At 8 this morning, Europa 2 docked in Corfu, Greece. We would have the whole day here, departing at 17.00 to cover a distance of 297 nautical miles to our next destination, around the boot of Italy to Syracuse, on the island of Sicily.
It was a gorgeous day, although the high temperature would reach only 62?F, pleasant enough on this sunny day.
A number of tours were offered, including a walking tour of the old town of Corfu, a UNESCO World Heritage site. One of the things I appreciate about Europa 2, when compared to North American-managed cruise lines, is that Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ vessel does not push shore excursions down the throats of its guests. If guests want to join shore excursions, they sign up and participate. There’s no hawking of these additional profit centers as is the case on with most of the companies that manage large ships.
At dinner one night, I sat beside Sonja Schwalbe, Europa 2’s shore excursion manager. She told me that her staff would often recommend that clients do an activity that did not cost them, such as walking around an old town. Europa 2 also makes bicycles available for use free of charge to its guests. Other cruise lines offer bike tours, at a cost of $60 and up.
Of course, it must be remembered that cruising on Europa 2 costs considerably more than cruising on the large ships as well as the luxury liners managed from North America. I did some price comparisons last year, which you’ll find here.
Chris (the videographer) and I were unable to disembark in Corfu. We had a full day of filming ahead of us. One of the scenes we filmed was also something that cruise passengers can enjoy: a gin tasting in Herrenzimmer, a cigar lounge on deck four.
Europa 2 boasts the largest collection of gin at sea, with more than 35 varieties ranging from Darnley’s View Spiced London Dry Gin (with 10 spices) to Monkey 47 from Black Forest (Germany) Distillers, with more than 47 herbs and spices.
Bar Manager Erik Schultze hosted a group of us, imparting some interesting information about gin and pouring some delicious and refreshing gin drinks. One was a Monkey 47 Sloe Gin Fizz, comprised of Monkey 47 Sloe Gin, lemon, sugar, soda water and a dash of Angostura bitters. We learned that Black Forest Distillers manufacturers only 3,000 bottles of Monkey 47 Sloe Gin each year.
Corfu certainly looked appealing as we sailed away at 5 p.m., but we had a good day on board Europa 2. We looked forward to our next day in Syracuse.