On board the Europa 2, Hapag-Lloyd’s elite new cruise ship, I got a taste of what it might be like to sail the Mediterranean on my own private yacht.
Entering the Sicilian port of Trapani on the first morning, I arrived at the ship’s indoor-outdoor buffet as it opened for breakfast. With no other passengers in sight, I was greeted by a phalanx of servers and a cheery chorus of “Guten Morgens” and “Good mornings” (Hapag-Lloyd is a German line, but Europa 2’s crewmembers are bilingual).
For the next several minutes, I sat alone on deck overlooking the sea and the city, basking both in the early morning sun and the full attentions of the eager-to-please crew, who proffered cappuccinos, freshly squeezed juices, cooked-to-order omelets – anything I wanted.
Later in the cruise, when I went for… Continue reading
Each fall when the Berlitz Cruising and Cruise Ships guidebook is published, cruise line marketing departments hold their collective breaths until they see how many stars and points their ships have received from author Douglas Ward, dubbed “The World’s Foremost Authority on Cruising” and whose 2014 edition is the 29th in the series.
An extra star from Ward, or deletion of a star from a ship’s ratings, can have something of the effect of a top chef gaining or losing a Michelin star. Ward, who takes 15-20 cruises a year and spends much of the rest of the time checking out ships in port and making shipyard visits, is known for his objectivity, attention to detail, and no-nonsense writing style.
You won’t find fluff, puff or snark in these 752 pages… Continue reading