Following last year’s major success, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ flagship, MS EUROPA in cooperation with eight prestigious international opera houses, will be hosting their second annual classical music competition at sea.

The “Stella Maris“ International Vocal Competition will bring together up-and-coming young singers from the most renowned opera houses in the world, which include: the Royal Opera House London, Bavarian State Opera Munich, The Canadian Opera Company Toronto, Accademia Teatro alla Scala Milan, Hamburg State Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Merola Opera Program San Francisco Opera and the Zurich Opera House. “Stella Maris” is the highlight of a total of 11 music cruises aboard the EUROPA this year. The competition will occur on board a 10-day Middle Eastern cruise departing from Istanbul, Turkey on November 6 and ending in Aqaba, Jordan on November 16, 2010.

Under the direction of Canadian tenor Michael Schade, a jury of famous personalities in the classical music field has been compiled for the 2010 competition. This year’s jury members include:

•       Christina Scheppelmann (Director of Artistic Operations, 
Washington National Opera)

•       Daniel Goodwin (Director Marketing & Media, Deutsche Grammophon)

•       Martin Engstroem (Director, Verbier Festival in Switzerland)

•       Michael Schade (Tenor and Artistic Director of “Stella Maris“)

The distinguishing feature of “Stella Maris” is that the audience determines the winner of the cash prize worth €15,000. This prize, generous compared to others in the world of classical music, is provided by the cultural foundation Hauck & Aufhaeuser. The jury will decide on the recipients of the additional prizes, which include: a guest engagement at the Washington National Opera, a concert at the Verbier Festival and a test recording with Deutsche Grammophon.

While the performances are the highlights of this itinerary, guests will also enjoy excursions and stops in the following ports along the musical route: Istanbul/Turkey, Antalya/Turkey, Paphos/Cyprus, Tartus/ Syria, Beirut/Lebanon, Port Said/Egypt, Hurghada/Egypt, and Aqaba/ Jordan. This 10-day itinerary starts at $6,570 per person/based on double occupancy for a suite.

EUROPA is the first “all-suites” cruise ship, with staterooms that are never less than 290 square feet, with 80% of them having their own veranda, assuring privacy and relaxation. The EUROPA also offers guests the largest space per passenger in the industry, as well as one of the best passenger/crew ratios, with 280 staff members for 408 guests. The EUROPA experience includes a masterful blend of world- class cuisine with guest chefs, two specialty restaurants of fine Italian and Euro-Asian dishes, an open grill café, special light and healthy menu options, and themed dinners. The ship also has a 65 ft. 
saltwater pool that can be partially covered by the hydraulic Magrodome – so swimming inside and outside is possible, a newly renovated world-class OCEAN SPA, a fitness loft with ocean views, and a 38-course golf simulator with a PGA professional golf coach onboard.