Europa - Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)


★★★★★ +

Berlitz’s Ratings

Ship: 471 out of 500

Accommodation: 183 out of 200

Food: 373 out of 400

Service: 360 out of 400

Entertainment: 91 out of 100

Cruise: 373 out of 400

Overall Score: 1851 out of 2000

Europa Statistics

Size: Small Ship

Tonnage: 28,890

Lifestyle: Luxury

Cruise Line: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

Former Names: none

IMO Number: 8224422

Builder: Kvaerner Masa-Yards (Finland)

Original Cost: DM260 million

Entered Service: Sep 1999

Registry: The Bahamas

Length (ft/m): 651.5/198.6

Beam (ft/m): 78.7/24.0

Draft (ft/m): 20.0/6.1

Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (21,600kW)/2 azimuthing pods

Passenger Decks: 7

Total Crew: 280

Passengers (lower beds): 408/450

Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 70.4/64.2

Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 1.4/1.6

Cabins (total): 204

Size Range (sq ft/m): 355.2-914.9/33.0-85.0

Cabins (for one person): 0

Cabins (with private balcony): 168

Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 2

Wheelchair accessibility: Good

Cabin Current: 110 and 120 volts

Elevators: 4

Casino (gaming tables): No

Slot Machines: No

Swimming Pools: 1 (1 w/ sliding glass dome)

Hot Tubs (on deck): 2

Self-Service Launderette: Yes

Dedicated Cinema/Seats: Yes/60

Library: Yes

Onboard currency: Euros


A truly sophisticated ship for formal, longer cruising

Overview. Europa is arguably the most luxurious of all the smaller formal cruise ships, and for the German-speaking market, nothing else comes close (the crew also speaks English). Combined with an enthusiastic and well-trained crew, the tradition of luxury cruising is taken to its highest expression, with superb food and a wide range of creature comforts.

The Ship. Europa has a really sleek appearance and a graceful profile, and Hapag-Lloyd’s signature orange/blue funnel. The stern is rounded and gracefully-shaped. It is a very stable ship at sea, with no vibration or noise - thanks partly to its pod propulsion system and excellent build quality. Europa carries 14 Zodiac landing craft for close-up coastal shore excursions; boot-washing areas are also provided. Over 20 bicycles are available free for use ashore and are offloaded on to the dock in each port (where possible).

There is an outdoor walking/jogging area with rubberized deck (plus a walk-around teak promenade deck), and a small FKK (Frei-KörperKultur) deck for nude sunbathing. Sunloungers have thick cushioned pads.

There is one long, rectangular swimming pool outdoors (half indoors, and half outdoors). While not the widest, it is longer than the pools aboard most other cruise ships, at 56.7 by 16.8ft (17.3 by 5.15m). Movies are screened poolside on selected evenings, and themed social events are held here.

Most of Europa’s hotel service crew understand the culture and can talk in depth about German, Swiss, and Austrian life.

Europa is one of the world’s most spacious purpose-built cruise ships - an exquisite retreat, an intensely welcoming world of stylish cruising. The space per passenger is high, there is never a hint of a line, and both restaurant and show lounge seat a full complement of passengers. Only the best quality soft furnishings are used, blending traditional with modern designs and materials. Most public rooms and hallways have extremely high ceilings, providing an enhanced sense of space and grandeur. The interior décor colors are light and contemporary, with no hint of glitz.

The central interior focal point is a seven-deck-high central atrium; included are two glass-walled elevators (these are operated by ‘piccolos’ on embarkation day). The lower level features a white Steinway grand piano and a Piano Bar, reception desk, concierge desk, and shore excursion desk. It’s a cozy, open space for social parties, particularly on nights designated as ‘formal,’ with passengers dressed accordingly. In the ship’s 2013 refurbishment, plush new chairs and sofas were added, in lovely plum and wine colors (the result of woman’s eye for detail). Tucked away in one corner is a business center - good for small group meetings.

