Since her inauguration in 2013, MS Europa 2 has been named the world´s best cruise ship by the bible of cruise enthusiasts, the Berlitz Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships. So when I had the opportunity to visit the most luxurious yacht in Barcelona, don´t think that it took me long to make a decision. Come onboard with me and experience the utmost possible in all-suite cruising made in France and with German profundity.
“Twenty-one knots and no tie”. This is the philosophy that guests are to experience aboard the sleek and stylish Europa 2. Carrying a maximum of 516 sophisticated guests around the globe, the ship which claims to offer “all the promises of a yacht with the serenity of a small resort” truly pampers the eye with lots of modern elegance and high-end luxury.
Having been a truly German cruise and expedition operator for most times, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises opened up to the English-speaking cruise market just a few years ago. Placing MS Europa 2 in direct competition with other exclusive cruise operators such as Regent Seven Seas, SeaDream Yacht Club, Silversea or Seabourn.
The design language onboard is straightforward. Quite German in other words. All materials are of excellent quality and the implementation close to perfection. You can hardly see any electric wires anywhere disturbing the minimalistic ambiance. This is only a small part of Europa 2´s intention to deliver simply the best. But before I go on with my flattering, let´s start the little tour!
Deck 4 holds most of the ship´s public spaces and is also the embarkation deck for Europa 2. The elegant theatre in the forward is quite big for a ship like her and spreads over two decks.
Hapag-Lloyd enjoys a high reputation for the onboard entertainment. Along with classic shows, the company invites on a regular base guest stars and artists to the stage. Musicals, concerts, entertainers, singers or acrobats. It all happens here.
Clean lines and bright colors along the way to/from the theatre.
Next stop is the Jazzclub. This bright lounge offers live Soul and Jazz music played by the onboard band and performed by invited guest singers.
I love the design and the colors! The small multi-purpose stage can also be used for comedy or variety performances.
And the friendly staff at the stylish bar makes sure that you won´t stay thirsty.
The Herrenzimmer just across the hallway is the Europa 2´s cigar and smoking lounge.
There is a wide selection of Cuban cigars available as well as the biggest gin selection at sea. A note for non-smokers: The exhaust system does not fully extinguish the smell, but the air is much better than on other ships.
When embarkation and going ashore is a visual statement.
The Piano Bar in the lobby is one of six bars to unwind at. There is live piano music throughout the day by a pianist performed on the Steinway.
The reception area is probably one of the most beautiful spaces on Europa 2. The white high-gloss surfaces shine bright in the daylight that floods in through the floor-to-ceiling windows that extend over several levels.
Lots of comfortable seating areas invite for a sit. The atrium is a great meeting spot. Hapag-Lloyd teamed up with deluxe furniture brands such as COR to furnish Europa 2´s interiors and suites.
Right behind the atrium lie the luxurious boutique …
… the Cruise Planner and Shore Excursions.
The rear staircase connects Decks 4 to 9 and has two additional elevators.
Daylight is being transported via this rotunda into the staircase which constitutes to the contemporary design.
There are altogether seven restaurants aboard Europa 2. For a ship that is designed for a maximum of 516 passengers, that is quite a statement! This hallway leads to Tarragon, Elements and Weltmeere.
Tarragon serves classic and modern French haut-cuisine in the ambiance of a Paris brasserie.
Signature dishes like fresh beef tartare prepared right at the table or Breton apple pie along with walnut-and-caramel ice cream are served on elegant china. The sophisticated art-deco design and the refreshing color scheme create the perfect atmosphere to indulge in.
The Eastern way of life and the diverse cuisine of Asia are the center of attention at Elements.
From traditional Chinese dishes to the tastes of India, Elements is designed to offer the ultimate Far East experience with signature dishes like fried lobster on strips of carrot and papaya with tamarind sauce.
Serenissima, on the other hand, concentrates on classic Italian delicacies mainly from the Ligurian and Neapolitan cuisine.
Like in Bella Italia, the focus lies on high quality ingredients and the freshness of the meats and seafood. I love the green chandeliers! I am sure that the Chef´s recommendation “grilled, juicy veal chop with spinach leaves and paprika grilled in olive oil” tastes just perfect underneath.
Weltmeere is the main dining room aboard MS Europa 2. Like in all the other restaurants, there are no fixed seating times and guests may dine whenever and with whoever they please.
