Exploring the Croatian coastline on new ultra-luxury Hapag Lloyd ship Europa 2
The picturesque Croatian coastline with its idyllic islands and hidden bays is a popular cruise destination. Read Jenny's review about her cruise on board Hapag Lloyd's new ultra-luxury ship Europa 2.
My first sight of Europa 2 comes from the air as my flight floats over the top of this beautiful 42,830-ton vessel. With this birds-eye view it's obvious how elegant and wonderfully small this Hapag Lloyd ship is compared with the Costa and Royal Caribbean ships moored nearby.
A late afternoon arrival into Dubrovnik means there is no time to explore this magnificent city, but a short walk to the tender boat gives me a taste of what Dubrovnik has to offer. It has a beauty I wish to explore more and I note to add it to my list of 'places to visit'.
The tender waits at Dubrovnik harbour to transfer me to the ship, where I am welcomed on board with a glass of champagne. The first thing that strikes me is how light, spacious and modern it is and the Atrium oozes elegance and class without needing to be brash and glitzy.
I take the clear glass elevator to my Veranda Suite on the 6th floor. From brochures and videos I know how wonderful the suites on are, but what greets me is far beyond my expectations. A corridor leads to a large room with a double bed, separate seating area and a decent sized balcony. The bathroom is large with a monsoon shower and separate bathtub. There is also a walk-in wardrobe with full-length mirror - a woman's dream! There are plenty of amenities, including a flat-screen television, tablet PC, Nespresso machine and mini-bar, which is stocked with beers and soft drinks (at no additional charge).
I have a glass of champagne and some strawberries as I take a moment to sit on the balcony and enjoy my luxurious surroundings. Eagerness to explore the ship further must be put on hold until tomorrow as I meet for a pre-dinner drink in the Sansibar. There are excellent views over the Dubrovnik coastline, which is lit by the setting sun.
Dinner is taken in the Weltmeere, international a la carte restaurant. The restaurant sports some fabulous Murano glass light fittings, rumoured to have cost several million Euro! Europa 2 prides itself on its gourmet cuisine and after a 5-course meal, I can see why. The evening ends with a nightcap in the Sansibar as the ship sets sail for Hvar.
I wake as the ship arrives in Hvar, a small medieval island reported to be Croatia's sunniest place and this morning is no exception! Taking this into account I take breakfast 'al fresco' in the Yacht Club where there are spectacular views. Much like dinner, it is a lavish affair with a great selection of food. I could sit here all day!
This morning is dedicated to a tour of the Europa2. Public areas are spacious and contemporary, decorated with modern works of arts and sculptures. The pool area has a retractable roof and the whole design and style reflects simple elegance. The Spa is one of the largest at sea and the well-equipped gym and PGA golf simulator are perfect for fitness enthusiasts.
Suites on board vary in size but offer similar amenities; the ocean and spa suites have a whirlpool bath, with window (and blind) looking through to the bed and balcony areas, allowing guests to gaze out to sea whilst in the tub! I also manage to get a peak at the magnificent Owner's Suite - 99 sq metres with an indoor Jacuzzi with sea view!
Lunchtime on board offers several dining options, guests can choose from the Weltmeere al la carte restaurant, Elements oriental cuisine restaurant or the Yacht club for those who prefer a buffet style option.
This afternoon I take the tender boat into Hvar. A 16th-century Venetian fortress overlooks the picturesque harbour on the island. It is possible to walk to the top, from where panoramic views of the island are offered, but my time is limited so instead I wander to the main square and admire St Stephen's Cathedral before heading back to the ship.
Dinner this evening is taken in the Tarragon restaurant, Europa2's French speciality restaurant. The d'cor in this restaurant is fabulous and I had to remind myself a few times that I was on board a ship cruising the Adriatic coast and not in a restaurant in Paris! The food is of course 'magnifique'. Saving my tightest fitting dress for the last evening may not have been the best idea!
This evening's entertainment is a 'Pool Party Under the Stars'. Guests dance to the ship's on board band 'the Blue Express' as waiters stroll around with complimentary cocktails and Prosecco, before the resident DJ takes over.
Review by Jenny, Blue Water Holidays