With only six months to go until construction begins on the new sister to Europa, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has revealed the dates of some important Europa 2 milestones at ITB in Berlin.

Europa 2 will begin to take shape as of September 1 at the STX shipyard in St. Nazaire in France and is scheduled for her keel-laying ceremony on February 7, 2012.

The cruise line also said the ship would leave drydock for her final fit-out in July, while the christening should take place sometime in the northern hemisphere spring of 2013.

Lifestyle and informality are to be the themes onboard the newbuild, said Hapag-Lloyd Cruises (New ship to match Europa, Jan 12), in the hope of attracting a slightly different clientele to Europa, which is the world’s highest-rated ship according to industry bible The Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships.

However, the line confirmed Europa 2 would be no less luxurious and would feature a wellness centre, family suites, children’s areas and nannies, as well as seven specialty restaurants with no extra charge.

Itineraries will revolve around the warmer climes: she will sail seven-day Western Mediterranean cruises during the northern spring and summer (Barcelona to Monte Carlo, Monte Carlo to Malta and Malta to Venice), autumn months will include Eastern Mediterranean ports and winter will see her sail the Arabian Gulf and South-East Asia.

Not too far from Australia!