Germany is the largest cruise source markets in Europe and is home to leading German cruise brands. The cruise ports of Germany are important turnarounds and home ports, as well as destinations. Unlike most other European destinations, the proportion of turnaround passengers - in some cases over 90% of the total passengers - is very high.

As a result of the necessary itinerary adjustments due to pandemic restrictions, close-to-home departures from German ports are experiencing an upswing in off-season and winter cruises, which will further increase the attractiveness of Germany as a source market.

Ports play a crucial role in decarbonization, and the ports of Germany are playing a strong role driving forward environmental measures. Shoreside electricity allows for a significant reduction in ships’ emissions while they are in dock at port. Of the 29 ports world-wide that provide shoreside electricity for large cruise ships, three of the ports are in Germany.

The ports in Hamburg, Rostock and Kiel all provide shoreside electricity. Hydrogen and LNG are additional hot topics of the German decarbonization strategy. Hydrogen plants are planned in several places, including Hamburg. The same appears for floating and shore-based LNG import terminals. The first floating terminal was inaugurated in Wilhelmshaven in December 2022. Brunsbüttel at the river Elbe will be next, Stade (Elbe) and the Baltic port of Lubmin as well as four land-based terminals to follow from 2023 onwards.

The sustainability commitment shown by German cruise ports is therefore critical to the overall sustainable cruise tourism.

Hamburg has the highest number of cruise calls. In 2022, 742,000 passengers were handled at 280 calls. Beyond its outstanding cultural programme, attractions and world-famous entertainment district, the city is home to one of the most important cruise clusters of shipyards and supply companies, service providers, and research and development institutes.

Hamburg was the first European port providing shoreside electricity for cruise ships at its Altona cruise terminal since 2016. The port of Hamburg has also announced its intention to electrify all permanent cruise terminals by 2025. In the 2022 season, 30 ships used shoreside electricity supplied by the Altona station and four ships carried out integration tests for certification to use the facility. In 2023 12 ships are planned to undergo integration tests.

The Port of Kiel, located in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany’s northernmost state, in 2022 accommodated 244 cruise ship calls and 835,000 passengers (October 2022). For many homeported cruise vessels, Kiel is the gateway to the north and the Baltic. As part of the Blue Port concept Cruise ships at Ostseekai can be supplied with shoreside electricity and Kiel provides onshore power supplies at the ferry terminals at Norwegenkai and Schwedenkai. The Ostuferhafen terminals will be equipped with onshore electricity supply in 2023.

The port of Rostock-Warnemunde, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, in 2022 handled 294,000 passengers at 139 calls (2019: 196 calls with 634.000 passengers). Warnemunde not only offers attractive excursions to the wider area of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania but also functions as the gateway to Germany's capital, Berlin. The port completed its first shoreside electricity supply facility in 2021. The facility delivers up to 20MVA of electrical energy, and the port is capable of handling two cruise ships receiving shoreside electricity simultaneously.

Bremerhaven is a popular alternative for those who prefer to travel to the port by road or railway. Its positioning directly on the North Sea gives the port a good starting position for travel to the north and to the British Isles or Western Europe. After major modifications and maintenance, the cruise port of Bremerhaven, accommodating 233,000 passengers at 110 calls in 2022, will also be equipped to provide shore side electricity supply.