Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2 – A 9-Night Sampler Cruise From The UK – Portsmouth To Lisbon On June 2, 2015, From £2,990

europa-2-french-restaurantSPECIAL EUROPA 2 UK 9-NIGHT SAMPLER CRUISE (NO EXTRA CHARGE FOR ALTERNATIVE RESTAURANTS)

June 2, 2015, 9 nights from £2,990 per person on the world’s most luxurious ship. From Portsmouth to Lisbon via St Peter Port (Guernsey), St Malo, Belle-Ile, Bordeaux and La Coruna, finishing in Lisbon with an overnight stay on board. 119Two of the themes on board Europa 2 are “Relaxed Luxury” and “Hideaway at Sea.” This is quite different from the rest of today’s cruise market, even the ultra-luxury operators. Europa 2 is aimed squarely at a different audience – an affluent and professional market, still in work, younger in age and with growing children. The new ship’s dress code is thus smart casual, not formal. To reach this audience, the Europa 2  operates quite differently from other ships. Her summer cruises in the Mediterranean are 7-day itineraries that can be extended to 14 or 21 days, with no itinerary repeated before three cruises have elapsed. There are eight different restaurants to choose from and wines and spirits are sold at prices that are cheaper than onshore, unlike other cruise lines that charge full shoreside hotel prices. Beer is about €1.40, a cocktail around €4.20 and bottles of wine run from about €14. The usual practice on cruise ships has long ago moved away from charging real duty free prices. Hapag-Lloyd’s goal is not to maximise on board revenue but to offer value and a great experience. Also, in the alternative restaurants, it will not be possible to book more than forty-eight hours in advance, but on the other hand there is no etra charge in any of them. For further details on Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and booking the Europa 2 please contact Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or Freephone 0800 526 313 or e-mail cruisepeopleltd@aol.com.

The Cruise People Ltd Offer You Twelve Inviting Voyages For 2015

Princess Patricia in Vancouver on delivery to Princess CruisesThis year we have decided to pick a dozen interesting cruises for 2015, one for each month. Each is different from the norm, and none are repetitive.

Canadian Pacific’s 6,026-ton Princess Patricia (left), when chartered to Princess Cruises in 1965, gave her name to a new cruise line. On December 3, 2015, Princess Cruises will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a commemoratve cruise from Los Angeles to Mexico on board the 30,277-ton Pacific Princess.

The Cruise People hope you enjoy our choice for 2015 at the same time as wishing you all a Happy New Year and A Prosperous 2015!

anchorJanuary 28, 2015 – Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Balmoral

BalmoralFred. Olsen Cruise Line offers a special 32-night departure from Dubai to Tokyo on the 43,537-ton 1,747-berth flagship Balmoral, leaving Dubai on January 28. Special last-minute fares are still available for this winter cruise, calling at Mumbai, Cochin, Galle, Port Blair, overnight at Rangoon, Kuala Lumpur, Semarang, Komodo, Ujung Pandang, Cebu, Naha and Tokyo. Pre-cruise stays are available at Dubai and post-cruise hotels at Tokyo. Once trading as Orient Lines’ Crown Odyssey, this ship is returning to familiar waters.

anchorFebruary 27, 2015 – Haimark Travel’s Ganges Voyager

Ganges Voyager - SuitesFebruary sees a 27-night Cruiseco package using river craft, rail, road and air to travel from Mumbai on India’s west coast to Kolkata on its east coast. The cruise vessel chosen is Colorado-based Haimark Travel’s 185-foot 56-berth Ganges Voyager, with the program including calls at Matiara, Kalna, Kolkata, Mumbai, Udaipur, Jodphur, Jaipur, Ranthambore, Agra, Delhi, Varanasi, Patna, Munger and Murshidabad. In addition to the 10-night luxury cruise, 17 nights are spent in five-star hotels such as the Taj Gateway in Varanasi, Imperial in Delhi, Amarvilas in Agra, Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur and the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai. Other charterers of this vessel include APT Cruising and Vantage, while sister vessel Ganges Voyager II will be chartered by Uniworld River Cruises.

anchorMarch 16, 2015 – Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Astor

astorMarch sees Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ 20,606-ton 590-berth Astor departing Fremantle on the 16th for Tilbury via the Cape of Good Hope on a 38-night liner voyage that calls as Mauritius, Reunion, Durban, Mossel Bay, Cape Town, Walvis Bay, St Helena, Ascension, Casablanca and Lisbon. There is a special offer available in the UK that allows passengers to fly out to join ship for just £299. As all the originally scheduled West African ports have been eliminated because of the Ebola outbreak, she will arrive eight days early at Tilbury, so the opportunity has been taken of offering an 8-night Round Britain cruise from Tilbury on April 23.

