Hapag-LLoyd Europa 2.

Welcome to Cruise Critic! If you'd like to participate on our forums by joining in the conversation, please Register Now! Be sure to visit our FAMOUS Roll Call forums, where you can meet other cruisers sailing with you and share a tour or shore excursion and SAVE MONEY!

Luxury Cruising
Is it a state of mind?
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
All times are GMT -4.
The time now is 04:23 PM.
1,240 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
Originally posted by ededmd
Regarding the one person's opinion on their Europa voyage - it is just that, ONE person's opinion. Certainly valid to that person.
In the review, Ms Sommelier states:

'We brought up all these things with the Host at a lunch with him and he said the reason was that TUI bought H-L cruises and they are having a hard time finding and keeping good help.'

In my review of my cruise on the Europa 2 in July of last year I commented on the very apparent shortage of, the predominantly young, wait staff in the main restaurant.

Many of the wait staff looked exhausted.

I suspect that Hapag-Lloyd Cruises 'churn' rate for wait staff is extremely high, especially given that they appear to be supplied by a single Agency Company.

In view of MsSommelier's comment, it would appear that TUI has failed to get a grip on the situation.
Germany
62 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
During that same lunch, the host said, in addition, that TUI overall was having challenges with staffing. He said that Mein Schiff 6 was delayed in launching due to difficulty finding enough German speaking, qualified staff, which leads me to believe that English Voyager is right in saying that they appear to be supplied by a single agency company.

The average tenure on MS Europa, according to the host, used to be about 5 years; now it's more like 2 years. With the overall demand increasing within TUI for more staff (all the Mein Schiffs plus the Hapag-Lloyd brand ships), this is likely to continue to be a challenge.

I really hope the situation will be rectified (especially with a 43 day voyage coming up!) and that all those repeat passengers I spoke to filled out the satisfaction survey.
1,240 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
MsSommelier,

In August of last year, in response to my comments on shortage of wait staff leading to over work, and exhaustion, and the potential for poor retention of staff, I received a response from Hapag-Lloyd Cruises in which they named their service provider, and admitted that 'it is currently very difficult to find good, competent, service staff.'

More than 12 months later it would appear that the problem remains.
Germany
62 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
English Voyager,
That is very discouraging. Although not my 'perfect' ship in every way, MS Europa (I have not yet been on Europa 2) was the height of culinary and service excellence for me.

Given the number of first-time Europa cruisers on this trip (179), maybe H-L feels they have enough of a 'captive' audience of customers who are happy to cruise with Europa. It used to be that the cruises sold out so fast, it was hard to secure a cabin. That appears to no longer be the case. At least, there are many cruises with availability and they are advertising regularly in the Sunday papers here with offers.
antwerpen
1,026 Posts
Joined Apr 2007
i am just back from a 4 day cruise on ms Europa and it was a full house. I was a cruise with the sailaway parade 7out op the port of Hamburg after the cruisedays overthere. There were 7 cruise ships in port.
Yes i noticed a lot of new staff was on board and several people including barkeepers and ass maitre d' left.

Maybe for some people the ms Europa is too formal and i think the younger generation able to pay the not so cheap HL fares is attracted to the Europa 2. I am aware the first part of the Wold cruise from Nizza to Tenerife is also sold out.

Some cruises are sold out and on other some promotions are going on : i was able to receive a quite serious discount for a cruise on MS Europa in April 2018 by exchanging bonus miles ;
2 ports in Israël are involved and i hope they are not going to review
1,240 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
vistaman,

I believe that you are, like me, a solo traveller.

Given Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' highly restrictive policy on solo occupancy, how do you manage to obtain reservations on your various cruises?

On the preview brochures?
Washington State
22,517 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
English Voyager and MsSommelier - thank you for your thoughtful responses. What you posted makes a lot of sense. ededmd - I never discount the views of only one poster - especially one that has sailed on the cruise line before.

It seems that most luxury cruise line are having a decrease in passengers in Europe. There are so many possible reasons that I won't speculate but hope that things improve.
1,240 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
Originally posted by MsSommelier
English Voyager,
That is very discouraging. Although not my 'perfect' ship in every way, MS Europa (I have not yet been on Europa 2) was the height of culinary and service excellence for me.

Given the number of first-time Europa cruisers on this trip (179), maybe H-L feels they have enough of a 'captive' audience of customers who are happy to cruise with Europa. It used to be that the cruises sold out so fast, it was hard to secure a cabin. That appears to no longer be the case. At least, there are many cruises with availability and they are advertising regularly in the Sunday papers here with offers.
And yet despite availability on the Europa 2, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises do not make available staterooms for solo occupancy.

It is galling.
antwerpen
1,026 Posts
Joined Apr 2007
Originally posted by English Voyager
vistaman,

I believe that you are, like me, a solo traveller.

Given Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' highly restrictive policy on solo occupancy, how do you manage to obtain reservations on your various cruises?

