Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is adding two new ships to its fleet, the Europa 2 and the Columbus 2.

The line has signed a 12-year charter agreement for the 258-cabin, 516-passenger Europa 2, which will enter service in 2013.

Construction will start on the ship – a sister to Europa, widely regarded as the best ship in the world – in September this year.

Europa 2 will offer a “modern and casual” five-star alternative to the multi-award winning Europa.

Both Europas will operate seven-day cruises in the Mediterranean in the summer and long-haul itineraries in the winter.