Europa 2 was built in 2013. // © 2015 Valerie Chen
Feature image (above): The Ocean Spa has clothing-optional public areas. // © 2015 Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
I have just two vague memories of my first cruise at age 8: lots of chicken tenders (likely) and my mom covering my eyes during a showing of Titanic (not as likely). But as soon as I stepped onboard Europa 2, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ crowning young beauty, I had a strong feeling that this cruise would be difficult to forget. Following is a breakdown of what agents should know about Europa 2, which recently received five-stars-plus from Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships for the third consecutive year.
Sail for Longer
Unlike most cruise ships, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa 2 doesn’t continually repeat itineraries. The cruise line guarantees that passengers can combine at least three itineraries without having to repeat any ports of call, but the number can usually be even greater. According to Frank Neumann, the ship’s hotel director, about 50 percent of Europa 2 and Europa’s passengers are return cruisers, which underlines the importance of diversifying ports of call.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises a German cruise line that primarily caters to German passengers. Even though Europa 2 is a bilingual ship (unlike the older and more formal Europa), the clients best suited for the ship may be those who are longtime cruisers, have an interest in the German culture or both. Susanne Cheng, the international hostess onboard Europa 2, notes that most sailings include about 15 percent non-German, English-speaking passengers.
Germans pride themselves on a serious spa culture. The 8,611-square-foot Ocean Spa onboard Europa 2 is no exception, with everything from a personal decked-out spa room to eight shared treatment rooms. However, there’s a catch for the more prudish folks: Full nudity is expected in the co-ed sauna, steam and shower area. You’re allowed to keep a towel or swimwear on, if so desired, but chances are you’ll be the odd one out.
Of the 251 suites onboard, there are eight recently renovated family suites. They consist of two connected cabins — one for the parents and one for the little ones — that contain a shared veranda, a play area, a baby-changing table, bunk beds (one of which is a Pullman couch) and plenty of toys. Outside of the suites, there’s the Knopf Club (for kids ages 2 to 3), a kids’ club and a teens’ club. In lieu of champagne upon arrival, kids get their own treat: miniature bottles of apple cider, along with gummy bears. Children 11 years old or younger cruise free.
Europa 2 is known for having the biggest space-to-passenger ratio in the industry. So even when the ship is almost at its full capacity of 500 passengers, it likely won’t feel crowded. Neumann recommends heading to deck 11, which feels like a well-kept secret and has abundant sun loungers and chairs. The Belvedere Lounge on deck nine is another place for respite, with live music and high tea in the afternoon and an extraordinary view — courtesy of floor-to-ceiling windows — all the time.
Outside of the water bottles provided in the cabin’s minibar (refilled twice daily with other free drinks as well), water comes at an additional charge. Alcohol costs extra, too, but is reasonably priced. However, coffee (including lattes, cappuccinos and the like), tea and fresh juices are free onboard. Currently, Europa 2 has an introductory offer for non-German, English-speaking passengers: Up to 200 Euro (per person) onboard credit for all beverages.