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Sønderborg, Denmark, is a new player in the cruise industry. The video above was produced to give cruise itinerary planners an overview of Sønderborg and all that it has to offer.

View the video and let me know what you think: Would you want to visit Sønderborg on a cruise ship?

Video Script

This past summer, I had the opportunity to spend a few days in a destination that eagerly wants to welcome your cruise ships.

Sønderborg, Denmark, is a small city with a natural harbor and a variety of attractions to offer your guests. I was fortunate enough to experience some of the activities during my visit. Large ships will need to drop anchor, but small ships, up to 135 meters, can tie up along the harborfront, which has amazing access to all that Sønderborg has to offer.

As an avid cruiser, I know it is exceptionally rare for ships to dock in a location that puts guests within easy walking distance of an ancient castle, a charming city center and an extended network of hiking and biking trails, but when your ship ties up in Sønderborg, your guests will have access to all of this — and much more.

Sønderborg Castle is only a few steps away. The castle has not only a fascinating history, which is interpreted in the castle museum, but also a rousing event called the Tilting of the Rings. I know your guests will enjoy the event as much as I did. If your guests want to stretch their legs, they can step off the ship and onto a nature trail that runs for more than 70 kilometers.

There are also many opportunities for extended shore excursions. Just 10 minutes away, there’s a historic battlefield where living history exhibits tell a story similar to the American Civil War. Your American guests will recognize the date, 1864, when their country was embroiled in a deadly war. A similar battle was taking place in Denmark, and the story is well-told

Not far from the battlefield is the summer residence of Denmark’s Royal family. When Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik occupy Gråsten Palace, there is a changing of the guard just like in Copenhagen (although this one is smaller). If your ship carries families, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a theme park called Danfoss Universe less than 45 minutes drive.  Although particularly suitable for kids, visitors of all ages will enjoy this fun immersion into physics and natural science.

So where is Sønderborg? It’s near Denmark’s border with Germany so your guests can actually enjoy a visit to two countries on one stop. You may want to be a well-established player in the region should Sønderborg succeed in being nominated European Capital of Culture in 2017

So I encourage you to consider putting Sonderborg on your cruise itineraries. The city warmly welcomes you. This is Ralph Grizzle. Thanks for tuning in.

Sønderborg Port Profile

Sønderborg, by the sea.

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Like many other modern European cities founded in the Middle Ages, Sønderborg has moved on numerous times as centuries have come and gone. If the city were a person, and if we generalized a bit, it might be possible to argue that a defensive stance has been abandoned in favor of a collaborative approach.

The defensive stance was there already from the outset: Sønderborg’s roots are to be found in a defence facility that was established during the late 12th century. The fortified tower later developed into the Sønderborg Castle (Sønderborg slot), where the well-known King Christian II was imprisoned during the second half of the 16th century. He had been dethroned following developments that saw him disappear not only as king of Denmark but also as king of Norway and Sweden.

In Sweden, by the way, Christian II is ill-famed for the Stockholm bloodbath in 1520. The massacre of some 80 people, mostly noblemen and their servants, resulted in the Swedes giving the king the sobriquet “the Tyrant.”

Some 300 years after Christian II found himself locked up in Sønderborg, the city was bombarded by Prussian artillery. On June, 29, 1864, the Danish city was incorporated with Germany. It was to remain a German city until 1920, when Sønderborg once again became a part of Denmark.

Seen in retrospect, the period under German rule might have been relatively short. Still, it helped shape the regional culture in a tangible way. Cruise passengers visiting Sønderborg will experience a mixture of Danish and German influences that is quite unique.

This is likely one of the reasons why Sønderborg took the initiative to make its candidature for European Capital of Culture in 2017 a common matter with the nearby region of Schleswig – part of which is German.

More than 90 years after Sønderborg once again passed into Danish hands, the city’s collaborative approach seems to have proven that relations with the mighty neighbor to the south are as good as ever. Sønderborg today is a friendly destination for business people and tourists alike. Visitors will find the scenic surrounding region an ideal area for excursions on foot or by bike.

One destination for such an excursion might be the Gråsten Palace, not far from Sønderborg. The Danish Royal family spends part of their summer vacations at the palace, which is located on the Jutland peninsula. Sønderborg, on the other hand, is located partly on the island of Als and partly on the Jutland peninsula. The older part of the city, with its charming waterfront, is located on the island.

Since a couple of years back, Sønderborg has also been placed firmly on the map for those interested in classical music. In 2007 the concert hall Alsion was inaugurated. Alsion is considered one of the world’s best concert halls for classical symphonic music.

Sønderborg For Cruise Passengers

Sønderborg is in the initial stages of becoming a cruise destination. Future visiting ships will dock in the city center, along the harbor front. The location is within easy walking distance to the Sønderborg Castle, the city center and a hiking trail.

