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HAPAG Halle Cuxhaven (Steubenhöft)

Historic HAPAG Ship Terminal - Cuxhaven, Germany

ABOVE: A "Departure to America" sign marks the Steubenhöft pier, where emigrants, business travelers, and tourists once sailed from Cuxhaven to New York.

From 1850 to 1939, an estimated 5 million Germans and Eastern Europeans sailed from Hamburg to the New World. (See more details in our BallinStadt Emigration Museum article.) In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the Hamburg-Amerika Linie, or HAPAG, carried up to 200,000 emigrants across the Atlantic each year--together with business and leisure travelers who relied on ships for transportation between Germany and North America.

Cuxhaven port gangwayIn 1902, the city of Hamburg built a new "Overseas Harbor" in Cuxhaven to accommodate larger transatlantic ocean liners and growing passenger traffic. The Steubenhöft pier, a.k.a. the Hapag Halle, is still at the mouth of the Elbe River, 100 km or 60 miles downstream from the city of Hamburg.

Although scheduled transatlantic service ended more than 50 years ago, Steubenhöft continues to serve cruise ships. But that's not all: The Cuxhaven Port Authority boasts that, "Since most European harbor complexes of this time have been destroyed, the Steubenhöft remains the only fully working passenger terminal of its kind."

Visiting the Hapag Halle:

Cuxhaven water towerThe Hapag Halle is on the waterfront in downtown Cuxhaven, within walking distance of the city's signature water tower (inset photo) and the railroad station.

The main terminal building on the water is open daily, with a small Steubenhöft Museum (free admission) and the excellent Panorama-Restaurant Seestern upstairs, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the water while you have lunch (I recommend the fried fish) or Kaffe und Kuchen in the afternoon.

Guided tours are offered during much of the year by the Fordverein Hapag Halle Cuxhaven. For details, and to learn more about the terminal and its history, see the Web links and captioned photos below.

For more information:

The Fordverein Hapag Halle Cuxhaven has an English version of its Web site with information about the pier's history, exhibitions, and guided tours.

For tourist information in English, visit's Cuxhaven section.

More HAPAG Halle photos:

Steubenhöft terminal building, Cuxhaven

The Historic HAPAG Terminal, also known as "Steubenhöft," was built at the turn of the 20th Century to handle guests of the Hamburg-America Line (HAPAG) after the company moved its passenger operations from Hamburg to Cuxhaven.

The building above is the original Kuppelsaal or "domed hall" at the historic terminal's entrance.

Amerikabahnhof Cuxhaven

Clock in Amerikabahnhof Cuxhaven

In the terminal's heyday, boat trains brought passengers directly to the "Amerikabahnhof" from Hamburg and Berlin.

Historic HAPAG sign

This vintage billboard in the terminal shows the Hamburg-America Line's main routes--Berlin to London via Cuxhaven and Dover, and Berlin to New York via Cuxhaven. Customers could book passage from city to city, with HAPAG providing connecting trains where needed.

DEUTSCHLAND ship and pier

A black-and-white illustration of HAPAG's Deutschland is accompanied by representations of the coal and provisions that were required for a transatlantic voyage. (Click here for a larger 140Kb image with legible captions.)

In 1900, when the Deutschland entered service between Cuxhaven and New York, it was the largest and fastest ship in the world.

Passenger hall at Steubenhöft

HAPAG's transatlantic service between New York and Cuxhaven ended in the late 1960s, but DFDS Seaways operated overnight car-passenger ferries between Harwich, England and Cuxhaven from March, 2002 to November, 2003.

Sign in Steubenhöft passenger hall

Seehafen Cuxhaven gangway

Today, the Steubenhöft pier is still used by visiting cruise ships

Cuxhaven is also a port for passenger ferries to the islands of Heligoland and Neuwerk, and for high-speed catamaran ferries to Stade, Hamburg, and Heligoland.

Land side of Hapag Halle-Steubenhöft terminal in Cuxhaven

This photo shows the land side of the modern Empfangsgebäude (reception building) where ships discharge and load passengers. The new building dates to the 1950s.

You can see a portion of the historic terminal complex in the foreground.

Customs and baggage hall at Steubenhöft

The Zollhalle, or Customs Hall, is connected to the wharf by the Gedeckter Gang (covered passageway) that was built in 1913.

More Cuxhaven photos:

Cuxhaven beach chairs

Wicker beach chairs in Cuxhaven

Enclosed beach chairs--which provide shelter from sun, rain, and wind--are a symbol of Cuxhaven and other Northern German seaside resorts.

Cuxhaven herring

Don't miss the local herring. (This tin bears the city's official logo and a tourist scene.)  

Queen Mary 2 in Cuxhaven

If you're lucky, you may see a large cruise ship or the only remaining transatlantic liner, Cunard's Queen Mary 2, during your visit to Cuxhaven.

Also see:
German Emigration Museums and Heritage Travel Index

About the author:

Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden is a professional travel writer, book author, and editor who focuses on European cities and transportation.

After 4-1/2 years of covering European travel topics for, Durant and Cheryl Imboden co-founded Europe for Visitors (now including Germany for Visitors) in 2001. The site has earned "Best of the Web" honors from Forbes and The Washington Post.

For more information, see About Europe for Visitors, press clippings, and reader testimonials.

2nd inset photo copyright © Martina Berg.