What: My favorite tips and things to do, part II…
What: Traveling with MS Europa 2
Where: Greek Aegean Sea
Half of my childhood I spent on the sea. As a captain for a Hamburg shipping company, my father drove a reefer ship, so-called banana boats, on whose decks I learned to walk and later spent my school holidays on. Atlantic, Caribbean, Pacific – on the world’s oceans around the world. In the opinion of my old master, cruise ships did not count to the true sea voyage. “Floating hotels” was his succinct commentary. The more exciting I was on my first cruise on the MS Europa 2, a 225-meter-long passenger steamer of the luxury category with room for 500 passengers. Our course: from Rhodes to Athens, a five-day spa trip through the Greek Aegean. MyStylery’s diary in four chapters.
The night was mega relaxed, though much too short, because after 48 miles at sea I did not want to miss the early arrival at Naxos coast. Naxos is the largest and greenest island in the Cyclades and is known for its castles and white beaches, which I explore in the afternoon on a 25 kilometer long bike tour. I am relieved that Tom, the bike guide, spares the 1004 meter high mountain Zas. The offered bike tours are by the way between three and five hours long. Price: from 40 Euro. The MS Europe 2 travel concierge offers tours starting at 29 Euros. If you like it more exclusive, book a helicopter trip for 400 Euros. Or discover the goal independently and on your own. Everything is possible.
In Naxos I have fallen in love. While Santorini is flooded by the narrow streets of the tourist towns, one can experience Naxos’s silence and relaxation. As before, the island is an insider tip and little visited by cruise ships, since the big pots can not be put here. And the Greeks love their Naxos, where they spend their holidays with their families. Right enough!
Back on the boat my stressed feet ask for a time-out: I tail the Pilates-hour in the fitness area and relax on my private balcony. The only noise accompanying me is the rattling of the anchor chain, which is thinned to leak. And the popping of my bottle of champagne, which I now finally open and, with sea view, enjoy. It stops after one glass, because it goes immediately to the gin tasting, in which five gin sorts can be tasted. Now, Gin is not exactly one of my favorite drinks. A sample sip and lots of stories around the juniper schnapps, which is interestingly not in England, but in the Philippines worldwide the most consumed.
Friends of the Caviar have marked the Thursday red in the calendar: Thursday is Caviar Night on MS Europa 2 and thus a reason for the only possible queue, which can form on the ship. On this evening, I am actually agreed in the sushi restaurant “Sakura”, but take a trip to the caviar buffet and treat myself at the same time also with some fresh oysters. Add to this a delicious California roll. What a wonderful, culinary mess! In the theater, the New York dance company “The Tap Factor” shines with a quilting performance with an infectious effect: the dance floor in the “Sansibar” is then rocked decently and DJ Pro-Mo plays my favorite song “Meet me half way” by the Black Eyed Peas, which he organized for me. Kind? Kind! Next Stop: Nauplia, 139 nautical miles away.
Do you actually get seasick, I am asked often. Answer: Yes, on small boats. On big ships, It takes storm force 9 for me to feel queasy. The MS Europa 2 has its stabilizers in rough seas, which reduce the rolling movement of the ship during lateral waves, which can be a real advantage in the months of July and August. For in the high summer strong north winds dominate here, which can make the Aegean crazy. At the beginning of June it is fortunately not a concern! Once again, I jump out of bed early and into the 15 meter long pool. A short round swim, at this time only used by one lonely swimmer.
Just in time at nine I hear some knocking on my door, the room service comes and serves an opulent breakfast on my balcony. Delicious croissants, fresh orange juice, scrambled eggs with bacon and my beloved “Morgentau”-tea from Ronnefeldt. This is the taste of holiday! Unfortunately, I do not even get half of these delicacies, which may be quite good, because there is a fast zodiac tour on the program – motorized high-speed inflatable boats going through the bay and along the steep rocky coast of Nauplia. Afterwards, the boat goes to the mainland for my small country expedition through Nauplia town. By the way, the main cities of the Greek islands always carry the island name. I stroll through Nauplia’s old town and am amazed by the differentness of this island. Here one can feel the former Italian influences, not just in the architecture, which wraps the pretty house facades with their window shutters in colorful colors. More to come on MyStylery!
Phew! With 32 degrees it is quite hot on Nauplia and I’m glad to escape the midday heat. Let’s go back to MS Europa 2, what many of the passengers do at lunch time. I’m ready for a relaxed snack. If you like freshly grilled, go to the grill station in the restaurant Yacht Club. I enjoy gilthead, followed by a portion of Mozart Praline ice cream. Mmmhhh! Now a lunch break would be a good idea. No time. Unfortunately. Because I have not seen so much on board yet. Neither the cooking school nor the playing field, the cinema or the golf simulator. Instinctively, I land in the boutique and submit the assortment to a quick check. Who has forgotten his cashmere sweater at home, finds one here for cool evenings on the deck guaranteed: Shop ’til you drop! 😉
On my tour I hardly meet fellow travelers. Some relax on the decks, others may be on land. I never feel like being surrounded by a lot of people, which is certainly because the MS Europa 2 has the largest room offer per passenger on a cruise ship. If you are looking for loneliness on board, I recommend the aft deck of the spa area, which is hardly visited in this heat. Also on the other decks it goes relaxed, with a bit luck you find a place in the chic shell-cots of Dedon. Stewards serve refreshments, tea, coffee and iced tea variations are free on board.
A culinary highlight is the freshly baked waffles, which are served in the afternoon on the pool deck. Every day with a changing topping or the classic: cherries with vanilla ice cream. But since I soon “must” eat again, I enjoy half a portion! My farewell at the restaurant “Tarragon”, the French brasserie of MS Europa 2. At beef tartar and lamb fillets a small resumée of my trip. It was nice, though (too) brief. Because at night, we arrive at the port of Athens, the last leg of my small cruise.
A cruise can be much more than I initially thought. I like the relaxed atmosphere on board very much, as well as the contemplative life on board. Even though this is different from the sailings of my childhood, where I have often seen nothing but water for days. At some destinations I get first insights from the country and people, which can be deepened on a next trip. Concerning other destinations, I felt the length of stay was sufficient. Many impressions I take with me and am now looking forward to my stay in Athens. To mention the financial aspect: exclusivity has its price – with just under 5,000 Euros per person for a one-week trip.
I was so excited about my little cruise and was not disappointed. MS Europa 2 – I’ll be back. Until then I say ship, ahoy! BvH
Good to know:
Waste into the sea? No way! MS Europe 2 has a sewage treatment plant. Inorganic waste such as glass is shredded or plastics are compacted and disposed of on land. Waste packaging waste is chilled and paper burned directly on board.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has commissioned the construction of two luxury expedition ships in the five-star segment, the Hanseantic Nature and the Hanseatic Inspiration, which will be launched in 2019.
Contact MS Europa 2:
I was invited to this cruise as part of a blogger trip by Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.