Since I was born and live in Hamburg, my hometown, I had no flight and no hotel before going on this cruise, I just had to take public transport to get from my apartment to the ship this time. It was also my first cruise out of Hamburg and my first cruise to the northern half of Europe, which I usually avoid to travel to because of the guarantee for bad weather. Expectations for the weather were held intentionally low therefore.
First settlements in Hamburg - where rivers Alster and Bille join big Elbe river - can be dated back to the time of the Roman Empire, they knew of a settlement named 'Treva'. The 'Hammaburg' - a fortress giving Hamburg its name - was built in the 8th century, but the rise of Hamburg began with the founding of the 'Hanse'. This guild of German merchant and trade cities was the predecessor and the idea for the European Union. Originally, it was a trade agreement between Hamburg and Lübeck of 1230 - documented 11 years later -, in order to secure the land way between both the cities, which was constantly suffering robbery and piracy, with loss of goods and even human lives. The project was successful and more and more cities joined them to form the 'Hanse', which later had trade relations even with Venezia, Iceland and other very far places in the then known world. The city union created common measurements and even a currency, but also common ways of dealing with things and a conduct of behavior in merchant processes, which is still being known and held high in Hamburg by older participants of trade and economy. Hanseatic traditions play a role in my life as well. History made Hamburg - also known as 'The Most Beautiful Town!' - not only very rich, but also a city with a life quality that ranks among the highest's in the world; the usually bad weather must be ignored.
The 'Cruise Terminal Steinwerder' does not have any public transport options on the weekend, my baggage was heavy for the cruise to the polar region of Europe, and I therefore took a taxi from S-Bahn station 'Veddel' to the cruise terminal. There were no taxis waiting, and when I was already thinking about calling one by phone, a taxi came. It departed at 01:43pm for an 11 minute journey, stopped in front of the terminal and cost €18.80, including surcharges because it was a Sunday. At 02:00pm, my baggage was checked in some sort of a big garage inside the terminal, I proceeded to the main entrance of the terminal and lined up at the end of the queue, which was actually outside the building on the roof covered sidewalk. A 'Public Health Questionnaire' was handed out, offered in different languages, I filled it in and waited in the line for 105 minutes, in some sort of a stop and go procedure. Refreshment drinks and even snacks were offered.
The CheckIn itself was then done quite quickly. The lady behind the desk asked me before making a photo, I had to show my passport, my credit card was registered, I had to sign digitally for it, was handed out my 'FreestyleCard', the boarding card for access to ship and stateroom, as well as for purchases on board, 'Soda' was printed on it, for the beverage package I had purchased at home, and just 5 minutes later, I had already passed the security without waiting. I avoided the photo wall, entered 'Norwegian Jade' at 03:54pm and my stateroom #519 on deck 9 on the port side at exactly 04:00pm.
Just after arrival in my stateroom, the announcement for the security drill was made. It started already at 04:16pm, for me in the 'Stardust Theater', some of the waiting guests still must have been in the terminal. The show was done very professionally within only 10 minutes in English language and most of it additionally in German. Only emergency announcements would be audible everywhere on the ship, normal announcements in staterooms could be heard on the bow cam TV channel 24, and it was pointed out that the emergency number 911 can be called from every phone on the ship.
At 04:53pm, while I was just making photos from my stateroom, the water bottles I had purchased already at home were delivered, and shortly after planned departure time at 05:00pm, there was still lots of cargo and baggage on the pier. The first pool party on deck, and I had a first meal in the 'Garden Café' buffet restaurant, with a view on 'The Most Beautiful Town!'.
Classical 'Norwegian Jade' departed from 'Cruise Terminal Steinwerder' at 06:14pm silently, without any announcement, and the horn also did not blew, which is quite unusual in Hamburg. The ship left Hamburg just like countless others in a maritime history of more than 1000 years, sailing along 'Altes Land' with its giant apple and cherry plantations, one of the biggest fruit growing places in Europe.
When I returned to my stateroom at 07:30pm, the steward was on his evening round. I found my baggage in front of the stateroom door and a grammatically quite perfect German version of the 'Freestyle Daily', the daily program of events, opening hours and information, but I asked him for the English version in the future, and got it delivered then every day.
Turquoise color decorated 'Norwegian Jade' slid down the Elbe river gently, most clouds had dissolved, and the sun set very picturesque over the western entrance of the 'Nord-Ostsee-Kanal', the artificial waterway to Kiel, amidst a forest of windmills.
LTE mobile internet access was available until 'Norwegian Jade' left the Elbe river mouth. A very beautiful moonset was visible tonight, with planet Venus in conjunction next to it.