Forward of the atrium lobby is the multi-function Europa Lounge, with U-shaped seating configuration and a proper (raised) stage, although several pillars obstruct sight lines.

Several public rooms are located along a curved ‘street’ leading aft from the atrium, including the Clipper Lounge/Bar, which has an extremely high ceiling. room is amulti-function room, with small stage and wood dance floor.

What was originally designed to be a casino is now a multi-function space for small cocktail parties, and also serves as a high-class art gallery showcasing German culture artists.

Supremely comfortable, a sidewalk Havana Bar cigar lounge, is a clubby room (with cigar-colored armchairs and, on one wall, a huge photograph of Che Guevara), with three large glass-fronted conditioned humidor cabinets, and an extensive range of cigars. Cigars stocked include a range (from 102mm to 232mm) of top (mostly Cuban) brands. The bar also serves a fine range of armagnacs, calvados, and cognacs, all poured tableside, plus Cuban beer. A wall-mounted digital MP3 jukebox has a push-button selection of thousands of songs and instrumental music. I recommend an Irish Coffee, correctly made (with the glass rotated while sugar is blended with the alcohol, and heated gently over a candle flame. Adjacent is the ship’s jeweler/clothing boutique (Wempe).

On a higher deck, Club Belvedere is the place for afternoon tea (there’s a choice of over 30 teas - mostly loose-leaf) and intimate music recitals. It is simply a lovely room, with its own bar. There are also several types of coffee and impeccably made liqueur coffees (heated in a hand-turned glass enclosure), and a superb selection of cakes, made fresh daily.

The library has an illuminated globe of the world, numerous bookcases and bookshelves and is open 24 hours a day (books are taken out on the honor system). Opposite is a small cinema/meeting/function room.

There are also dedicated rooms for hobbies (arts and crafts). For wheelchair-bound passengers, a special ramp is provided from the outdoor lido/pool deck down to where the lifeboats are located; only three other ships have such a ramp (Asuka II, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony).

There is a children’s center, and parents with infants receive a ‘Baby Welcome Package.’ Staff can provide diapers and baby food of your choosing, so you don’t need to bring excessive luggage - a service included in the fare. Also, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has teamed up with Steiff to create the exclusive Captain Knopf teddy bear (and book). Although a children’s playroom is provided, Europa really is best for adults seeking a quiet, refined setting.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises hosts the annual Stella Maris operatic competition, which attracts top-notch up-and-coming operatic singers from around the world compete annually for the prestigious Young Talent Development Prize. A top prize of €15,000 is offered, as well as a Deutsche Grammophon recording contract. The company also sponsors an annual Ocean Sun Festival - for classical/chamber music devotees (concerts are often held ashore as part of the program).

Accommodation. This is provided in five configurations and several price categories. It consists of all-outside-view suites: two Penthouse Grand Suites (Hapag and Lloyd) and 10 Penthouse Deluxe Suites (Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Handel, Lehár, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Strauss, Wagner; each suite contains a large framed picture of the composer), 156 suites with private balcony, and 36 standard suites. There are two suites (with private balcony) for the disabled and eight suites with interconnecting doors - good for families.

Almost all suites have a private balcony with wide teak deck and lighting, and a smoked glass screen topped by a teak rail. The 12 suites overlooking the stern are among the most sought-after accommodation - six on each of two decks, each suite having a balcony with canvas ‘ceiling’ for shade and privacy.

General Information. Each suite has a wood floor entryway, a sleeping area with twin beds that can convert to a queen-size bed, and two bedside tables with lamps and two drawers. There is a separate lounge area with curtain divider and bird’s-eye maple wood cabinetry and accenting with rounded edges. Facilities include a refrigerator/mini-bar (beer and soft drinks are supplied at no extra charge), writing/vanity desk, and couch with large table in a separate lounge area. An illuminated walk-in closet provides ample hanging space, six drawers, personal safe that can be opened with a credit card, umbrella, shoehorn, and clothes brush. European duvets are provided, as is a full-color free daily newspaper (there’s a wide choice). Almost all suites have totally unobstructed views and excellent soundproofing. All passengers receive a practical shoulder travel bag, an insulated lunch bag for shore excursions, and leather keycard holder.

