Saga Cruises's flagship Saga Sapphire was originally built as yard number 1001 at the erstwhile Bremer Vulcan shipyard to become the fifth Europa of Hapag Lloyd. The interior of this seminal ship was designed by Wilfried Köhnemann and Joachim Buchwald - her understated elegance and spaciousness excelled all other ships of her time. Following a concept introduced with ferries like Finnjet, she was the first cruise ship divided vertically with the accomodations in the quieter forward areas and the public rooms aft. Europa pioneered prefabricated cabin modules; even today her standard cabins are amongst the largest found aboard passenger ships. The shape of her ice strengthened hull is related to container ships built by Bremer Vulcan at that time and the power plant bears a greater relationship to container vessels than a typical passenger ship of the era.
In 1992 ms Europa was damaged in a collision with the container ship Inchon Glory, no-one was insured. In 1999 she was sold to Star Cruises where she served as SuperStar Aries until 2004 when she was sold to Pullmantur. Renamed Holiday Dream she was based in Havana for most of the time until Pullmantur became part of the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Group in 2007.
A description of ms Europa can e.g. be found in the January 1982 issue of The Naval Architect or in the book "Das Schiff - die neue Europa" by Wilfried Köhnemann and Udo Burk.
A large model of her hull used for the towing tank tests is on display in the Deutsches Museum in Munich. A 1:100 scale model hull and plans of ms Europa are available at Steinhagen Modelltechnik.
In 2008 she was transfered to a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, CDF Croisières de France. Renamed Bleu de France she catered to the French cruise market.
Although Europa was one of my favourite ships I ever travelled with I hardly have any video material of my own. I am therefore grateful that Mrs. Erika Preiss surrendered some video material from her late husband for publication on this webpage. I also want to express my thanks to Saga Cruises for allowing me to visit the ship in 2017 since Saga's age limit does not allow me to travel with her.