Review Europa2 Auckland-Bali-HongKong Jan/Feb 2017

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Luxury Cruising
Is it a state of mind?
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#1
Florida
4,050 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
My husband and I have cruised on about 11 different lines from Aranui to Oceania and Ponant which I will use as reference points.
The Europa2 is a very elegant ship, silver-grey and blond wood décor, artwork displayed throughout. We had the lowest category cabin which came with a separate toilet and bathroom, three sinks altogether. A rain and hand held shower in the large shower stall, a jacuzzi bathtub, ample storage space, a desk with a hidden and lighted mirror, filled refrigerator, balcony with 2 chairs, one lounger and a small table. The smallest balcony cabin is usually the category we book on other ships.
Annoying quirks: The beds are as hard as in China's mid category hotels. I complained and the state room attendant offered a "rheumatism blanket", an extra mattress topper that brought the bed up to an acceptable level. Oceania's beds and linens are much more luxurious. In addition, it turned out that we needed to read the provided description of how to work the lights. There were several ways to use the 6 or maybe 8 switches next to the bed. Luckily three important lights had independent switches: toilet, nightlight, reading light.
Smoking on balconies: It happened only twice that our neighbor smoked on the balcony. Very few smoking passengers and most of them stuck to the pool bar.

... to be continued
#2
Florida
4,050 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Food
The quality, variety and service surpass all other lines we have used. The food was better prepared and more beautifully presented than on the French line Ponant. The variety was greater than on Oceania. We frequently ate dinner in the main restaurant Weltmeere where service was superb, better than on Oceania's main restaurant. Meat dishes were excellent with beef and fish of very high quality.
We had lunch in the Yachtclub buffet restaurant most often, great variety of food with the top notch bread and roll selection expected on a German ship. There were lots of healthy choices including green salads, sea food, Ayuveda (?) dishes. We also had lunch in the Italian, French and Asian specialty restaurants, all of them good. I thought that the Italian restaurant's selections were much better than what many Americans believe to be Italian food, but Asian restaurants tend to be more authentic in the US. I thought that the food in the French restaurant Jacques on Oceania's ship Riviera was more savory than in the French restaurant on Europa2.
Breakfast was served in the Yachtclub and in the Weltmeere, same buffet selections. Weltmeere was quieter but opened an hour later.
Annoying: Except for coffee and tea (excellent quality!), no drinks were included. We had to order our bottle of San Pellegrino with plenty of ice each time. I very much prefer Ponant's policy of including table wine and water with meals. I also like Oceania's policy of including all soft drinks and water.
On the other hand, champagne and prosecco flowed freely at special events. Each evening, guests were offered a free alcoholic or soft drink at the entrance of the Yachtclub.
#3
Florida
4,050 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
The refrigerator was stocked with beer, water and soft drinks, all free to drink in your state room. Restocking was done daily. This was also the case on the Ponant ship.
#4
Florida
4,050 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Language
The majority of passengers speak German as their first language. All programs are in German, but there is an international hostess who takes care of passengers with other languages. It was an international crowd, for example a Swiss who lives in Argentina, a group of Belgians, a Rumanian who lives in Italy etc. They conversed in English together. We were provided with German and US newspaper excerpts, others had British or Australian papers delivered to their state room. If I am not mistaken there was only one couple aboard whose first language was English.

On the second leg of the cruise, the ship had hired an interpreter for the two political podium discussions. English speakers were provided with headsets.

Movies were shown with English subtitles. The hotel staff speaks German and English, many crew members speak only English. Announcements for the safety drills were given in both languages and English speakers had their own safety drill at the same time as the drill for German speakers.
#5
Florida
4,050 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Entertainment

Daytime

This is the weakest point. At least 2/3 of it consisted of exercise programs for people who like to exercise; think Pilates, yoga; the rare water exercise class was never at the same time. The whole thing sounded like a wellness hotel, but there was no Qi Gong for older bodies. When one of the beach days was canceled due to the windy weather, the "entertainment" provided instead was an exercise demonstration with a ball, good for your back.

