Why go to Berlin?
This German capital is now an epicenter of arts and culture; the palaces of Potsdam are nearby
You'll dock in Warnemunde, three hours from Berlin; some Elbe river ships dock closer in Tegel
The trip into Berlin is a trek from most cruise ships, but you won't regret the journey
Berlin Cruise Port Facilities?
Unter den Linden from the Brandenburg Gate to the Berlin Cathedral and the immediate blocks to the south provide a wonderful stroll through the heart of the elegantly reborn city. Duck into the Adlon Hotel for a coffee, or visit the pastry shop just down the same side of the street. Walk past the State Library, Humboldt University and State Opera House. Pause in the Lustgarten bordering the River Spree and gaze up at the magnificent Berlin Cathedral. It is hard to imagine that an Allied bomb long ago dropped through the dome and largely destroyed the interior. Likewise, it's amazing to think that decades after the Second World War, the German and French cathedrals were still in ruins and the lovely apartment buildings bordering the Gendarmenmarkt (main square) and the upscale shopping along Friederichstrasse did not exist as they once had before the Nazi monster arrived.
Good to Know?
Like any big city, Berlin has its dangers and the most prevalent crime is pick-pocketing. Assaults are unlikely in any of the high-traffic tourist areas. U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations all have red "SOS" buttons for summoning the stationmaster.
The city has one of the most comprehensive transit systems in Europe, including buses, trams, the U-Bahn (subway and mostly underground) and S-Bahn (above ground urban/suburban trains). Some of the elevated lines have terrific views such as the S5, S7, S9, and S75 that run through the heart of the city. Double-decker public buses 100 and 200 follow routes that are geared to the sightseer and charge no more than the regular fare.
One major plus is the bridge they gap between Unter den Linden and the former heart of West Berlin. Transportation routes are interconnected by good signposting, though some transfers require long walks up and down several levels. Buy tickets (machines have English translations) in the stations and on the platforms or directly from the bus driver. A day pass at 5.80 euros is a good buy because then there is no barrier to boarding any train or bus. Up to five people can travel on a group pass which is priced at less than what three would pay for single tickets. Be sure to have the ticket machine-validated with the date and time before you travel. In addition, the Berlin Welcome Card (for those on pre- or post-cruise trips) gives you unlimited travel and discounts to museums, attractions, city tours, boat trips and theaters for 48 hours (16.50 euros) or 72 hours (21.50 euros).
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
Germany uses the euro (for up to date conversion rates go to www.xe.com), and ATM machines are available throughout the city. Kiosks, small stores and some transportation may not accept credit cards, so you should have a stash of euros, which of course you can use in many other European countries as well.
The language is German, and many people speak at least some English. There should be no problem at the tourist locations.
Where You're Docked?
Most cruise ships dock at Warnemunde, near Rostock, on the north German coast east of the Kiel Canal entrance and west of the Baltic Sea. It is 165 miles south to Berlin, a three-hour train ride or a slightly longer and decidedly less comfortable bus journey. While the DB (German Railway) runs regular trains every two hours, most requiring a change at Rostock, the cruise lines provide direct rail or bus transfers from the ship's side to central Berlin with either a convenient drop-off and pick-up point for independent sightseers or a connecting city tour.
If you are taking an Elbe River cruise that embarks here, be sure to stay in Berlin for at least three nights before or after the cruise.