Port guide: Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg is Germany’s second largest city (Berlin is number one) It is based on the River Elbe, which is 60 nautical miles from the North Sea and is commonly known as the “Gateway to the World”
Hamburg has two large cruise passenger terminals and numerous dry-dock facilities used by many cruise operators for standard and extensive dry-docking refurbishments. Previous cruise lines to use these facilities include all of Cunard Line, Fred Olsen and many P&O Cruises ships.
Hamburg is used as a turn around port for many cruise lines and as a port call. Some cruise lines homeport in Hamburg during the summer months for voyages to Norway and other Scandinavian countries.
It is a popular destination for tourists, with over 4 million visitors a year (600k from 189 cruise ships in 2014)
- Exploring Hamburg
- Getting around
Public transport in the city is very good and is split between rail, bus and ship. The operator of the majority of public transport services in the city HVV allow you to buy one ticket on one service and use it on another (i.e. bus and then a ferry) – they were the first company in the world to offer this system.
Hamburg has a six ferry lines running along the River Elbe. Although they are mainly used for commuters and trade, some offer sightseeing tours too. The U-Bahn comprises of 63 miles of mass transit rail within the city. 25 miles of this is actually underground.
There are over 600 bus routes and five additional inner-city train lines connecting throughout the city, providing efficient and easy access to locals and tourists in moving around. Some bus routes operate as often as every two minutes!
The port has plenty of taxis for private hire and the city centre is only a couple of miles maximum from the port entrance, so should be cheap. As usual, agree a fare before setting off!
The international airport is just 5 miles from the city and is the oldest airport in Germany and is the fifth biggest. Around 60 airlines offer services at the airport with European hourly departures to inter-connecting hubs and daily international flights.
- Beyond the port
- Popular shore excursions
Cruise lines that visit here offer the following shore excursions. Please check with your cruise line to see if they offer them and remember some excursions may be seasonal only!
This art gallery and museum was founded in 1850 and is the largest gallery in Hamburg. Various highlights include numerous altarpieces, local artists works of the 14th century, and Dutch masters of 16th, 17th centuries. There are also fine collections of 19th-century French and Germany paintings and a substantial collection of modern and contemporary art. Programs for children and standard tours are available.
Hamburg Hop-on Hop-off Buses
The buses run every 30 minutes from 9.30-5pm daily. One ticket allows you access around the entire city on a bus, with commentary. Usually they have open-air buses in the summer and it’s a great way to see the majority of the city. Look out for tickets that also include a River Elbe ferry tour.
Lübeck and Niederegger
This trip is usually 75-90 minutes each way from the port by coach and when you arrive, you’ll see how Lübeck is simply beautiful! Full of history and tradition and once known as “Queen of the Hanseatic League” you can study the medieval Gothic architecture whilst sampling Germany’s famous marzipan!
The Beatles, Beer & Bratwurst
Enjoy this tour around the city and find out where The Beatles first found their fame in the early 1960’s!
You’ll be taken on a short coach tour around the city to start with, including the old Warehouse Quarter, the Aussen-Alster (where numerous consulates are located), Speicherstadt, City Hall and the infamous Reeperbahn (also known as St Pauli) – Hamburg’s ‘red-light district’, which is also home to the theatre and nightlife mile!
You’ll step off the coach and see the venue (the Indra Club) where The Beatles on the 18th August 1960 first played. To finish off, you’ll be taken to a traditional ‘Imbiss’ (a standing room only bar) where you can pick up a beer and a Bratwurst to go!
- Local cuisine
The city and region are well known for their fish dishes. Being a port city you can expect the freshest of catches daily as a wide variety of fish is brought in directly from the North Sea.
Also common is stew known as the Hamburger National, made of swede, carrots and potatoes with sausages or other meats. The main dish of Hamburg is actually these days a soup course and features oxtail in Madeira wine.
Many bakeries around the city sell the Rundstück (bread roll) and desserts, such as the Großer Hans (a flour dumpling)
Back in 1375 there was over 457 local breweries, with 270 of them exporting beer around the world. These days there are only two surviving local breweries, albeit one of them is the large brewer Holsten. However, beer is still a popular drink in the city.
- Where you are docked
The two passenger cruise terminals in Hamburg are: Hamburg Cruise Center HafenCity and Hamburg Cruise Center Altona, both are capable of processing cruise ships of any size. There are usually free shuttle buses into the city from the terminals put on by the local government. However, some cruise lines sometimes charge a small surcharge to use them.
There is also an annual celebration of the harbour (Hafengeburtstag) during the first weekend of May when many ships and small boats will sail down the river during large firework displays.
- Regional weather
Hamburg has a mild humid temperate climate with warm summers and no dry season. During the winter season Hamburg only has usually one or two major snow events. As it is near the North Sea, Hamburg is classed as having an oceanic climate with potential for rain fairly often.