Other good activities (per cruise section): 1 guided tour of the artwork in the ship, 1 art lecture, 2 podium discussions with Sabine Christiansen, a renowned German TV journalist, and German politicians (interesting!), expert lectures for the ports and culture (excellent on the second leg of the cruise), and a couple of Australian aborigines who did a very fine job with workshops and demonstrations, but they left in Cairns.

Activities were missing compared to our previous cruises including on Aranui and Ponant! No dance classes, no Bridge director, no art classes, no cooking demonstration etc. You could participate in a cooking class for Euro 90 a piece, wine tasting for Euro 90.

We are a very laid back couple who likes to read and sit on the balcony, but on a cruise with so many sea days, the program should offer more activities. There is also no common space to hang out and meet people except around the pool. The entire space on deck 9 forward was totally underused. We were told that the company is aware and will rebuild the area at the next dry dock. There was tea time and nobody there, not like on Oceania, Princess, and HAL cruises where this is another chance to meet other passengers casually.

Maybe it's the Northern German way not to talk to people (Hapag-Lloyd's headquarters are in Hamburg), but we had great conversations with other passengers who were sitting at the tables for 2 next to ours in the Weltmeere.

... to be continued
#6
Florida
4,050 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Entertainment

Evening

It started at 10 pm, too late for us with our jet lag the opposite from the one the Germans experienced. There was classical music, jazz, pop, 2 Cirque de Soleil type shows (very nice), dance soirees, night time pool parties, 2 dance troupe shows (old fashioned, saw one), 2 performances of a German Comedian (slightly tacky).

Of the movies they showed I would have loved to see just one, but it started at 11:30 pm. The movie actually started at 9:30 pm, but it felt like 2 hours later because of the time change between NZ and Brisbane. We suggested to show movies in the afternoon on sea days, but no.

Conclusion

- Would we book again? No.
- Why? Nickle and diming on a very expensive line, lack of entertainment on sea and beach days. Different priorities for Germans starved for warmth and sunshine; they like beach days even if the water is too dangerous in summer in Queensland.
- Would the cruise line change anything? Not necessary, lots of repeat customers.
- Would we book on one of their smaller expedition ships where passengers are actually interested in the itinerary? Not as long they have formal nights.
- Would we book a more port intensive cruise? Maybe, if the itinerary is unusual.
#7
antwerpen
1,046 Posts
Joined Apr 2007
i appreciated to read your comments - i am booked for sure and partly with options on 7 ( yes ) cruises on Europa 2
maybe you are right about the mineral water and the soda's but all inclusive can destroy the high level of a "so said " luxurious line the most illustrious example is Crystal were a lot is sacrificed for all in ( i do blame the actual number 2 chief operating and the vice Pr F and B in full - both incompetent guys in my opinion)
i am a veteran of nearly 95 cruises and for the moment i only can find a "true " luxurious" cruise on the 2 Hapag sisters Europa 2 and Europa - yes i do speak German ... and do understand it even far more better
i cannot describe the Grill degrees on Cunard , Crystal, SS and SB as luxury anymore unless you are describing " free drinks" from early morning until late night as synonym for luxury
as a single i was nopt able to cruise on seadream so far ( everything has it limits ) but i could not appreciate my 2 visits with lunch on Ponant neither
before Hapag Lloyd Crystal was my favourite untill all the changes signed by the 2 guys above - but aware i cannot write the full name of those 2 austrians wiseguys here
#8
Florida
4,050 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
We are not a good match for Europa 2. Many others are and that's fine with me. With free drinks, I mean non-alcoholic. I really want water and ice without having to order it each time and sign a slip. Most passengers drank luke warm stuff and wanted no ice. I guess we were well-known after a while because mineral water and ice service became faster.

There were plenty of free dinks like French champagne and prosecco at special events like beach parties. I guess we should have booked a cruise with less sea days and no beach days at all, but we wanted Komodo and off the beaten path south Asian islands. We got that on this itinerary.
#9
1,262 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
Floridiana,

Thank you for your review.

On my first cruise on the Europa 2 in 2014 I queried the fact that bottled water with a meal was a chargeable item, and was advised that this was a German custom.