anchorApril 25, 2015 – Aranui Cruises’ Aranui 3

Aranui 3On the occasion of its 30th anniversary of passenger sailings, Aranui Cruises has announced it will celebrate with a special sailing on April 25, 2015. For thirty years Aranui has been offering travellers the adventure of a lifetime across three French Polynesian archipelagos – the Marquesas, the Tuamotus and the Society Islands, with transport, meals, accommodation and all tours included. In 1960, the Wong family began offering a cargo service and in the early 1980’s modified its freighter with the introduction of a dozen cabins, a new galley, dining room, dormitory and other amenities. Three ships and thirty years later, Aranui Cruises’ vessels have carried over 44,750 passengers to the islands. Today, the Aranui 3 14-day voyage departs from Papeete, visiting Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou, Tahuata, Fatu Hiva, Hiva Oa, Ua Huka in the Marquesas, Takapoto and Rangiroa in the Tuamotus, and will add a stop at Bora Bora to her itinerary in 2015. The present ship offers comfortable, air-conditioned accommodations for about 200 passengers. A new ship, Aranui 5, will be introduced in 2015.

anchorMay 7 and 18, 2015 – Oceania Cruises’ Marina

oceania_marinaOne of Oceania Cruises’ more popular cruises is on board the 66,048-ton 1,250-berth Marina, on May 7, an 11-night spring sailing from New York to Montreal, with gratuities included. The Four-Star-Plus Marina departs from Manhattan and calls at Newport, Boston, Portland, Saint John NB, Halifax, Sydney NS, Saguenay and Quebec before arriving at Montreal on May 17, a perfect time of year for the French-speaking capital of the New World. Then, on May 18, Marina undertakes a 16-night Transatlantic voyage from Montreal to Southampton, with calls at Quebec, Saguenay, Corner Brook, Sydney NS, St Pierre, St John’s NF, Belfast, Dublin, Holyhead and Guernsey.

anchorJune 27, 2015 – Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa 2

europa-2Hapag-Lloyd Cruises celebrated flagship, the 42,830-ton 516-berth Europa 2, top-rated by the Berlitz Guide to Cruising, offers a special 7-night cruise celebrating Andalusia’s bustling hotspots, leaving Lisbon on June 27 and making her way to Barcelona by way of Cadiz, Malaga, Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca. She then remains in the Mediterranean for the summer, offering a number of 7-night itineraries for the younger ultra-luxury crowd that are still working. Special drinks packages are available for UK and International passengers. Summer specials are available with savings of up to 30% if booked before the end of February.

anchorJuly 4, 2015 – Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2

Queen Mary 2 at Liverpool courtesy of Sea BreezesOn July 4, Cunard Line’s 148,528-ton 2,620-berth Queen Mary 2 sails from Liverpool, remembering the first Transatlantic crossing of the 1,154-ton Britannia from Liverpool to Halifax, which she made in 12 and a half days, and on to Boston. New York was not added until 1847, but Queen Mary 2 will proceed there after Boston on this year’s voyage. The July 4 departure will mark 175 years to the day since Britannia’s 1840 maiden Transatlantic voyage under the then-new mail contract. And for the first time in over fifty years, passengers will be able to board a Cunard ship in Cunard’s original home port and sail for the United States. Cunard’s first Atlantic sailing actually took place on May 16, 1840, when the 648-ton Unicorn left Liverpool with 51 passengers, six weeks ahead of Britannia. The Unicorn was sent to carry passengers and mail on a feeder service between Nova Scotia and Quebec in connection with the Atlantic ships.

anchorAugust 28, 2015 – Haimark Line’s Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent for'dThe newly-launched Haimark Line will introduce the 4,954-ton 210-berth Saint Laurent into service in Eastern Canada, New England and the Great Lakes in 2015. Available for sale now is a special 9-night Great Lakes cruise leaving Chicago on August 28 and including Mackinac Island, an excursion into Lake Superior, Georgian Bay and the Ojibwé Indians, the Henry Ford Museum, Niagara Falls, the Thousand Islands and the St Lawrence Seaway, and finishing in Montreal. The Saint Laurent previously cruised the Great Lakes in 2001 as Cape May Light. The Haimark Line will use the same ship to offer half a dozen cruises between Montreal and Portland, Maine. Ten more cruises will be offered on the French market by Rivages du Monde, with flights from Paris, sailing from Montreal to Toronto, Niagara Falls, the Thousand Islands, Quebec and back to Montreal.

