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   Cruise Travel - Cruise Ships


Peter Deilmann Cruises

MS Deutschland

Rating:Five Stars
Submit your review hereSubmit your review
Operator: Peter Deilmann Cruises
Year Built / Last Refurbished: 1998 / 1998
Length / Tonnage: 574 / 22,400
Number of Cabins / Passengers: 318 / 636
Officers / Crew: German / European
Operating Area: Mediterranean

Review by Mark H. Goldberg, TravelPage.com, Cruise Editor, and Christopher E. Smith, TravelPage.com, Associate Cruise Editor

To our tradition oriented minds, no cruise ship afloat today bears a prouder name than does the magnificent msDEUTSCHLAND…That’s "GERMANY" for the two of you who didn’t realize what her name means in English… Inheritrix of the name of her country of registry, that’s also the name of two superb Hamburg American Line liners of the past. Smaller of the two was the four funneled greyhound DEUTSCHLAND of 1899. A midget by today’s standards, that 14,000 ton beauty was the only Blue Riband holder to ever serve the famous Hapag…which quickly found out that speed costs money, big money. After the DEUSTCHLAND lost the Blue Riband for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic from Europe to New York, Hamburg American never again looked to speedsters to attract custom to their ships. Instead, they concentrated on comfort and luxury, crowing their fleet in 1913 and 1914 with a trio of giant three funneled liners, the IMPERATOR, VATERLAND and BISMARCK. Those ships were collectively known as the "Ballin" trio…named for Albert Ballin, guiding light and chief of the great Hamburg American Line, the man who grew it into the world’s largest steamship company.

At 52,000 gross tons, the IMPERATOR didn't quite dwarf that unfortunate British four funneled liner of iceberg fame, but she WAS a damn sight larger with a much more opulent first class…She was certainly better than good enough for Britain to snatch after the First World War…and she spent the years after 1920 as Cunard's express liner BERENGARIA. As for 54,000 gross ton the VATERLAND, she made but two and a half voyages before war broke out and the Imperial German Government ordered her to remain at her Hoboken, New Jersey pier. That massive beauty was seized on April 6, 1917 by the US Government and went to work as the giant US Navy troopship LEVIATHAN. She was later on refitted as flagship of the US merchant fleet and went to work for United States Lines. Of course, the First World War interrupted the construction and delivery of the third of the trio and she was only completed in 1920. After flying the German flag for maybe six hours on her way up the Elbe River to the North Sea, she hoisted the British flag as the MAJESTIC, the largest and finest liner to ever fly the house flag of the White Star Line.

What has all of this to do with a modern cruise ship? Glad you asked…Hapag kept the DEUTSCHLAND of 1900 in the express service for about a decade before taking her off the route in 1910 and refitting her as the full time cruise liner VICTORIA LUISE. When the war ended she was in pretty sorry shape and the Allies didn't want her, so the vessel once pride of the nation and for a few years the finest cruise ship in the world was rebuilt as the migrant liner HANSA. She worked a while until replaced by some new tonnage built to restore Hapag's place on the North Atlantic run. The first major ships delivered to the company for that purpose were the 23,000 ton sisters ALBERT BALLIN and DEUTSCHLAND. As comfortable in Second Class as most ships were in First Class, those two liners of the early 1920s were lavish in the extent of their public and private spaces. Duplex public rooms included the Main Lounges in First and Second Classes and the First Class Dining Room. Up top on Boat Deck was an extra service restaurant for First Class, and aft on the decks below were covered verandahs replete with live greenery to give the feeling of sitting in a garden in a fine German home.

Once Nazi Germany was defeated in 1945 it looked like there would never again be a passenger liner named DEUTSCHLAND. Indeed, in the mid 1980s, when Cruise Editor Goldberg was with Hapag Lloyd Cruises, the subject came up, when he suggested a trio of new cruise liners for the Company. There was a grand, still new EUROPA then, and looking to the fabulous ships of Hamburg American Line and North German Lloyd's past…he recommended a new COLUMBUS, BREMEN and DEUTSCHLAND…built to modified plans of the STOCKHOLM of 1940, arguably the most perfect liner ever designed, a vessel destined never to carry a single fare paying passenger, for she was taken over at the builder's yard by the Italian government and completed as the troopship SABAUDIA. Well, Goldberg's boss told him "we can never again name a ship DEUTSCHLAND". Of course, that was before the wall came down and Germany was reunified…and now there IS a cruise ship called DEUSTCHLAND and we give her our thumbs up as perhaps the best of the lot. If she has a competitor for the title of the finest, best, or top cruise ship afloat today, it could only be Hapag Lloyd's newest EUROPA, a 28,000 tonner not quite ready for service, a super deluxe vessel with all suite accommodation for some 400 lucky rich people…the new EUROPA's cruises will have price tags to boggle the American market's mind…one reason for that is, of course, the exchange rate.

