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Hapag-Lloyd goes for younger, international market with stunning new Europa2

May 18, 2013

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, operators of the Europa which has been best ship in the world * for all 13 years it has been afloat, showed off its elegant, and trendy, newbuild in a shakedown cruise that was full of surprises other than the name – Europa2.

The 43,000-tonner, with 516 passengers a little bigger than its renowned sister, is the roomiest vessel afloat in terms of passenger space ratio, and every cabin comes with balconies bigger than competitors.

Its stunning design is light and outward-looking with huge windows, a remarkable contrast to recent, mega newbuilds aimed at focusing attention on revenue-increasing interior features like shops and bars.

And in a sea change in style Europa2 will focus on a younger, more international clientele who will sail without the traditional captain’s dinner, or the usual casino, and more surprisingly, be encouraged to bring their children.

The new clientele, which the German owners hope will have more British, Belgians, Dutch, Americans and Australians, can dress casually and has a choice of eight restaurants with anytime dining and the promise of many tables for two.

As for shows, you won’t find Broadway Hits and the like on Europa2, but more of the kind of fun thing I saw, which was actors frolicking in a bathtub. Not that Europa cannot surprise, once bringing on the brilliant Mr Red Shoes, who does Jerry Lee Lewis but stops short of setting the piano on fire.

There’s a jazz club on board, and bars galore with 35 different gins.

Young passengers will have their own clubs complete with cots, table football and discos, and have the choice of 17 family-themed cruises, including shore excursions without their parents. Sources say they feature a lot of ice cream!

That, and shorter itineraries, are all about pleasing families who will find English and German as the working languages on board. Europa does bilingual cruises but I have cruised Europa in a German-only mode and not had a problem.

Initial itineraries are in the Med with Southeast Asia on the winter radar. The design of the ship allows Europa2 to access smaller ports such as Portofino, and it also carries Zodiacs which are useful up the Amazon as well as lunches on the beach at St Tropez.

Lovers of expedition cruises know Hapag-Lloyd for its Hanseatic and Bremen, the former the word’s only five-star expedition ship, which with its top ice class hull is hard to beat in Antarctica.

Hapag-Lloyd also takes golf seriously, and is offering 19 golf cruises.

* According to the Berlitz cruise guide, edited by Douglas Ward

www.hl-cruises.comImageImageImage

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