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Everything posted by cathaana

  1. Happy to message you with details. Doesn't seem to be enabled currently.
  2. Prices were VERY reasonable 1.5 years ago. We booked through a German travel agency and received a pretty nice onboard credit which covered all our drink costs. There are a few FB groups dedicated to E2 (e.g. MS Europa 2 (neue Gruppe) - a German group but they are happy to help out English speakers) so you might find an up-to-date wine list there.
  3. Hapag Lloyd has several expedition ships and pretty cool itineraries. Obviously, the pool wouldn't be big.
  4. I've been using Cashrewards for years. Never booked a cruise via their site but sometimes other travel such booking.com.
  5. I have often seen the lines for pre-paid tickets be as long as the normal queues. You'll probably be fine either way.
  6. Lived in Surfers for a couple of years and in Brisbane for about a decade. As with everything, all areas have upsides and downsides and it really depends on what you want. But I don't think you can really go wrong with any of them. We like to stay at Currumbin Sands when going to the Gold Coast or the JW Marriott if we want more of a hotel vibe. Rumba Beach when at the Sunshine Coast. In Brisbane we like the Emporium.
  7. HL's Europa 2 has entry-level cabins with bath tubs. Food is quite good. Your price-point should work as well, even with drinks being extra. Enrichment might be a bit limited in English but it's certainly there.
  8. Are you talking about Hapag Lloyd? Their ships are not all inclusive when it comes to drinks (but the mini-bar is (at least on the Europa 2, plus alcohol at the parties/special occasions).
  9. On our E2 cruise, the whole crew spoke English. There were actually a few who didn't speak German (or barely any) and always used English. The lectures were in German but available in English on TV. Not sure whether they ever did live English lectures. There are a few extensive reviews in the Luxury Cruise sub-forum. I can't remember seeing one for the expedition ships though - also waiting on Gary there. 😄
  10. The Luxury Cruise sub-forum has quite a bit of discussion of HL. Probably best to go there.
  11. Great review, thanks. Good to hear that the food is still great on the Europa. Since the Europa 2 had pretty good food but not as outstanding as were we used to from the Europa, I was wondering whether it was still as good. While the Europa 2 is certainly the better choice when cruising with children, we do miss the more specialised cruises offered on the original.
  12. Yeah, Serenissima was barely Italian. Couldn't complain about the Vitello Tonnato and the Osso Bucco was quite nice but the pasta dishes were fairly average. The desserts were very good though, especially the almond ice cream. I didn't try Tarragon but did Elements twice which I thought was pretty decent with the Indian dishes being very good. I really would like to try some other luxury lines with a reputation for good food but since none of them cater to families, I am kind of stuck with the Europa 2. Which is perfectly fine but somehow they only have cruises that work for us tim-e and location-wise every two or three years. :D
  13. There is a bus that goes to the BICT but it doesn't run very often. Best to get a taxi or share an Uber with some other people going. It takes about 40 minutes.
  14. I have only tried Celebrity and RCCL's version and found neither to be very good. Certainly not luxury. But obviously still better than being in a normal cabin.
  15. Some final thoughts... While I did say the kids were noticeable, it was really only at the pool in the later afternoon, when the kids club was closed. But even so they were in general very well-behaved and one was only impacted when trying to actually swim the length of the pool. The kids section in the Yacht Club is towards the very back in a separate area and the kids club is close to the family cabins and nothing else so no noice issues, With the food, there was a bit of a quality difference (mainly for the desserts though) between the Yacht Club and Weltmeere. But even so, the Yacht Club was still much better than what we’ve had in the suite restaurants on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. The weather continued to be quite rough, so more excursions were cancelled and we left the first port in Fiji right after the first tender returned and continued on to our final port. If I had come all the way from Europe, I probably would have been a bit annoyed but then bad weather is to be expected this time of the year. What I really like is HL’s free Welcome and Farewell point (for those with no travel arrangements through HL). We had booked the Farewell point which meant that after we disembarked at 9 o’clock, a shuttle bus brought us to a hotel close to the airport where we were provided drinks and snacks and the kids were able to use the pool. A great way to pass the 3 hours until was time for us to head to the airport. All in all, I am still very happy with our experience. Yes, we expected more Christmas feeling and the entertainment was a bit lacking (as in not enough – the magician, the musicians and the China expert were all great) but food-wise they are great and what they offer for kids can’t be beaten so I would definitely book them again. Let me know if there are any questions.
  16. Thanks, vistaman. I followed the previous cruise along on FB. It seemed quite nice. Too bad you missed out. I'll be writing a wrap up post as soon as we've settled back in at home.
  17. We are a week into the cruise now. Yesterday’s stop was Cairns, today’s Airlie Beach. Since none of the excursions on offer were exciting (or I had done them before), I decided to head out on my own and visit Cairns Zoom while my husband did a snorkel and dive trip. He was quite disappointed, by the organisation of the excursion and by the reef itself. In general, the ship excursions have been a bit chaotic and not what I am used to from the Europa. As an example, no water bottles are brought along on trips or waiting at the tender station. Or the kids club organised a swimming trip to a beach without realising it’s stinger season. Service also has had some glitches. Mostly, it’s been excellent but even after a week my eggs still tend come out slightly runny even though I order them ‘totally dead, absolutely no moving parts’ every time. We’ve had a few forgotten drinks and have been ignored a couple of times but in general, we’ve been happy. Food is still excellent. It feels like there are not as many options as on Europa but that might just be post-Covid cost-cutting. The specialty restaurants have switched up there menu but we haven’t tried any of them yet. They can be hard to get in in the evening without a reservation but lunch is usually no problem. The cookies finally showed up during afternoon tea on Christmas Eve as well as Lebkuchen und Dominosteine. Same on Christmas Day but already gone on Boxing Day. The whole Christmas thing has been very light. There were a couple of Christmas songs during the concert on Christmas Eve and a classical concert with a bit of a Christmas feel on Christmas Day (but only one real Christmas piece). ‘Der Weihnachtsmann’ came at 5pm for the kids and every child received a personalised message and a present (such as Lego and Playmobil). And there was goose with red cabbage and chestnuts on Christmas Day. Another great meal.
