Europa 2

Europa 2 Ship Review

Europa 2
Coming Your Way: Europa 2 anchored off La Savina (Formentera), Spain. With average per diems of 600 euros per person, Europa 2 is attempting to command some of the industry’s highest cruise fares. Its cruises will cost an American couple — the U.S. is one of Europa 2’s target audiences — around US$12,000 for the privilege of spending six nights/seven days in a 301-square-foot Veranda Suite on the industry’s newest luxury cruise ship. Worth it? Read on and decide for yourself.  © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Overview of Europa 2

If you’re accustomed to cruising only on luxury cruise ships operated by U.S. cruise companies, you’ll find Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2 full of surprises. Expect a European-ambience on board, with emphasis on the company’s Germanic roots; a drop-dead gorgeous vessel, with lots of space; eight dining venues — all at no extra chargeEuropeans (mainly Germans) serving you in the lounges and dining rooms; and a few things that luxury cruisers may not be accustomed to, notably, no free booze, except beer from your mini-bar, and a welcome glass (as well as a bottle in your stateroom) of champagne.

Before reading on, flip through the slideshow below to get acquainted with this gorgeous vessel.

Europa 2

Europa 2

Europa 2 anchored off La Savina (Formentera), Spain. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Zodiacs

Zodiacs

Europa 2 has something that other luxury ships (except for luxury expedition vessels) don't have: zodiacs. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Exploring Via Zodiacs

Exploring Via Zodiacs

With Europa 2 anchored off La Savina (Formentera), Spain, we head out to explore in zodiacs. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Exploring Via Zodiacs

Exploring Via Zodiacs

With Europa 2 anchored off La Savina (Formentera), Spain, we head out to explore in zodiacs. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Europa 2

Europa 2

Europa 2 anchored off La Savina (Formentera), Spain. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Europa 2 in Cagliari

Europa 2 in Cagliari

Europa 2 in Cagliari, Sardinia. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Heading Home

Heading Home

Back to Europa 2 anchored off La Savina (Formentera), Spain. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Europa 2

Europa 2

Europa 2 anchored off La Savina (Formentera), Spain. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Coming Your Way, Europa 2

Coming Your Way, Europa 2

Europa 2 anchored off La Savina (Formentera), Spain. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Trouble viewing our slideshow? View on Flickr instead.

Cruise Fares, Europa 2

Europa 2 claims the highest space ratio(and the highest cruise fares) in the industry.

Europa 2 epitomizes elegance, and the experiences that she offers are as good as they get, from the staterooms and suites to the lounges and dining, and all that comes in between.

On my five-day cruise this past July, Europa 2 was carrying only a tad more than half (273) of its 516-guest capacity. I don’t know whether the low capacity had to do with the time of year (Europeans typically vacation in August); the fact that Europa 2 is such a new ship; or the price point.

With average per diems beginning at €600 per person, Europa 2 is attempting to command some of the industry’s highest cruise fares. As of this writing at the end of August 2013, whether or not she can do that remains to be seen. I believe she can, at least for the moment. See Seven Reasons Why Europa 2 Can Command The Luxury Cruise Segment’s Highest Prices — For Now.

Europa 2 is in the same competitive set as Crystal CruisesRegent Seven Seas CruisesSilversea CruisesSeaDream Yacht Club and Seabourn, and you’ll find that for similar sailings, those luxury lines price out at much less than Europa 2.

For example, if you were to book an Ocean Suite on Europa 2 for the October 5 – 12, 2013, seven-day Istanbul-to-Piraeus sailing, you would pay €4,858 per person, double occupancy. That’s €694 per person, per day. Note that I am using euros for comparisons, as Europa 2 prices its cruises in euros. For conversions to U.S. dollars, multiply by 1.33 or the current rate of exchange.

Comparing to Seabourn, booking a Veranda Suite on Seabourn Odyssey, October 5 – 12, 2013, Istanbul to Piraeus, would set you back €2,776, or €396 per person, per day, based on double occupancy. However, Seabourn lists the same seven-day itineraries going for €3,900 in 2014, a notable increase, due to the fact, perhaps, that Seabourn is reducing its fleet from six ships to three ships in 2014.

Using the same routing for 2014, Silversea Cruises‘ Silver Spirit is priced at €3,150 for a Veranda Suite, and Crystal Cruises offers a seven-day sailing from Venice to Istanbul in a Deluxe Stateroom with Veranda for $8,570 (€6,402). With all kinds of special offers thrown in, you could end up paying €2,675 per person — or about €382 per person, per day on Crystal.

All of the luxury lines have special offers, so keep in mind that my numbers provide only general guidelines suggesting that Europa 2 is priced higher than its competitors for similar sailings.

