It’s unlikely that you’ve heard of Hapag-Lloyd. After all, the German company is best known for cargo shipping. However, it also has a presence in the world of luxury cruise lines.
After sailing on its beautiful EUROPA 2, the most surprising discovery I made was that it’s the best luxury cruise ship for families with children and teens. Here are 10 reasons why.
1. The environmentally friendly and immaculately maintained EUROPA 2 is the most modern and casually luxurious vessel in the line’s fleet of four ships and caters to a more youthful English- and German-speaking clientele. The ever-friendly staff effortlessly switches between languages with a smile.
2. The 516-passenger, 42,830-gross-ton ship has one of the best passenger space ratios. And with a crew of 370, it also has one of the highest crew to passenger ratios. Europa2 features high ceilings and plenty of windows, making it feel more spacious for the whole family and open to spectacular sea views outside.
3. There are plenty of food options for all ages. The ship hosts an impressive seven dining venues, including three complimentary specialty restaurants (Asian, Italian and French) and a tasty sushi bar. What’s more, there’s even an onboard cooking school and daily waffle bar.
4. Perfect for family time with older kids, the entertainment ranges from stellar singing performances (mostly in German) to a jazz club and 3D cinema. EUROPA 2 even features a high-tech video golf simulator (as well as the classic shuffleboard), and there are special golf itineraries and tours for activities off of the ship. And the library (stocked with endless books) stimulates intellectual endeavors.
5.Chic accommodations are particularly well suited to multiple generations, with eight dedicated family apartments. These cabins consist of two adjoining suites, each with 215 square feet of interior space and a 75-square-foot veranda. Connecting doors link the balconies and rooms, one outfitted for adults and another recently outfitted specifically for kids and teens. They include new bunk beds (one is a Pullman couch), a baby-changing table, a play area with a table for painting and games, a Sony PlayStation 4 gaming console and a playful population of Steiff-brand stuffed animals.
6. Each side of the apartment comes with its own privacy-enhanced split bathroom. There is a toilet and sink in one compartment and a shower and sink (for the adults) or a new bathtub and sink (for the kids) in the other compartment. Alleviating the need to haul extras, a free baby welcome package is provided to families with children under 3; it includes a EUROPA 2 changing bag and mats, care products like wet wipes, baby food and more. Baby monitors and portable cribs are also available for free, and babysitting services can be booked at an extra cost.
7. The Knopf Club is named after Steiff teddy bear and family mascot Kap’n Knopf. It's also where 2- to 3-year-olds can enjoy a ball pit and Steiff cuddle lounge. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has an exclusive partnership with the German plush toy company, and your very own Cap’n Knopf can be purchased in the gift shop. (Full disclosure: This unashamed kid at heart bought two.) The adjacent Kids’ Club for 4- to 10-year-olds additionally sports building and computer corners, a research lab, climbing castle and a children’s theater and library.
8. Big kids 11 to 15 can escape to the separate Teens’ Club, complete with vibrant decor, a foosball table, disco, computer zone, chill-out lounge with an iPod chair and library, two big-screen TVs and video game consoles. Special scavenger hunts take place on board, and kids and teens get their own pool hours.
9. Off of the ship, families can participate in excursions tailored to their needs by the concierge — including a full biking program with cycles ready in port — and kids and teens can embark on a shore-side treasure hunt via pontoon boat on their own supervised adventures.
10. Best of all, children under 12 sail on EUROPA 2 for free, and 12- to 15-year-olds sail for just $60 per day, provided they are in the same suite as two paying parents or guardians.
And if you're left wanting to see more of Europa 2, these photos are for you...
The reception area on Europa 2 looks fancy, but it's still kid-friendly. Do you see the stroller?
Enjoy a delcious meal at the spacious Tarragon Restaurant.
Learn to cook with starred chefs at the Culinary School.
Enjoy the performances in the theater...
...or watch a 3D moive on film night.
This play area is part of the multigenerational staterooms.
Welcome to the Knopf Toddler Club.
Knopf Club play area for young children.
The Teen's Club has a nice blend of technology, games and books.
Out on a zodiac tour.
Exterior of Europa 2 with a classic game of shuffle board.