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Can’t be fun to be upstaged by your upstart offspring.  Particularly when you’ve been the best for a decade.

Europa, the Hapag-Lloyd luxury small ship, has had to endure the fact that the world has fallen in love with Europa 2, sometimes described as the best luxury ship afloat with a big rating from Berlitz.

Not that there is too much wrong with the 204-cabin 13-year-old Europa, described by Berlitz as “a truly sophisticated ship for formal longer cruises”.

One Sydney guide described the reputation of the two ships like this:  “The Europa is a Mercedes S class; the Europa 2 is a Porsche.”

But be warned: The Europa is formal, European and …ahem…very German.

On some legs of its round-the-world cruise – she stopped in Sydney this week and Cruise Passenger was lucky enough to step aboard  for a sneak peak – she turns totally German.  Once the crew know there are only fellow Europeans aboard, the bilingual announcements disappear.

But, we are assured, Teresa the bi-lingual ambassador is always at hand to translate for any Australians.

The crew is all European – a rarity at sea these days.   You could easily be in a good Hamburg hotel!

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There’s lots of space on board the ship.

There is a check-list of things that the Europa doesn’t do:  like parlour games, (casino games), public announcements, professional lecturers (“we only use working professors and experts”, explained a rep).

And a list of what they do do: lots of space, peace and quiet, jazz and classical concerts, fine dining and drinks at duty free prices (think beer at $2.50 as opposed to $7).

The Europa is more traditional than Europa 2 – 1000 square metres of Ocean Spa, family friendly (kids clubs, teen room and children up to 11 can travel free).

And it is value at seven nights for two adults and two children for $17,022 for five star dining and facilities.

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The service is…well…very European.  The staff perform what one guide explained was “parallel serving” – each wait person carries several dishes, but serves each dish (fish, meat) simultaneously to each guest.

And the food IS impressive, with signature restaurant Dieter Muller eateries and a dining room that boats great choices for everyone.  We had monk fish and veal, both of which were excellent.

They serve Iranian Ossetre caviar at least once a week.  There are 500 tonnes of this delicacy in the world each year.  This ship consumes ½ a tonne.

Wines are at duty free prices – you’ll be paying what you spend at a Vintage Cellars for good European brands.

Cabins are spacious with particularly impressive luggage areas.  Great bathrooms, wide screen TVs and internet connections.

Hapag-Lloyd refit regularly, so Europa doesn’t look dated.

Smoking is allowed in a lounge and on balconies (it is a EUROPEAN ship). There is an art class room, theatre, library, kids and teens areas. We are informed there are also dialysis facilities and nurses and doctors are flown in when necessary.

The penthouse suites, with walk-in wardrobes you could host a small party in, come with butler, bar and sleep out balcony.

It isn’t hard to see why the world raves about Europa.  She isn’t for everyone.  But she is certainly a ship of great sophistication and style.

For more information contact Landmark Travel and local agent, Gerd on [email protected]

Been on the Europa or Europa 2? Tell us what you thought!