39 °F / 4 °C
Kiel Canal (aka Nord-Ostsee Kanal) is an artificial waterway located in northwestern Germany. It links North Sea with Baltic Sea and extends in northeastern direction from Brunsbuttel (near Elbe River's mouth) to Kiel (Baltic Sea port).
The canal (fka Kaiser-Wilhelm-Kanal) was built in the period 1887-1895 and subsequently enlarged (widened in the period 1907-1914), It has length of approx 98 km (61 ml), width 102 m (335 ft) and max depth 11 m (36 ft). The canal shortened the distance between both seas by about 322 km (200 ml) and eliminated the difficult passage around Jutland. In 1919 (after WW1), the canal was internationalized by the Treaty of Versailles, leaving the waterway under German administration.
- There are detailed canal passing rules as each ship is classified in one of 6 traffic groups (based on vessel dimensions). Bigger ships must navigate the canal with the assistance of local pilots and specialized helmsmen, Largest ships are provided with tugboat assistance. Some bigger ships are required to moor at bollards (placed at intervals along the canal) in order to allow passing of oncoming vessels. Special rules apply to passenger ships (cruise and pleasure craft).
- Large, cruise liners can't pass through Kiel Canal due to its clearance limits (42 m / 138 ft) under fixed bridges. Viking Cruises ocean ships (a new series of sister-ships) were designed specifically to be able to pass through Kiel Canal.
- The max dimensions of vessels passing the canal are LOA length 235,5 m (773 ft), max width 32,5 m (107 ft), max height 40 m (130 ft) and max draft 7 m (23 ft). Ships with LOA length 160 m (525 ft) may have max draft 9,5 m (31 ft).
- Shipping traffic also includes 14 ferry lines, all ferries being free of charge and operated by Kiel Canal Authority.
Kiel Canal is crossed by railway lines and highways on all 11 fixed links. In sequence (west to east / Brunsbuttel to Holtenau) these are Brunsbuttel Bridge (4 lane road), Hochdonn Bridge (railway), Hohenhorn Bridge (highway / Autobahn 23), Grunental Bridge (railway), Rendsburg Bridge (suspended / railway), Rendsburg tunnel (pedestrian), Kanaltunnel Rendsburg tunnel (4 lane road), Rade Bridge (highway / Autobahn A7), Levensau Bridge (railway and road), New Levensau Bridge (4 lane road) and the parallel Holtenau Bridges (each with 3 lanes).
- In March 2013, Kiel Canal was partially closed due to failure of two lock gates near Brunsbuttel. Vessels with LOA length over 125 m (410 ft) were redirected via Skagerrak (450 km / 280 ml long detour).
- In July 2014, the German Federal Parliament allocated EUR 265 million for a canal widening project (of its eastern section). The fund allocation followed the April 2014 approved budget of EUR 485 million for construction of a 5th lock in Brunsbuttel. These expansion projects directly benefited the on-canal ports Brunsbuttel, Hochdonn, Hohenhörn, Rendsburg and Kiel, as well as Port Hamburg and Germany's entire economy and industry. Kiel Canal is the fastest connection between Hamburg and Baltic Sea. In 2013, around 2 million TEU containers were shipped on this route. Between Hamburg (Germany) and Gdynia (Gdansk Poland), feeder vessels (container ships) save 1/2 the distance when passing through the canal compared to the route around Skagen Denmark. In 2013, the canal's shipping traffic and cargo volumes were, respectively, 31097 ships and 94,8 million tons.
Port Kiel Canal cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from Kiel Canal, Germany. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.