Berlin - 2008

Berlin - Dresden

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 Second Stage: Day 7 - Day 8 - Day 9 - Day 10 - Day 11

On the Cruise

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Day 7 - April 6: Berlin - Magdeburg

Weather: Cloudy & could in the am, warmed up somewhat in the afternoon, even some sun

Breakfast: At Hotel Lunch: Restaurant In Potsdam Dinner: On the Ship

Comments: Today's goal was to get the ship at about 4:30, via Potsdam. We started out about 8:45 am and drove through Berlin to Potsdam, which is about 20 miles away.

We made a stop at the bridge where many spies were exchanged between Russia and the US, such as Gary Powers. Maybe I should mention that this trip, in Germany, will take place almost entirely in the former East Germany, except for Berlin, were we have been in both the former Eastern Sector and the Western Sector.

In Potsdam we made our first stop at the "Cecilienhof", which is where the conference took place at the end of WWII between the Allies and Russia. We did not go inside, although this can be done.

Potsdam is also famous for the many summer palaces of various German emperors (Kaisers). The most famous one is "San Soussi", the private residence of "Friedrich the Great", among others, who came later. We toured this outside and inside.

It was cold and toward the end of the tour we decided to go back to the bus early. The rest of the crowd followed us within five minutes, I guess they were cold too.

We then stopped in 'downtown' Potsdam where we had a chance to eat lunch and do a little shopping. I say a little because it was Sunday and most of the shops were closed. Nevertheless, Jeanne got a new jacket. I happened to see in a store and liked it, so I pointed it out to her and she bought it. Darn :-). The good news is that it's a lot warmer than the one she was using. Looks better too!

At 4:30 we were in Magdeburg at the ship. Would you expect anything else, after all we are in punctual Germany! We said good-bye to our guide, who was very good on our tours in Berlin. The representative from Viking also left to join the "Viking Sun" on the Rhine.

Checking in at the ship took no time at all - we were the first bus and there only 40 of us. My first impression of the ship is that it is larger than I expected it to be. The cabins are on the small side, as expected, but certainly more than adequate and we have been in similar cabins on some big ships.

They had some snacks for us, then the cruise director gave us the safety talk, basically go to the top deck and try not to get your feet wet - the river is not deep enough to sink the ship!. Then it was time for dinner. I'll say more about the food after we have some meals behind us - but were quite satisfied tonight.

After dinner we went back to the lounge and met the captain and the officers. They walked around to each passenger and toasted them. Nice change of pace. After that we retired to our cabin.

Our fellow cruisers are: American - 57, British - 10, Canadian - 2, Australian - 2 and Argentina  - 2. In other words, the cruise is not full, since the ship can carry 124.

I tried to connect to the internet tonight but it was a very week signal. Hopefully it will work better tomorrow.

The TV reception is very good, but I'm going to miss the USA Today which we got every day in the Hilton.

Click to see a larger Picture

Magdeburg Leaving Hilton - - - "Spy Bridge" - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Cecilienhof  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - Potsdam - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - "San Soussi"  - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - -  At San Soussi  - - - - - - - - - Potzdam - - -
- - - - The Ship in Magdeburg  - - - - Jeanne, the Captain & New Coat  - - Toast with the Crew - -

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Day 8 - April 7: Dessau

Weather: Cloudy in the morning, temperature about 35 - 40, but not as windy. Rain in the afternoon, but we were on the ship then.

Breakfast: On the Ship Lunch: On the Ship Dinner: German Dinner (ship)

Comments: Had our first breakfast buffet on the ship. Not as much as the Hilton had, but there certainly was anything we would ever need.

Overnight we traveled to Dessau, and at 8:30 we started our tour. First stop was at the Bauhaus school, which was at home in Dessau in the 20's. We got a good education of what this architectural style  was all about, that left it's mark on almost every large American city.

After that a visit to the "Wörlitzer Anlagen" - an English garden (really a park) which Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau created in the 18th century. Quite a beautiful park; some of our fellow cruisers took a boat ride while we toured the palace - a small house compared to some others we had seen on this trip.

We got back to the ship for lunch and we soon sailed for Wittenberg were we arrived about 6 pm. We will stay here overnight and tour the city in the morning.

After dinner a couple of local musicians played Medieval music for us.

The internet on the ship is not working, they need parts which they can only get in the larger cities - I would guess Dresden might have them. We have a free afternoon there and will try to get to an internet cafe.

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Dessau Buses in AM   - - - - - - -  The Bauhaus  - - - - - - -  
  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  "Wörlitzer Anlagen" & Palace  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  Medieval Music  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  

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Day 9 - April 8: Wittenberg & Torgau

Weather: Cool in the morning, but dry; in the afternoon sunny

Breakfast: On the Ship Lunch: On the Ship Dinner: Maritime Dinner

Comments: The ship is docked about two miles from 'downtown' Wittenberg, so they had a couple of busses (same ones we had yesterday) to take us into town.

A settlement is first mentioned in 1180, a small village founded by Flemish colonists. Today it's famous since this is where Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses at the door of the Castle Church in 1517.

I thought this wasn't a 'real' city since I didn't see a McDonald's :-), but they do have them outside the city, they don't allow any of the chains in downtown since this is a UNESCO site.

Once we got off the bus we toured various sites in the city. It's about a mile long and we started with Martin Luther's home, which was once a monastery, and ended up at the Castle Church (Schlosskirche), where he is buried.

Then it was back to the buses and lunch on the ship. Jeanne played bingo in the afternoon while I took a nap. We also had a cooking demonstration later on.

While we were eating dinner we arrived in Torgau. Another ship, the "Dresden" (Peter Deilmann Cruises) tied up along side of us, and their passengers had to walk though our ship to get to shore. This is not unusual, I understand, since there are a limited number of docks in these small town. The docks are owned by the cruise lines, and the other ships have to pay to use the dock.

After dinner, at 9 pm, they had a 'ghost' walk of Torgau. Since we were leaving at 1 am this was the only excursion offered, but then this is a small town and there is not much to see. This where the American forces and Soviet forces met during the invasion of Germany on April 25, 1945. We decided not to talk the walk.

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Wittenberg - - - -  Luther's Home & Monastery  - - - - - Luther's Wife Original
Beer Stein
 - - - University of Wittenberg - - - Katja - Guide A Motley Group  
- - - - - - - - -  Castle Church  - - - - - - - - - Ferry Cooking Demo Torgau

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Day 10 - April 9: Meissen

Weather: Cloudy and cool, about 45 during the day

Breakfast: On the Ship Lunch: On the Ship Dinner: Chef's Dinner on Ship

Comments: We got to Meissen a little early, just before lunch, so we decided to walk into town and see if we could find an internet cafe. No luck!

After lunch our tour started to the Meissen Porcelain Factory. Very interesting, but we didn't buy anything. I didn't realize that this is a state owned factory. After the tour we spent a little time in town, where we did find some things - less expensive than Meissen :-). Neat little town - as all of them, very old - founded in 929.

After dinner we had a musical quiz, which we would have won had they scored it correctly. One of the answers was "Memory" from "Cats". Five teams were tied, but after checking it turned out all the others had "Memories", which is not the title. Nevertheless, we had a tie-breaker and we lost. The prize was a bottle of champagne, which we didn't want anyway - so no harm done.

At about 9:30 pm we arrived in Dresden with snow flurries. Who need this? We will stay in Dresden all day tomorrow.

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Meissen - - - - - - -   Castle - - - - - - The buses at Meisen  
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -   Meissen Factory Tour  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -   Meissen Factory Tour  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Shopping   - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  The City of Meissen  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Chef's Dinner After Dinner        

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Day 11 - April 10: Dresden

Weather: Cool, in the 40's, snow flurries are gone

Breakfast: On the Ship Lunch: On the Ship Dinner: On the Ship

Comments: Dresden was heavily damaged in WWII. Some of the city was rebuilt during the time it belonged to East Germany (DDR), some it has been rebuilt since 1990 when Germany was reunited, and there is still a lot of construction going on.

By the way, the black buildings are not due to air pollution, but rather due to minerals in the sandstone which is being used to construct the building. Even the new construction will eventually turn black.

