Bark Europa has a reputation as an ocean wanderer and follows the great trade wind routes around the world. She offers a seafaring adventure and a unique way to explore and learn about nature and the elements. She is equally at home in the roller-coasters of the ‘roaring forties’ or in lighter tropical conditions where she can set an awesome suite of 30 sails.
In 2001 Europa pioneered the first opportunity for ordinary people to experience an Antarctic Expedition as crew on a square rigger. Since then she has returned to the Antarctica every year. Images of Europa under full sail or anchored amongst the ice and penguins have graced many magazines and lured non sailors and experienced seafarers off on epic ocean adventures.
If you are over 65, or take any medication you will need to take our Europa Health Statement to your Doctor to complete to say you are fit to sail. The Health Statement can be printed off from our PDF below:
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- Length overall: 184 ft (56 m)
- Length on deck: 160 ft
- Year built: 1911
- Vessel type/rig: Barque
- Guest berths: 45
- Crew berths: 14
Ocean Wanderer with a Multi National Crew
Bark Europa has earned her reputation for piling on the canvas and really sailing at every opportunity. A popular ship amongst traditional sailors worldwide, Europa has the pick of the world’s deckhands, and the enthusiasm of the professional crew is contagious: It is never too much trouble at night to add more sail, or motivate a bunch of wildlife photographers to put down their cameras and set a decent spread of canvas to hop a few miles down the coast.... Europa is notorious at tall ships races and in ports for putting on a show - often sailing in under sail – almost to the quay.
The lure of the Antarctic is hard to resist, and every Southern Hemisphere summer since 2001 this tough 330 ton sailing ship has made the long passage down to the southernmost tip of South America. Once in Patagonia, Bark Europa runs to run a series of sailing expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula, Weddell Sea and South Georgia. If you want to experience the polar wilderness as Shackleton and Scott did - then help Tall Ship Europa sail amongst the icebergs. These voyages make deep and lasting Impressions on those who sign up before the mast. The sense of wilderness and togetherness you feel as part of the ships company; the teeming wildlife and the extreme weather from sun and lunch on deck to sudden katabatic winds, will stay with you for a lifetime.
Warm Ocean Sailing & Square Rig Masterclass
If you are an adventurous spirit sailing for the first time then Europa keeps the romance of sailing alive with a great library, lectures, and enthusiastic crew who can teach a range of topics. Europa captains have a sense of maritime history. This Dutch ship was originally built in 1911, and was converted into a barque rigged tall ship in 1986, with many authentic sailing ships fittings from a byegone era. Her ocean voyages maximise the prevailing winds and generally follow the routes of the mighty windjammers and cargo sailing ships of the 18th and 19th Century.
If you are an experienced sailor and want to immerse yourself in square rig seamanship or maybe learn some Astro Navigation, then Europa is a good choice. Approaching equatorial crossings the extra sky-sail masts and yards are sent aloft and the whole crew can easily be kept busy setting the studding sails that few training ships dare rig. The 14 professional crew and guest crew soon become indistinguishable as you learn the ropes, gain a healthy tan and perhaps help out with the ships maintenance.
Stealing the Show at Tall Ships Races
Tall Ships Races are also great opportunities to really push a square rigger. Europa can set 30 sails but this takes a lot of crew action, and everybody needs to keep on their toes as manoeuvring the ship gets quite complicated.
Europa crew rarely shout to get things done, so it appears quite casual - but they are very proud of the ship and like to help you sail it to her full potential. Europa is one of the smaller Class A tall ships but they are always determined to steal the scene and win tall ships race legs (and often do). Over 50% of the crew must be under 25 for tall ships races, so if you think you can show up the energetic young crew, then now is the time to apply for the limited adult berths on these race voyages.
Style of Sailing
Europa is a sail training ship so everyone is expected to take part in sailing the ship. Everyone receives training in how to sail a square rigger and be part of the ships crew. The guest crew are generally split into three watch groups. Whilst on watch you might be on lookout, helming the ship or helping the professional crew set or reduce sail. In cold locations like Antarctica the lookout duties or steering the ship are only for short bursts on deck, and you can escape to the cosy deck-house in between the sailing action.
On adventure charter voyages, like ocean crossings or Antarctic Expeditions, Europa carries a large professional crew to maximise your holiday experience and keep the ship sailing, whatever the conditions. This means you don't have to clean the ship or work in the galley and you can put as much into the sailing side of the voyage as you want. If you are an adrenalin seeking sailor who wants to help furl sails aloft at night (not at all compulsory) then there is plenty of action. If you are someone who will pull a rope occasionally and contribute to the team effort, but doesn't feel up to doing heroic stuff all the time, then that is fine as there are usually plenty of volunteers to set sails, or go out on the bowsprit.
On tall ships races the crews are generally younger and the pace can be quite energetic. On these sail training orientated voyages you are more likely to be involved in domestic or maintenance tasks.
