EUROPA 2- THE COMING OF THE NEW

CNV00001When Europa 2 debuts in May, the cruise community will gain far more than just another luxury ship. More than any other significant new build, this is the ship that will very much define the standards and encompass all the modern, high tech style that savvy travellers will come to expect as their birthright. In that respect, she truly is very much the ship of 2013.

Her debut will give the cruise industry only it’s third ever, all balcony suite cruise ship. At 42,000 tons and a maximum capacity of just 516 passengers, Europa 2 will outclass any other ship afloat in terms of the amount of personal space on board. And even her minimum grade balconies come in at a generous seventy five square feet; the largest regulars in the all balcony club by a good way.

CNV00009The ship is obviously meant to build on the style and reputation of her fleet mate, the current, highly styled Europa. That ship is regularly lauded in many quarters as being the best in the world. And, rather than rock the boat, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises have set out to try and enhance on the obviously successful. The difference is, that with a ship one third as big again, the company has more space and options to roll out some unique, signature venues for the nCNV00007ew ship.

The new spa, shown here, will cover something like 620 square metres of prime territory on deck five. With numerous treatment rooms, an expansive whirlpool and views out over the sea, it reflects the light, open palette that will be a trademark of the new ship. Her lines are very clean and cool throughout; whether in the arrangements of the suite furnishings; to the sleek, wedge shaped, external styling of her hull. Perhaps more than any other new build, Europa 2 is a ship that seems to both embrace and celebrate her environment.

The classic example is, without doubt, the mid ship pool area. Located in an expansive sun bowl, it comes complete with the first ever, sliding glass magrodome roof for a ship of this class. Together with the windows on both levels of this complex, it bathes the Europa 2 in natural sunlight, potentially protecting passengers from the elements, while ensuring that they are still in contact with them.

CNV00003Unlike past Hapag-Lloyd Cruises product, there will be a determined and on going attempt to make the Europa 2 more of an international product, rather than one that appeals solely to the German market. All crew members will be both English and German speaking.  With that in mind, she offers an unparalleled range of dining options for a ship of this size; the new ship will feature no less than eight restaurants, all open seating, and showcasing a whole raft of sublime culinary options. The restaurant Weltmeere is the main dining room and, like all Europa 2 venues, the food here will be created under the direction of Executive Chef, Stefan Wilke. Herr Wilke learned from the best; in his case from Harald Wohlfahrt, the only three star chef in Germany. His nous, plus his previous experience aboard the older Europa, should make the offerings aboard Europa 2 a sumptuous voyage of discovery in their own right.

CNV00004Among the raft of other dining options aboard this wonderful new ship is the French accented Tarragon restaurant, with an emphasis on both the simple and sophisticated as far as cuisine goes. The flavour of the room itself is distinctly modern, full of light and accented by elements of dark wood framing around doors and ceiling edges.

There is also a casual, upper deck Yacht Club restaurant for alfresco breakfast, lunches and dinners. Requested food items are freshly grilled to order here, and served with a side order of spectacular outdoor scenery and some of the best wines in any floating cellar anywhere.  There is also Sakura, a sumptuous sushi haven for those with a love of all things raw. Here you’ll find such epicurean delights as nigiri, maki and uramaki. 

CNV00005Throughout all of Europa 2, the emphasis is on creating a ship with a smart casual vibe. The notion of over- dressing for dinner has been deftly consigned to history here. The illustrations show a ship suffused with an aura of quite spectacular, casual luxury; expansive and inviting, not overpowering and intimidating. Europa 2 is a ship that will appeal to sybarites who, in the past, have only ever holidayed at high end vacation resorts. So the creation of Elements, an Asian themed restaurant that  tips it’s hat to a whole raft of imaginative Thai. Chinese and Indian specialities, is an obvious smart move.

The room itself is darker, more elongated, with beautifully back lit panels, and what appear at first glance to be giant pineapples, suspended from the ceiling. The carpet is a rich shade of burgundy.

