A Preview of Europa 2: “Relaxed Luxury” and a “Hideaway at Sea”

Last Thursday, Julian Pfitzner, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ product manager for its newbuilding Europa 2, visited London to preview his new ship, which is now due to enter service in just over seven months.

Two of the first impressions he created were “Relaxed Luxury” and “Hideaway at Sea.” This is something that is a little different from what is on offer in today’s cruise market, even from ultra-luxury operators. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises seem to be basing their marketing on the proper definition of that word: identifying a need in the market and designing a product to fulfil that need at the best price available. Unlike her ultra-luxury fleetmate Europa, the world’s top-rated ship since she was introduced in 1999, Europa 2 will be aimed squarely at another audience – the affluent executive and professional classes still in work, younger in age and quite possibly with growing children. The new ship’s dress code will therefore tend to be be smart casual rather than strictly formal.

To reach this audience, the new ship’s operation will be quite different from others in the fleet. Her cruises, at least in the summer season in the Mediterranean, will be based on a 7-day cycle that can be extended to 14 or 21 days as no  itinerary will be repeated before three cruises have elapsed. In addition, to look after their children, nannies will be engaged on a  ratio of one for every four children, something that will mean the crew size might vary from cruise to cruise. And because of this and the need to house entertainers, although the ship has been designed to take up to 516 guests, it will be unlikely that her passenger load will ever top 480. There will also be seven “family” suites, adjoining paired verandah suites with doors between them.  What’s more, children up to the age of eleven will be carried free of charge as long as they occupy a suite with their parents.

The new ship’s itineraries will be based on ports that have plenty of air service and are easy to get in and out of – for example, in the Mediterrranean, Barcelona, Monte Carlo (Nice) and Venice,  in the Far East,  Singapore and Hong Kong for winter cruises, and Dubai in the Middle East.

The Europa 2 will also introduce some new concepts. While she will have a magrodome, it will not be the usual cover over a pool deck but it will be two decks high. And sixteen of her sutes will be designated “Spa” suites, meaning not that they will be next to a spa but that each individual suite will be equipped with its own spa equipment – whirlpool tubs, rain showers and their own steam saunas.

All suites will have private balconies, making her only the third ship in the world to offer this feature (the other two are Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager). The minimum suite size will be 301 sq ft plus a 75 sq ft balcony, and the largest will be in excess of 1,000 sq ft.

An important thing about Europa 2 is that every cruise will cater to international passengers, i.e. both English- and German-speaking. This is unlike the present practice, which is to nominate several international cruises for each ship in the fleet. By this means, it is aimed to increase the number of English-speaking passengers by four or five fold, from ten to twenty per internatuonal sailing now to fifty to eighty in three to five years’ time.

As to meals and drinks, there will be eight different restaurants to choose from and wines and spirits will be sold at prices that are cheaper than on shore, unlike virtually all other lines other than the all-inclusive ones. The usual practice on cruise ships has over the years moved away from duty free prices to charging full shoreside hotel prices. Hapag-Lloyd’s goal in this area is not to maximise on board revenue but to offer value and a good experience. Also,  in the alternative restaurants, it will not be possible to book more than forty-eight hours in advance, giving all an opportunity to experience them whereas on some lines experienced old hands have tended to monopolise these spaces. All in all, some interesting ideas are coming out of Hamburg.

For further details on Hapag-Lloyd Cruises please contact Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or Freephone 0800 526 313 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

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About thecruisepeople
Specialists in sea travel - ultra-luxury cruising, freighter travel, small ships and expedition voyages.

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