Whatever voyage you coose, on board Bark Europa we call our guests 'voyage crew'. This means that Europa's permanent crew will train you to be a sailor. Unlike going on a cruise, on Bark Europa you will be going on a hands-on, active sailing adventure. You will be divided into three watches; Red watch, Blue watch and White watch, named after the colors of the Dutch flag. You will be 'on watch' for four hours after which you have eight hours of free time.
At Sea - On Watch
During your four hours on watch there will be different tasks that will be divided between the members of your watch. There will always be two people on helm duty. You will together, maintain a steady course on the helm. The crew will explain how to steer the ship and what to look out for.
During the watch there will also be two people on look-out duty at all times. On the bow of the ship, you will stand look-out. You spot ships, buoys, debris, and icebergs in the water then communicate this to the officer on watch.
The rest of the watch members will be on deck duty. The permanent crew will give you sail training and you will assist in all sail handling. This involves setting- and taking away the sails by hauling- and easing lines, climbing the rigging to furl or unfurl the sails. The crew will instruct you how to work on deck and you will learn how to trim the sails to the directing of the wind. During deck duty, there is also time to assist the crew with the maintenance of the ship. This way you will learn how to work with traditional tools and methods. Woodworking, sailmaking, celestial navigation, and traditional rope- and rigging work will all be apart of your sailing voyage.
The captains and officers of Bark Europa are easy to talk to and like to get involved in your sail training. They will explain traditional- as well as modern ways of navigation. They will organize and run you through safety drills and procedures.
Off Watch for Relaxing, Hobbies & Learning
During your eight hours 'off watch', there is time to rest and enjoy the scenery. You can read a book in the library or in the deckhouse. The bar will be open for a drink and a snack. The crew will be giving lectures on various subjects, from traditional sailors skills and knowledge to science and astronomy.
During your time off watch, you can still assist the permanent crew and the voyage crew 'on watch' with sail handling and maintenance jobs. The galley team sometimes asks for a hand peeling potatoes or apples on deck so they can make yet another of their famous pies.
In the deckhouse, there will be people playing games, reading books, listening to music, writing diaries and emails. Your off watch time is for you to fill in, you may do as little or as much as you would like. These hours are also for you to catch up on your sleep.
When you are setting sails, reading or working away on deck, in the galley they are always busy preparing meals to keep everyone well fed. Multiple course meals will be served three times a day with coffee and tea times in between.
In the evenings the crew prepares team challenges and pub quizzes to enjoy together with your watch mates.
Life on Board
Europa is ideal for ocean crossings and longer voyages with various places for relaxing. The wood panelled library at the stern of the ship has ships models, charts, an inspiring book collection and plenty of seating for all kinds of hobbies. The deck-house is the more social relaxation space. It has good heating for colder destinations, windows all around so you won't miss any action and easy access outdoors to the main deck. There is also a small lecture room below decks.
See more about the accommodation and life onboard by clicking the tab above.
We think Europa runs the most comprehensive lecture programme of any of the vessels in the Classic Sailing fleet. If you want to learn about oceanography, the oceans role in climate change, marine wildlife, nautical history and advanced square rig sailing then a long voyage on Europa is like university of the ocean. You don't have to go to lectures .....but its great to have the option. Without the internet you learn a lot from each other.
Learn more about Europa's lectures and skills you can learn
Protecting the World's Oceans
As you would expect from an IAATO approved Antarctic Operator, Europa takes care not to pollute the marine environment. Europa charter crews are encouraged to be pro-active and have saved entangled turtles, removed floating rubbish and conducted scientific research as they sail. Captain Klaas Gaastra has won awards from the Dutch Meteorological Office for services to modern meteorology and the watch on deck is involved in weather reporting.
See more about Europa - and the ships environmental ethos
Below Decks Accommodation
Relaxation spaces include the library, deck-house, lower lounge, poker corner, and many seats around the decks when anchored. The deck-house has a bar selling wines and beers for consumption when you are off watch.
Cabins with En-suite WC and Shower
Europa has 12 cabins on board for voyage crew. Cabins have heating or air conditioning that you can control (depending on where you are sailing) and all have a WC/ shower/washbasin en-suite. The air conditioning works best with the cabin door shut, but you can also latch it part open for more natural ventilation.
4 berth and 5-6 berth cabins - En suite
There are four large cabins for 4 persons and four for 6-persons cabins. All cabins are comfortable and have their own shower and toilet. During the Antarctica voyages or the long ocean crossings a maximum of 5 persons will be placed in a 6-persons cabin.
2 berth cabins en suite for couples sharing
If you are travelling as a couple you can decide to book a 2-persons cabin, but there are only three of these and they are more expensive.
On Europa these cabins are not available for individuals booking on their own. If you are prepared to share with a person of the same gender, then it will need to be in a larger cabin.
A cheaper option for couples that are happy to co-habit, you can also be placed together with another couple in a 4-person cabin at the lower berth fee.
Single travellers will usually be placed in a male or female 4- or 6-persons cabin at the lower berth fee. There is a porthole in either the cabin or the en-suite bathroom, and each bunk has its own reading light and privacy curtain. There are drawers each under the bunks and wardrobe space to store your things and hooks for waterproofs.