anchorSeptember 7, 2015 – Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Marco Polo

Marco PoloSeptember sees Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ 22,080-ton 848-berth Marco Polo departing Tilbury on her 50th Anniversary voyage to Montreal. Fifty years ago, as the Alexandr Pushkin, she first crossed from St Petersburg (then called Leningrad), Helsinki, Copenhagen and Tilbury to Quebec and Montreal for the Baltic Shipping Company. This epic 34-night voyage remembers Marco Polo’s Transatlantic service during her Golden Anniversary year, with calls at Amsterdam and Cherbourg before crossing the Atlantic to St John’s NF. Twenty days will be spent rediscovering her old cruising grounds in Eastern Canada, including Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and two days each in Quebec and Montreal as she cruises the mighty St Lawrence River. New calls since she cruised as Alexandr Pushkin will include Sept-Iles, Havre St Pierre and the Magdalen Islands. Then it’s back across the Atlantic with a final call at Cobh before returning to Tilbury.

anchorOctober 27, 2015 – Royal Caribbean International’s Anthem of the Seas

QuantumoftheSeasOctober will see the 168,666-ton 4,180-berth Anthem of the Seas (with a tonnage some 14% larger than Queen Mary 2 but a lower berth capacity 60% higher) making her maiden Transatlantic voyage when, at the end of her first season sailing Mediterranean cruises from Southampton, she departs on a 7-night Atlantic crossing to New York. From New York, Anthem of the Seas will offer a winter program of Caribbean Cruises from Cape Liberty, on the New Jersey side of the port near Newark Airport, before presumably returning to the UK for a second season of Mediterranean cruises in 2016. Sister ship Quantum of the Seas will be based in Shanghai from next Spring.

anchorNovember 1, 2015 – Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Eclipse

Celebrity EclipseCelebrity Cruises’ UK-based 121,878-ton 2,850-berth Celebrity Eclipse does her next Transatlantic voyage on November 1, departing her summer home port of Southampton for Miami, with calls en route at Boston, New York, Bermuda and Port Canaveral. Once in Miami, she will commence an autumn and winter Caribbean season, with durations varying from five nights (Miami-Nassau-Grand Cayman) to 14 nights (Miami-Southern Caribbean). She crosses the Atlantic again on April 17, 2016, heading back from Miami to Southampton via Bermuda and Lisbon.

anchorDecember 3, 2015 – Princess Cruises’ Pacific Princess

Pacific Princess at SkagwayTo celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, Princess Cruises has scheduled the 30,277-ton 680-berth Pacific Princess for a special Mexican Riviera itinerary departing Los Angeles on December 3, 2015. She will leave fifty years to the day after the line’s original ship, the 6,062-ton 347-berth Princess Patricia, left on her first cruise in 1965. This vessel, from which Princess Cruises took its name, was chartered from Canadian Pacific, who normally operated her in the Alaska cruise trade by summer and laid her up each winter. Pacific Princess is the smallest ship in the Princess fleet, and her 14-night cruise will be of the same duration as that first cruise on the Princess Patricia. It will blend ports from the maiden itinerary, including Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Manzanillo, with newer destinations such as La Paz and Loreto. Princess Cruises’ first season offered ten cruises to Mexico between December and April, accommodating about 3,200 cruisers. Nearly fifty years later, Princess has seventeen ships and is now carrying 1.7 million cruisers annually.

For further details of any of these sailings please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruisepeopleltd@aol.com. In North America please call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

The Avid Cruiser Ralph Grizzle Reviews Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Top-Rated Europa 2, The Top-Rated Cruise Ship In The World

Enjoy a few minutes watching Ralph Grizzle’s most recent review (July 2014) of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa 2, the top-rated cruise ship in the world (Five-Stars-Plus with Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2015:


For more information on how to book a cruise on Europa 2 please call Europa 2 expert Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk. In North America please call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

Ask about the half off second passenger and no single supplement offers that are now available.

Compare This Lanai Suite On Matson Lines’ Lurline Fifty Years Ago With A Typical Balcony Suite On Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa 2 Today

For those who like their luxuries, here is an interesting comparison. This is a typical Lanai Suite from Matson Lines’ 26,000-ton (18,163 US measure) 632-foot ocean liner Lurline, which sailed between San Francisco and Honolulu from 1932 into the 1960s. From 1957, she offered a First-Class only service for 475 passengers, also offering occasional cruises to the Pacific between her regular Hawaii sailings.

