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Sightseeing Boats and Harbor Tours

From: Hamburg, Germany

Tollerort container terminal

ABOVE: This close-up view of a containership was taken during a Marine Circle Line harbor cruise. INSET PHOTOS BELOW: A "bad hair day" on the Elbe, shipping containers in the port, a Maritime Circle Line boat, a nighttime tour photo, and seating in a summer boat's open bow.

Woman on Hamburg boat tourHamburg is, first and foremost, a maritime city--as it has been since the days of the Hanseatic League. The Port of Hamburg is Europe's third largest, and the biggest in Northern Europe. It's also the main transshipment port for Scandinavia and the Baltic, with goods from China and other distant countries being unloaded from huge containerships and reloaded onto smaller vessels for delivery to Sweden, Poland, the Baltic States, Russia, and other northern countries without deepwater ports on the Atlantic or North Sea.

Shipping containers in HamburgWith so much port activity--and with the city being bisected by the River Elbe--it should come as no surprise that Hamburg offers a rich menu of sightseeing boats, harbor tours, and ferries. Here are a few:

HADAG has operated passenger boats in Hamburg's harbor since 1888. You can ride the public harbor ferries with a standard HVV transit ticket or the Hamburg CARD. (HADAG also runs sightseeing-boat tours of the harbor and Lower Elbe.)

Maritime Circle Line boatMaritime Circle Line is the aquatic version of a "hop on, hop off" sightseeing bus: Your ticket entitles you to a day of travel between seven museums and other tourist locations in the harbor--among them, the Ballinstadt Emigration Museum, which is a "must see" attraction for visitors from the New World.

The Kapitän Prüsse is a vintage sightseeing boat that departs from the St. Pauli Landungsbrücken. Seating is mostly on wooden benches, but the trip is fun, especially at night. (This tour is best if you're familiar with the harbor, because the narration is in German only.) See the tour company's Web site at www.hafenrundfahrt-classic.de.

Sightseeing boatFor a different type of boat trip, enjoy a cruise of Hamburg's city lakes with the White Alster Fleet. From April to September, the boats stop at nine piers around the Alster, and your ticket entitles you to get on and off during your circuit of the lakes. (The same company offers tours that go beyond the Alster to the Elbe Waterways or the canals that extend from the Ausseralster.)

If you feel the urge to get out of town, the high-speed catamaran Halunder Jet or the more traditional cruise boat Atlantis will take you to Helgoland, Germany's island in the North Sea. Both are operated by Helgoline, which departs daily from pier 4 at the Landungsbrücke.

For more suggestions on sightseeing by boat, see Hamburg Tourism's "Port and City Tours" page. And for more photos of Hamburg sightseeing boats and ferries, go to page 2 of this article.

Next page: More photos




1st inset photo copyright © Juergen Bosse.
2nd inset photo copyright © Sascha Burkhard.
4th inset photo copyright © Marc Fischer.

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