So the question for luxury cruisers: Is cruising on Europa 2 worth the price differential?

My Take On Europa 2

As an experience for those who can afford it, cruising on Europa 2 is worth the extra outlay. Those who are not as well-heeled, but still want to go luxury, could do nearly two cruises on one of the other luxury players for the same price that they would pay to cruise Europa 2.

Following are seven reasons why you may find the extra cost to cruise on Europa 2 worth it.

1. Europa 2 Is Extremely Spacious

Europa 2 has the highest space ratio of any cruise ship. You don’t need to be 6’5″, as I am, to appreciate the double-height ceilings, the overall airiness and the additional real estate. Europa 2 would feel uncrowded when sailing at full capacity with 516 passengers. I enjoy space to breathe, and my guess is, so will those who cruise Europa 2.

At a press conference on the new luxury vessel this past spring, company officials displayed a slide showing a space ratio of 76.5. We calculated, and confirmed, it to be even higher, 83.

Space enhances the elegance of Europa 2. Nearly all other luxury cruise ships have similar space ratios, but Europa 2 currently leads the pack.

By contrast, the world’s largest cruise ships, Oasis of the Seas and its sister Allure of the Seas, have space ratios of around 40. Confused about space ratio? See Nautical Nomenclature: How Space Ratio Affects Your Cruise

Reception Area On Europa 2
Boasting tall ceilings and lots of space, the reception area and lobby on Europa 2, which claims the highest space ratio among cruise ships. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

2. European Staff Serving You On Europa 2

It would be hard to find fault with Asian servers, the backbone of the food & beverage departments on nearly all cruise lines. They are hard-working, friendly and eager to please.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, however, believes sophisticated travelers will pay more to be served by European, English-speaking food & beverage staff, than to be served by other ethnic groups, notably Asians. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen. Some luxury cruise lines, such as Silversea Cruises, have successfully shifted from European staff to Asian dining room and lounge staff. Others, such as Seabourn, see value in European dining room and lounge staff. It’s a matter of personal choice, but some will certainly lean toward European dining room service.

Belvedere, Europa 2
In the dining rooms and public rooms, you’ll find friendly European staff on Europa 2. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

What was apparent during my sailing on Europa 2 was that servers were friendly, professional and able to anticipate needs before being asked. I enjoyed conversing with German waiters who spoke nearly impeccable English, though I could not rate the experience any better or any worse than dining rooms and lounges staffed with Asian servers.

Europa 2’s staff-to-guest ratio: 1.4:1, a high standard, as expected. Check out: Photo Slideshow: Europa 2 Dining & Lounges

Europa 2's food & beverage service staff are mostly bilingual Germans. Hapag-Lloyd's Managing Director Wolfgang Flagel says that the European f&b staff is essential to the brand. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle
Europa 2’s food & beverage service staff are mostly bilingual Germans. Hapag-Lloyd’s Managing Director Wolfgang Flagel says that the European f&b staff is essential to the brand. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

3. Work Of Art: Europa 2’s Decor And Furnishings

Europa 2 is a work of art, a gorgeous ship that benefits from the high space ratio. I enjoyed strolling around the ship, and I appreciated the color schemes, which I suppose could be characterized as lots of earth tones and generous use of wood. I don’t quite know how to describe the design. Is it Nordic-inspired? Perhaps. It’s certainly a clean design that appeals to my inner aesthetic. Explore Europa 2 for yourself in two photo slideshows: Photo Slideshow: Europa 2 Interior Beauty and Photo Slideshow: Europa 2’s Exterior Decks.

Europa 2
Simply stunning: on Europa 2. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

4. Europa 2 Features Eight Restaurants

In my hometown I have a handful of restaurants that I like to frequent. Europa 2 emulates that experience by allowing me to dine in a different restaurant each evening of my cruise. I might find myself in France one evening (Restaurant Tarragon); Asia, the next evening (Restaurant Elements); and Italy, the next (Restaurant Serenissima). In fact, I’d need to cruise for nine days/eight nights to experience all of the dining venues — make that 10 days/nine nights. After all, doesn’t room service count as a dining venue?

The take-away? Foodies who want choice will appreciate the fact that they can dine in a different restaurant every night — and they’ll need to combine two seven-day voyages to experience all eight dining venues.

Imagine yourself in Europa 2’s restaurants by checking out our two photo slideshows: Photo Tour, Europa 2’s Restaurants and Photo Slideshow, Europa 2 Dining & Lounges.

