If you are in Hamburg, a Hafenrundfahrt (or: harbor cruise) is one of these must-dos in the largest city in the North of Germany. Having some more time than expected on one of my last stays in the city, I went for a trip through the huge Hamburg Harbor with Ehlers Harbor Cruises – Barkassen-Centrale Ehlers, how they are named precisely (Barkasse is a longboat or launch).
Ehlers Harbor Cruise – Location & Admission
Like most Hamburg Harbor cruises, Ehlers is operating from the Niederhafen, which is close to the gangplanks at Hamburg Harbor. The closest public transport stop is the Baumwall underground station. There are a lot of sights around, like the Cap San Diego and Rickmer Rickmers museum ships, the world-famous Miniatur Wunderland or the Elbe Philharmonic Hall (Elbphilharmonie). Not too far away from the Ehlers pier, I also boarded the FRS Hallunder Jet to Helgoland.
I had the Grosse Hafenrundfahrt (“Large Harbor Cruise”), which is about an hour and costs 20 EUR for adults. One argument for Ehlers was that they give you a discount if you have the Hamburg-Card, which is combining a local transport network ticket with museum discounts. There is also a two hour cruise (27 Euro) available. Cruises leave very frequently, typically at every hour.
Ehlers Harbor Cruise – The Ship
Ehlers owns a couple of historic longboats, but majorly use their more modern fleet for the harbor cruises. I unfortunately do not remember the exact name of the ship I traveled with, but it was absolutely fine for purpose. Social distancing worked out very well during my cruise. None of the tables has been occupied by more than one party on my trip. The only issue was that I struggled quite a lot with reflections on the windows. The exposure for reflections differs with the boat (and the angle of the windows). My boat was rather unfortunate in this relation.
Ehlers Harbor Cruise – The Cruise
From the pier, we had a quick trip through the Speicherstadt, passed the Elbphilharmonie and crossed the Norderelbe to go straight into the harbor. The tour was in German only (might be due to the people on board). The captain explained a lot – sometimes I had a feeling of being in a new version of Skipper Dan by Weird Al Yankovic, though. The Covid-19 situation caused a lot of major cruise ships to be tossed in Hamburg, which was very interesting. The key attraction are the large container vessels, though, for sure.
You of course also pass a couple of docks. One hour does not feel to be too much, but overall, this part of the harbor is very compact, so that you see quite much. If you are a ship enthusiast or have more time, I would, however, definitely go for a two hour cruise. A very impressive ship was one of the AIDA huge cruise ships, which was at the quay close to the Landungsbrücken.
Ehlers Harbor Cruise – Services
There is a drink service on board the ship. Prices were really fine. The vessel comes with a toilet.
Ehlers Harbor Cruise – My View
I feel a harbor cruise is really a nice thing – and Ehlers did a solid job. Some of the commentary was maybe done too jokingly and I did not like the reflections in the pictures – but it is definitely a nice way to get a first view of Hamburg Harbor.