Updated: May 22, 2022
Europa ... a name that has been seen proudly on the bows of many ships, currently in early 2022 there are 2 cruise ships with the name, the Europa and the Europa 2, both sailing for the German Hapag Lloyd. Europa was built in 1999 while her fleetmate Europa 2 was built much later in 2012. I photographed Europa 2 when I visited Tenerife in May 2021. Europa was still on my list of interesting ships to photograph, so when she visited Antwerp in October 2021, I went to see her at the new cruise terminal of Antwerp.
The earlier ships that carried the name Europa were some of the most famous and well loved ships in the world. The first famous ship called Europa was the German ocean liner of 1928, the SS Europa, sister ship of the SS Bremen, she sailed for Norddeutscher Lloyd in regular service until World War 2 started, unlike her sister, she managed to survive the war and was captured by the US Navy for use as troop transport to bring the troops from Europe back to the US. In 1946 she was handed over to France as replacement for lost ships during the war and renamed Liberté after an extensive refit that also altered her appearance.
Next in line was a second hand ship, as Germany wasn't fully recovered from the war and still divided into sections, it was difficult to build new ships, so the Norddeutscher Lloyd acquired the Swedish liner Kungsholm of 1952 and renamed her Europa in 1965 after a refit. When Norddeutscher Lloyd merged with Hamburg America Line in 1970 to form the new company Hapag Lloyd, and regular transatlantic service ending in 1971, the was operated as a full time cruise ship and in the same period, her colors were changed from a black hull to white in the colors of the Hapag Lloyd as we can still see today.
In 1981 the next Europa was built, again a newly built ship for Hapag Lloyd this time, the new Europa became a very popular ship on the German market but also internationally. She sailed for Hapag Lloyd until 1999 when the current Europa was put into service. She was sold to Star Cruises and sailed on under the name Superstar Europe. She switched names and companies several times and eventually ended up at Saga Cruises as the Saga Sapphire until she was sold again in 2020 to a Turkish company that planned to operate her from 2021, however, the Covid19 crisis has messed up many plans and sent many ships to an early end, the now called Blue Sapphire still awaits her fate in Turkey as we speak.
A postcard of the QE2 and the original livery of the Europa of 1981 in Funchal Madeira (my collection).
Below a series of photos I took of the current Europa of 1999 in Antwerp in October 2021.