A Media4Cruises infotainment system includes 24 hours per day video and audio on-demand. The system includes a large flat-screen television and Internet connection via a wireless keyboard. A dedicated email address is provided with your tickets and other documentation in a leather document holder; there is no charge for incoming or outgoing emails. A data socket is provided should you decide to bring your own laptop (the ship has a small number of laptops you can borrow).

All suites have a 100 percent air-circulation system, illuminated walk-in closets, and a generous amount of hanging and storage space. Western European butlers and cabin stewardesses are employed (butlers for the 12 premium suites on Deck 10, cabin stewardesses for all other suites).

The white/gray/sea green marble-tiled bathrooms are very well designed, have light decor, and include two good-size toiletries cabinets. Each has a full bathtub plus an integral shower, retractable clothesline, and separate glass-fronted shower enclosure. Thick cotton bathrobes are provided, as are slippers and an array of personal amenities. Parents with babies get a video baby phone (camera via PDA with vibration alarm, and wireless access).

Penthouses (Deck 10). There are two Penthouse Grand suites, redesigned in 2011, and 10 Penthouse Deluxe suites, refurbished in 2009, when electronically adjustable beds and Nespresso coffee machines were installed. These have a teakwood entrance hall, spacious living room with full-size dining table and four chairs, fully stocked drinks cabinet with refrigerator,complimentary bar set-up, laundry and ironing service, priority spa reservations, caviar or other canapés daily before dinner, hand-made chocolates, petit-fours and other niceties. Balconies have teakwood decking, and white canvas ceiling shades. For the ultimate in exclusivity, the two Penthouse Grand suites have even larger bathrooms (each with a private sauna and specially angled bathtubs and delightful heated floor), and extensive forward views from their prime, supremely quiet location, a large wraparound private balcony; larger walk-in closet (with a window), large flat-screen TVs, and Robbe and Berking silver Champagne goblets. Well-trained butlers provide the highest level of unobtrusive service.

Spa suites. Four ‘spa suites’ are located adjacent to the Futuresse Spa. These incorporate a large private teak-decked balcony; twin or queen-size bed; walk-in closet; dark wood cabinetry housing a refrigerator stocked with fruit juices and different mineral waters, and bar set-up. There’s a flat-screen TV, and storage space including a jewelry drawer, with pull-around doors that can close off everything to view, a writing/ vanity desk, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Decor colors are warm reds, yellow, and gold. There is a large window between the living/sleeping area and the bathroom, which bathroom has warm Asian decor, underwater lighted Jacuzzi bath, separate large shower enclosure (with rain shower), toilet and gold, thick-glass washbasin, hairdryer, and ample storage space. Special teas and other services are provided by spa personnel.

Suites for the Disabled (Deck 7). These spacious suites have one electronically operated bed with hydraulic elevator plus one regular bed, and a closet with drawers (this replaces the walk-in closet in all other suites). The bathroom has a roll-in shower area; all fittings are at the right height, and there are several grab handles, plus an emergency call-for-help button. Wheelchair-accessible public toilets are provided on the main restaurant/entertainment deck.

Dining. With over 5,000 separate food ingredients carried, the executive chef can produce menus that don’t repeat even for around-the-world voyages. The cuisine is outstanding, and full of surprises. Seasonal and regional ingredients are featured, with much totally fresh fish and seafood as standard. Plated presentation of food is provided for entrées with silver service for additional vegetables, plus tableside flambé dishes. Portion size is sensible, never overwhelming. There are four restaurants.

The Europa Restaurant is a beautiful two-deck-high formal dining room that can accommodate all passengers in one seating; tables are assigned for dinner only (breakfast and lunch are open seating), so you keep your favorite waiter for dinner throughout each cruise. In common with most German ships, a small smoking section is provided. There are tables for two (quite a few), four, six, or eight. For superb service, there is a chef de rang and an assistant waiter system, so that the chef de rang is always at the station, with the assistant waiter acting as runner.

