norwegian cheeses, and in due course I was served with a plate containing a beautifully presented selection of five different cheeses.
I dined twice in both the Tarragon, and Serenissima restaurants, and the food, and service, in each was first class.
For July, the weather during this cruise was disappointing, being generally overcast with temperatures ranging between 12 degrees C- 18 degrees C.
Despite this, the scenery was magnificent, and on more than one occasion we were the only ship in port--- even in Flam, which on my previous visits has resembled a gigantic rugby scrum.
The ship being too large to enter the Troll Fjord, zodiacs were used to enter the fjord where one was met by further zodiacs containing staff serving champagne.
All in all, my cruise on the Europa 2 was very enjoyable, and despite the noted shortcomings, it still remains my cruise ship of choice.
At 300 sq.ft ,the suite is large, well designed, with a very large bathroom.
In suite beer, and soft drinks are replenished as required.