In the morning we took a bus tour of the city for about an hour, and then did a walking tour. The highlight was the Green Vault where the treasures of the kings etc. are kept. They were stored in a castle during the war and later returned by Russia. It's absolutely amazing what the people were able to do in the 14th and 15th century. No pictures were allowed, unfortunately.

We went back to the ship for lunch, and afterwards went back into the city to look for an internet cafe, which we found, and I was able to send more of this report.

In the evening, after dinner, we had a classical music concert performed by three young musicians. Even though I'm not into classical music it was quite nice.

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Dresden The Buses   - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  Dresden  - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  Dresden  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- -  Lutheran Church  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  At the River  - - - - - - - - - - - - -
After Dinner          

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On the Cruise

Let me talk a little bit about the cruise, things which are more or less the same each day.


The food is quite good and we are not going hungry. The schedule is as follows:

6:00 - 7:00 "Early Bird" Breakfast in the lounge: coffee, juice and pastries. We have never made it this early.

7:00 - 9:00 Breakfast Buffet in the dining room. Omelets, eggs, etc. are available from the kitchen.

12:30 pm Lunch in the dining room. There is a salad bar, the rest is from a menu.

12:30 pm Light Lunch, buffet style, served in the lounge

3:30 pm Tea Time (may be skipped when we are on tours)

7:00 pm Dinner in the dining room

Coffee, tea , iced tea and fruit is available all day.

While the menu is not as extensive as on the big cruise liners, there are usually two entree choices, and steak or chicken breast is always available.

There is no dress code and some guys wear ties and jacket to dinner, some just a tie, but most of us just wear casual clothes. No jackets or ties are required and I did not take them.


All the tours are included in the price of the cruise. We only had one optional tour that we could take, to a palace in Dresden, when we had the afternoon free, but not enough people signed up for it.

There are local guides for all the tours and Viking has something I've never seen before. Each person is given a ear phone and a receiver so you can always hear the guide, even when you walk away from the group to take pictures, etc. For larger groups, when is more than one guide, each guide gets a receiver with different frequency, so you can only hear only your guide. This works quite well.


There is a musician on board who plays at various times during the day. Since we are used Princess and other cruise lines you would think we would miss all the entertainment that they provide, but this is not so. We are kept busy during the day, and if there is some time for a nap - that's OK too :-).


The crew is excellent. Mostly from Slovenia, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Their English is quite good. The cruise director gives a Daily Briefing at 6:45pm each day where reviews the schedule for the following day. He has also given lectures on Germany, Martin Luther, the Czech Republic, the European Union and a Nautical Talk. I think most of the passengers found them to be quite interesting.

The only complaint I have is the internet. That it is not available I understand can happen, but nobody has acknowledged this to all of us. You have to ask, and then you get different answers. On day # 3 the guy in charge of the "hotel" part of the ship even tried to convince me that it's a problem with my computer, even though nobody else could get the internet either


We seem to get along quite well. Obviously with so few passengers you get to know almost everybody. Nevertheless, since we have been divided from the beginning into Bus #1 and Bus # 2, the people from each bus get know each other a little better. Meals are open seating and after about two days most people seem to sit with the same people, at least at dinner, although there is some mixing. Since the ship is not full, if anybody wants to be alone, this can be managed. Unless somebody wants to sit with you :-).

We were given name tags, but after about two days most of them were not being worn.  Since they put your full name on the tag I put "Ken" underneath so nobody would call me "Kenneth", which is reserved for Jeanne when she is mad at me :-). Many people liked this and they did it with their nametag also when needed.


We have TV and we also get a condensed version of the newspaper. They have US, Australian, Canadian and British editions. I would think this would depend on the passenger mix.

Every night we get a program for the next day, just like on other cruises.

The Cabin

The cabin is small (125 sq. ft.), but I really don't need more. It has a sofa which converts into a bed, and there is a bed which folds into the wall during the day. I think this is better than having two beds, since during the day you have sofa and the other bed can be folded down during the day if needed for naps - believe me, this works :-). You can not have a queen bed however, since there is a desk and the A/C between the beds. Some ships in the fleet, on other rivers, do have queen/king beds - so study the brochures carefully if this is important.

The A/C works well, there is a hair dryer, telephone, shower. Even the top of the windows opens. The shower is one corner of the bathroom with only a long shower curtain. It works surprisingly well.

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