Just before I moved to Hamburg, things like a sea voyage or multideck ships still sounded to me like pure fiction. At its mention I would have this typical image of turkey-cocks slowly traipsing around the deck, yawning, and sipping Martinis. However, after several weeks of work and small-talk with real passengers at the port of Hamburg, my opinion has completely changed.
Here in the crowd of tourists I saw all kinds of people. There was an old couple — immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, now proud citizens of Germany — gangs of kids with their loving moms, teenagers heading towards the birthplace of football through the North Sea and English Channel. Well, quite a motley crew. Let alone, their geography. Passengers at this place arrive from all the corners of Germany and beyond.
And here are 3 reasons why you should consider a cruise trip from the reputed Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, too.
1. TOP LOCATION ON A MAP OF EUROPE
Western Europe is literally scattered with port cities. You can find them not only in the Netherlands — a country of water — but also in more ‘continental’ countries such as France (port Fos-sur-Mer) and Poland (port Gdynia). However, the presence of a seaport does not automatically lead to cruise tourism industry. The latter requires somewhat more resources and human input rather than just a maritime commercial facility.
Thus, to handle passengers on land every port should possess an adequate cruise terminal. So, Hamburg has it all and then some! Three terminals of Altona, Steinwerder, and Hafen City are meant to serve as transport hubs for cruise ships. For the record, the last-mentioned is often overlooked relative to its bigger brothers. In fact, this terminal can only receive smaller ships occasionally.
So, the last time it could host a sea greyhound was on the 11th of May — its port birthday or Hafengeburtstag — a spectacular fest that is celebrated widely throughout the city. This day was marked by the departure of AIDAvita that started its two-week journey from Hafen City to the Foggy Albion.
Accessibility of Hamburg also cannot go unnoticed. As opposed to other cruise ports all round Germany — just to name a few, Sassnitz, Travemünde or Bremerhaven — Hamburg really scores for its location. You can reach it by all possible means of transportation be it an airplane, bus or train.
The city has a massive international airport — fifth-busiest of all commercial airports in Germany — railway and bus terminal. Not to mention, multiple parking options. You can easily leave your beloved chariot for two-three weeks with a service like Parken und Meer. Along with the actual parking they also provide insurance, shuttle, and luggage services.
2. TOURIST-FRIENDLY INFRASTRUCTURE
So, Hamburg is easily accessible — full stop. But it’s also a city with a tourist-friendly-infrastructure that is easy to navigate. In no other German cruise ports, you will find as many means of transportation as in Hamburg — buses, metro, suburban train known as S-Bahn. You name it.
The city also offers several car-sharing services such as DriveNow or Car2GO. But here in Hamburg you can share not only a car, but also a bike or even an electric scooter (check those red little devils here) in case you want to reduce your carbon footprint. A popular bike-sharing service named StadtRAD offers about 200 rent stations across the city, I actually have one just under my window. In fact, the local authorities plan to increase the bicycle traffic by 25% in 2020.
Finally, an app such as switchh.de can help to plan a route using various means of transportation at the same time. The best/worst imaginable scenario for this is when you leave the house for work in the morning by bike and choose to change to carsharing after heavy shower rain starts, sounds convenient huh?
3. ATTRACTIONS TO SUIT EVERY TASTE AND BUDGET
Attractions matter. I would be reluctant to disembark in a city where I knew there was nothing interesting waiting for me. Even with a superb infrastructure every tourist needs panem et circenes or simply entertainment. Again in no other European cruise port are your wants and needs met so beneficially as in Hamburg — it‘s probably only Amsterdam or Rotterdam that might compete here but well, ehh, that’s a story for another post. Those two have almost legendary ‘lifestyle battle’ against each other for several years already.
But going back to Hamburg, it’s in truth a unique city soaked with splendid marine charm. Thus, in July 2015 some of its historical objects entered a UNESCO World Heritage List — a prestigious list that enumerates cultural and natural heritage sites of outstanding universal value across the globe. Today this list counts around 1, 700 objects of either cultural, natural or mixed origin that is somewhat impressive.
Hamburg managed to put on this list both districts of Speicherstadt, ‘one of the largest coherent historic ensembles of port warehouses in the world (300, 000 m 2)’ and the adjacent Kontorhaus area that used to serve for port-related businesses (information is taken from the official website of UNESCO WHC).
But not only in those two districts will you feel this maritime flair. Unquestionably an eyeful, Hamburg has much more to offer be it a stroll along the Elbe river or a luxurious private tour by boat. Hence, for every taste and budget.
© 2018 Elena Bubeeva, All Rights Reserved.