Doing a cruise on Berlin’s key river Spree is one of the classic touristic options when you visit the German capital. During my stay in July 2021, I opted for a one hour tour with the local operator BSWG. The abbreviations means something like Berlin Water Sports and Service. They are likely one of the rather smaller operators, but a nice discount finally persuaded me – and gave me a good time. Here are my thoughts about the cruise.
BWSG – Pier / Starting Location
The BWSG Pier is located at the Alte Börse (meaning “Old Stock Exchange”). The location is really central. Some key Berlin attractions (good or bad) are in short walking distance, like SeaLife, the GDR Museum or the Museum Island. The next public transport connection (trams and commuter trains is Hackescher Markt, from where it is a five to ten minutes walk).
Even if you have pre-purchased online tickets, you need to exchange them at the small ticket booth. There were some issues with my ticket, but the staff was really friendly so that the exchange overall went very smoothly.
BWSG – Cruises and Pricing
As said, there are numerous Berlin Spree cruise operators. Especially the one hour cruise is very standardized and majorly differs by the location at which you board. You take a loop along the Spree roughly between Governmental District (Pictured Story about it) / Main Station and Nikolaiviertel. This trip (which is called Tour A at BWSG) is normally priced with 17 Euro. If you happen to have the Berlin WelcomeCard, which is including museum discounts and free public transport, you just pay 12.75 EUR. The 2.5 hour East Side Tour (or Tour B) is 25 EUR normal price (18.75 EUR with the WelcomeCard). It still goes to Main Station on the West side, but is heading significantly further East, including the East Side Gallery.
BWSG – The Boat
Overall, BWSG drives four ships. However, two ones are used for the Spree cruises majorly. The major one is the MS Belvedere, which has a covered deck and an open air roof. My trip was with the AC BärLiner, which came with a retractable roof. Due to the good weather, it was fully pulled towards the rear of the boat. There is an increase of risk of sunburn, indeed – but therefor, you have much better photography conditions – which I highly appreciated. The chair and table seating might not look super-welcoming at first sight, but it was indeed quite cozy and comfortable.
BWSG – The Tour
The tour first headed Southeast, and then turned around towards the governmental district. Thus, the first sight we passed (which is more or less across the pier) was the Berlin Cathedral, followed by the former Berlin Castle (now Humboldt-Forum). I really enjoyed watching the vibrant life in the Nicolaiviertel, which nowadays even hosts a Cologne-style food place. The ship turned around close to the Mühlendammschleuse, a ship lock.
Passing the starting point of the trip, you first pass the amazing buildings in the Museumsinsel (Museum Island), including the Pergamon Museum and the Bode Museum. After passing the Friedrichstrasse Station, the former border train station between West and East Berlin, more and more media companies tell you that Chancellor Merkel (at that time) and the German Parliament are not too far away. The commentary on boat was automated and in German and English.
Reichstag and more
You then see the dome of the Reichstag, the home of the German parliament Bundestag. More and more governmental buildings can be seen from the river, e.g. the Paul-Löbe-Haus with the offices of the representatives. But there are also non-political sights liek the Capital Beach beach club or the historic bridges like the Moltkebrücke. Roughly at the Berlin Kongresshalle (Congress Center), the ship turned around and headed back to the original starting point. The cruise time was a few minutes more than one hour.
BWSG – Service / Food
Service at the pier (as mentioned) as well as on board was really good to excellent. There were even some decent snacks for an absolutely reasonable price available. Of course, there was also the opportunity to have drinks and ice cream (ready-made) – very much needed and appreciated on a sunny day.
The AC BärLiner comes with male / female bathrooms. I was amazed about the cleanliness here. Very good service.
BWSG – My View
Initially, I was uncertain whether I should go for a Spree cruise or not during my visit in Berlin. Finally, I am really glad that I did it – BWSG was a great company, the price was right, I liked the staff and the boat. Having a river cruise just gives you a different view of Berlin. Thus, I would recommend to have a trip with these guys.