On days at sea, in addition to the regular, extensive breakfast, a Gourmet Breakfast menu includes items such as beef tartare, carpaccio of smoked tuna with wasabi cream, gooseliver tureen with orange confit, and other specialties rarely found aboard cruise ships today. A Cuisine Légère menu provides light, healthy, but tasty spa cuisine.

Table settings include Dibbern china, 150g weight Robbe & Berking silverware, and Riedel wine glasses. The cuisine includes German favorites and regional dishes from around the world. The quality of food is extremely high. Top-grade Iranian Ossetre caviar is on the dinner menu at least once each week, and is always available on request, at extra cost.

An extensive wine list includes a good selection of vintage French wines, as well as a well-balanced selection of Austrian, German, and Swiss wines.

Other dining options. In a first for the cruise industry, chef Dieter Müller (who has three Michelin stars) has his first Dieter Müller at Sea Restaurant, a pocket-sized 26-seat intimate restaurant featuring a personally designed five-course menu (three courses for lunch). The menu changes three times during a world cruise, and seasonally during the rest of the year. He participates in about 15 cruises a year - about half of Europa’s annual program. The restaurant - open for dinner nightly and for lunch on sea days - can be reserved once per cruise by all passengers - and there’s no extra charge.

Venezia, a second specialty dining spot, is much loved, popular for its fine Italian cuisine - and a variety of olive oils and grappa. It is open for lunch and dinner, at no extra charge.

Both venues are adjacent to the main restaurant, and provide the setting for a truly intimate (reservations required) dining experience.

For more casual dining, try the elegant Lido Café for serve-yourself breakfasts - the ship even makes its own preserves - luncheons and dinners, with both indoor and outdoor seating (under heat lamps when needed) and adjacent indoor/outdoor bar. Themed evening dining is also featured here, with full waiter service. There is a wide variety of food, and many special lunch buffets have a number of popular themes and regional specialties.

Above the Lido Café is the indoor/outdoor Sansibar, with great aft-facing views. It’s liked by the late-night set.

Europa is known for its real German sausages, available in the Clipper Bar and at a typical Bavarian Früschoppen featured once each cruise in the Lido Café. Also, late each night, ‘light bites,’ beautifully presented on silver trays, are taken around the various bars and lounges.

Nautical tradition is maintained with bouillon service each morning at sea, and other daily niceties include fresh waffles and ice cream poolside each afternoon.

Entertainment. The Europa Lounge, whose decor is a rich red, is a traditional showlounge; it has a sloping floor, providing good sight lines from most seats. The ship excels in its intellectual entertainment program - tailored to the theme of the cruise -including a constant supply of high-quality classical and contemporary musical artistes, a variety of cabaret acts, as well as a programme of expert lecturers and poetry readers. There’s the occasional colorful production show, plus local shows brought on board in various ports.

A smaller, more intimate Clipper Lounge is for late-night cabaret. The ship carries a main showband, plus small musical units to provide live music for listening or dancing. Classical concerts and recitals are provided in the Belvedere Lounge, with its dropped central circular floor.

Spa/Fitness. Ocean Spa has a wide range of beauty services and treatments, including an array rejuvenating treatments, and full-day spa packages.

Well-integrated, facilities include a steam room and sauna (mixed), two shower enclosures and foot-washing stations, relaxation room with three hot tiled beds, three wicker relaxation beds, male and female changing/dressing rooms, and beauty salon. Treatment rooms have music menus, so you can choose what music you wish to hear (if any). The gymnasium is located one deck above the swimming pool, and includes a ‘miha’ bodytec training machine and personal trainer.

On cruises with more than four sea days, Europa’s shore-based wellness partner provides specialists for lectures and wellness regimes.

An electronic golf simulator room complements a golf driving range; a PGA golf pro is carried on all cruises. Shuffleboard courts are on the open deck.