Ms Deutschland Icebergs And More
9 July 2007 to 28 July 2007
Some two years ago we had the pleasure of traveling on one of Peter Deilmann’s river ships, the M.V. Mozart. This was a nine day cruise between Passau in Germany along the Danube as far as Budapest and back to Passau. The Mozart was beautiful, and we would happily sail with her again. When we were considering another ocean cruise, we wondered if Peter Deilmann had any ocean going ships and so we discovered the “Deutschland”.
Peter Deilmann Cruises is a German, family owned company and is better known for its fleet of five-star river boats. The Deutschland is well known in Germany in their television broadcasts of their version of “The Love Boat” or “ Das Traumschiff. The Deutschland was the dream of the late Peter Deilmann, the founder of the line that bears his name. He had a vision of a cruise ship in the style and tradition of Germany’s finest luxury hotels. The ship was built in a German shipyard and accommodates a maximum of 520 guests. She proudly flies the German flag. The ship’s company is mainly German. Waiting staff also mainly German or Austrian with a fair number from east European countries. Much of the behind-the-scene work is done by Philipinos.
More than a seagoing grand hotel, this ship is almost like a beautiful German home at sea. The ship is decorated in shades of pure white and green and gold highlights, paneled wood, beveled and etched glass mirrors and brass everywhere. There are not many ships where attention to quality in decor matches that of the Deutschland. Everything on board is of the best quality. Both inside and outside there is art and sculpture . The ship has many paintings and sculptures from the Deilmann family’s collection; Meissen figurines, busts of German kings, poets and philosophers. We liked the large and nostalgic photographs throughout the ship of former famous German film actors; old scenes of German cities and ocean liners of days bygone.. Do not be mistaken. the Deutschland is a German ship, but it is also very special and unique! So different from the mass market ships of other cruise lines The majority of its passengers are from Germany. Of the 500 or so passengers, only about 20 were from English speaking countries, (USA, Ireland, UK and Australia) with a sprinkling of other Europeans.
An informal gathering for English speaking guests was arranged early in the cruise to get to know one and another. The primary language is German. The menus and daily activity sheet were in English and news sheets from U.S.A. and U.K. were delivered to the cabin each morning. All announcements were repeated in English. There are English language television channels available, depending on the ship’s location, as well as English spoken films in the theatre. At functions and entertainment there was a translation in English or a translator available. Lectures were repeated in English for non German speakers, even though sometimes only 6 people were present. The waiting staff and other personnel all spoke English. Peter Deilmann arranged special English guided excursions for non German passengers in each port of call, which incidentally were complementary. Of special interest to some of the non German passengers is the provision of a special dialysis ward in the hospital onboard Deutschland. This enabled some English speaking passengers to have their first cruise and a holiday away from home.
We flew from Melbourne Australia by way of Dubai to Hamburg. We had booked overnight accommodation at the Maritim Reichshof in Hamburg. The hotel is conveniently located opposite the main railway station and is a pick-up point for passengers leaving on the Deutschland. Deilmann offers transfer from Hamburg to the ship . We arranged for round trip transfers from Hamburg Maritim to the ship. Transfer from our hotel was effortless, our suitcases were collected from our room and placed with other Deutschland passengers for pick-up. The bus was to leave at 2 p.m., but prior to departure from the hotel, Peter Deilmann had provided a light lunch at the hotel for departing passengers. This was to be our first experience of the Deutschland hospitality. The Deutschland departed for this cruise from Kiel, an hour or so away by bus from Hamburg.
We arrived in Kiel at the Norwegenkai (Norway Quay ) terminal building, but too early for embarkation at 4 p.m. In the terminal building we were welcomed by the Deutschland waiting staff with champagne, juices, while the ship’s orchestra played lively tunes. Embarkation was effortless, a quick pass through security and we were on the covered gangway to the ship. Here we handed in our passports and received our cabin key and boarding pass. On stepping on board we were greeted by ships officers, stewards, waiting and cabin staff. We were escorted to our cabin.
In our cabin were a bottle of champagne, fresh fruit and fresh flowers waiting for us. Our luggage was already in the cabin. Our cabin steward introduced herself shortly afterwards to offer her services and to take any requests we may have.
Life on Board: First thing next morning we had boat drill. We have been through boat drills before, but never before a drill so well organised and so thoroughly carried out. Passengers were first instructed, in our case in the group of English speakers, and then assembled at the muster stations. Passengers were checked and inspected by staff (all wearing red caps) that life vests were properly put on. Captain Andreas Jungblut supervised the procedings and addressed the passengers to make sure that every one understood the importance of this drill. It certainly gave us the feeling that we were in capable hands.
That same evening we had the captain’s welcome and cocktails in the Kaisersaal. Each guest was personally introduced to the captain, shook hands and had the obligatory photo taken. Dress for the evening was formal, with the majority of the gentlemen in tuxedo or black tie. The ladies were well dressed and refined with not a sign of bling bling anywhere. Champagne flowed generously. Afterwards, on stage, the captain presented and introduced his officers and raised his glass to officers and passengers and wished all: “zum Wohl auf eine schoene Reise”. The remainder of the evening was given over to a sample of the performers , dancers, vocalists, musicians, etc. who were to entertain us during the cruise. Other guests and German special events.
