MS Europa: In the Wake of Wanderlust

In the Wake of Wanderlust

Retracing an Empress’ European Adventures

By Lori Rackl

The Princess Diana of her time, Empress Elisabeth of Austria — better known as “Sisi” — turned to travel to escape the suffocating environment of the 19th century Habsburg court. While most of us can’t relate to the pressures that accompany a life of nobility, we could all use a good vacation. And that makes Sisi’s well-heeled footsteps worth following more than a century later.

The empress’ peripatetic ways took her to some of the most picturesque corners of Europe, including a stunning stretch from canal-laced Venice down the Adriatic coast of Croatia to the sun-baked islands of Corfu and Malta. I couldn’t imagine a better way to visit the Bavarian-born princess’ former haunts than on a German cruise line, naturlich, aboard Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ MS Europa.

Fit For a Princess

The vessel — once again the world’s highest-ranked ship in the 2013 Berlitz Cruise Guide — makes all of its 408 passengers feel like royalty. From generous helpings of caviar on formal nights to plush bathrobes and a high guest-to-staff ratio, the ship falls squarely in the luxury category. Our seven-night, Sisi-inspired cruise started at $4,080 a person.

Most ships this size would pack in twice as many passengers, but the Europa boasts some of the biggest staterooms at sea. Even the smallest measures just shy of 300 square feet. Spacious verandas come with the majority of the 204 all-suite cabins.

As for the ship’s long pool and well-appointed fitness center, the exercise-obsessed Sisi would have approved — especially after indulging in the Viennese pastries served during afternoon tea.


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