  18. The first stop of the cruise was Darwin. Several of the excursions were cancelled due to the bad weather. We did the jumping crocodiles and got lucky weather-wise. It only rained on the bus trip to and from the boat. The excursion itself was fun and good to do with kids. We paid €117/person (kids are 50% off) for the 4 hours. Now it’s another two sea days before a stop on Lizard Island. Internet is free for one hour per person every day which so far has been more than enough time. You can book extra time or packages such as ‘Social Media’ (€5 for 24h) or several data packages starting at €25 for 250MB. Homepages of airlines can be used free of charge, something I haven’t seen before. I had my first spa treatment yesterday, a 1hr sports massage for €117, which was excellent. The prices seem to have gone up a bit (at least I remember them being cheaper on the Europa) but they are still reasonable in comparison to what I have seen on other lines. A pedicure with colour costs €70. They have a Thai massage therapist on board, so I will be giving a Thai massage a go as well (something I have found rarely well-done outside of Thailand). Apart from the officers, the crew is quite international (compared to pre-Covid Europa). I would say only about every third person is from Germany. Quite a few seem to be more comfortable speaking English than German. Service so far has been very good. What has been a bit disappointing is the missing Christmas feeling. The decorations are very tasteful and the gingerbread houses and Christmas trees beautiful but there has been no Christmas music or even Christmas cookies. Today (Christmas Eve) is the first day where Christmas music is part of the program. Still no cookies anywhere though. 😄 Apart from the cookies, there is not much to miss food-wise. There is fresh seafood (including lobster if that is your thing) every day in the buffet restaurant. The meats are all melt-in-your-mouth quality tenderloins (the deer was incredible). The Indian dishes that have been served so far (Dhal and Biryani) have been excellent (with a special shout out to the mango chutney which was the best I have ever had). On the more German side, the potato salad is amazing and the Wiener Schnitzel and Laugenbrötchen spot on. The Grüne Soße was not quite the original but still good. Add a Rhabarber-Schorle, and it feels like you are eating in Germany. In the afternoon, waffles are served at the pool. They seem to have a theme every day, switching up the ice cream and fruits and sometimes even the flavour of the waffles. For a more standard afternoon tea, one can head into the Belvedere. They serve three cakes/Torten daily plus a selection of smaller pastries and savoury items. The scones (two kinds every day) are excellent and are served with real clotted cream.
  19. We are currently on the Europa 2 on the Christmas cruise. So far we’ve only had a couple of sea days and today’s stop in Darwin but first impressions are definitely very good. It’s an international and a family cruise with the former barely and the latter definitely noticeable. There is one large international family on board and a couple more kids who grew up multilingual. There are probably 20-25 kids of all ages, with 350 guests total. Quite empty for a holiday cruise. The cruise started in Bali and all guests had to complete an official RAT test 24 hours before embarkation with an additional test on the first evening, after the drill and before dinner. Embarkation itself started at 4pm and went fairly well; maybe 20 minutes total from arrival at the harbour to getting all four of us checked in. We have a family cabin which is amazing. One slightly smaller standard cabin with a connected second cabin that is outfitted for kids. Bunk beds, a playstation, toys, walls that can be written on, Pokemon toothbrushs and -paste, etc. The family cabins are just around the corner from the kids club. They open from 9 o’clock on and take the kids to breakfast. Supposedly, they even do a pick up from the cabin beforehand. At 12:30 the kids are taken to lunch. At 5pm the club closes for 1.5 hours before re-opening in time to take the kids to dinner at 6:30. They close at 10pm. During the day are lots of smaller activities and one can sign up the kids for free excursions. So far, the food has been amazing. We’ve tried two of the specialty restaurants for lunch (same non-changing menu as in the evening) and been to the Yacht Club for lunch and dinner. Weltmeere is closed for lunch but really nice for breakfast if you like it a bit more quiet. For dinner, there is a new menu every day in addition to the standard one. Drinks are not included (but the included mini bar is re-filled at least once a day). You can get .5l of water for €2, Cocktails for €7 and Mocktails for €5.50. The wine list is pretty extensive. On the sea days, there seem to be at least 5 fitness classes a day. Otherwise entertainment is pretty light. There are three lecturers on board plus a mental magician, a fairly well-known German actor plus a few musicians. It seems that they have started offering some entertainment at 6:30pm but most of it is still too late for us. The fitness centre is well equipped but not very large. If the ship is full, it might get crowded. One of the fitness classes was actually so over-crowded that one of the personal trainers spontaneously decided to offer the same class on the pool deck for those who didn’t fit in the room. tbc
  20. Most cruises on the Europa 2 seem to average around €550 to 650 a night per person. From my research the other luxury lines weren't really cheaper. And while they usually include drinks, the prices of excursions etc are usually much higher.
  21. I was invited a couple of times to dine with officers on the Europa.
  22. Great review, thanks. Strange that they have started serving 'American' style breadrolls and to bad about the pastries. We probably won't be back on the Europa for quite a few more years due to our young kids but we have many wonderful memories and still want to do Europas Beste at some point. It will be interesting to see how Europa 2 compares next year.
  23. I think HL would be the way to go but I don't know about their Wifi nowadays. Their expedition ships have really interesting itineraries but are obviously pretty small ships so maybe not ideal for somebody prone to seasickness.
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