When you have a cruising itinerary from Spain’s Palma de Mallorca to Portugal’s Lisbon, there’s little doubt that the ports of call would be nothing short of spectacular. Really…what’s not to love about exquisite food, rich history and seemingly endless sunshine? But, what makes it even better is getting to these stops via the Hapag-Llyod Cruises, especially when you are on the luxury MS Europa 2.
Hapag-Llyod Cruises is a master of exceeding expectations, paying attention to the smallest details of day-to-day life onboard and having stellar service.
Hapag Lloyd Cruises: What to Expect on the Luxury MS Europa 2 Ship
About Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
Hapag-Llyod Cruises has a very long history of being an innovator in its field. In fact, they essentially were the leaders in cruising. It all began in 1891 when the Auguste Victoria, Germany’s largest passenger ship, embarked on the world’s first-ever pleasure cruise.
From there Hapag-Llyod Cruises only continued to grow. Over a century later, they are now known for providing small, luxury cruises to places near and far. They travel from the Middle East to Africa to Antarctica, and everywhere in between.
They pride themselves on 5-star service with the attitude of leaving ‘no wish unfulfilled’. And I loved it.
The Ms Europa 2
Each of their four ships has its own charm and are luxurious, but the contemporary MS Europa 2 takes it a step further by being awarded ‘the best cruise ship in the world’ and the distinction of 5-stars-plus by the Berlitz Cruise Guide 2018. It was easy to see why they earned this coveted title, they always seemed one step ahead in exceeding guest expectations—they knew what I wanted even before I did!
I can’t stress enough the attention to detail that is taken aboard the MS Europa 2. Even the ships layout has guest comfort in mind. It has more space per person than any other ship and almost as many staff as guests aboard. Large windows provide plenty of natural light and their open concept design means that the windows can be seen across any room and from almost anywhere onboard so that guests don’t find claustrophobic.
Very similar to the MS Europa, their MS Europa 2 was introduced as a more international alternative. All crew onboard is bilingual: German and English. A majority of the passengers were German, but it was never an issue because the staff was bilingual.
The guest capacity of the ship is capped at a cozy 500, but it won’t feel like there’s nearly that many people even when it’s sold out, because it has the greatest space per passenger ratio. Which means that I never had to wake up at 6:00am to claim a lounge chair! There were always plenty available.
Food & Drink
There are a number of fantastic restaurants onboard the MS Europa 2 and did my due diligence by eating at them all!:
- Restaurant Elements: This is the go-to restaurant for delicious Asian infusion meals.
- Restaurant Serenissima: This light and airy restaurant serves Italian Mediterranean food that will have you believing ‘nona’ is cooking in the kitchen. Gourmet pasta, and pizzas are abundant.
- The Yacht Club: Food at the Yacht club is enjoyed with panoramic views of the sea in an open air setting or under the outdoor canopy. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served buffet-style. Don’t pass up their beautiful ice cream bar and definitely get a big scoop of Black Vanilla everyday (I did!).
- Restaurant Sakura: This onboard sushi restaurant serves only the freshest sushi creations in a modern setting.
- The Weltmerre: It is the largest restaurant onboard with an international and vegetarian gourmet menu that changes every single day.
- Restaurant Tarragon: Decorated in an attractive art deco style, the food and interior design at this French inspired restaurant will make you feel like you’re sitting street side at a Parisian bistro. Don’t miss the beef tartare!
Food and drink doesn’t stop there though. The MS Europa 2 opens up their Grande Reserve wine cellar for private tastings. For an extra fee, small groups are led in the tasting by the ships resident sommelier. They are often accompanied by delicious food pairings.
Also, there is a culinary school that operates off-hours in the Tarragon kitchen. The chef will teach participants the tricks of the trade. After which guests can take home the skills to recreate French masterpieces in their own kitchens.
Unique to MS Europa 2 is their outstanding gin collection at Collins Bar, it is the largest at sea. It has over 45 matchless gins behind its bar, and can dish out up to 140 different gin and tonics. Their gins come from all over Europe and beyond, but the majority are distilled in the UK—the birthplace of gin.
We sipped on our fair share of gin cocktails throughout the duration of our cruise and even did a gin tasting! You’ll have to try it when you make it aboard. But keep in mind, that as it is also a cigar bar, so smoking is permitted inside.
Other bars include:
- The Piano Bar: This swanky venue is popular for early evening drinks. It closes at 10pm, but while it is open a talented pianist is always on hand to entertain patrons with elegant lounge music.
- The Jazz Club: This space has everything you would expect from a Jazz club—dimly lit, smoky, and serene. You’ll be transported back to the 1920’s the minute you step through the door. Smooth singers and small bands perform at this intimate venue nightly.
- Pool Bar: The Pool Bar is open all day and you guessed it… this bar is snuggled up next to the pool. Drinks are available all day, but at night the pool chairs are often cleared away from an impromptu dance party.
- Belverdere: A few alcoholic drinks are available here but the Belverdere is more-so a daytime tea room. Belverdere closes at 6pm… just in time to begin thinking about getting ready for dinner.
- Sansibar: The MSEuropa 2’s most notorious bar. The DJ turns out tunes into the wee hours of the morning. It is half indoor, half outdoor with a dance floor to boot.
After an evening cocktail we would typically head out to see the ship’s evening entertainment. On the Europa 2 there is always a show in the ship’s theater, or comedy and cabaret in their Club 2. While onboard, I particularly liked the professional dance show in the ships theater.
Hapag-Llyod Cruises prides itself on its multi-faceted entertainment program. Outside of their nightly entertainment there were daytime activities like meet and greets, lectures, cooking classes and, of course, pool-time.
They have an outstanding art collection onboard which features over 800 phenomenal works—the most valuable collection at sea. This is not your typical cruise-line art, it took over 2 years to select the unique assortment and each piece has a story. You can not only see them in the small gallery, but all throughout the boat.
The MS Europa 2 is not an adult’s only cruise line, families and kids are always welcome onboard. As such the ship has a vibrant kids program. I heard kids first hand asking to ditch dinner to go back to it. Because all children are different, they offer a variety of clubs for all ages and their childcare specialists make sure their days are filled with fun!
One afternoon there was a pleasant surprise, the captain agreed to drop down the Zodiacs and take the passengers on a Zodiac ride around the boat while it was at sea. As if that isn’t cool enough, they had one boat filled with champagne and another with musicians. Talk about a bucket list worthy experience!
All the rooms onboard are suites (yes, you heard me right!) and have their own veranda. This is a luxury in itself, but there was so much more. I stayed in the 301 square foot Veranda Suite. This outstanding space had large windows with great views and plenty of natural light. There was a living area, huge bed and well-equipped bathroom, as well as a private deck with two sun loungers. The mini bar is complementary and came stocked with welcome champagne, beer and soft drinks.
Did I mention a walk-in closet? It was bigger than the one I had at home!
Here’s a tour of my room and some of my favorite things in it: