Have you ever stood at a harbour and waved as a cruise ship leaves the port, even though you don’t know anyone on board? In 2007 at 4am, the Queen Mary sailed out of Hamburg port, thousands of people turned up to see her sail off. The Hamburg Tourism Board realised that this could be the start of a unique cruise event, and so the Hamburg Cruise Days was born.
Every two years since 2009, Hamburg has held the 3-day Cruise Days celebrating the majestic cruise ships which visit the port.
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Hamburg Cruise Days 2019
In September this year, I joined the 500,000 strong crowds to enjoy the Hamburg Cruise Days 2019. Yes, you read that correctly, half a million people lined up on St Pauli Harbour to watch as the cruise ships parade pass by.
But it isn’t just the cruise ships they come to see. There are three days of events around the Cruise Days culminating in the sail-by on Saturday evening.
Along the harbour edge, the place is transformed with food stalls, entertainment, and a new Business Deck to discuss all things cruise related.
Blue Port Hamburg
For the week before the parade, as dusk falls, Hamburg’s harbour is lit up with blue light. Buildings, boats, bridges all bathed in blue reflecting upon the river Elbe. Each day more lights are switched on, culminating on Friday night with a laser and light show.
The dark skies come alive with blue light rays. A spectacular light show coordinated by renowned light artist, Michael Batz, fills the sky. The river fills with boats as the Costa Mediterranea glides through the middle highlighted in blue, as Fury in the Slaughterhouse, the German band, kept the crowds entertained. The best way to see the lights is from one of the evening river cruisers on the Elbe which pass many of the buildings, bridges and cruises along with the other boats.
The Hamburg Cruise Parade 2019
Saturday night is parade night, with the harbour still lit up in blue, five of the twelve cruise ships that were on show make their way out of the harbour. Each of the ships had its own fireworks show and music that tended to be drowned out by the ships horns as they were accompanied up the river by a flotilla of boats and tugs.
Mein Schiff 4
Sadly I didn’t get a clear photo of the World Explorer
The Future of Cruising
A new trade event for the Hamburg Cruise Days 2019 was the Business Deck. Cruise Experts from all corners of the world came together to discuss the many issues surrounding the cruise industry and it’s future and how it is cleaning up its act, literally.
Hamburg Cruise Days 2021
Plans for Hamburg Cruise Days 2021 are already underway to make it bigger and more spectacular. Keep up to date on the VisitHamburg website. Due to the current pandemic, Hamburg Cruise Days 2021 has been deferred to August 2022.
This post about the Hamburg Cruise Days was created in collaboration with VisitHamburg who covered my return flights, hotel tour, meals and Hamburg Card. All opinions, however, are my own.