One of eight dining venues on Europa 2, Restaurant Serenissima features Italian cuisine. Guests are encouraged to make reservations at the smaller restaurants, such as Serenissima. Reservations can be made only for the next 48 hours. Dining throughout Europa 2 comes at no extra charge, except in Speisezimmer, a private dining venue that can be booked for up to 16 people for €1,500. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle
One of eight dining venues on Europa 2, Restaurant Serenissima features Italian cuisine. Guests are encouraged to make reservations at the speciality restaurants, such as Serenissima. Reservations can be made only for the next 48 hours. Dining throughout Europa 2 comes at no extra charge, except in Speisezimmer, a private dining venue that can be booked for up to 16 people for €1,500. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

5. Europa 2’s Big Bathrooms

Staterooms, which Hapag-Lloyd calls suites on Europa 2, are spacious, well-thought out, functional and gorgeous. The use of light woods, attractive fabrics, stylish furniture and thoughtful lighting makes for a pleasant living space. Large verandas with comfortable lounge chairs add to the joy of cruising on Europa 2.

Grand Penthouse Suite, Europa 2
Featuring gorgeous bathrooms that are like mini-spas, Europa 2 has  two Grand Penthouse Suites that measure 78 square meters (840 square feet), plus verandas that measure 10 square meters (108 square feet). © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

But as I wrote in an earlier post, the bathrooms are the Wow! factor on Europa 2. They are, in fact, much more than bathrooms. They are more like mini-spas with windows looking out on the sea.

I don’t suspect that I’ll ever be residing in any of the large suites on Europa 2 (though I was happy in my Veranda Suite), but I can still appreciate my aspirations to do so. The two Owner’s suites and the two Grand Penthouse suites are gorgeous, but it was the bathrooms that caused jaws to drop during our tour of Europa 2 this past spring. All four bathrooms feature ocean views, with huge whirlpool tubs and daybeds against floor-to-ceiling windows.

To get a feel for the suites — and those spacious bathrooms — on Europa 2, check out 37 photos in our Photo Slideshow: Europa 2 Staterooms & Suites.

Bath with a view, Europa 2
Bathrooms in the Owner’s suites feature whirlpools with ocean views, showers with steam saunas and day beds against floor-to-ceiling windows. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

6. Healthy Options For Dining & Fitness On Europa 2

In an earlier post I wrote that Europa 2 had one of the best cruise ship gyms I’ve ever encountered. That was my conclusion after being on board for only 24 hours during a preview cruise this past spring. In July 2013, however, I cruised on Europa 2 and found a few flaws with the gym.

Europa 2 Spa
Europa 2 features free weights but only up to 10 kilograms. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

While Europa 2 features an attractive gym, it is not the best I’ve seen at sea in terms of equipment and offerings. For example, the fitness center could use more weight-training equipment. Dumbbells top out at 10 kilograms, about 22 pounds. I wasn’t the only one who asked if there were heavier weights available. At least two others did so on my sailing in July. On Royal Princess, by contrast, the dumbbells top out at 100 pounds (see ).

Europa 2 Fitness
The fitness studio features fitness and cardio equipment, as well as kinesis walls by Technogym. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

That said, Europa 2’s gym is certainly adequate to maintain a fitness routine and offset the excess calories that are so easy to consume, and the gym is as good as, or better, than gyms on other luxury cruise ships.

Europa 2’s spa is exceptionally well done, and I particularly enjoyed the aft-facing whirlpool and sauna.

Chia Europa 2
The selection of seeds in the Yacht Club included the latest trendy seed, Chia, which can be expensive but oh so good for you, according to health gurus. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

I also appreciated the fact that I could maintain my healthy dining lifestyle on Europa 2. I enjoyed breakfast in The Yacht Club, where I found the healthful, trendy (and expensive) chia seeds on the breakfast buffet, as well as fresh fruits and juices — and lots of other healthy choices. In fact, breakfast in The Yacht Club wasn’t all that much different from my breakfast at Whole Foods when back home.

To get a feel for the healthy lifestyle on board, check out 13 photos in our Photo Slideshow: Europa 2 Spa & Fitness

7. Seven-Day Luxury Cruises Will Appeal To Some

erice, europa 2
From Trapani, we visited the ancient hilltop town of Erice. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

For those who have the money and are squeezed for time, seven-day cruises can be more practical than longer itineraries. While Europa 2 isn’t the only luxury cruise line to offer seven-day cruises — nearly all luxury lines do — some of Europa 2’s itineraries may appeal to travelers.

During the summer, Europa 2 operates combinable seven-day cruises to the Western and Eastern Mediterranean that visit some ports that aren’t so common on itineraries offered by other cruise lines. On my sailing, for example, I particularly enjoyed cruising from Malta and calling on a couple of first-ever ports for me: Trapani in Sicily and Cagliari in Sardinia.