I think that it is unfair to then use that to accuse the Cruise Line of nickel & diming, especially given the moderate prices of drinks, the absence of a mandatory service charge, and the various occasions, such as the Pool Party, when copious amounts of drinks are on offer.


The justification for not going all inclusive is that that it enables the ship to carry a far more extensive range of wines and spirits--- 19000 bottles of wine encompassing 450 varieties, and 250 varieties of spirits.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAblWpi3yb0&t=123s




When I queried the relative lack of activities during sea days I was told that this was how Germans liked it.
So, I found things to occupy my time.

My experience of afternoon tea in the Belvedere has been that it is well attended especially at 4pm when the pianist plays.
Also, if the weather is not good people readily utilised it as an observation lounge.
It will be interesting to see what changes take place at the next refresh.

With regard to the entertainment commencing at 10pm, for me this was ideal as I like to dine at 7.30pmto 8pm, and savour a leisurely meal, especially given the high quality of the food, and wines.

With regard to the speciality restaurants, unless the system has been changed since my cruise last July, those that are open for lunch have a restricted menu.
In 2015 the Tarragon was voted the best French restaurant at sea, and it is my favourite of the Speciality Restaurants.
It always seemed the most difficult to get a reservation.
#10
1,262 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
Originally posted by vistaman
i appreciated to read your comments - i am booked for sure and partly with options on 7 ( yes ) cruises on Europa2
vistaman,

Have you had any of your options confirmed?

So many of the itineraries beyond Spring 2018, including my Norwegian cruise, are showing suites for solo occupancy in Categories 1-4 as being sold out.
#11
Florida
4,050 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
English Voyager,
They can explain everything and anything as German custom. As long as they get so many repeat passengers, they don't need to change anything. Like I said before, everybody chooses the ships they are most comfortable with.
#12
Germany
13,189 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Thanks for your insights! Just one remark, although you had booked the lowest category there are two different kind of cabins in that category - Veranda and Ocean Suite. Only the Ocean Suite has a separate toilet and the Jaccuzzi kind of tub with a window to the sleeping area. The Veranda has a bathroom with tub, shower, one sink and toilet. You can see photos here.

I totally agree about the cost for non alcoholic drinks. It´s annoying and it´s weird that you get the same bottle of water for free in your suite but you have to pay for in a restaurant. At least water and sodas should be included. And I think I heard that they are considering to change this. Actually I don´t like Evian or San Pellegrino which are regarded as "premium" brands. Most of the cheaper German brands are much better than these.

At least starting in 2018 they include 1 hour of internet on the Europa 2. The Jazzclub turns into Club 2 and the Herrenzimmer (cigar lounge) into Collins after the wharf break. We just received the new brochures.

steamboats
#13
California
685 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
Thank you for your review, Floridiana. We had been in a PH suite on the Europa 2 so our waters were included at meals that trip to South Africa (not that I ever want more than a couple sips at lunch and dinner, as I am too busy drinking wine or champagne at those times, but I saw quite a few people really guzzling a lot

In my base MS Europa suite, solo, it was only free in the cabin fridge, (along with the diet cokes I requested) but again I hardly ever ordered it in restaurants because of a focus on the alcoholic offerings, which were a more expensive issue, but a fun one to deal with each night given the variety and quality. When I did order sparkling water, over two weeks, I drank so little that I think I spent less than Euro 50 on the entire dining room water venture the whole cruise (but I won't tell you my wine and cocktail bill or you will send me to get my liver enzymes checked .

I don't know why you had to sign for water. I just gave my suite # verbally and it was an honor system, I did not have to show my card for drinks, ever. Maybe I just looked like an honest person, or maybe they forgot. If I wanted a receipt or to give an extra tip (not required) I could ask for it at the end of the meal, but mostly they just brought what I wanted and I would leave without a receipt or signature on anything, but it'd immediately and accurately (one exception) show up on my in-room account.

