Cruise Diva's CRUISE
~ EUROPA ~
of Hapag-Lloyd's Fleet
Would I remember any of the German I
learned as a teenager living in Kaiserslautern, Germany in the '60s?
Maybe I should have spent less time learning to drive and listening to
the Beatles and instead concentrated on the language of the country.
I really tried to converse with, or at
least greet, fellow passengers and crewmembers in their native tongue.
Unfortunately, I understood only about every tenth word. Fortunately,
without exception, they smiled at my efforts and responded in English.
After all, this was a bi-lingual cruise on board Hapag-Lloyd's
Hailed by Douglas Ward, author of the
Ocean Cruising & Cruise Ships annual guidebooks, as THE
world's top ship, Europa had quite a reputation to uphold. Did it live
up to his accolades? Since he was on board, I asked him and compared
observations. You be the judge!
Charleston, South Carolina
schedule allowed for me to sail only four nights of the 12-night
itinerary, but it was enough... enough to make me yearn to
continue on to Florida, the Caribbean, and Nassau.
Naval Business Center
last time I joined a cruise ship in Philadelphia embarkation was at the
"fruit terminal" where vehicles literally drove through the
building to drop off luggage. It was neither inviting or an auspicious
beginning to a cruise. All that has changed with the development of the Philadelphia
Naval Business Center, which was once the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
Surrounded by brick
buildings, Marine Parade Grounds, manicured lawns, and restaurants, the Philadelphia
Cruise Terminal is the most pleasant facility from which I've sailed.
The US Navy really did things right and Philadelphia hasn't dropped the
ball since taking over the facilities.
It didn't take
long to pass security, show identification, and proceed to Europa shortly
before the scheduled 4pm boarding time. After an easy embarkation, I was
somewhat weary from my early flights and an extensive tour of the city.
Greeted by the Purser, I was shown to a seat in the reception area and
gratefully accepted a flute of welcome-aboard champagne while she checked
on the availability of my suite (all accommodations on Europa are termed
difference was immediately evident as my champagne was served on a linen
cocktail napkin. No paper here! Within minutes I was shown to my suite by
a cheerful stewardess who pointed out its features and patiently instructed
me in the use of the television's email function. It took a bit of
practice, but I mastered its use after a few tries. Every passenger was issued a unique shipboard email address to use the complimentary service
during their voyage.
was launched in 1999 and one would expect a five-year old ship to show a
bit of wear and tear. Not so! My balcony suite was spotless and everything
appeared brand-new. As I unpacked, I explored my quarters... the walk-in
closet with dozens of wood hangers, personal safe, shoe horn, umbrellas,
clothes brush, and bank of deep drawers was adequate for a much larger
wardrobe than mine. Stocked with bottles of shampoo, shower gel, body
lotion, q-tips, a sewing kit, and heavenly scented soaps, the bathroom
also had plenty of storage space behind mirrored doors as well as drawers
and cabinets beneath the marble topped sink/vanity. A tub and separate
shower with glass door and adjustable shower head offered options for
I had never seen on a cruise ship made a positive impression... his-and-hers
sized bathrobes. The amenities just didn't stop—a mini bar stocked with
complimentary bottled water, juices, beer, and soft drinks; a variety of
glassware; drawers in the desk/dressing table; plush duvets;
slippers; a messenger-bag tote; accordion-style file holder for papers;
personalized stationery; and a sitting area that could be separated from
the beds by drawing a wall-to-wall curtain. The deep balcony was furnished
with a table, two chairs, and a lounger (all with padded cushions).
to comfort was evident throughout. The bedside reading lamps even have
nightlights. If I had to pick a quibble, it would be that sound from the
hallway could be irritating, although I never heard anything from the
suite next door. Even my quibble had an upside—while
dressing for dinner I could enjoy the pianist performing in the atrium
Piano Bar one
It took some effort, but after refreshing myself
with champagne and the strawberries waiting in my suite, I tore myself away from my
private plush surroundings to take a look around the ship before
What did I find between the boat drill
and our departure from Philadelphia?
First I ran
across Douglas Ward and a
Cruise Diary Index
Two -- Tour Europa & Baltimore's Inner Harbor
Three -- At sea, a day in Charleston & debark in