This extraordinary design space is the playground of chefs de cuisine Willy Leitgeb and Martin Ohlemann. Both chefs aim to spoil and surprise the guests with creative cuisine and their very own personal touch to it. I simply love the colour scheme and the mouth blown purple chandeliers. Aren´t they magnificent?
Decks 5 to 11 hold the luxurious accommodations aboard MS Europa 2. The yacht offers only suites with a personal veranda and a minimum size of 35 square meters (including the balcony). Access to these hideaways is through light decorated hallways like this one.
Veranda and Ocean Suites are the basic accommodations available. Fitted in bright and friendly colours and with an open and spacious layout, these suites offer an elegant and cosy retreat for the up-market traveler.
Each suite features a walk-in wardrobe, free mini bar, and exclusive living area with chaise longue …
… and a bathroom with bathtub and separate shower. Ocean Suites additionally feature a separate WC, daylight in the bathroom as well as a whirlpool tub and two sinks. The colour scheme for these suites is purple rather than creme.
Both corridors leading to the accommodations have access to the airy atrium with beautiful views through the floor to ceiling windows.
The generous Ocean Spa is located at the rear of Deck 5. It offers a wide range of wellness treatments, private spa rooms, a thermal suite and a sun terrace at the stern of the ship.
On 800 square meters, this sanctuary pampers body and soul in a flawless atmosphere.
I have already found my beloved space …
For those being the more active type of cruiser a luxurious Fitness Center awaits with the latest Technogym muscle and cardio equipment including Kinesis.
Wherever you enjoy a workout after your own schedule or with the help of a personal trainer, the gym leaves no wishes unanswered. Europa 2 is also equipped with two high-tech putting green golf simulators.
One of my favourite cabins aboard Europa 2 are the Grand Ocean Suites. Located midships on Decks 5 and 6, these retreats offer altogether 52 square meters of luxury and privacy.
The living area spreads out on 42 square meters and features a huge corner sofa to unwind on for daydreaming or for hosting a cocktail party for fellow travelers.
There is ample stowage room and elegant details like a mirror hiding behind folding doors. The spacious veranda (10 square meters) holds two sun loungers and a table with two seats.
My personal highlight though is the bathroom with window to the living area. You can enjoy a whirlpool bath with sea views or make use of your very own separate shower with integrated steam sauna. Isn´t this to dream away?
Penthouse Suites are of the same size as the Grand Ocean Suites, yet their layout differs a little. There is a walk-in closet and a separate WC, accessible through the bathroom.
Their elegant creme colored interiors make them a perfect hideaway with a homely atmosphere. The transparent room dividers contribute to the airy and light ambiance.
You can sunbathe on your private veranda while your personal butler serves well chilled champagne or simply enjoy your favourite book on the grand sofa. Penthouse Suites are located on Decks 8 and 10 forward.
A highly popular meeting point during the day and particularly in the evenings is the Sansibar, one of the bars aboard Europa 2.
Offering interior and outdoor seating, Sansibar is a great spot for an afternoon coffee or a sundowner cocktail.
At night, the bar turns into the ship´s disco with dancing underneath the moonlight on the outdoor terrace to funky beats.
Deck 9 features recreational spaces only. There is an outdoor promenade that leads all around the ship and that is perfect for a stroll.
Belvedere is Europa 2´s panoramic lounge. Located right underneath the ship´s bridge, this elegant salon offers the best views through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Wherever you come here for a delightful afternoon tea or a distinguished aperitif, Belvedere pampers with a calming atmosphere and blissful musical backing.
This is also the right place to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings for freshly made pâtisserie. I can see me leaning back in one of these comfortable leather seats while loosing my sight somewhere on the horizon… .
A trend that MS Europa 2 had identified in its very early stages was the wish for an onboard Culinary School. At a reasonable extra charge, guests can develop their own cooking skills under the guidance of Tarragon´s chef in a relaxed and fun environment. This is something I would definitely enjoy to take part in, won´t you?
Cruising with MS Europa 2 is never boring. Wherever you are looking for some blockbuster entertainment in the 3D cinema or betterment in basic knowledge, the onboard Auditorium provides both. Lecturers, experts and world-renowned speakers are invited on a regular base to share their knowledge with the passengers and contribute to a deeper travel experience.
And how could a stylish ship like Europa 2 miss a well-sorted Library? Of course not.
