As American English-speaking first timers on Hapag-Lloyd, we chose this cruise to try the storied line (with a long and very distinguished history, much like Cunard), and to be on a smaller upmarket ship, but with a completely different, German vibe. We were not disappointed. It was a wonderful overall cruise experience.
Europa 2 is a small(er) ship and is quiet and subdued, with a very sleek and modern interior. Passengers are a mix of multi-generational families, groups of friends, couples, of which at least one their honeymoon, all of them very low key. On this cruise the passengers seemed to skew quite young, although the crew said that during the summer and school holidays it can go even younger. We saw no children at all, although there are clubs and children services available as needed.
Most of our fellow passengers were well dressed: in the evening, women in dresses and coordinated outfits, and jackets on the men in all the dining rooms save for the buffet (Yacht Club). There were very few ties on the men. Given that there was no enforced dress code, it was nonetheless a very well turned out crowd, appropriate to the sophisticated ambiance of Europa 2 without being at all snobbish or off putting. Out of the total 486 passengers aboard, there were 16 or so "international guests" consisting of 5 Americans, 2 South Africans, a family of 5 from Luxembourg with the rest being from the Low Countries. We had a wonderful, dedicated International Hostess, Sylvana, who made sure that we all felt included and welcomed. She and the Senior Hotel Staff hosted a cocktail party for us at the start of the cruise and dinner at the end, not to mention a behind-the-scenes tour on one of the sea days.
We were in a very well located Ocean View cabin. There was no noise at all from any of the areas around, and we were very well located, essentially amidships, close to the main staircase. The cabin was clean, stylish and well appointed with ample storage space for two. The balcony was a generous size relative to the overall cabin size, with two chairs, a table and a lounger.