The 516-guest luxury cruise ship the Europa 2 of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has seven very different dining venues, and all of them provide interesting, varied menus and delicious choices. None of the restaurants have an extra surcharge except for Grande Reserve, which is the ship's small private dining room.
For a ship so small, six completely different dining venues without a surcharge is impressive. Although the Europa 2 has received rave reviews from many who have sailed on her, I was concerned that the cuisine might not live up to the hype. However, I'm happy to say I enjoyed the food choices, flavors, and creativity in all the restaurants. The pace of dinner in every restaurant is relaxed, but with such lovely venues, most diners do not mind lingering over their food.
One feature that might surprise some North American travelers who have sailed on other luxury ships is that drinks are not included with meals in the restaurants on the Europa 2. Beer and soft drinks from the mini-bar in the suites are complimentary, but drinks served at dinner (including wine) must be paid for with your cruise card.
In addition to the six primary dining venues, guests on the Europa 2 can also enjoy other complimentary dining options. Pastries and a continental breakfast are found poolside in the morning, and hot waffles are cooked at the same location in the afternoon. Those who like a more formal afternoon snack should take afternoon tea at the Belvedere Lounge. It's a very elegant venue, and the tea and snacks match the ambiance.
In addition to private dining, wine tastings with small dishes of food (for an extra fee) are held in Grande Reserve, which is next to the Tarragon Restaurant on deck 4.
Seven Dining Venues on the Europa 2 - Weltmeere Restaurant
Weltmeere seats 266 guests and is the Europa 2's main dining room. Located aft on deck 4, Weltmeere features international and vegetarian cuisine and open seating. As seen in the photo above, Weltmeere is almost a circular room and is contemporary in design, with comfortable chairs with arms and a magnificent chandelier in the center of the restaurant. It also seems very spacious and is not as noisy as some restaurants ashore can be.
Weltmeere is open for breakfast and dinner each day, and the portions are wonderfully small, so feel free to order something for every course. I only ate in Weltmeere once, but especially loved the freshly-made truffle pasta. The dinner menu changes daily, and reservations are not required.
Yacht Club Restaurant on the Europa 2
The Europa 2 Yacht Club is the cruise ship's buffet restaurant located on deck 9, with 142 seats indoors and 134 seats outdoors. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the Yacht Club is one of the best buffets at sea. Reservations are not required, and the dress is always informal.
With multiple selections and interesting preparations, it's an excellent place to eat at any meal. In addition to the indoor buffet, there are two take-away spots outdoors--one for fresh pasta with a choice of sauces, and the second for grilled foods (and it's more than just hamburgers and hot dogs).
Tarragon Restaurant on the Europa 2
Tarragon is the Europa 2's French restaurant and is found on deck 4. Its decor feels much like a traditional brasserie, and with only 44 seats, it's quite intimate. Tarragon is open for dinner every day and on select days at lunch (check the "Programme of the Day"). Although there is no extra fee, dinner reservations are required.
Dinner at Tarragon included two of my favorites--steak tartare and lobster. The waiter made the steak tartare at the table, and it was marvelous. However, the portion size was almost too much for an appetizer. I almost stopped eating after savoring the steak tartare, but am glad I saved some room for the lobster.
Sakura Sushi Bar on the Europa 2
The Sakura Sushi Bar on the Europa 2 cruise ship is located inside the Yacht Club Restaurant on deck 9 aft. It is only open in the evening and reservations are required, but there is no surcharge. Sakura has 58-seats, a contemporary design, and the sushi, sashimi, and other fish specialties are delicious.
The sushi bar also has vegetarian options (like California rolls), and it's possible to supplement your Japanese meal with items from the nearby Yacht Club buffet if you are tempted.
One interesting tidbit. At the conclusion of our meal, we had a chocolate truffle sampler--very tasty.
Serenissima Italian Restaurant on the Europa 2
Serenissima is the most exquisite restaurant on the Europa 2. Its spectacular Murano glass chandeliers and large columns give the restaurant a very elegant look, and the food is as delicious as the decor. The 56-seat restaurant is located on deck 4. Lunch is open seating, but reservations are required for dinner.
I only sailed on the Europa 2 for four nights, so did not get to have dinner at every venue. So, it was fun to be able to enjoy some of the small restaurants for a leisurely lunch. Since I had heard rave reviews about some of the dishes at Serenissima, I was especially happy to see that the dinner menu was available at lunch.
The freshly made pasta primavera with shrimp was so good, I almost ordered seconds.
Elements Asian Restaurant on the Europa 2
Elements serves dishes from all over Asia, and those who love Asian food will appreciate the variety in this contemporary venue on the Europa 2. Indian, Thai, Chinese, and Indonesian dishes are all featured. The intricate flavors and spices were interesting and delicious.
Elements is open for lunch and dinner. The restaurant has open seating lunch, but reservations are required for dinner.
Grande Reserve is the Europa 2's private dining room and wine tasting room. Guests must book this room in advance and pay an extra fee, but it can be booked for 16 guests. Reservations in the room are not limited to dinner, so guests could plan a special breakfast or lunch for their family or group.
Lobster on the Europa 2
This lobster was perfectly cooked and as delicious as it looks. It was served at the Tarragon Restaurant on the Europa 2.
Truffle Pasta on the Europa 2
This homemade truffle pasta was served with a light cream sauce in the Weltmeere Restaurant on the Europa 2.
Sushi and Sashimi at the Sakura Sushi Bar on the Europa 2
This sushi and sashimi at the Sakura Sushi Bar on the Europa 2 cruise ship was very fresh and yummy.
Shrimp and Pasta Primavera at Serenissima Italian Restaurant on the Europa 2
The shrimp, tomatoes, and pasta were all fresh and delightfully flavored in this Shrimp and Pasta Primavera at the Serenissima Italian Restaurant on the Europa 2.
Steak Tartare on the Europa 2
I always love to watch food prepared table side. It was fun to watch the waiter season and mix the steak tartare, but was better to eat it!
Chocolate Truffles on the Europa 2
These chocolates were a nice complement to our dinner at the Sakura Sushi Bar on the Europa 2.