I miss not being on HL. I have to wait until October, and settle for Seabourn in the meantime, where DH can hopefully find more people to talk to in English
#14
Florida
4,050 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
The signing for water was strange. It depended on the server. Somehow we wound up with Claudia too frequently. She did everything by the book and slowly. Almost all of the young people who spend 6 months working on the ship without breaks were more energetic and efficient.

For example, on beach barbeque day, many did their morning breakfast stint, then spent all day carrying equipment, food and drinks at the beach barbeque, then they served dinner. That was easily a 12 hour day of constant work. The captain thanked them in his announcement.
#15
Florida
4,050 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
steamboats,
Does the brochure say anything about the two libraries and about making this part of the 9th floor into a more active or lounge like zone? Even an old HAL ship like Volendam had her library transformed into a café/puzzle and map tables/lounge chairs space close to a thoroughfare.

I liked our cabin with the bathroom window. We closed the blinds, but luckily the feeling of airiness remained.
#16
1,262 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
Originally posted by steamboats
At least starting in 2018 they include 1 hour of internet on the Europa 2. The Jazzclub turns into Club 2 and the Herrenzimmer (cigar lounge) into Collins after the wharf break. We just received the new brochures.

steamboats
steamboats,

Do you know when in 2018 the Europa 2 is due for it's refresh?

I cannot see in the published Schedule a break for this to take place.
#17
1,262 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
Originally posted by Floridiana
The signing for water was strange. It depended on the server. Somehow we wound up with Claudia too frequently. She did everything by the book and slowly. Almost all of the young people who spend 6 months working on the ship without breaks were more energetic and efficient.

For example, on beach barbeque day, many did their morning breakfast stint, then spent all day carrying equipment, food and drinks at the beach barbeque, then they served dinner. That was easily a 12 hour day of constant work. The captain thanked them in his announcement.
I found that once I became known to the wait staff not only did they not present a bill for signing, they even did not ask for my suite number.

In my review of my cruise last July I commented on the fact that so many of the wait staff looked exhausted due in no small part to understaffing.
Apparently wait staff were being signed off as 'sick', and I did wonder if the reason was sheer exhaustion.
Six months is a long time to cope with such pressure.

I did enquire-- unsuccessfully--- as to the percentage of wait staff that signed up for a new contract.
I suspect it is low.
#18
near Munich/Germany
282 Posts
Joined May 2010
Originally posted by English Voyager
steamboats,

Do you know when in 2018 the Europa 2 is due for it's refresh?

I cannot see in the published Schedule a break for this to take place.

There is a break in September 2017 - last cruise ending Sept. 13th, next cruise starting 27th.
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Past cruises:

07/2017 - Norwegian Pearl (7 days) - Alaska
01/2017 - Hanseatic (18 days) - Antarctica
04/2016 - Norwegian Pearl (21 days) - Panama Canal, Pacific Coastal
04/2015 - Europa 2 (10 days) - Transatlantic
09/2014 - Pride of America (7 days) - Hawai'i
10/2013 - Norwegian Spirit (12 days) - Grand Mediterranean
10/2012 - Norwegian Dawn (14 days) - Canada/New England
02/2012 - Norwegian Jewel (7 days) - Florida/Bahamas
01/2011 - Norwegian Star (15 days) - Panamacanal
04/2009 - Norwegian Gem (15 days) - Transatlantic, Western Med
04/2008 - Norwegian Jewel (14 days) - Western and Southern Caribbean
12/2004 - Aida Cara (14 days) - Christmas in the Med
07/1990 - MS Azerbaidschan (17 days) - Scotland, Faroes, Iceland, Spitzbergen, Norway

#19
1,262 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
Originally posted by lakediver
There is a break in September 2017 - last cruise ending Sept. 13th, next cruise starting 27th.
Thank you for the information.

I should have realised that the two yearly refresh would be in 2017 as I had forgotten that the last one was in April 2015.

In fact Hapag-Lloyd Cruises posted the following video on the 2015 refresh:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q8k2np5S7I
#20
antwerpen
1,046 Posts
Joined Apr 2007
Originally posted by lakediver
There is a break in September 2017 - last cruise ending Sept. 13th, next cruise starting 27th.

i hope the refit will be done on time - i am booked on the onde departure 27 th September