Europa Review

Wonderful luxury Baltic classical music cruise, Ocean Sun Festival 6/25/23-7/7/23

Review for the Baltic Sea Cruise on Europa
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Catlover54
10+ Cruises • Age 70s

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Sail Date: Jun 2023

OVERVIEW: I have done multiple cruises with Hapag Lloyd's (HL) small luxury ships over the last eight years, the MS Europa (German is the on-board language) and the Europa 2 (German and English are on board languages).

Amazingly, even since Covid, unlike on some other "luxury' lines, food, service, ship condition, and overall organization have remained outstanding on the Europa, nearly flawless. They are not making "Blame Covid" excuses, as some luxury lines continue to do. Classical music offerings remain top tier, and itineraries are interesting

DEMOGRAPHICS, GERMAN:

Cabin Review

Spacious, immaculate veranda cabin. See details in main review.

Port Reviews

Gdansk (Warsaw)

Polish port of Gdansk, depending on which berth your ship is assigned, is 10-15 miles from the docking area in Gdynia, so you will need to take a shuttle or a taxi or arrange a tour.

The city has a long and traumatic history, but is currently a brilliant European port for cruisers to spend at least a day in. If you have any interest in history and communism, visit the Solidarity museum, or better yet, hire a local guide to get a unique perspective.

Hamburg

The cruise started here. It is a huge city with an extensive history and a myriad of diverse foods, museums, and entertainment. I recommend allowing at least 3 days in port pre-cruise to get a good feel for the city. One third of residents are immigrants.

Be careful around the main train station (Hauptbahnhof) as there are quite a few shady characters nearby.

I stayed at the Westin near the Elbphilharmonie concert hall, which you can see with an organized 1 hour tour. The local tourist office and online can give suggestions on different museums. A hop-on hop-off tour is also worthwhile for an overview.

Helsinki

We had an overnight here, which allowed time for a tour of the city, the Sibelius monument, and the Church in the Rock. I did Suonomina Island the next day (you can take a local ferry and then walk around this old fort and eat at one of the local restaurants).

If you stay in Helsinki pre-cruise, allow 3 days. Locals in tourist areas speak English.

Don't miss the indoor and outdoor markets near port.

Riga

This small former Soviet Latvian republic (independent since 1990) has an old town area with many restaurants and cafes and there are museums with English translations. I took a river small boat cruise for 1.5 hours, which is a pleasant alternative way to see the old areas on a nice day. People are generally pleasant and many speak English (but a significant minority is of Russian descent and the older Russians often do not speak English and may not be crazy about westerners). If you can, do an organized tour. The city is worth visiting, though I did not like it as much as Tallinn, Estonia.

Stockholm

This is a terrific cruise port, set on multiple islands. Modern and stylish. Swedish beautifuls or salmon dishes are your best food bet for local cuisine. Read online about the different areas and be prepared (or take an organized tour). The old town is wonderful, and you can watch the pompous changing of the guard at lunchtime if you like that sort of thing. Be sure and tour the royal palace, and also about 30 minutes away palace Drottningsholm (current king residence) with beautiful grounds and a good indoor tour (no AC, so dress lightly). If you're lucky enough to start your cruise here, plan on 3 days. Almost everyone speaks English.

Tallinn

This is my favorite Baltic port, former Soviet republic. The old town with its many towers is wonderful for touring or an organized walk, but allow enough time to just wander the side streets and have a leisurely meal. If you have time, visit the TV tower, 50 stories up, for a great view. The Katherine palace grounds are also stunning.

Museums which include the history of communism in the area are worth a visit, to learn. There is also a lot of on-line historial information that is good to familiarize yourself with. Most young people and friendly and speak English.

Travemunde (Lubeck)

This is a lovely German seaside little town, with many shops and seafood restaurants and a nice beach. If you can read German, there are some interesting museums. Amber is sold in many stores. There is plenty to entertain you for a day or two.

Turku

This smaller port is not often visited, but is worth a look. There is an old town, and the usual array of historical buildings, cafes, and bars. An hour or so out of town is also the old historic town of Rauma, known for its well-preserved wooden buildings.

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