The ship never felt crowded, althouogh this cruise may not have been fully booked, as well the Deutschland has a large number of single cabins. There were never any queues anywhere, deck chairs and blankets were always in good supply; and deck chairs were not being ‘reserved’ by other passengers. Although the majority of passengers were German, there was no evidence of a separation between German and non-German speaking passengers. There was a mix of age groups, with late fifties , sixties making up the bulk of passengers. There were only a handful of children on board. Many German passengers approached us and wanted to talk to us in English.
At dinner in the restaurant we had an English speaking table of 9 guests, but at all other times we shared a table with any other guests. There were some typical German favourites. German delicacies and Vienna sausages with mustards etc. were available at the deck off “Zum alten Fritz” all day long. Then we learned about “Fruehschoppen”. We thought it had something to do with ‘shopping’ and did not take much notice of the event. But it is something very German/Austrian. It means morning/lunchtime drinking. It comes from a German tradition that after Sunday church the men would head to the bars to drink schnapps and the women went home to make a big lunch. It is a very jolly affair on board of the Deutschland, with free beer, food, music. etc.
Dining on board Deutschland is fantastic. We dined mostly in the “Berlin” restaurant. The Berlin is midship, seats about 300 in two sittings at 6 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. Its decor is dominated by a central stained glass circular skylight surrounded by ionic columns. The seats are comfortable with plenty of room between the tables. Service in the Berlin is very efficient, quick and friendly. There was not one meal that was not excellent. Menus change daily and are varied and include a vegetarian section. There are a large number of menu items, with a variety of small courses. Dinner usually begins with a cold appetizer, followed by soup, a fish course, hot appetizer, sherbet, main course and dessert. The Berlin Restaurant also offers a self-service salad and cheese bars. A choice of teas and coffees is available, with bonbons to finish. All courses are beautifully presented and served with style and panache. The waiting staff are superbly trained and we have not been able to fault any of them.
The service everywhere on board is exemplary, friendly and attentive, but never servile. Almost all staff speak English and we never had any problem communicating with them. Open seating breakfast and lunch are also served in the Berlin, as well as at the Lido Gourmet indoor buffet and the Lido Outdoor Grill. The number and variety of dishes offered at the buffets is exceptional and included a good sample of German delicacies. The tables are already set up with tablecloths and silverware, you take your food to your table - although the serving staff were usually there, ready to take it for you. Coffee, tea and drink orders were taken at the table.
The Deutschland has a further dining venue, the “Four Seasons” (die Vierjahrezeiten) offers an a la carte menu daily by reservation only, but at no additional cost. Here, you can dine on classic French cuisine with your own invited guests. The high standard of cuisine is endorsed by its membership of “Chaine des Rotisseurs.” The Four Seasons restaurant is very elegant, and the presentation of the dishes is even better than in the Berlin.
During this cruise we had a couple of pool-side buffets: good German food and free beer. Bouillon is served each morning at 11 a.m. at the Lido bar, but our friendly deck steward brought it to us to our favorite spot on deck! Afternoon tea is available in the Lido Gourmet, with a choice of blends of tea and of course a selection of cakes and sandwiches. A formal afternoon is served in the Lido Terrasse, the lovely forward facing lounge. Here tea is served in beautiful tea service with cakes, sandwiches and sweets. Light classical music accompanies this afternoon tea. A night snack is served at about 11 p.m. in the Zum alten Fritz and the Lili Marleen Bar. For the early risers a continental breakfast or just tea or coffee is served in the Lido Terrasse from 7 a.m. Cabin service is available 24 hours a day.
Public Rooms: All the way forward on deck 6 is the beautiful Kaisersaal, probably one of the most elegant public rooms on any ship afloat. It reminds you of a small opera house with a huge chandelier and beautifully painted ceilings. There is a sweeping spiral staircase to the wrap-around balcony, where pieces of art decorate the walls. The seating is in comfortable armchairs; there is a good size stage and bar service is available. On the same deck you will find the Salon Lili Marleen. This is a very nice cocktail lounge with dance floor and a full bar service is provided. It has comfortable easy chairs and is an intimate meeting place. A piano or combo entertains while you relax in this comfortable lounge. Aft on deck 7 is the “Zum alten Fritz”, a kind of German pub with lots of wood and brass. And smoke! Smoking is still allowed on the Deutschland in most public rooms and restaurants in set- aside areas. We thought that this was going to be a problem, but we were never bothered because of smoking. A pianist plays at night and one wall opens up to the adjacent deck and terrace. Order your draft beer or Jaegermeister here and enjoy German meat balls or sausages.
On our cruise to the polar circle we had some very cold days, and there is no better place to be than right way up top forward in the Lido Terrace, where it is quiet and cozy, to read or play any of the dozens of games available. We also spent some of these cold days in the Adlon library, a very cosy (non smoking) room with open fireplace. There are shelves with English and German books, although the English books are mainly classics. Here are also the ship’s internet stations. There are three shops on board, the photographer, H. Stern the Brazilian jeweler, and the main shop selling a variety of men’s and women’s clothing, perfumes etc. as well as a hairdresser.