Europa 2 will sail on 26 routes with 123 ports of call in four regions of the world — Western and Eastern Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, and Southeast Asia.

Up to three itineraries can be put together with no repeating ports of call.

Update: See Europa 2 2014/2015 Brochure Introduces Four-Day Cruises, New Cruising Regions, Themed & Family Cruises

Cagliari, Europa 2
When Europa 2 docked in Cagliari, I spent part of my day on a shore excursion where I experienced traditional food and dance. Note that is not me leaping. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Other Reasons Why Europa 2 May Appeal To Cruisers

Europa 2 may appeal to cruisers for other reasons that are not exclusive to Hapag-Lloyd: Europa 2’s relaxed dress code (in Germany the company advertises “21 knots without a tie” — SeaDream Yacht Club also has a relaxed dress code); its catering to children with dedicated kids’ activity centers and shore excursions (Crystal Cruises also caters to children); and the on-board international ambience (nearly all luxury cruises have an international ambience; however Europa 2’s is German-inspired).

Europa 2 families
Europa 2 caters to families. In fact, children 11 and under travel free of charge when accompanied by two full-price cruise guests. Dedicated kids’ facilities include the “Knopf Club,” equipped with cots, changing tables and a lounge furnished with toys by the renowned manufacturer Steiff; the “Kids Club,” for ages 4 to 10; and the “Teens Club,” for children 11-15 years. Shore excursions for children, teenagers, or the entire family are offered on all family cruises. Europa 2 has seven family style suites with two separate areas, connected by a door and shared balcony. For a fee, childcare is available for children two and older. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Europa 2 does a good job at catering to North American and English-speaking guests. Language and culture should seldom pose a problem for anyone cruising this vessel. On my sailing, German staff spoke and understood English at a high level. Only once did I utter a few words that presented a challenge for a German-speaking crew-member (when I ordered whole wheat pasta), but we worked it out with good humor and by pointing.

Shore excursions are handled well and reasonably priced, with plenty of variety. Internet, including WiFi, performed well and was reasonably priced at 19 euro cents per minute. Most would be hard-pressed to exceed 50 euros for internet charges, which would give you just over four hours of connectivity.

Entertainment was enjoyable and not language-dependent.

Europa 2 stage shows
Europa 2’s exclusively produced stage shows are language independent, such as the one previewed on our cruise. Called “Water,” the show used tubs as props to present a mix of acrobatics, music and dance. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Potential Drawbacks For Some Cruisers

Some prospective cruisers may put off by Europa 2’s non-inclusive alcohol packaging, its pricing, its lack of a casino, the European/German ambience for those who don’t mix well with other cultures, and Europa 2’s smoking policy. Smoking is allowed on verandas and in designated areas, including some in public rooms and lounges.

One small personal pet peeve: laundry service requiring two days when paying the standard rate. By the time your laundry is returned, your seven-day cruise is half over.

Europa 2 laundry
I love the way returned laundry is packaged on Europa 2 but dislike the fact that it takes two days for it to be returned,unless paying a rush surcharge. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Comparing Europa And Europa 2

I’ve cruised both Europa and Europa 2. Both ships represent the highest standards in luxury cruising. For North Americans and English-speaking travelers, Europa 2 is likely to be the better choice due to itineraries spanning as few as seven days and the casual on-board ambience that may appeal to many travelers. Europa 2’s itineraries can be combined with no repeating ports for those who want to cruise for more than one week.

Families are welcomed on Europa 2, and kids have plenty of quality care to keep them busy and happy on their voyages. The older Europa has a stronger German — and formal — ambience than Europa 2, as well as guests who may have less tolerance for children than do guests on Europa 2.

As noted, Europa 2 commands among the industry’s highest per diems (as much as 600 euros per person — about $1,600 per day per couple) as does Europa. Alcohol, soft drinks, bottled water and more are not included in the fare, unlike on all other luxury cruise lines. Hapag-Lloyd’s luxury vessels are pricey products, right up there with barge cruises (which can run as much as $2,000 per day per couple — read more about barge cruises on French Country Waterways and European Waterways).

I’ve not cruised Hapag-Lloyd’s expedition vessels, the Hanseatic and Bremen, or the premium ship, Columbus 2, which ceases service for Hapag-Lloyd in April 2014.

Bottom Line, Worth It?

For luxury cruisers, Europa 2 is worth sailing, if only for the experience alone. You would be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful ship, though you will find ships that are equally as beautiful in the luxury segment. You may appreciate the German penchant for timeliness, cleanliness and organization. As noted, having a choice of eight dining venues will appeal to many. I enjoyed my time on Europa 2 and would definitely like to experience it again.

Be sure to see 

Also see …

Avid Cruiser Posts and Videos Featuring Europa 2:

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