Cruise Cuisine Takes It Up a Notch

Yacht Club terrace

Regina Baraban

Regina writes frequently about design, travel, and the arts. She founded GenerationsGo.com, an editorial website covering trips and tips for the modern family vacation.

Preparing dinner in the French restaurant An image capturing the moment a chef is meticulously preparing and plating a dinner dish in a sophisticated French restaurant setting. Photo credit: Regina Baraban.

High Tea on the High Seas

Having sailed on several luxury cruise ships, I’ve come to expect beautiful bars and lounges. But nothing has matched high tea in the serene and comfy cream and white lounge on the Europa 2, with large windows overlooking the sea and fresh flowers on every table. There are many varieties of loose, leaf teas and delectable cakes to choose from. All of the teas are freshly brewed. I enjoyed a combination of fresh ginger and Sencha green tea, effectively combating a budding cold, while gazing out over the peaceful fjords of Norway.

Gin: The Grownup Vodka

Europa 2 has the largest collection of gin at sea, and among the amenities for passengers is a complimentary gin tasting. First we tasted a gimlet — made with Gordon’s gin, Rose’s lime juice, and a squeeze of fresh lime — then several kinds of gin straight up, with ice, with an orange twist, and with tonic. “Gin is the evolution of vodka,” declared bartender Ralf Bvueckner, explaining the complexities of a spirit that combines neutral alcohol with grains, juniper, and other plant extracts. We learned to never swirl the glass, and how to press down on one nostril at a time while sniffing the pungent aroma. A total neophyte when it comes to gin, I’m now looking forward to re-visiting a gin martini — “The martini for grownups,” says Bvueckner.

About the Ship

• The Europa 2 has 11 decks, 251 suites, and the largest area of public space per passenger on any cruise ship in the world.

• Every suite has an ocean-facing veranda measuring a minimum of 75 square feet, free-of-charge beverage minibars, Nespresso machines, and upscale amenities such as robes and slippers. Even the toilet paper feels thick and luxurious.

• All of the cruise staff speak English, and written materials are available in both German and English. However, there are a few cultural differences, such as co-ed saunas where Europeans typically go naked.

• The design esthetic conveys relaxed elegance, with an extensive contemporary art collection throughout the ship.

• There are plenty of options for active travelers, including an excellent gym, large pool, and guided on-shore bicycling excursions.

• The family-friendly ship has dedicated areas for kids of different ages, supervised programs for children and teens, and eight “apartments” designed for families.

• What the ship doesn’t have is blaring music by the pool, midnight buffets, or constant loudspeaker announcements from the cruise director.

• In 2016, Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships Guide awarded a 5-stars-plus rating to the Europa 2 for the third consecutive year.

• The Europa 2 sails different itineraries each year. New in October and November 2016 are two Caribbean cruises that visit ports of call in Cuba.

Aurland Fjord A breathtaking view of the Aurland Fjord surrounded by majestic mountains and calm waters, reflecting the serene nature of the location. Photo credit: Regina Baraban.