Hapag-Lloyds luxurious Europa passing the Northsea Canal passage close to the village of Velsen Noord at the 16th of june 2012.
One of the most famous names in oceanliner history is of course Europa. The Hamburg Amerikanische Paketfahrt Aktien Gesellschaft (HAPAG) of 1847 was trying to add several ships under this name during their long history, but actually only one sailed for them, the first Europa that was launched in 1880. She wasn't the luxury ship we know at all, she catered for 150 passengers in steerage accomodations and measured 1.533 tons. Actually, the ship wasn't built for HAPAG also, as she was part of the fleet of Edward Carr from Hamburg, HAPAG were the booking agents. But strangely, the ship is recorded in HAPAG's history as being one of theirs. She was eventually bought by HAPAG in 1886 when they ook over control of the Carr Line vessels and sold again in 1893 for the Hamburg to New York service from Witt & Busch from Hamburg. The second ship to be named Europa would be launched in 1905 as the largest ship in the world, so it was to be a great leap forward. But this ship was entering service under another name as the 24.581-ton Kaiserin Auguste Victoria. In 1912, a new second Europa was to be built, but also she was renamed before entering service as Imperator. The ship measured a staggering 52.117 tons and this made her the largest ship in the world for one year. She sailed for HAPAG untill 1919, when she was taken over by the American Navy due to the first worldwar. In 1921, she was transferred to the Cunard Line as their Berengaria.
There finally was an Europa built, though, only not for HAPAG. She was launched in 1929 for HAPAG's biggest competitor, the Bremen-based Norddeutscher Lloyd. She measured 49.746 tons and took over the Blue Ribband from her sister Bremen duing her first voyage starting the 19th of march 1930. So this was actually the second Europa and she later became the French Line's Liberté.
The thirth Europa was the former Swedish American liner Stockholm and sailed for NDL between january 1966 and september 1970, when NDL merged with HAPAG to form Hapag-Lloyd. She kept sailing for this combination untill her sale to Costa Cruises in 1981. This same year, a fourth Europa entered the Hapag-Lloyd fleet and her story is told at this page.
Europa as seen docked at Amsterdam in 2004.
The fifth ship to be called Europa was built as yardnumber 495 at the Kvaerner-Masa yards at Helsinki, Finland and her kiel was laid at the 17th of november 1998. The ship was floating out of her building dock at the 13th of march 1999 and she was delivered to the company at the 9th of september that same year. The ship measures some 28.437 tons and has a lenght of 198,60 meters. She is 24 meters wide and had accomodations for just 410 passengers, who are given everything they need by 261 crewmembers. You can see within these numbers the nature of the ship, as for every four passengers, almost three crewmembers are available. This is one of the things that makes Europa one of the most luxurious vessesl in the world. The ship is propelled by two pods, driven by two 7-cylinder and two 8-cylinder diesel engines. The company especially chose to use a pod-propulsion system to reduce vibrations at the stern. You don't want your passengers to spill any champagne, of course...
The ship was named at the 15th of september 1999 at Hamburg, Germany, after which she took off for a cruise with invited guests. Her maiden cruise for paying passengers started at the 17th of september and took her to Malaga in Spain. She doesn't operate in one specific region, the ship was designed for worldwide, varied cruises and this is widely loved by her passenger-base. Because these wealthy repeaters come back every once in a while, the ship is often called a floating club and passengers and crew really know each other. The Europa was the first cruiseship in the world to have a computer in every cabin, as well as walk-in sauna's in the luxury suites. Next to this, she of course offers inside and outside pools, an Asian grill restaurant, a conference and computer center and a seven-deck high atrium that includes a piano bar. The decor of the atrium is lightened up by glass elevators and several wood panels to create the right atmosphere. It is of course no surprise, that Berlitz rated the ship for the 13th time as a five-star plus liner, all the years since her debut. The Europa is the only cruiseship in the world that achieved this goal and Hapag-Lloyd calls her 'your most beautiful yaught in the world' at their website.