That's not to say that Peter Deilmann's grand, new DEUTSCHLAND takes a back seat to her co-national… no, by no means does she do that…but continuing with an automobile analogy, of the two ships, we'd say the newest EUROPA would be in the driver's seat and the DEUSTCHLAND sits right next to her…which is surely good enough for us…and for you, too, if you are smart enough to consider her for a cruise and lucky enough to get a ticket.

Built from the keel up for Peter Deilmann, she debuted in May 1998…so she's still a new ship. There's no question about it. Right now, the DEUTSCHLAND is our favorite ship! Carrying around 513 passengers, this 22,400 ton beauty is a gem. She has a crew of 240 and sometimes we feel that every last one of them is in the hotel department because her service is THAT good! A ship conceived in the style and tradition of Germany's, Austria's and Switzerland's finest luxury hotels, the DEUTSCHLAND very much strikes us as Hamburg's Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten gone to sea. It's all a matter of taste, and for our taste, that city's Vier Jahreszeiten is the finest hotel in the world…and the DEUTSCHLAND is no less a hostelry than that Grande Dame on the Inner Alster. More than a seagoing grand hotel, this ship is like a great German home at sea. Some call it kitsch, we suppose, but some of the artistic touches like the busts of great German figures of the past like a King or two, poet Heinrich Heine, composer Arnold Schopenhauer, Meissen figurines, period and contemporary paintings add just the right "heimisch"… homey…touch to warm our hearts. We lack for nothing here aboard the DEUTSCHLAND, a ship who satisfies every last yearning for high class cruising.

Public Areas
From her KAISERSAAL, her "Emperor's Theater" where evening entertainments and where once every cruise a Viennese Tea Dansant complete with orchestra and Viennese Waltzes to dance away a late afternoon are offered to the old German style pub Zur Alten Fritz. The DEUSTCHLAND has a public room to suit, if not inspire every mood. We liked them all, but favor the Lili Marleen above all. Here, in a cocktail lounge named both for the song made famous by film diva Marlene Dietrich, and a deluxe sail cruiser owned by Peter Deilmann, a painting of that fabulous lady looks across to the long bar at one end of the room, while tucked away at the opposite end is a cozy little nook where a simulated fire "burns" in an authentic fireplace…ideal for cold weather cruises...and on some of the DEUSTCHLAND's North Cape/Iceland/Sptizbergen cruises, you will have some cold days, and we can't think of a better place to be than right here. Way up top with large windows looking out all over the world, okay…looking out all over the place…is a multi-purpose lounge and library called Lido Terrace. There's never any organized entertainment up here, so if quiet chats, têtês á têtês are your thing as they are ours, HERE's your spot! Expect the usual range of public rooms here…and unless you are looking for a high rolling casino, you won't be disappointed. There IS no casino…at least we didn't find one, and let us be the first two to tell you what a pleasure it was not to hear the dings and whistles of those awful slot machines and video poker games ceaselessly jarring the atmosphere!

Food, glorious food…in Germany there's an old description…"Speisen wie Gott in Frankreich"…dining like God in France. To a German, that means the food doesn't, or CAN'T get any better..and in all of the DEUTSCHLAND's three restaurants, you will eat extremely well… We know WE did…Main Restaurant is the Berlin Restaurant where passengers are served meals at assigned tables in either of two sittings…This is a room where the décor is as pleasant as the food, and the service is marvellous…well, then again, maybe it is NOT a marvel, because if there is one thing that high class German establishments provide as a matter of course, it's the best service imagineable. In her dining service, as everywhere else aboard this spotless liner, the service is flawless. Not stuffy, not cloying, not pretentious, just perfect. What a wonderful dream it is to live in such a place like the DEUSTCHLAND! She is QUALITY!

