Regularly ranked among the world's most luxurious lines, Germany-based Hapag-Lloyd Cruises pulls out all the stops on its flagship Europa. The 400-passenger stunner gets points for one of the highest passenger-to-space ratios, without skimping on big-ship amenities. For foodies, the restaurant helmed by Michelin-starred Chef Dieter Muller is reason enough to set sail, while others are drawn by the world-spanning itineraries and highbrow theme cruises. The ship also caters almost exclusively to a German-speaking clientele.
What We Love
Wellness Haven: For a relatively small ship, guests get a heated saltwater lap pool, a bilevel fitness area with ocean views, a golf simulator, and an Asian-inspired spa with sauna and steam room.
Theme Cruises: Europa runs a series of thematic cruises that transcend language barriers, including Golf & Cruise voyages and music-themed sailings (the ship hosts the classical music Ocean Sun Festival).
Best Known For
All-Suite Accommodations: Staterooms start at a spacious 291 square feet and are all outward-facing suites (most have balconies). They also feature walk-in wardrobes, marbled bathrooms with bathtubs, and minifridges stocked with complimentary beverages of choice (including beer).
Top Dining: While Europa ranks high for gastronomy across its four dining venues (with no shortage of caviar, lobster, and truffles), its specialty restaurant helmed by three-Michelin-starred chef Dieter Muller stands out, highlighting French, Mediterranean, and Asian cuisines.
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Who It's Best For
Sophisticated Couples: Sailings on Europa aren't cheap and tend to attract mature, moneyed, worldly duos who are content to socialize with an international crowd hailing from German-speaking Europe (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland).
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
There's a Language Barrier: Although the staff speaks English, and English-language accommodations can be made in the form of menus and daily programs, expect to feel some level of isolation from fellow passengers.
All Bets Are Off: The ship doesn't have a casino; it used to, but it was removed due to under-use (gambling isn't popular with Germans).
Elissa Garay is a Brooklyn-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure.
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Europa at a Glance
- Line: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
- Number of Passengers: 400
- Ship Size: Small
- Launch Date: 1999
- Refurbish Date: 2013