On the preview brochures?
i point a few as soon the previews are out - ms Europa is not so difficult as the 2
Germany
12,999 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Originally posted by MsSommelier
During that same lunch, the host said, in addition, that TUI overall was having challenges with staffing. He said that Mein Schiff 6 was delayed in launching due to difficulty finding enough German speaking, qualified staff, which leads me to believe that English Voyager is right in saying that they appear to be supplied by a single agency company.
Actually TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises use Sea Chefs for the hotel management (as many other cruise lines).

But... your host did tell you a lot of .... Neither was Hapag-Lloyd recently "bought" bei TUI Group nor was the Mein Schiff 6 in any way delayed (actually they added cruises prior to the naming ceremony and the official maiden voyage).

It´s correct that it is getting more and more difficult to find German speaking staff. Especially with the growth of TUI Cruises. But that´s mainly the staff in the restaurants and there mainly the waiters. TUI Cruises does hire Asian crew too as buy boys. They might advance to waiter as soon as they´ve learned enough German. But the upfront people are either German or from Eastern Europe. As you know you need a 3 year training in Germany to become a Restaurantfachkraft oder Hotelfachkraft. Most of the German staff stays only for one or two contracts as having worked on a ship is good in the CV and then they move on to hotels or restaurants of a higher level.

Usually the people working as restaurant manager, Maitre.. the higher ranks ... are experienced folks who work for the cruise line for several years (or have worked for other cruise lines).

But that´s just the upfront folks in the restaurants.

Actually all cruise lines do have problems finding crew as the whole cruise business is growing.

Changes in the crew are also a normal thing. Contracts end and new crew is coming onboard. Even when you have a crew member returning the person needs some time to get back into routine. For a person being totally new onboard it´s even harder. Also experienced crew members do have to get aquainted with the routine when the change ships. This is absolutely normal. Of course the expectations are higher on H-L ships and you expect a perfect service from the first minute.


You also mentioned the food... There´s not that much change in staff in the galley as it is in the restaurant. And actually German is not needed in the galley. There English is the main language. Traditionally the executive chefs are either German, Austrian or Swiss but in the meantime you can find any nation in cruise ship galleys as executive chefs (maybe not with a German cruise line as a German chef knows the taste of his customers better than a non German chef - in that case German, Austrian or Swiss equals).

steamboats
1,240 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
steamboats,

My experience of cruising with Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has been confined to the Europa 2.

Whatever factors are operating behind the scenes, as far as a passenger is concerned, on a luxury line such as H-L, if the result is a marked lack of wait staff in a restaurant which requires, as was the case on my last H-L cruise, Restaurant Manager, Assistant Restaurant Manager, and on one occasion the Sommelier, to deliver food in a less than full restaurant then, I would suggest something is seriously amiss.

If, as was my observation, the, predominantly young, staff are then worked to the point of exhaustion it is little wonder that they choose not to sign on for a second contract thus leading, as I suspect, to a high 'churn' rate for H-L.

It is incumbent on Senior Management to ensure that the on board working environment in the various restaurants is such that wait staff are enthused to sign repeat contracts thereby creating ' a pool' of experienced staff.
Florida
3,963 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
The young hospitality staff have other options on land. Our favorite waitress was going home and had already secured a place at a university to study management. A young Swiss waiter was doing this stint because the H-L name looks good on his resume. A multilingual Chinese-German waiter needed a semester of practical work for his management course requirement at a well-respected German university.

Some renew their contracts, but not forever. And they are all offered renewal unless something bad has happened. None of the Philippine/Balinese/Eastern Europe waiters on other cruise lines has a variety of career options at home. Our Serbian stateroom steward decided not to renew. Her Philippine assistant was just happy to have a job.
1,240 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
Over recent years, the number of Eastern European staff on board cruise ships has declined dramatically as the economy of their own countries has improved.


Re H-L, being worked to the point of exhaustion is hardly likely to induce a desire to continue working for the Company.
Germany
12,999 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Floridiana, you´ve nailed it! I remember one waitress (in that case AIDA) in a specialty restaurant. Actually her main reason to go onboard was a special situation in her life. Shortly prior to the beginning of her contract she met a new partner. She was 3 weeks from the end of her contract and did not renew. She´s been excellent.

English Voyager, yes, there are less people from Eastern Europe now. I saw many of them even with international cruise lines but mainly with German cruise lines and especially on German speaking river cruise ships. Actually yesterday I saw an interview with a caroussel owner on the Oktoberfest who "complained" that he doesn´t get any people from Romania anymore for building up his caroussel as the economy improved and they now get jobs back home.

And of course when the wait staff is understaffed the whole system doesn´t work anymore. People have to work more hours and get tired. And of course - as said before - with H-L you expect perfect service from the very first minute and not understaffed dining rooms and exhausted, tired staff. But where to take them....???

As said before finding staff (mainly waiters, cabin stewards) is a big problem in the whole cruise industry right now. Finding staff with German language skills is even harder.

steamboats
Florida
3,963 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
The Philippine trio we had on Mein Schiff 1 was one of the best wait staff teams we ever had on any ship any line. We chose a table in their section on purpose. They would have loved to work on a ship that goes to Manila and invites family on board like H-L does. Their German was ok, but H-L hires wait staff on the German market. We had only one waiter assistant whose German was shaky, but it does not matter to us. He was efficient and friendly.