Duvets and sheets are provided and laundered regularly during the voyage. The cabins have 2 pin European electricity sockets to charge phones and cameras. The power comes from one of 3 ships generators.
We cannot guarantee any specific cabin or bunk to you, we can make a note of your preference, however the final cabin overview will be made on board by the captain.
Plenty of Deck Space
The highest part of the deck is the poop deck where there is a ships wheel outdoors and a chartroom with a good view of the whole ship.
At the same level in the middle of the ship is the boat deck which sits above the deckhouse.
Right at the bow is the fore deck. At a lower level is the main deck, sometimes called the 'waist' of the ship. In good weather the galley teams likes to serve meals 'al fresco' from a big table on the main deck. There are plenty of bench seats and the deck-house if you would rather eat at a table, out of the sun. The main deck on Europa is only a couple of metres from the waterline, which means you sometimes get up close and personal with visiting whales, penguins and dolphins, but it also means in rough weather waves can sweep across it. Nets and safety lines are rigged and there are other drier routes you can take to the poop deck where you steer the big ships wheel, or the boat deck and focastle which are all high above the sea.
What is included
Duvets, linen, pillows, hand towels
All meals on board
Wildlife Guide on some voyages
What is not included
Waterproof Trousers & Jacket
Travel to joining port
Alcoholic or canned drinks from bar. (pay in euros at end of trip -cannot accept cards)
Cost of any e mails home by satellite.
There is a landing fee for South Georgia
Satellite phone (emergencies) 2 Inmarsat C terminals SSB and 2 VHF radio plus mobile VHFs
For Antarctic Voyages and long ocean passages in remote locations the ship will usually carry a doctor as volunteer crew. The Captain and several of the crew have medical training. You must have travel insurance and healthcare insurance for your own country. Please make sure you take enough medication for anything you are prone to. It is vital you tell us of any medical issues on your booking form.
Agility and Fitness
Climbing the mast is fun but not compulsory. You do need to be agile enough to climb a 6ft vertical ladder e.g. to get from the ship into a ships dinghy to go ashore. There are quite steep companionway steps and all the cabins have bunk beds.
Bark Europa - Ship Specification & History
Europa was built in 1911 as a lightship for the mighty Elbe Estuary. In 1986 her potential as a sailing ship was realised and she was brought to Holland for an 8 year transformation into a three masted barque. The restoration was supervised by the Dutch Shipping Inspection Bureau Veritas and she holds certification for worldwide charter. She is an incredibly strongly built ship with six watertight bulkheads and a strengthened hull around waterline for ice.
|Built (converted into a barque)||1911||1986-94|
|Length overall inc bowsprit||56m||184ft|
|Air Draft (height of mast above sea level)||33m||108ft|
|Max sail area - 30 sails||1250 sq m||13 445 sq ft|
|2 engines and bow thruster||2 x 365hp|
|Max guest crew (less on Antarctic Expeditions)||45|
Dutch Commercial Safety Certificates for Worldwide Operations - covers lifesaving equipment, staff certificates, operations.
There are also very strict rules for ships visiting Antarctica, which the ship conforms to.
Bark Europa Captain Profiles
Europa has three regular Captains:- Klaas Gaastra, Eric Kesterloo and Harko Lamberts who generally live on the ship for 3 month blocks. All have sailed Europa for many years, are excellent linguists and have a real love and deep knowledge about square riggers, the marine environment and the ocean wildlife.
Europa Captain Klaas Gaastra
For someone who spends large chunks of his life living on a tall ship as Europa wanders the world's oceans, Captain Klaas is very well known and respected in the tall ship sailing world. If you sail with him you soon realise why he is unforgettable ! Hard to imagine Klaas as a submariner in the Dutch Navy, now with a wild mane of hair and blue earring. Klaas has been with the ship as Captain since she was first re-built from lightship to sailing barque, and loves to sail the ship as close to the dock as he can under sail. If you follow Klaas on facebook you realise how much he cares about maritime history, wildlife and the worlds oceans. You don't really need a wildlife guide if you sail with him as he has eagle eyes for identifying whales and dolphins in the distance. Klaas has recently been awarded a medal from the Royal Dutch Meteorology Institute for his exceptional work out at sea and for services to Maritime Meteorology, so if you sail with him you can learn a lot about ocean weather from experience and years of recording actual conditions. His partner Marianne sails as Cook and they make a great team. Dutch but fluent in English, we suspect Klaas can speak quite a few languages....
Captain Eric Kesterloo
Captain Eric is also an iceberg dodger with many years as Captain sailing Europa in Antarctica and around the Oceans. We would love someone, or maybe Eric to write something about himself.
Ships Cook- Marianne Van de Staay (NL)
Ships Cook Renske (NL)
Bosun - Luci (Brittany)
Bosun Finn (Nova Scotia)
Bosun Matthew Morris (Australia)