In a smaller restaurant named "Four Seasons", which just happens to translate to "Vier Jahreszeiten", the DEUTSCHLAND offers an extra service restaurant. Open only for dinner with reservation required, this restaurant is one of the finest of its kind today. Expect the staff here to try to accommodate you. We remember trying to get into Prego aboard the CRYSTAL HARMONY…It was full up, the Maitre d'Hotel informed me, dismissively. Don't expect dismissal here. If it's full on the night you'd like to dine here, it's no stretch to expect this Maitre d'Hotel (by the way we just CRINGE when we hear the term "Maitre DEE") to say something like…"we are booked tonight, but let me try to find you a table for tomorrow"…THAT's service! BRAVO! And so, too, do we say BRAVO to the food we ate here…we're still licking our chops for an appetizer we had…a trout mousse wrapped in smoked salmon topped with about an ounce of Sevruga caviar and garnished with a bit of cream sauce…and oh, well, you get the point…the food's GOOD.

It's also mighty good at the Lido Gourmet and Grill…Served buffet style in a room as pretty as any cruise ship's main dining room, there's a wide variety of food for breakfast, lunch and late night available here…

Sublime, plush comfort is the keynote to the DEUTSCHLAND's cabins. There isn't a balcony in sight on the DEUTSCHLAND unless she's in port with a ship that offers them. So there are no balcony cabins here but the DEUTSCHLAND offers guests a choice among 199 outside cabins, 70 inside cabins and 18 suites. All 18 of those priciest digs are up on Admiral Deck, Deck 8. Top of the line are the Owners Suite on portside and the Honeymoon Suite on starboard. All four Grand Suites, Category P are wonderful but we like the twelve cozy Category O suites, real jewel-box like accommodations with comfortable sitting areas. There isn't a bad cabin in the bunch…Straightaway we'll tell you that you CAN find bigger cabins on ships costing far less money. But you won't easily find elsewhere the warm charm of these superbly decorated quarters, each of which have architectural detail not seen shipboard for years. The brochure touts "lavish attention to every detail"…and it's no idle boast! As you'd expect in any high class German hostelry, beds are covered by those dreamy goose down duvets and pillows are those amazing comfortable German ones…TVs, in cabin radio, telephones, safes, mini-bars, refrigerators are all pretty much standard here…every cabin offers all of those items. The larger than average, exquisitely decorated bathrooms all have hairdryers and a thick, terrycloth robe is provided for each passenger.

Who Goes
Lucky people go in this ship. She's not cheap, so she is by no means an everyman's product, nor is she right for people uncomfortable with people whose first language isn't English. The whole crew is bilingual…some speak such flawless English you won't believe they are German… but they are…and they know how to serve you. It's their job, it's their pride, it's their pleasure to look after you, "Sowie bei Oma", just like at Grandmother's house, provided, of course, that Grandma was a Mrs. Gottrocks who happened to have a number of servants who knew their job… This is not the place for moderns…who like to paint their hair funny colors and pierce and tattoos unusual parts of their bodies…People who favor the stately and traditional predominate and are at home here. People who just can't stand formality, who don't want to dress well… well, they won't fit in here, the crowd tends towards elegant and fashionable, but by no means pretentious or snobby. Those who require strictly structured use of sea time won't do well here, but if you make your own fun and love to socialize with new friends, you will love it here. Social climbers and status seekers won't be comfortable in the DEUSTCHLAND, for they will stick out like sore thumbs and be instantly recognized here. Nor will those whose best cruise fun is sucking up 14 cans of beer at one sitting and expelling eructions with the force of volcanoes feel at home here…they would do well to consider less expensive options. They simply don't belong in this elegant lady.

The DEUSTCHLAND will be sailing on a long, leisurly on a world wide itinerary over the next year. In the fall of 2001 she will return to the South Pacific and Australia before finishing up the year with a series of cruises from Capetown. In the early months of next year she will head to the Caribbean and then embark on a series of South American cruises before returning to the Mediterranean. After spending the early summer in the Batic region and Mediterranean she will pass through the Suez Canal to the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean.

This ship is not a class ACT…the ship IS CLASS! She's simply about the best there is. And though her itineraries range the world, who cares where she goes…just go wherever she goes…she's worth your time AND your money! Can you tell we love her? Can you tell we're enthusiastic about this one? WE ARE! We just LOVE the DEUSTCHLAND! Don't miss her!

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