Accommodation Matson Line Lanai SuiteFifty years later, here is a typical balcony suite on Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ 42,830-ton 739-foot Europa 2, introduced last year. Have some fun and count up the similarities (that room divider for one thing) and the differences (Venetian blinds vs balcony for another) betwen the two styles, which, although separated by half a century, are very similar.

Accommodation Europa 2 Balcony Suite

Europa 2 carries 516 passengers in all-balcony accommodation in the best style, offering 7-night itineraries in the Mediterranean by summer and skighty longer Far East itineraries by winter. She is rated by the Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships as the top cruise ship in the world.

For further details on cruising on board Europa 2 please call Gay Scruton (who is off for another cruise on Europa 2 tonight) at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk. In North America call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

Queen Mary 2 Celebrates 10th Birthday – Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2 Celebrates 1st Birthday – Pearl Mist To Cruise The Great Lakes

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 12th May 2014..

Three Queens © Rex Features

Queen Mary 2 en route to Southampton, flanked by Queen Elizabeth (foreground) and Queen Victoria (background)

At dawn last Friday, the Queen Mary 2, accompanied by fleetmates Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, arrived in Southampton for her tenth birthday celebrations. During her stay, she was visited by His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. Also in a celebratory mood, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises have announced some special fares for seven 7-night summer cruises on the world’s top-rated cruise ship, Europa 2. And elsewhere, itineraries and fares have been announced to the Pearl Mist’s first season on the Great Lakes.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                             (See previous columns)

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ First Birthday Summer Specials On Board The World’s Top-Rated Cruise Ship, ms Europa 2

Europa 2 at sea

A view from the Europa 2 at sea

In recognition of ms Europa 2 ‘s first full year at sea, Hapag-Loyd Cruises has a birthday gift for Cruise People clients. On seven cruises this summer you can enjoy cruising the Mediterranean at fantastic fares.

In a guaranteed Veranda/Ocean Suite Category 0 you will pay only £2,730 per person,cruise only, double occupancy – and save up to £1,500 per person. The eligible cruises all take place this July and August, with Saturday departures:

EUX 1419    July 12-19                              Rome to Barcelona
EUX 1420    July 19-26                              Barcelona to Rome
EUX 1421    July 22-August 2                 Rome to Barcelona
EUX 1422    August 2-9                             Barcelona to Rome
EUX 1423    August 9-16                           Rome to Valetta
EUX 1424    August 16-23                         Valetta to Venice
EUX 1425    August 23-30                         Venice to Valetta

You can enjoy even more space (560 sq ft) and cruise at a cost of just  £5,460 per person in a guaranteed Spa/Grand Suite category 6, 7 or 8.

In addition, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has a special introductory offer to the UK market, with a 10-night cruise leaving Southampton on June 25 for Barcelona, with fares starting at £3,990 per person in double occupancy. A 2-night sampler cruise also leaves Hamburg for Southampton on June 23, with fares fropm £840. Free business class flights are included either to Hamburg or home from Barcelona.

Unlike her fleetmate Europa, which concentrates on the German market, Europa 2 operates in the international market and full English-language services are offered on every departure year-round.

For further details please call Gay Scruton at The Cruise Poeple Ltd in London or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

Regent Orders A Fourth Ship – Queen Mary 2 Completes 200th Atlantic Crossing – MSC To Double Its Ex-UK Fleet Next September

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 15th July 2013

quenmaryLast week came news that Regent Seven Seas Cruises had finally ordered its long-anticipated fourth ship. The 738-berth 54,000-ton Seven Seas Explorer will have a passenger space ratio of more than 73 gross tons per passenger. This compares to the new record of 80 tons per passenger on Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa 2, introduced this May. Elsewhere, Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 completed her 200th North Atlantic crossing this weekend, having now carried about 500,000 Transatlantic passengers. Meanwhile, MSC Cruises will double its ex-UK presence in September 2014 with the addition of the MSC Magica to the UK-based MSC Opera, and has announced a new UK boss.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                             (See previous columns)

Viking Cruises Announces Details Of Its 925-Berth Viking Star – P&O Cruises Lays Keel For Its New 3,600-Berth Flagship – And 210-Berth Canadian-Built Pearl Mist Is Finally Delivered

