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MS Europa 2 review: The perfect tonic

Trip Reports

You may not have heard of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, but they have been operating since 1891 and are keen to welcome British guests on their international ship MS Europa 2, as I discovered on my recent trip.

My Veranda Suite was a generous 35 square metres, but if you prefer more space the Owners Suite is 114 square metres with butler service, whirlpool and day bed in the bathroom, and a shower with its own steam sauna. The TV screen in your suite has a section devoted to your first day on board, with a few tips on what to do first such as reserving the speciality restaurants. Don't expect the usual chocolate on your pillow; I was greeted by healthy treats each evening plus a trio of colourful, freshly baked macarons with a note asking if I would like any fresh fruit.

MS Europa 2 - Veranda Suite

The ship has seven speciality restaurants which are all complimentary, including Sakura (sushi), Serenissima (Italian), Tarragon (French) and Elements, an Asian fusion restaurant which served the best food I have ever tasted. Most guests are German-speaking but all the European staff are bilingual, and an English-speaking host is on hand to invite international guests to cocktail parties and hosted dinners.

MS Europa 2 - Weltmeere restaurant

Of the six bars my favourite was the open air Sansibar, a replica of a popular beach bar in Sylt, northern Germany. Another popular spot is Collins bar, which stocks 52 different gins - the largest gin collection at sea - along with a selection of Cuban cigars. You can book a gin tasting here; we tried four different gins and learnt which tonics to add with orange or lemon zest.

Afternoon tea is served in the stylish Belvedere library and you will always find waffles, snacks and hot and cold beverages at the Pool Bar. The pool has a retractable roof like Centre Court at Wimbledon, which can be opened during good weather, and Captain Jorn welcomed guests to a pool party on our second evening with live music and dancing.

Susan on Europa 2 - Gin tasting at Collins bar

Europa 2 has the most space per guest of any ship at sea, with a gross tonnage of 42,830 tons and just 500 guests. There are plenty of sun loungers on the two promenade decks, plus a secluded area with cabanas and hammocks for relaxing with a book. The ship was built in 2013 but is refurbished every two years, so she looks immaculate and certainly has the 'wow' factor. The staff are experts at delivering discreet, impeccable service, and you are constantly surprised and delighted at the attention to detail.

Golf enthusiasts will enjoy the two simulators with video analysis by PGA professionals, and they can also book you in at a local course. The 1,000 square metre Ocean Spa and fitness centre is popular, as is the indoor pool area, and guests wander around in their robes as if staying at a luxury hotel in the Swiss Alps.

MS Europa 2 - Ocean Spa

I sailed from Miami to Great Inagua, a tiny island in the Bahamas where we went ashore by one of the 17 zodiacs and enjoyed snorkelling over the reefs and paddleboarding. My short stay on board came to an end in Aruba, where we disembarked and spend some time on the beach, while the ship continued on back to Miami on a 14-day itinerary.

If you want to travel on Europa 2 then you need to book up early - there is a reason why this ship has been voted 5 star plus in the Berlitz Cruise Guide every year since its launch in 2013. One glance at the brochure and you'll see that the ship oozes class and glamour, and I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone who likes delicious dining in elegant surroundings, with no formal dress code (smart casual is sufficient).

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises - MS Europa 2 in the Caribbean

Don't let the fact that the ship is German put you off; when you call Mundy Cruising we can check how many English speakers are on board your chosen sailing, or you could take the opportunity to travel with a group of friends.

Meet the author

Susan is a former Cruise Consultant at Mundy Cruising

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