Upmarket cruise to ports unknown

I am not an adventure traveler per se but I do like a bit of adventure when I travel. As such, an upcoming cruise on the upmarket Hapag-Lloyd cruise ship Europa 2 offers an aspect that I find quite intriguing.

The ship will set sail from Istanbul, Turkey on May 14 and will arrive in Piraeus (Athens), Greece on May 24 but where it stops in between will be decided upon by the guests. Passengers will vote to determine their route across Greece and Turkey and will select eight ports of call from 20 possible destinations in the eastern Mediterranean, including Limenas, Kavala, Samos and Mykonos.

Grand Suite aboard ms Europa 2
The ship’s captain will present the adventurous guests with a list of potential routes and ports, and point out which locations will be the sunniest over the coming days. A lecturer will also be on hand to describe the highlights of the potential destinations.

In addition to the novel feature of choosing their own itinerary, guests will also be treated to six performers from the “Artistika” Circus Arts Festival, whose performances will mark the festival’s first performance at sea.

Performers will defy gravity with their acrobatics during two competition evenings in the ship’s on-board theatre. The audience as well as a panel of professional performers including a contortionist, clown, improvisational duo and a theatre director will then vote and choose the best acrobat from among the troupe.

German jazz and pop musician Roger Cicero will also join the cruise and perform acoustic versions of his songs. For those unfamiliar, some have described Cicero as a German Michael Bublé, which strikes me as a fairly apt description.

ms Europa 2 at sea
The Europa 2 is truly an upmarket vessel. It carries only 500 passengers in 251 cabins, ranging from 291 square foot “family suites” to two Owner’s Suites at 1,227 square feet. In addition, it is outfitted in what the line calls “contemporary luxury” and offers service to match. The Europa 2 and sister ship the Europa were awarded 5-star-plus ratings in the 31st edition of the Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016 guide.

Both the Europa and the Europa 2 lead the rankings in the category “top 5 small ships” of between 251 and 750 passengers. The Europa 2, which achieved the highest score among all ships rated, received the award for its third consecutive year in late 2015.

To learn more about the surprise cruise, visit the Hapag-Lloyd’s web page at http://www.hl-cruises.com/find-your-cruise/EUX1612. Published fares for the cruise as shown on the cruise line’s website range from €4,790 (US$5,345) to €13,720 (US$15,310) per person without transfers or a land package. Reduced-fare "summer specials" are available until Feb. 29.

Bon voyage!

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Photos provided by Hapag-Lloyd
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