The Deutschland has a small gymnasium with views of the sea, and with a good range of equipment. Experienced fitness coaches are available and offer keep-fit programs. There is a saltwater pool and indoor fresh water pool as part of the newly designed Wellness Spa, complete with Rasul, Kraxen-Oven and thermo-loungers. It is reminiscent of a Roman bath, the freshwater pool is surrounded by an oriental steam bath. On deck 6 there is a Finnish sauna and a steam bath with deck chairs on the open deck. The ship’s cinema or Kino, seats about 80 passengers and features German and English movies daily. It is also used for small group lectures and religious services.
Entertainment: The Kaisersaal is the main venue for entertainment. Much of the evening entertainment is directed to German tastes, but the ship made every effort to accommodate English speakers. Entertainment can perhaps be described as low-key, the entertainers were refreshingly different from the usual entertainment offered on cruise ships. This cruise included some known German vocalists, a celebrated pianist and a harpist. During an overnight stay in Iceland, local musicians took the stage. At other times there was dancing to Chris Luca and his orchestra. Other musical offerings take place in the Lili Marleen where the Trio Vamos plays and in the Lido Terrace with its white grand piano. A special evening preceded by a special dinner was The Emperors Ball in the style of the twenties. It brought back some of the nostalgia of that period. As a variation on the crossing of the equator ceremony, on this cruise the crossing of the polar circle was the occasion to initiate first-timers. It was a jolly affair with music, drinks etc. We have our certificate to prove our crossing, but we did not take part in the ‘ceremonies’. There are no highly organised daily programs or large scale entertainment on the Deutschland. No casino, no game shows, or flamboyant entertainment. There is art everywhere, but it is not for sale at shipboard ‘art’ auctions.
Dress Code: The Deutschland is quite a conventional and proper ship, which suggests correct behavior and observance of etiquette. There were three formal evenings - the captain’ s welcome and captain’s farewell and a Twenties Gala Ball. On other evenings, jacket and tie were the suggested dress code. There were very few casual nights during our cruise. The passengers tend towards elegant and fashionable, but certainly not pretentious.
Our cabin: Our cabin was located midship on deck 4, Steuermanns Deck in category E Classic Twin Outside. The ship may well have the most beautiful cabins afloat. All accommodation on the Deutschland is distinctive with attention to detail. Our cabin had twin beds with very comfortable mattresses. The cabin was remarkably spacious with a good amount of storage space in a three door wardrobe with hanging bars and shelves, bed-side tables, dressing table and comfortable chairs and a half-round table under the window. The decor of the cabin is consistent with the overall elegance of the ship, crafted burled wood, gilded mirrors, paintings on the wall. Although blankets are available on request, the beds are made up with white European style duvets and pillows. Beds are turned down nightly. The marble bathroom with hand basin and shower was comfortable and elegant with gleaming brass fixtures. Standard amenities include air-conditioning , TV and radio, a safe, fridge and mini-bar, telephone, hair dryer, toiletries, bath robes and slippers. In the wardrobe we also found a clothes brush, shoe horn and an umbrella; as well as a complimentary Deutschland duffel bag. Only the owner’s suite and the honeymoon suit have a small balcony.
Excursions: Our cruise had many interesting ports of call, and excursions were available in each place. In addition, there were ‘panorama’ cruises from the ship and tender excursions. Prior to arriving at a new port, there is an information lecture in German. However, the Cruise Director conducted a similar lecture in English for our group. Port information sheets, maps, local brochures, etc. were provided for us in English. Our group had private excursions, usually in a small bus with an English speaking guide. All excursions were well organised, always on time with good guides and interesting places to visit. The highlights of this cruise was cruising the beautiful fjords of Norway and cruising among the ice and the shore excursions by tender in Spitzbergen.
Captain Andreas Jungblut is an exceptionally skilled ship’s officer and he took us to places the average cruise ship would not be able to go. We have the utmost respect for his skills and his ability to relate to his passengers. Disembarkation We disembarked again in Hamburg. We had put our luggage outside our cabin on the night before and collected it in the arrival hall. Staff assisted us in taking our bags to the bus which took us back to our hotel in Hamburg. On leaving the ship we were fare-welled by the captain and staff. A wonderful cruise had come to an end. We both wished that we could have stayed aboard another week to enjoy the German hospitality and the traditional atmosphere of the ship. It has been a very interesting and enjoyable experience.
Summary: Having cruised on British cruise ships, this ship is more grandiose than any ship dedicated to the British market. This ship is class, about the best there is; we just loved the Deutschland. The whole ship has a refined atmosphere which is missing on so many other ships today. The Deutschland is ideal for passengers who prefer smaller more intimate ships. Forget about modern day cruises, traveling on Deutschland is completely different; it is going back in time to the days when life was less stressful. If you enjoy the finer things in life, Deutschland could be the very ship for you. The Deutschland is special. Auf Wiedersehen ! Gerardie.
Written by Gerard Dieters