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Peter Deilmann Cruises was a pioneer in bringing luxury to the river cruise industry. In the 1980s, the company was the first to design and build ships that reflected the style and amenities of oceangoing cruise ships but were keyed to the unique specifications of river cruising. The line shut down its river cruise division in 2010, despite readers of Conde Nast Traveler having ranked Deilmann in the top 10 in small-ship cruising in 2006 for the seventh year in a row. The line cited financial concerns as the reason for ceasing river cruises.

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Peter Deilmann Cruise Highlights

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The privately owned German company, based in the Baltic town of Neustadt in Holstein, was founded in 1968 (North American headquarters are located in Alexandria, Virginia). Entrepreneur Deilmann began by operating freighters, and then expanded to passenger service along the coast of Germany. In 1980, he introduced his first ocean-going ship, the MS Regina Maris; it was built in 1966. The same year, he took delivery of the larger MS Berlin, a brand-new ship that Deilmann built with a consortium of German investors. The Regina Maris was sold to become a yacht in 1982; the Berlin remained until 2004 and after a short stint on the Ukranian market is now the exploration-oriented Spirit of Adventure for Saga Cruises.

Meanwhile, the luxury river fleet began in 1987 with the since-retired Danube Princess. The company's first brand-new river boats, the sister ships Prussian Princess (also retired) and Princesse de Provence, followed in 1991 in 1992; in 1993 the company's reputation got a major boost when they bought the Mozart, the most luxurious river vessel in Europe, from its original Austrian owners, who left the overnight river cruise market.

The river fleet continued to be built up in the later 1990s both with brand-new boats and a number of "nearly new" ones bought from competitors. The 1990s also brought expansion to the ocean-going fleet with the sailing vessel Lili Marleen in 1994 and then, in 1998, the 513-passenger Deutschland. Far larger than the company's previous ocean-going vessels, the Deutschland was also the first and so far only one to be marketed outside the German-speaking countries, and has gained a fine reputation for a very upscale, very traditional and uniquely German experience.

Peter Deilmann, by now a legend in the German cruise industry, died in 2003, but the company remains a family operation run by his twin daughters, Gisa and Hedda Deilmann.

The Deutschland offers cruises to Northern Europe from German ports in the summer and to other destinations worldwide during the rest of the year. Deutschland's ocean cruises have a wide range of themes, from golf and gardening to the Finnish Tango.

Top Peter Deilmann Ships


Peter Deilmann cruises deliver a small, floating-hotel experience. The company's forte is service, boasting one crew member for every 2.5 passengers. Dining is another strong emphasis. Six lavish meals are served daily, including afternoon tea and a midnight snack.

Passengers enjoy a breakfast buffet plus entrees to order, multi-course lunches plus salad and cold cut buffets, and dinners that run six to nine courses. European wines including those from vineyards along the itinerary are available at an extra charge. Live music is offered nightly, and low-key entertainment is available many nights. The ship is handsomely appointed and features items from the eclectic, wide-ranging but high-quality art collection of the late founder Peter Deilmann. Bedding consists of European-style duvets with feather pillows and eiderdowns; synthetic materials are available on request. Cabins are equipped with TV's (most programming in German), radios and telephones; hair dryers, terry robes and slippers are supplied or available on request.

The Deutschland takes a different approach to luxury ocean cruising than more mainstream vessels. Termed a "floating grand hotel" by the company, the ship's cabins are far smaller and less elaborate than most other luxury vessels (though they are beautifully furnished). The emphasis is on food, service and enrichment programming onboard such as lectures and classical concerts. The main dining room features two seatings for dinner; there's also a no-charge alternative restaurant with even higher-quality cuisine. A captain's reception welcomes and bids farewell to passengers.

Events and programs include lectures, discussions, readings, film presentations, sports and creative options. Galas and classical concerts take place in the Imperial Roon, while passengers dance in the Lili Marleen salon. Old Fritz hosts music until the wee hours of the morning.

Onboard facilities include library, cinema, gym, Finnish sauna, Roman steam bath, swimming pools and golf facilities.

The crew primarily speaks German, but also English.

Peter Deilmann Fleet

Deutschland was Deilmann's five-star ocean-going cruise ship. Measuring 22,400 gross tons and carrying 513 passengers, the Deutschland offered dining in three restaurants; an elegant, two-level ballroom; both indoor and outdoor swimming pools; lounges; bars; a promenade deck; and -- as is common on German ships -- an expansive spa and health facility.

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