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Cruise Diva's CRUISE DIARY

Europa in Baltimore

Part Two

At 28,437 tons, Europa is quite a small ship by today's standards. As I quickly learned, what she lacks in size is more than made up for by what she offers in quality and service.

Most public rooms are located on Europa Deck where I embarked and I began to get my bearings there. Two glass elevators pierce the seven-deck high skylight topped atrium and the entire ship seemed flooded with sunlight, although it was actually late afternoon. Each public room seemed more spacious and inviting than the last as I passed through them. Rich fabrics, an abundance of marble, and a light contemporary decor add to that impression, but, as Douglas Ward pointed out to me, it is the ceiling height that really opens up the spaces. At every turn I encountered appealing works of art, including some whimsical statuary, and floral arrangements to die for. The towering tropical centerpiece in the foyer entrance to the Europa Restaurant was astonishing in height. Yet, due to the high ceiling, it wasn't overpowering.

Flanking the main restaurant are two themed specialty restaurants for which there is no additional charge; however, they are extremely popular and require reservations. Venezia specializes in Italian cuisine and Oriental serves—what else?—Asian dishes.

Poolside on Lido Deck

Since I reached the restaurants from the aft staircase, I proceeded forward on the winding promenade past the boutique, art gallery, Clipper Lounge, and Havana Bar to the atrium Piano Bar and all the way forward to the Europa Lounge where daytime lectures and evening shows are presented. Back in the atrium, I took the elevator to Lido Deck where the surprisingly long swimming pool and whirlpool are located. Forward are the Library with computer terminals to access the Internet (for a fee) and the Club Belvedere where afternoon tea was being served. Aft is the Lido Cafe where a circular staircase intrigued me... it led to Sansibar, designed to recreate the ambiance of the original resort on the nature reserve island of Sylt north of Hamburg. Adjacent to Sansibar is the golf simulator.

A sign captured my attention and I went up a deck to the double height Fitness Center and the FKK Deck. I'm not sure what the letters stand for, but the FKK Deck is reserved for nude sunbathers. I beat a hasty retreat—it was time for the boat drill and to change for dinner.

Dinner in the main dining room was the highlight of the evening. My lobster and mango cocktail, green salad, and salmon croquettes were all sensibly portioned and beautifully presented. The salmon was actually an appetizer, but I ordered it for my main course. Wines are not included, yet, like all beverages on board they are reasonably priced. After cappuccino, petit fours, and chocolate soufflé I joined my dinner companions in the Havana Bar for an after-dinner drink and to await sailing. We were finally on our way!


I confess to not being a morning person. It would be unkind to subject other passengers to my disagreeable mood before I can consume enough coffee so I generally put out the room service door tag before retiring. The menu was in German... again, I recognized about every tenth word. In order to make my selections I took the tag to Reception for help. Luckily, not only did I get a translation, but also a couple suggestions for a standing breakfast order. Right on time the steward appeared to set my table with a linen cloth every morning. Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, an omelet, bacon, fruit, and coffee. What a way to start the day.

An organized tour wasn't part of my plan as I've visited family in Baltimore numerous times. Instead, I took advantage of the complimentary shuttle from the pier to the Inner Harbor and the National Aquarium to see the exhibits and Dolphin Show. The audience was made up mostly of school children on field trips and it was fun to watch them interact with the dolphins—playing 'catch' they were soaked for their efforts. Do not sit in the rows of seats marked as a splash zone or you will get wet!

There are a lot of things to see and do in Baltimore, but I've seen and done many of them so I strolled through the scenic Inner Harbor for a bit and then headed back to Europa. While I didn't think I was hungry, I had to check out the Lido Cafe. Everything looked so enticing... I was hooked and got barbeque ribs at the outdoor grill. Tangy sauce called for a German beer, which was incidentally less expensive than bottled water.

I was meeting other American guests for dinner in Venezia, so I decided to read and take it easy on my balcony and (excuse warning!) the beer must have made me sleepy.

Servers circulate with trays of hot canapés during cocktail time in the Piano Bar. Irresistible! Dinner in Venezia began with prawns, followed by a tenderloin topped with pâté, and vanilla custard dessert. With fruit, it was a light finish to a splendid meal.

It was still early and we decided a trip to Sansibar was in order. Hint... remove your high heels before negotiating that circular staircase or use the outside stairs. A storm was brewing and grew in intensity until it was pretty impressive. Lightening, thunder, and rain followed us in the open sea. Europa rode it well and rocked me gently to sleep hoping our day at sea would be clear. 

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