"We don't watch whales here, we watch containers!" This introduction by our politically completely incorrect MC set the tone for our time on the water.
And massive container ships we watched, including how fast the skyscraper cranes unloaded them, as if the containers were wooden toy blocks. Beyond feeling dwarfed, and in the midst of a Fisher Price set, it was a perfect way (and day) to be outside in the breeze, beer in hand, while learning about Hamburg's rich shipping history.
The architecture along the harbour is quite fascinating, too. Best of all, you get a real good look at Hamburg's newest, very controversial attraction, the Elbphilharmonie, designed by internationally renown architects Herzog and de Meuron.
Our guide told great stories, and was brilliantly entertaining, so make sure you pick an English language cruise–it's totally worth it.
>>>A big thank you to Curio, A Collection by Hilton (curiocollection.com) for flights and one of its remarkable hotels, Reichshof Hamburg http://www.reichshof-hotel-hamburg.de/en/), for accommodations.