The ‘Dampf Rundum’ steam festival in Flensburg, where the greatest gathering of coastal steamers in the world occurs every two years, is a signature highlight of this all-new steamboat tour to Northern Germany.
Based in the vibrant port city of Hamburg, you’ll spend a day in Flensburg for this unique festival, and enjoy rides on genuine German and Danish steamers, with front row seats to all the action and time to explore the many on-shore steam displays and refreshment stalls. Also on your tour you’ll enjoy private charter cruises on Hamburg’s Rivers Elbe and Alster aboard a mighty steam-powered icebreaker as well as a classic steam launch dating from 1876. The obligatory visit to the miniature ‘Wonderland’ model railway and some free time to explore Hamburg’s famed elevated ring railway (reminiscent of the Liverpool Overhead Railway) are also included during your holiday. Best of all, the trip is capped by exciting cruises aboard the historic paddle steamer ‘Kaiser Wilhelm’ from Lauenburg to Bleckede on the Elbe and a private charter on the Kiel Canal aboard the remarkably elegant paddle steamer ‘Freya’. Don’t miss out on this ‘one-off’ super summer trip to Germany’s northern coast, with the perfect balance of steam, scenery and travel refinement sure to make it the holiday of a lifetime!
Thursday 11th July
London to Hamburg
You travel from London St. Pancras International by Eurostar to Brussels, before continuing by high speed rail to Cologne. There you change onto a German Railways (DB) Intercity Express (ICE) for the onward journey via to Hamburg. On arrival you check into a centrally located 4-star hotel, your base for the entire tour. Here you’ll receive a complimentary public transportation rover ticket, valid on the city’s exciting network of overground, underground (Hochbahn/U-Bahn) and commuter (S-Bahn) trains for the duration of your stay.
Friday 12th July
Elbe River cruise in Hamburg aboard steam-powered icebreaker
After a welcome lie-in and leisurely breakfast this morning, your tour starts with an immediate highlight, as you experience a truly unique steamboat pleasure cruise! On board Germany’s only steam-powered ice-breaker to work on a river, you’ll get to explore the fascinating Hamburg skyline and expansive port facilities, rubbing shoulders with great ocean liners and huge container ships. Built in 1911, the coal-fired steamer ‘Elbe’ cruises on its namesake river, giving fabulous views of the ever-changing riverside scenery and giving you full access to the wheelhouse and boiler room. Lunchtime refreshments will be served aboard the ship during your mid-day cruise. Afterwards you’ll have plenty of free time to explore Hamburg and all of its attractions at your own pace, making good use of your complimentary rover ticket. (B L)
Saturday 13th July
‘Dampf Rundum’ steam festival in Flensburg with three different steamboat cruises
This is the signature day of your tour and after arriving to Flensburg mid-morning on a DB service train from Hamburg, you can immerse yourself in the spectacle of this fittingly named ‘Steam All-Around’ festival. Today you’ll enjoy three different 70-minute cruises around Flensburg Fjord, which is bordered to the north by Denmark and has a decidedly Scandinavian feel to it. You first sail on the locally-based 1908 screw steamer ‘Alexandra’, an elegant salon ship and true icon amongst Germany’s coastal steamers. Then a real treat awaits aboard the recently refurbished postal steamer ‘Prinz Heinrich’ from 1909, normally based on Germany’s North Sea Coast in Leer. Finally, just as rare a treat is the opportunity to sail in the early afternoon on the Danish screw steamer ‘Skjelskør’, a majestic tall-stacked ship built in 1915. In addition, several other steamers will be making parallel cruises at the same time, all adding to a wonderful spectacle and giving outstanding film and photo opportunities. Back ashore along the harbour promenade in Flensburg a number of small steam launches will offer mini-cruises, and traction engines as well as steam rollers will be on display. Like any good festival, there will be numerous catering stands providing a diverse range of refreshment options. After such a fine and memorable day out, you return to Hamburg on a DB service train in the early evening. (B)
Sunday 14th July
Paddle steamer cruise aboard ‘Kaiser Wilhelm’ from Lauenburg to Bleckede
After experiencing so many different screw steamers on the previous day, it’s time to experience a genuine paddle steamer today. The authentic side-wheeler ‘Kaiser Wilhelm’ dates from 1900 and is based in the quaint town of Lauenburg, just a bit east of Hamburg. You’ll travel aboard Northern Germany’s only coal-fired paddle steamer up the River Elbe to the historic town of Bleckede, where you’ll have two hours free time to have a look around the attractive town centre before the steamer returns to Lauenburg in the afternoon. Refreshments are available from the steamer’s cozy galley or in Bleckede itself. On returning to Lauenburg in the later afternoon, you have a short and direct transfer back to your hotel in Hamburg. (B)
Monday 15th July
Kiel Canal Dinner Cruise aboard paddle steamer ‘Freya’
This morning there’s the chance for another lie in and then more free time to explore Hamburg and its exciting public transport network. In the later afternoon you reconvene with your fellow travellers and transfer to Rendsburg. There you will sail under the fascinating Rendsburg railway bridge, a mighty steel construction built between 1911 and 1913. The structure uses spiral loops so trains can gain enough height to achieve the necessary clearance for ocean-going ships to pass underneath. The bridge as well as the Kiel Canal were built by Kaiser Wilhelm in the late 19th Century in order to provide a more direct waterway between the North Sea and Baltic Sea. Today it’s one of the busiest merchant shipping lanes in the world, with countless locks along its length. We’ve saved another tour highlight for you this evening, as you get to enjoy a truly refined private charter cruise aboard the vintage paddle steamer ‘Freya’, including full dinner buffet from the ship’s special lifting table. During the 3-hour cruise you’ll see countless points of interest along the Kiel Canal and enjoy both the stately salons of the ship, as well as the spacious free decks. Everything is finely upholstered, fashioned with teak wood and polished brass, providing a truly maritime ambiance. The ‘Freya’ was built in 1905 in the Netherlands and since 1999 the vessel has been based in Northern Germany. After your fine cruise, you return to Hamburg. (B D)
Tuesday 16th July
Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg; Alster River sunset cruise aboard steam launch ‘St. Georg’
After several active days, today is more relaxed and dedicated to one of Hamburg’s premier tourist attractions. The incredible Miniatur Wunderland is a model railway attraction, the largest of its kind in the world. The railway has a track length of over 13,000 metres (8 miles) in HO (1:87) scale. The models are divided into nine sections: Harz (Germany); the fictitious city of Knuffingen; the Alps and Austria; Hamburg; America; Scandinavia; Switzerland; Knuffingen Airport; and Italy. This attraction is far more than just a model railway, it’s a ‘miniature wonderland’ for enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike. It’s easily possible to spend half your day or longer there, and the rest of the afternoon is then free for you to further explore Hamburg and its galleries, museums and shops. In the evening your group reassembles for a superb sunset cruise on the River Elbe in Hamburg’s port district. Your privately chartered vessel for the evening is historic steamboat ‘St. Georg’ from 1876, one of the oldest operational vessels in the world. You cruise on the inland River Alster, effectively having a second sightseeing tour of a different part of the city, this time by water. You can watch the hard-working steam engine from the main deck of the boat and see the engineer at work. A sumptuous buffet dinner (including wine) will be served during the cruise as the sun sets over Hamburg, a fine conclusion to your unique holiday tour. (B D)
Wednesday 17th July
Return to London
You return to London St. Pancras International via Cologne and Brussels, travelling on ICE, Thalys and Eurostar services. (B)
All prices shown are per person.
Meals included each day are shown as:
B = Breakfast - L = Lunch - D = Dinner