Europa 2 also features the Spiesszimmer; a special venue available for private dinner gatherings, and ideal for special occasions. It is also planned to use the room as a venue for officer-hosted parties during certain cruises.

As far as crew goes, no less than 370 will look after a maximum of 516 passengers. The smooth running of the hotel side of the Europa 2 will be under the direction of the very well regarded Johann Schrempf, formerly of the original Europa. As on all Hapag-Lloyd Cruises ships, I would expect service on the Europa 2 to be subtle, astounding, and totally consistent.  A ship such as this lives or dies by the quality of the on board product delivery, and it is highly unlikely that the company would drop the ball here. I will be on board the ship at the end of July, and a more up to date report will be online soon after that.

On such a spectacular ship, you would rightly expect a stunning range of suites. All feature Nespresso coffee makers as standard. The main types are shown in the photographs on display below.

CNV00016The Owner’s Suite is a jaw dropping, 1227 square foot apartment, including it’s own, 161 foot veranda. Naturally, it has its own separate whirlpool bath, looking out over the ocean through a quartet of windows.  There’s a shower with a separate steam sauna, a separate bedroom, and a vast amount of personal living space here, too.

This beautiful apartment also offers butler service, full sized, walk in wardrobe, and a bathroom that comes complete with its own TV and day bed. There’s a fully stocked, complimentary mini bar that includes beer and soft drinks. Each also come complete with an in suite set up of complimentary spirits. Europa 2 has two of these apartments.

CNV00019There are two slightly smaller, but no less opulent  Grand Penthouses. These come in at a sumptuous 948 square feet, inclusive of a 108 square foot, fully furnished veranda.

Again, you have the additional services of a butler here, and the same bathroom and sauna set up as in the Owner’s Suite. If you can’t live without your private whirlpool, the good news here is that you don’t have to. And it also enjoys the same stunning views out over the ocean. The bar set up is exactly the same as in the Owner’s Suite, too. In fact, all that is really different is that the living area here is slightly smaller. Something that still does not preclude it from including a full dining table and in suite entertainment set up.

CNV00012With Europa 2 putting the emphasis on families on board, there are a number of commodious, interconnecting rooms that offer both community and privacy. 580 square feet of real estate is divided neatly into two rooms, including the balconies here.

The furnishings are identical throughout both, with loungers on each balcony. Like all Europa 2 rooms, they feature a flat screen TV, a tablet PC, and a portable phone. All rooms on the ship are Wi-Fi enabled.

Both rooms feature separate, full bathrooms and toilets.

All Europa 2 suites feature welcome champagne to capture the exhilaration of being on board.

Living and sleeping areas are artfully separated. Wall to floor glass sliding doors allow easy access to the furnished balcony.

Room service is available 24/7 from a special, in suite menu for all passengers.

And, once again, you have the mini bar option, with complimentary beer and soft drinks. The alcohol can obviously be removed if the parents decide to go down that particular road. Europa 2 offers seven of these interconnecting family apartments.

CNV00018Veranda and Ocean Suites both come in at a lavish 376 square feet, inclusive of the 75 square foot balcony. Each features the same light, easy sense of style and space as the larger accommodations, outlined above. The principal difference is that the Ocean Suites have a bathroom with a sea view.

The ship has 59 ocean suites, and a total of 141 of the standard verandas.

Not shown in this brief intro are the sixteen Spa Suites, which come in at a healthy 560 square feet, and the twenty-four, mid range Grand Suites- very similar to the spa suites. These also come in at a more than welcoming 560 square feet.

CNV00021Night life aboard Europa 2 will be subtle, but highly styled. Live jazz and piano music, plus the occasional disco, will be the main options for passengers wanting to stay out and about after a splendid dinner to make the most out of their evenings on board the ship.

