Sunday, 1 November 2015
MEIN SCHIFF 4, 7th September 2015, Part 4
Monday 7th September 2015
An early alarm call meant shower, breakfast and checkout from Stella Maris could be done calmly and we were soon on our way to Hamburg's Central Station, ready to meet up with our fellow travellers and get the train to Kiel. MEIN SCHIFF 4 will be sailing from that port this evening and we wanted to enjoy the time before we needed to board the ship. The 10.24 train from Hamburg Central took us in just over an hour to Kiel, where we made our way out of the big station and headed the few yards towards the water of Kiel Haven.
Restaurant Vapiano offered its usual delightful variety of food, and we were soon established there. We planned to catch a local ferry up two stops, then get another ferry back one stop, and from there we could walk a short distance to board the TUI ship. It's fun to arrive somewhere by sea.
The local ferry LABOE took us up the waterway two stops to Reventlou, and shortly afterwards another local ferry HEIKENDORF brought us back one stop to Seegarten; our luggage was soon handed over outside the terminal building and we could join the queue to check in. That was all good fun, even before we boarded the cruise ship!
During the short ferry sailings we had been able to see the other ships in port today, including the COSTA PACIFICA, and the two big tug tenders BULK and KITZEBERG, but of course we were really happy to be able to photograph MEIN SCHIFF 4 from the water.
The check in took some time and, even though the UK is not in Schengen, we still had to hand over our British passports for safekeeping until we disembarked back in Hamburg. Once on board we went to our respective cabins and then met for a cup of tea in the Tag & Nacht (Day & Night) Bistro. My friends had all travelled on a MEIN SCHIFF ship before, so knew what to find and expect around the vessel, but it took me a little while to adjust. I had an inside double cabin for single use, which was a rarity apparently, and was happy with being forward on Deck 10. My daily programme told me that the Captain was Kapitan Todd Burgman.
Public rooms are on Decks 3, 4 and 5, with cabins on Decks 6-11; outside pools, bars and lounges are on Deck 12; there is no Deck 13; Deck 14 has suites, kids club, indoor cycling and other bars and lounges; Deck 15 has the sun deck, plus massage facilities.
MEIN SCHIFF 4 was built in the Meyer Werft shipyard in Turku, Finland, in 2014, for TUI Cruises, which is one of the largest holiday companies in the world. She was floated out on 10th October 2014, and delivered in May 2015 for a naming ceremony in Kiel, which is to be her home port for the 2015 summer. She is 99,430 gross tons, carries a Maltese flag, with a home port shown as Valletta, Malta. She can carry 2790 passengers, with 1030 crew. Her first cruise began on 6th June 2015 so on board she is very new to us boarding her just 3 months later. We will be able to use 11 restaurants including a Surf & Turf Restaurant, Mediterranean and Japanese venues. The line caters to Germans and German is the primary language on board, but our group of 7 were not the only non-Germans on board. I had been told that MEIN SCHIFF 4 (meaning My Ship 4) is part of the fleet offering a casual premium product to the German cruise market, with all-inclusive cruises.
In the late afternoon sunshine we could see a large vessel being built in the German Naval Yards across the water of the Kiel Haven. It already had two very tall masts and I later discovered it would be the world's biggest sailing yacht, with three masts, built at a cost of £260 million. It is said to be 468 feet long and will have 300 feet masts, plus an underwater observatory, for Russian industrialist owner Andrey Melnichenko and his wife. The vessel, SAILING YACHT, will start sea trials in a couple of weeks time.
We could also watch STENA GERMANICA sail away, and then watch BOTNIA SEAWAYS of DFDS sail from the port of Kiel. I remember standing on the port side of the deck 10 and choosing to stand on the small glass panel on the deck below my feet - I could look down at people on deck 5 I think, a long way down...
As I made my way to my muster station for lifeboat drill I passed a huge model of the ship, with part of one side cutaway - that is always fun to see. The drill was conducted in German of course but on the large screens showing the particular instructions at every muster station I was pleased to see English translations at the bottom of every screen. I thought it was one of the most comprehensive drills I have ever attended.
As I prepared for dinner I looked at the artwork in my cabin, and was surprised to see a picture of what looked like the LUSITANIA, with all of her 4 funnels spewing out black smoke.
We sailed at 7 p.m. and watched the sun sinking in the west as we headed out of Kiel Haven on our 5 night cruise, heading for our first port of call tomorrow in Copenhagen.
Ships seen: Botnia Seaways registered in Klapeida, Stena Germanica, Mein Shiff 4, Costa Pacifica, Keikendorf, Laboe, Bulum, Schweinhacke, Stadt Kiel, Color Fantasy, Bussard, Sprott, Bulk and Kitzeberg, Victoria Seaways, and the huge private yacht
To be continued...