Homely leather armchairs invite to linger and to read or look at one´s favourite high-gloss picture book. By the way, Europa 2 holds more than 890 pieces of original art throughout the ship, including artists like Damien Hirst or Gerhard Richter! Speaking of a floating contemporary art museum, right?
The mid section of Deck 9 is occupied by the pool area. The embedded Poolbar is a great spot to not only enjoy made-to-order cocktails, it also serves small and healthy snacks throughout the day. From breakfast to lunch.
The two level pool deck is a serene hideaway during the day with lots of sun loungers for sun bathing or seats in the shadow for people who prefer not to sit in the direct sunlight.
The retractable glass roof enables MS Europa 2 to use this space in warm and fickle weather.
The length of the pool itself can actually vary as the ramp (which serves as stage for live music or DJ´s during pool parties) is moveable.
These wooden benches on both sides of the basin would absolutely be one of my personal hotspots to unwind on. Swimming, lounging, swimming, lounging, and so on.
The delightful color scheme with lots of turquoise shades make the pool deck a great place to enjoy a sumptuous vacation. Enjoying a glass of champagne while watching the sun rays dance on the water of the pool? Absolutely!
The aftdeck on Deck 9 is reserved for Europa 2´s buffet restaurant Yacht Club and the integrated Sakura sushi restaurant.
A daily changing menu is prepared freshly at the different chef´s stations and includes a various offering in tastes.
I love the consequently implemented minimalistic design language inside the Yacht Club. A great way to present the high quality offerings in a distinguished yet unobtrusive way and to underline the ship´s elegant but laid-back philosophy.
Sakura pampers with most delicate sashimi, nigiri and maki sushi, as much as you are ready to enjoy! A light and healthy treat throughout the day.
Who does not love a delicious meal outside in the fresh air? There is nothing more relaxing to me than enjoying my breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner while the salty sea air is blowing through my hair. The Yacht Club terrace also holds from time to time live cooking demonstrations and barbecue parties underneath the stars. LOVE!
The next stop is Deck 10 which holds the ship´s most prestigious and luxurious suites available.
Two Grand Penthouse Suites and two Owner´s Suites leave no wish unfulfilled for the most up-market passengers. By the way, the flatscreen television retracts from the wooden panel in front of the bed.
The Grand Penthouse Suite (1002 & 1003) spreads over 78 square meters (plus a 10 square meter veranda) including a master bedroom with adjacent walk-in wardrobe, a living room with dining table, a master bathroom with whirlpool and daybed as well as a two separate WC´s.
The suite offers also one of the most exclusive bathrooms, or shall I say private spa, with panoramic sea views in the industry.
Two nacre sinks, a light control panel for pre-defined lighting scenarios that are suitable for every kind of mood, a built-in mirror television and a steam sauna shower are just a few highlights of these luxurious retreats.
But what could be more relaxing than that sundown whirlpool bath with a bottle of champagne and watching the sparkling stars above the ocean from the own private day bed afterwards?
Or cool off on the private veranda, which is accessible from both the living room and the bathroom. The large table also enables you to enjoy a sumptuous breakfast or lunch in the privacy of your suite with the best views.
Bright sunlight or rather a place in the shadow? You decide on the sun deck leading to the stern of the yacht.
There, private cabanas offer the best seat in the house with magnificent views over the wash onto the horizon. This would definitely be my most anticipated spot on the ship! Who could not agree?
For those, who prefer to lie in the direct sun rather underneath the retractable roof of the pooldeck, there is an additional sun deck located around the mast up on Deck 11.
Sheltered by glass windbreakers, this secluded space is equipped with various types of sun loungers and day beds.
A large whirlpool and two showers help to either soothe the muscles or to simply cool off after a few hours in the direct sunlight.
And this is also where my ship tour comes to an end. If I have had the opportunity, I would have stayed on board straight away (shall I mention that I did have a small overnighter with me, just in case??!!). I mean, who could not understand, right?
But I had to let her sail. Taking with me all these beautiful impressions and the longing to one day stand myself at the reling as the ship´s horn blows. Experiencing on my own what it feels like to sail the seven seas on the best cruise ship currently in service. Offering all the promises of a yacht with the serenity of a small luxury resort. This is what dreams are made of.
Visit Hapag-Lloyd Cruises for more information about the company and their ships. See a few more recent photographs of Sansibar and Yacht Club restaurant on Europa 2 or check out her future sailing for 2017/18 here.