The Jazz Club offers a subtle, sultry vibe that will be instantly appealing to the night owls. Soft, soulful tunes in an intimate, tastefully understated environment creates just the kind of atmosphere that stays with you long after you go home.

Europa 2 will also feature an indoor/outdoor version of Zanzibar, the famous German beach resort on the edge of the Baltic. With a beat that goes on until the early hours, this is one of only two of these fabled venues afloat. Unsurprisingly, you’ll find the other one aboard the original Europa.

For lovers of cognac and cigars, there’s a beautifully evocative Herrenzimmer, located straight across from the Jazz Club on deck four.

And, for those who like their sunsets to come with a little soft piano music and some matchless views, there is the vast, sweeping Belvedere Lounge, offering fabulous views out over the ship’s bow. Savour a mesmerising sunset here with a perfectly crafted cocktail; little else so perfectly captures the subtle magic of being at sea.

CNV00022If big show entertainment is something you like to take in now and again, you’ll find an expansive, full scale theatre all the way forward on deck four. Featuring both a lower and a balcony level, this is still intimate enough for lectures and live recitals.

This beautiful, expansive venue will also play host to a series of scintillating new shows, especially devised for the new ship.

You’ll even find an astonishing cookery school on board, where you can hone your culinary skills with insights from some of the most renowned and savvy professionals on the cookery circuit.

Europa 2 will also host evening deck parties around the swimming pool on certain nights, perhaps under the cover of the magrodome on chillier evenings.

CNV00011Come to think of it, there are only two things really missing on this marvellous new ship. Mediocrity. And you.

The maiden season for Europa 2 encompasses the best of the Mediterranean, on a series of seven night cruises to the very best of the culture, colour and fun spots in the region. Barcelona, Malta. Ibiza and Limassol are just a few of the ports on offer during a very busy inaugural season.

In the autumn, Europa 2 will head out to the magnificent, exotic masterpieces of the Far East, working her way there via Dubai, the UAE and the Suez Canal, before returning to Europe the following spring.

THE FAMOUS ANCESTOR-IMPERATOR

CNV00013Appropriately, Europa 2 will debut in May 2013, on the centenary of the inauguration by Hapag-Lloyd of the monumental, ground breaking Imperator. The first ship in the world to exceed 50,000 tons, Imperator was the line’s stunning response to the Olympic and Titanic.

She was originally to have been named Europa, but Hapag-Lloyd chairman, Albert Ballin, decided that she should be named for his friend, the Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II. She was launched just six weeks after the sinking of the Titanic. The first aim of the champagne bottle missed; only for it to be deftly caught by the Kaiser, who smashed it nicely against the ship that now carried his name.

The Imperator was a stupendous brew of marble, wood panelling and deep, rich carpeting. Albert Ballin possessed an eye for detail and a taste for the spectacular, perhaps matched only by that of Cesar Ritz. The Imperator was his dream ship; the first of a stunning trio that would have given Hapag- Lloyd dominance of the North Atlantic, but for the Great War.

Imperator was followed by two equally stupendous sisters. Of these, the 1914-built Vaterland was in New York when the war broke out. Seized by America in 1917, she became the Leviathan. After trooping duties, she sailed for the United States Lines until 1934.

The third ship was Bismarck. Launched just before the war, she was incomplete at the end of hostilities. She was completed instead for the White Star Line, who renamed her the Majestic. From 1922 through to 1935, the Majestic was the largest ship in the world. White Star advertised her as ‘The Queen of the Western Ocean’. Ironically, she ran in competition with her two sister ships.

After the war, the Imperator herself was given to Cunard as a replacement for the sunken Lusitania. Renamed the Berengaria, she became the most popular ship on the North Atlantic for almost two decades. In her last years, she even ran in company with the brand new Queen Mary, before being finally sold for scrap in 1938.

NOTE: All photographs and images featured in this article are courtesy of, and remain the copyright of, Hapag Lloyd Cruises.

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