Boat Cruises: Seal Sandbanks and Port Tour

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Cuxhaven, Germany

Boat Cruises: Seal Sandbanks and Port Tour Cuxhaven Reviews

Kathrin_E Kathrin_E
371 reviews
Boat Cruises to the Seal Sandbanks and through the Port Feb 14, 2017
Three or four different companies do boat tours in the port and out on the Elbe. All of them depart from the quays next to Alte Liebe. The tours and the fares are all more or less alike, so it does not matter which boat you pick. Check the schedules and take the one that departs next, or at the time most convenient for you.

The tours take you through most basins of the port, including the fishing port behind the huge flood gate, and the America port where the emigrants’ ships used to depart. The second half of the tour depends on the tides. At high tide they go further out into the Elbe mouth for some ship watching. At low tide they do a short ride across the Elbe to a sandbank where you get to see seals resting. If you want this, look for tours that include something about “Seehundsbänke”.

The Seal Sandbanks (Seehundsbänke)

Some cruises visit, in addition to touring the port, a sandbank where seals are resting. This can only be done at low tide because these sandbanks fall dry for two or three hours, hence it is not included in all cruises. Check the tide calendar for the hours of low tide, and watch out for signs that mention something about “Seehundsbänke”. There are three different companies and boats which do the trip, it does not matter which one you take.

The Seehund (Phoca vitulina) is the most popular and more or less emblematic animal of the North Sea. Seal souvenirs of all varieties are available in any souvenir shops. They are probably the cutest of all seal specieses with their big dark eyes and spotted fur. Unfortunately thy are critically endangered. Seeing live wild ones requires knowing where, and caution not to scare them. At low tide they rest on certain remote sandbanks far out in the Wattenmeer. The cruise boats take you past such a sandbank out in the Elbe, approaching to about 20 metres which is the closest the boat can get without scaring the seals. As the boat goes against the current, find a place on the left side of the boat.

IMPORTANT: Instructions are given how to behave while the boat is close to the seals, but these instructions are in German only, so I am repeating them here. Observing them is important, otherwise the animals will disappear in the water in an instant, be stressed and perhaps even hurt themselves.

No sudden moves. No screaming or loud talking – talk in whispers only. No smoking or perfumes because they smell it. Take as many photos as you want but strictly no flash. These are wild animals and easily frightened, if anything looks dangerous to them they will panic and flee into the water, maybe even injure themselves, so plase take these rules seriously. The boat captains know exactly how far they can go without disturbing the animals in their well-needed rest.

The fare for my tour, port and seals, was 12 € (in 2013). Tickets can be obtained from the ticket booths on the quay or right at boarding.
Seehunde (seals) on the sandbank
One of the boats that do port crui…
Port cruise
Port cruise
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photo by: Kathrin_E