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 20th May 2013

Viking Star new

Today sees news of three different ships with tonnages in the four-digit, five-digit and six digit ranges. Thursday saw the announcement by Viking Cruises of details of its new 47,800-ton 925-passenger ocean-going cruise ship Viking Star, which will be offically named in Bergen in May 2015. The new ship will be built by Fincantieri in Italy. The day before this, P&O Cruises laid the keel for its new 141,000-ton 3,600-passenger flagship (above), also at Fincantieri. No name has yet been announced but she is based on the design of Princess Cruises’  Royal Princess, due to be named by the Duchess of Cambridge in Southampton next month, and the Regal Princess. The new P&O flagship is due to enter service in March 2015. Meanwhile, in North America, Pearl Seas Cruises, a sister company of American Cruise Lines, finally took delivery of its 4,985-ton 210-berth Pearl Seas, a ship that was completed in 2009. The Canadian-built ship is intended to cruise the Great Lakes and East Coast of North America.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                  (See previous columns)

Viking Cruises Reveals Details Of Its New 925-Passenger Viking Star

Viking Star newThis Thursday, Viking Cruises finally announced details of  its first ship, to be named Viking Star, which is due to enter service in May 2015. She will be the first of a pair of 925-passenger ocean-going cruise ships for Viking Cruises, the new cruise operation that has sprung from Viking River Cruises. The line also has options for a further four such ships, all with Fincantieri, which could eventually produce a fleet of six. Interestingly, this design is a development of the original Renaissance “R” ships design, but with many significant changes.

Together with Azamara Club Cruises, with two ships, and Oceania Cruises, with five, there will eventually be thirteen ships serving this segment of the market, which is above premium but not ultra-luxury.

Viking is a line that emphasizes geography, culture, history, good food, comfort and value for the money. Viking guests are 55 plus, well-educated, affluent, curious and active, a s well as interested in history, culture and music.

When Vking polled its guests, they found that many thought that:

Ocean ships have become too big
– Too little time is spent at the destination
– They are not as good value as you think when you purchase
– The small ships are far too expensive

So the announcement of these new ships can only be good news to those who have grown tired of ships growing bigger and more impersonal as they are built to carry 3,000. 4,000 or even 5,000 passengers.

Some of the features of the new Viking Star include:-

all cabins with a private balcony
– a two-deck high observation lounge at the forward end
– an outdoor pool at the stern as well as a midships pool with Magrodome
– a full walk-around promenade beneath the lifeboats and tenders
– the main dining room will have “the best food”
– it will also have floor-to-ceiling windows that slide open
– the spa has been vanquished from deck 9 on top to deck 1 below

Moving the spa area is particularly important as instead of being located in a prime area with forward views on top of the ship it has been relocated to a lower deck area. Why so many cruise lines chose to locate the spa area in prime real estate is a mystery but Viking is showing respect to its clients by locating the spa elsewhere and giving the views back to them. Another area that would have been the card room, internet center and Horizons Lounge has been dedicated instead to suites.

Viking Cruises will provide excellent value for the money, with fares starting at $420 per person per day, including airfare,  shore excursions in each port, concierge service,  free WiFi, complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner as well as specialty coffees, complimentary self-service laundry, free room service and all port taxes and transfers to and from the ship.

Viking Star and Europa 2Interestingly, details of the new 47,800-ton 745-foot 925-passenger Viking Star (above left) were announced just six days after Hapag-Lloyd Cruises christened its new 42,839-ton 739-foot 516-passenger Europa 2 (above right) in Hamburg. But while cruise-only fares on Europa 2 start at €600 ($800) per person per night, fly/cruise fares on Viking Star will start at $420, with a passenger space ratio of 51 tons per passenger compared to 83 on Europa 2.

For further details on Viking Cruises and how to book new Viking Star or Europa 2, which is already in service, 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.

Photos courtesy of Viking Cruises except Europa 2, courtesy of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

Europa 2: A Game Changer – Another Australian Cruise Record – Carnival Abandons Europe, Again – New Names For Portuguese Ships

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 13th May 2013

Europa 2 Pool

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ new Europa 2 features a pool area with retractable roof adjacent to the walkaround promenade

Last Monday, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ new 42,830-ton Europa 2 departed Southampton on a pre-inaugural cruise before sailing for Hamburg, where she was formally named on Friday. The Cruise Examiner was on board and files his report. Meanwhile, Down Under, the Australasian cruise market reached a grand total of 694,062 cruisers in 2012. And while Carnival Cruise Lines announced that it would send the Carnival Legend to Australia on a seasonal basis to join the Carnival Spirit, this means that the line will also be abandoning Europe, and not for the first time. Finally, new Portuguese operator Portuscale Cruises, has announced patriotic new names for its Madeira-registered fleet of classics.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                 (See previous columns)

Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2 Turns Out To Be A Real Game Changer

Europa 2 at Southampton (Wikipedia)As we predicted in April 2012 after seeing the artist’s depictions of the public rooms and restaurants, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa 2 has indeed turned out to be a real stunner. Compared to her fleetmate Europa, now fourteen years in service, it is difficult to see how cruise rating aficionados will not be able to give her an even higher rating, which would make her the top-rated ship in the world. With her high ceilings, large windows and open decks and a passenger space ratio of about 80 tons per passenger (a world record), this is a ship where everywhere you go the sea is with you.

Along with the great and the good of the cruise and travel press, about sixty top UK cruise agents were invited on a one-night cruise from Southampton along the English Channel towards Cornwall last week. Also on board was Douglas Ward, editor of the Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships.

Europa 2 French RestaurantTwo of the themes on the new ship are “Relaxed Luxury” and a “Hideaway at Sea.” This is quite different from what is on offer in the rest of today’s cruise market, even from ultra-luxury operators. Europa 2 is aimed squarely at a different audience – the affluent executive and professional classes still in work, younger in age and with growing children. The new ship’s dress code is therefore smart casual, not formal.

To reach this audience, the new ship’s operation is quite different from others. Her summer cruises in the Mediterranean are based on 7-day itineraries that can be extended to 14 or 21 days, with no itinerary repeated before three cruises have elapsed. In addition, nannies will be engaged on a ratio of one for every four children. Because of this and the need to house entertainers, although the ship has been designed to accommodate 516 guests, it is unlikely that her passenger loads will ever exceed 480.

Her shorter routes are ideal for a new audience. With 7-day combinable Mediterranean cruises and 13-to-20 day combination cruises to far-away destinations by winter, Europa 2 meets the requirements of young high-earning professionals and families with limited holiday time. Calling at 123 ports on twenty-six different itineraries this year, her cruises will take guests to the Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, Southeast Asia and China, and then in 2014/15 to the Americas.

119All itineraries are based on ports that have plenty of air service and are easy to get in and out of – for example, Barcelona, Monte Carlo (Nice) and Venice, Dubai in the Middle East, and in the Far East, Singapore and Hong Kong.

The ship’s size is a major advantage – with a length of 739 feet and a draught of 20.7 feet, Europa 2 is capable of calling at small, rarely-visited ports such as Bonifacio and Portofino, where larger ships cannot go. Twelve Zodiacs are also carried to take passengers ashore to lagoons and beaches that other ships cannot reach. The Europa 2 also introduces some new concepts. She has a magrodome, but it is not the usual cover over a pool deck but is two decks high.

The new ship’s accommodations are all Veranda Suites, with balconies each measuring at least 75 square feet. All suites come equipped with a free mini bar, Wi-Fi Internet access (at a charge) and a tablet computer. The ships 251 suites come in seven categories measuring from 301 to 1,066 square feet. The highest categories have whirlpools with ocean view.

144Sixteen Spa Suites have whirlpool tubs and rain showers with steam saunas, providing guests with a private oasis of well-being. For families traveling together, there are seven family suites, where parents and children live in two separate areas, connected by a door and a shared balcony. What’s more, children up to the age of eleven are carried free of charge as long as they occupy a suite with their parents.

Important to Europa 2 is that every cruise caters to international passengers who speak English. This is unlike the present practice, which is to nominate 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.

There are eight different restaurants to choose from and wines and spirits are sold at prices that are cheaper than onshore, unlike virtually every other cruise line other than the all-inclusive ones. Beer is about €1.40, a cocktail around €4.20 and bottles of wine run from about €14. The usual practice on cruise ships has moved away from such duty free prices to charging full shoreside hotel prices. Hapag-Lloyd’s goal 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 an opportunity for all to experience them where on some lines old hands have been able to monopolise these spaces.

All in all, some interesting ideas are coming out of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and this ship is a real game changer. The most interesting thing about this ship was that at the end of the voyage many said they did not want to leave her.  She was christened in Hamburg on Friday, May 10, 2013.

For further details on Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and how to book the Europa 2 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.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Introduces Travel Concierge On Board Both ms Europa and ms Europa 2

HL Travel ConciergeFor details of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Travel Concierge or any Europa or Europa 2 cruise please call Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.