I first read about Europa in Berlitz's 2017 guide, fantastic, by the way, in case you're looking for in-depth research about individual ships not on CruiseCritic. I am an American who went on this amazing ship for just over a week, albeit that it was quite difficult not knowing any German prior, but I felt interacting with fellow passengers who spoke at least some English or Chinese (which I speak).
Embarkation was very smooth and swift, and shockingly punctual at 16:00. Between starting to board in Monaco and getting to my suite (all of them are suites), it was only about twenty or so minutes. I also got a bottle of champagne and four quite small but delicious chocolate-covered strawberries. My suite was clean and tidy and I wasted no time in unpacking. There was ample room to store my things and very few minor niggles such as the bedspread being slightly off-centre.
Fine, nothing astonishing, though it was great how they accomodated English-speaking passengers with a separated muster drill. I admit that I honestly expected to just duck behind the Germans in case of pirates or something if something happened. It lasted fairly long, about half an hour to an hour.
The atmosphere was very formal and uptight (whether that's good or bad, up to you) and the colours were very calm. It was incredibly fresh (there were times when I would play a game with myself on a long sea day to find a single flaw, and even then it was a deck chair askew, which was quickly being fixed. Quiet luxury and elegance was exuded in the decor without much glimmer and glitz.
Announcements were only scheduled two times a day with maybe an occasional third one tossed in, and the German culture was certainly not the most amicable of people, although not speaking their language didn't exactly help. I often enjoyed having a chat with, for example, my Filipino waiter who spoke better English than German, I found. Average age was about 70.
ACCOMMODATION TO ENGLISH SPEAKERS:
It was pretty bad, but I can't complain, really, because it is just a German-marketed ship. Menus and guides were in German, as were almost all people. I ended up being quite good friends with one Brit, who kept on talking to me when we met each other for lack of others to speak to, but I really couldn't be bothered. It's what I expected, it would be ludicrous to expect top-notch accommodation to a non-native language of most of the people and staff. I don't expect Royal Caribbean staff to speak Japanese or La Ponant to speak Japanese or Nippon to speak French, and that's how it was.
Literally mouth-watering. I didn't want to do anything else! No additional cost to any venue, even Dieter Muller, the three-time Michelen star chef's restaurant, only a reservation, and 24-hour room service included even beef tartare. Try getting that from Norwegian or something. The table I had was great. Dinner starts at 7, ends at 9, eat anytime you want within those hours. Breakfast and lunch were open seating.
Honestly, what else can I say? The food was 11/10, with everything from poolside waffles to real whipped cream in the afternoon teatime. Gourmet and stocked with all the best ingredients you wouldn't even expect in a gourmet restaurant let alone a boat in the Mediterranean Ocean. I walked to my suite every day vowing to go to the gym tomorrow, when I came home, I weighed so much more. The food was so good and comfort level so high that I preferred dining on board to dining in port, and sometimes, I even just wanted to do nothing but eat.
Outstanding. By my third day, most staff knew my name and the Gatsby's bartender knew what I drank most often by my fourth when I consistently ordered my favourite, the Irish Coffee. I did not have to be an important person, be pushy, or have an “in” to get luxury service, as is often the case on other luxury ships. With literally no exceptions on my cruise, the crew were smart, polite, helpful, attentive, bilingual, and eager to help.
Great shows, consistently. World-class artists performing their forte, enrichment professionals, and bilingual or even performances with no words at all were plentiful. I must admit I missed seeing a few ports because, well, the pool was open and I couldn't force myself to go when a bilingual personal trainer was offering classes or the clergyman was open for a while, all for me.
One free hour a day. Was it great? Eeeeeeeeeh...but what are you gonna expect.
Just don't go in the Havana Bar and you'll be fine. The Piano Bar often had a few puffing, but it wasn't anything major, I just sat far from them or went to Gatsby's.
Smooth, seamless, if anything, a bit sad.
1. Yes, I'll say it. Please some English newsletters or printed documents? It's fun to discover for a few days but by day 8 you just want a paper saying something you don't have to run through a Translator app which are often wrong or just walk around the whole ship to find a sign that interests you that isn't in German. AND PLEASE FOR GOD'S SAKE THE MENUS. PLEASE THE MENUS, at least.
2. Please more Cap'n Knopf! He's adorable.
Amazing, top-notch crew with top-notch service. The food and service were phenomenal, and everything was so seamless, so beautiful, I felt scared of ruining it. I do not think it would be essential to speak any German at all to enjoy the food and service and music on this ship, nor do I think this is a very uptight ship like some say. But I do say one caveat, and that is it breaks my wallet tremendously.
Lots of people, but pretty cool.
The ship was great-even LESS PEOPLE on the poool deck!