The flowing spaces, open staircases, ocean views, abundant artwork and casually well-dressed passengers served by attentive and friendly crew contribute to an informal but elegant ambience.
Throughout the ship, the spaces are filled with natural light. Floor to ceiling windows leave you in no doubt that you are at sea. With plenty of room to dine al fresco at the Yacht Club or linger on the pool deck, the ship is a must for ocean-lovers.
There are seven dining options with opportunities to enjoy a range of cuisines including French, Italian and Asian amidst simple and tasteful surrounds. I particularly liked the decor of Italian restaurant Serenissima, where a subtle lime green features in the chandeliers, the glasses, chairs and window hangings. We noticed that those in the know were booking tables in their chosen restaurants as soon as they got on board.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has made an unusual decision to charge for wine, explaining that their passengers are used to pairing good wines with quality food which would not be addressed by a limited pouring menu. The drinks prices are extremely reasonable, for example €4.50 for cocktails and €1.80 for beers.
For gin-lovers there are 47 to choose from. We took part in a fun gin-tasting session which paired different tonics and zests with different gins, explaining the history of the gin, its origins and ingredients. Not being a gin lover, I was amazed by the range and taste of the three we tried and the effect on each of adding extras.
We also donned aprons at the Miele Culinary School where Sous Chef Dominik Spielberger guided us through some Asian recipes and shared some of his cooking tips. We shared in the preparation of each course, chopping, shredding, stirring, tasting, and learnt more about the various herbs and spices included. Dominik's fun and insightful commentary made the whole experience memorable.
Hapag-Lloyd is a German brand but in recent years it has begun targeting English-speaking passengers for Europa 2 and expedition ship HANSEATIC Inspiration when she comes on stream in October 2019. I was interested to see how well this worked for a non-German speaker like me. I found the excellent German waiting staff able to switch languages with very little difficulty. The international hostess, Shereen Sala, acts as interpreter when necessary and also hosts receptions for English-speakers. On our trip there were Australians, South Africans, Danes and more who seemed completely at ease in this mainly German environment.
This ship attracts a relatively young crowd and hence some young but never irritating children! From young to multi-generational families, the feeling was one of friendliness but also of keeping space which is easy on a ship with so many enticing venues to choose from. In terms of dress the shop on board almost says it all. There is a wide range of wear ranging from the very modest to high end but everything exudes quality - like the ship itself, elegant rather than showy.