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The Kiel Canal: like doing a river cruise with an ocean ship

by Mike

9 August 2017 • Taking the mythical Panama Canal is on the wish list of many cruisers. Why travelling so far, if you live in Europe? Recently I (re)discovered another famous waterway, the Kiel Canal, and enjoyed every single bit of the passage.

The Kiel Canal --or Nord-Ostsee Kanal in German-- is longer than the Panama Canal (98km versus 77km). Finished in 1895 the canal links the North Sea to the Baltic Sea.

Not so many cruise ships go via the Kiel Canal, because most modern ships are too tall. Size depends for example on the 42m clearance limit under bridges and the length of max 235m.

We are lucky, our ship BERLIN has the perfect dimensions. We are sailing from Zeebrugge to the Baltic Sea. We left Zeebrugge at lunchtime, which is an unusual time to start a cruise, but proves to be essential to make a passage trough the Kiel Canal in daylight. My first time was ages ago, with Hurtigruten's FINNMARKEN, during a night-time passage in very bad weather and complete darkness. My second time was with VOYAGER, sailing from the Baltic to the North Sea, in the early hours of the morning, with most people still asleep.

Now, let's enter the locks with BERLIN!

The Brunsbüttel pilot comes on boardWe are being followed by STENA FORETELLER which comes in the lock next to usSoftly we start our 8-hour journey on the canal and enjoy the passing landscapeThere's a lot of maritime trafficThis strange ship appears to be a cement carrierPeople alongside the canal welcome us enthusiasticallyOne of the many canal ferriesWhat a great word: "Schiffsbegrüssungsanlage", or in English: ship welcoming place (in Rendsburg)Passing the Rendsburg bridgeA former shipyard's slipwayMeeting a big shipAnd one more, the SANDY RICKMERS

After a couple of hours of sailing we're being greeted by my friend and colleague photographer Frank Behling, who follows us with his car and camera. The Nord-Ostsee Kanal is his territory and he knows exactly where to be for the nicest pictures. The weather is a bit dull but never mind, the moment is splendid. As he shoots he sends his pictures immediatemy over What's App, much to our joy and excitement.

Frank Behling makes this nice souvenir photo of my friends and myself enjoying a Belgian beer

Later on, at the oldest bridge on the canal, the Levensau railway bridge, we are getting a warm welcome by quite a few ship photographers, one of them being Hans-Joachim Hellmann who took this nice picture below.

More photographers are waiting for what they call their "Traumschiff"Our little ship, BERLIN captured by Hans-Joachim Hellmann

Mike travelled with All-Ways Cruises, who charter the BERLIN for a couple of cruises. Next year BERLIN will again be in the All-Ways brochure for cruises to Norway, Iceland, the Baltic and around the British Isles.

More information about the Brückenterrassen and Schiffsbegrüßungsanlage in Rendsburg can be found here.

Report by Mike