Based in Germany, Hapag-Lloyd is better known for shipping than for passenger cruises, but these decadent ships mimic the elegance of the golden age of cruising. Aboard the midsize 408-passenger Europa and 516-passenger Europa 2, expect white-glove service, elegant evenings, and gourmet cuisine. The line also has two upscale expedition vessels, the 164-passenger MS Bremen and the 184-passenger MS Hanseatic. While the vast majority of people onboard are German, the itineraries span the globe.
What We Love
Art at Sea: With 890 original works by artists such as David Hockney and Damien Hirst, The Europa 2 is home to one of the most valuable art collections at sea.
Space to Spread Out: The all-suite Europa and Europa 2 deliver some of the largest space-per-passenger ratios at sea. In addition, all Europa 2 cabins have balconies.
Best Known For
German Cruising: While crew members are fluent in English across the fleet, sailings on the Europa are primarily marketed to a German-speaking clientele. Voyages on the newer Europa 2, however, cater to English speakers as well, though they remain the minority. Select MS Bremen and MS Hanseatic itineraries are designated as international voyages, with special accommodations for those who speak English.
Impressive Service: Europa and the Europa 2 are regularly ranked among the most luxurious cruise ships in the world.
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Who It's Best For
Mature Couples: These pricey sailings appeal to mature, well-heeled couples who are interested in hobnobbing with an international clientele.
Families Who Sail During School Breaks: Children ages 11 and younger sail for free, when accompanied by two paying adults, on the Europa and Europa 2. Europa 2 also offers extensive supervised onboard kids and teen programs in English.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
No Casinos: Gambling is not popular with German cruisers.
Sprechen Sie Deutsch?: Apart from the Europa 2, which attracts a small anglophone clientele, the predominantly German-speaking atmosphere aboard other ships can feel isolating.
Elissa Garay is a Brooklyn-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure.