Tuesday, 18 July 2017
Norwegian Jade 2nd June 2017, Part 3 the final one
Sunday 4th June 2017
We arrived in the port city of Hamburg in pouring rain, which was forecast for the day but was still disappointing. There was time for an enjoyable breakfast in the Garden Cafe but most of us were upset by the news of the knife attack in London, although it had been speedily dealt with by our admirable Police Service.
We were able to disembark mid-morning at this Altona cruise terminal and wait in the dry there until the river ferry we wanted arrived at the nearby platform. We wanted to head down river first, before heading up river again to view the new Elbphilarmonie building, apparently planned to resemble a crystal palace on a mountain (in fact a red-brick warehouse). It is a concert hall in the HafenCity quarter of Hamburg, set above an hotel, apartments and car park. Its other attraction is the Plaza, a viewing platform 37 metres above ground level, above the red brick part of the building, giving views for miles around Hamburg. Work started on the building in 2007 and it has finally opened in January 2017 after years of delays and huge cost increases, and become hugely popular with audiences.
We bought a day ticket for ferries and trains, at the machine beside the ferry stop, and were soon on our first ferry of the day.
We sailed down river and disembarked on the other side; we waited a short while before taking the next ferry up river and seeing different views.
As usual there was a man walking a dog on one of the beaches alongside the riverside, and we were glad to see that the rain had almost stopped and the sky was clearing.
Our next ferry took us to the Elbphilarmonie stop in HafenCity and we headed for the Hotel Westin restaurant inside the top of the red brick part of the building. The restaurant was on the Plaza floor, with huge glass windows which looked out on to the viewing gallery and the city beyond. In theory that should have been fine, but there were so many people walking around on the viewing gallery that we were unable to see very much at all. The restaurant menu was limited but well presented, and by the time the food arrived we had seen more citizens than views. The dining tables were at the same floor height as the Plaza gallery flooring so when we were seated the view was even more restricted - what a shame and a disappointment. We asked to be able to go to the viewing Plaza but that was not allowed, so we left the hotel and went back down in the lift into the sunshine out on the riverside.
Another ferry collected us and took us to the Landungsbruecken, known as Hamburg's water railway station, and to a shop nearby I like visiting. There I was able to spend a happy time buying five small toy model ships to add to my collection. I believe we should all make sure the next generations know about ships and the sea, and so after this visit I could go home and know that two small boys will enjoy playing with the new toys and being shown their routes on the map on the floor. We don't play with my beautifully-made Union-Castle Line ship models, I hasten to add, but the boys can see them on display.
It was soon time to walk to a nearby train station and travel to the airport, ready for flights home. I had time to have coffee and enjoy looking at my new toy ships, before flying home; that flight was enlivened by sitting next to a travel agent who had also been on NORWEGIAN JADE with a big party of agents, and I felt it worth mentioning that I had paid for my fare, even though it was a really low one - laughter all round.
Ships seen: Aida Sol, Fantasia, Norwegian Jade, the red-hulled Elbe 3 museum ship, Cap San Diego, Mississippi Queen, Atlantic Sail still in dry dock, Mare Frisium, and ferries Harmonie, Reeerbahn, Elbemeile, Kirchdorf, Altenwerder
I had really enjoyed my two nights on NORWEGIAN JADE from Southampton, with the pleasure of a sea day before arrival in Hamburg. The ship is comfortable, well designed with good passenger flow routes, and the staff are professional, helpful and pleasant.