EUROPA - a ship ready and waiting for its guests

What does the crew do on a ship with no guests? Are all the departments staffed? And where can you park a ship? We’ve received lots of questions in recent days and so we’ve passed them on to those in the know, such as Olaf Hartmann, the captain of the EUROPA.

We could go back into service at any time. And nothing would be better than that, because our guests are what bring this ship to life.
– Olaf Hartmann, Captain of the EUROPA

Interview with Olaf Hartmann - 2 April 2020

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises: Where is the EUROPA currently?

After a night-time passage through the Panama Canal, the EUROPA took on some fuel that had been ordered in Colon and picked up a container load of food from Hamburg, which we were originally meant to collect in Cartagena. In addition, we bought enough fresh provisions (fruit and vegetables) so that we can also supply the HANSEATIC nature. We are not far from Barbados and will meet the HANSEATIC nature soon.

How many people are on board?​

When our guests disembarked in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, more than 50 crew members also got seats on the chartered aircraft. There are currently 238 team members left in our so-called “happy crew”. However, some will transfer to the HANSEATIC nature in Barbados and that ship will then act as a sort of troop carrier to transport crew members to Hamburg.

Are all the departments staffed?​

All four departments – hotel, cruise, engineering and deck – currently have enough crew that we could start up again at any time. We call this a hot lay-up, which means that we are ready for service. And nothing would be better than that, because our guests are what bring this ship to life.

Uniform or everyday clothes – what’s the dress code for the crew?​

We are wearing uniforms or work clothing during work hours and of course switching this for casual clothes during free time. And as we are currently experiencing very warm outside temperatures, there are lots of shorts and T-shirts around.

A ship never sleeps. What will happen in the next few days?​?​​

The watch duty for the bridge and engineering teams of course runs round the clock, even in port. On the EUROPA, the bridge is also the safety control centre and the engineering team needs to constantly monitor all of the machinery. There isn’t any 24-hour service in the hotel department at the moment and so we don’t need any kitchen, service or reception staff at night.

What is your daily routine?​

At first there was very little time to relax because we had to deal with the repercussions of the journey we had made across the Pacific. Arranging the necessary disembarkation of our guests in Mexico with chartered aircraft was no simple matter. There were several spur-of-the-moment changes to the itinerary and some complex approval processes with the relevant authorities. A lot of effort went into the work in these circumstances and it had to be coordinated with all the parties involved, and not least communicated to our guests. We hope that things will be a little quieter for us all now.

Having time is also a blessing. What projects are you tackling?​

Things have already quietened down for some areas of the ship, in particular for the hotel team. But even here we are using the opportunity to sort out all the things that we never have enough time to take care of during day-to-day operations. The balconies need a thorough clean, as do the carpets and curtains. The storage areas, which are known as lockers, are being cleared out and inventories are being made. The silver is being brightly polished. The deck team is finally able to do hammering and painting jobs, which are often not possible during normal operation due to the noise or smell that the work creates. The engineering team always has a wide array of things to keep in order. So the work never stops.

What are you doing to maintain the good team spirit?

​There is a wide range of leisure activities on offer in the programme of the day, so that we crew members don’t forget how to have fun and enjoy ourselves during this period without any shore visits. There are all kinds of sports activities, games like skat, Scrabble or chess, table football tournaments, film showings on a big screen or dance parties. The swimming pool and the gym with its great equipment are also open to the crew, and our chefs occasionally invite us to barbecues in the Lido Café. There is certainly something for everyone and there are always new ideas. Tomorrow, for example, we are looking forward to the first edition of our on-board magazine, which will feature a photograph of the entire crew that was taken yesterday.

Personally, I am hoping to have some spare time again soon for reading as I brought some very interesting reading material on board with me. The book I’m currently reading and can’t put down is about the first circumnavigation of the world, which was made by Ferdinand Magellan. It’s called Eine Geschichte des Windes (A Story of the Wind) written by Raoul Schrott and was recommended to me by a guest. In any case, I’m sure we won’t get bored on the beautiful EUROPA and our on-board community will get along very well together.