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Bremerhaven (Photo:canadastock/Shutterstock)
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Maria Harding
Cruise Critic Contributor

Port of Bremerhaven

At first glance, Bremerhaven doesn't look like the world's most exciting port of call. Originally known as Wesermunde -- the seaport for nearby Bremen -- it was in the frontline of bombing raids during World War II, and nearly all its old buildings were obliterated.

About Bremerhaven


Pro

This modern city boasts a lovely waterfront for strolling and several museums honoring its history

Con

When exploring on foot, be mindful of the cobblestone streets, which can be a tripping hazard

Bottom Line

What Bremerhaven lacks in traditional charm, it makes up for with its own unique character


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But, out of the ashes, a smart, modern city has emerged. Modern-day Bremerhaven (which received its new name just after the war, in 1947) offers some unexpected treasures like a pretty harbor and a long promenade that offers views across the River Weser to the mouth of the North Sea area.

If you want historic buildings, you'd better head off to explore Bremen, about an hour's train ride away. Bremen is a lovely old Hanseatic League city, and it's well worth seeing for its museums, 11th-century cathedral and medieval old quarter, so tours there are popular. More than half of the passengers on our cruise opted for the day trip.

But, stick around, and you'll find Bremerhaven has a charm of its own, as well as a rich history it celebrates in some excellent museums. Of these, the award-winning Deutsches Auswandererhaus (German Emigration Museum) is quite rightly the most famous.

And, if you love the sea, this is very much the place for you because Bremerhaven likes to make the most of its maritime tradition. You can spend a day happily immersed in it, touring historic vessels at the harborside Maritime Museum, picking up nautical memorabilia at some of the quirky shops nearby, and even tucking into a lunch of freshly caught fish aboard a sailing ship dating from the turn of the 20th century.

A note for cruise travelers: Bremerhaven is more of an off-the-beaten-path cruise port, especially for English-speaking travelers, and it makes the occasional appearance on Northern Europe itineraries. Mostly German lines -- including Hapag Lloyd, Transocean Tours and Phoenix Reisen -- call there between May and September. However, a few British lines, namely Fred. Olsen and Saga Cruises, visit in the late fall for pre-Christmas shopping cruises.

Where You're Docked

The cruise terminal is roughly a 20-minute bus ride from downtown Bremerhaven and the Weser Dyke, a long waterfront promenade area where most of the city's main attractions are found.

Good to Know

Uneven cobblestones around the harbor area are definitely a tripping hazard. We recommend that you wear sensible, flat shoes to tour the town.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The currency is the euro; see www.oanda.com or www.xe.com for the latest conversion rates. You'll find ATM machines in the Columbus Center shopping mall.

Language

German is the official language. Some English is spoken, but a smattering of German will be a big help there, so consider bringing along a phrasebook.

Shopping

Fans of nautical memorabilia -- and particularly models of ships, both inside and outside bottles -- will find plenty for sale in Bremerhaven, either at the maritime museum or in one of the little shops around the harbor.