Do Not Miss

  • Once one of the strongest castles in Denmark, Sønderborg slot was established in the 13th century. In the years between 1550-1570, it was transformed into a full-fledged renaissance castle. During all of those years, a prominent prisoner was locked up in Sønderborg slot: Christian II, who had previously been the king of Denmark (as well as king of both Norway and Sweden). Access to the castle is easy from the cruise quay.
  • From the harbor area, follow the Gendarme Path. If you don’t feel up to it, you don’t necessarily have to walk the full 46 miles/74 kilometers of this hiking trail in order to get a good view of what the Sønderborg region has to offer. The Gendarme Path is named after the guards who once patrolled the Danish-German border, monitoring shipping along the coast.
  • The summer residence of the Danish Royal family is located in the Sønderborg area. When Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik occupy the Gråsten Palace, there is a changing of the guard just like in Copenhagen (although this one is smaller). The current palace dates from 1759. The garden and the church are open to the public.
  • When visiting Sønderborg, don’t miss the Tilting of the Rings – an important cultural happening in the South Jutland region.
  • For an insight into technology and natural phenomena, put a visit to the Danfoss Universe on the agenda. Although particularly suitable for kids, visitors of all ages will be able to experience the forces of nature at work in their own bodies and amaze at physiological phenomena.
  • Alsion, mentioned in the above overview, is actually more than a concert hall. This is also home to a new university and an innovative science park. Visitors will be able to experience not only world-class symphonic music in the concert hall, but also the interesting architecture of the building and the spectacular art by the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson.
  • Learn more about the war between Danish and German forces in 1864 at the Historiecenter Dybbøl Banke. The exhibition forms part of Museum Sønderjylland (The Museum of South Jutland), which includes several other displays. One of them is the Dybbøl Mølle, considered one of Denmark’s most famous national monuments and a symbol of the Danish-German wars in the middle of the 19th century.
  • Treat several senses at Augustiana Skulpturpark og Kunstcenter, a fascinating combination of experiences of art and nature. While you’re at it also take the opportunity to take in the Augustenborg Slot, built in the 17th century.

Shore Excursions

A variety of shore excursions in and around Sønderborg can be available. Examples include:

  • Sønderborg Castle (3 hours) The city of Sønderborg has developed around Sønderborg Castle, built in the 12th century as defense against Wendish pirates. In the medieval times the castle gradually developed into one of the richest fortresses with a ring wall, corner towers and other installations. The castle also served as a prison for the Danish King Christian II from 1532-1549. The castle was later on converted into a Royal residence for several of the South Jutish dukes. The chapel of the castle was landscaped by Queen Dorothea in the 15th century and is today one of Denmark’s oldest preserved royal Protestant chapels and at the same time contains the oldest Renaissance interior in Scandinavia. Today the castle serves as a museum for the history of South Jutland and Slesvig from medieval to present and is one of the largest attractions in the area.
  • The History Centre Dybbøl Banke (5 hours) The war in 1864 has had a vast impact on the South Jutland. On the 18th of April 1864 a superior Prussian force together with Austrian soldiers attacked the Danish position at Dybbøl and defeated the Danish army. On the 20th of July the peace negotiations resulted in the loss of Southern Jutland to Prussia and it was not until 1920 that the region was returned to Denmark after a referendum. Today minority groups live on each side of the border, however, the conflicts of the past has been put aside and collaborations across the border has been established in order to create a joint future.
  • Shopping in Sønderborg (4 hours) You will be able to enjoy the many excellent shopping possibilities as well as cozy cafes and restaurants which might come in handy if you feel like a little break. Saturdays you will often find lunch time entertainment either in one of the many restaurants, cafes or at one of the squares in the city. The main shopping street in Sønderborg invites to an inspiring shopping stroll, however, you will also find many interesting shops in the small adjoining streets.
  • Tilting-at-the-ring (1 hour) Tilting-at-the-ring is an important part of the South Jutish culture, and every city has its own tilting-at-the-ring tournament. The tournament in Sønderborg always takes place during the second weekend of July. Around 500 riders parade through the city toward the tiltingat-the-ring field in order to compete for the Best Rider of the Year title. Tourists have the chance to learn about the history of tilting-at-the- ring in the small museum, by the same name, or to experience riders dressed in historical clothing at the reconstructed tilting field in connectionwith Sønderborg Castle.
  • Guided City Tours in Sønderborg (2 hours) Guests are taken on a tour throughout the beautiful streets of Sønderborg where characteristic architecture from different times can be seen. Renaissance, Baroque and Art Noveau are all represented in the city of Sønderborg together with modern architecture which comes to light through the new University and Concert Hall Alsion. You can still see traces of the war in 1864 in the city of Sønderborg as for instance, a cannonball in the house wall at the Tourist Information that stems from the bombardment of the city.
  • The Royal Castle in Gråsten (4 hours) Gråsten Palace and palace garden are the main attractions here. The Royal family uses Gråsten Palace as a summer residence every year. There is always a parade and also a changing of the guard when the Royal family visits the palace. Each day at 11.30 am the regiment departs from the Yellow Mansion and marches through Gråsten to the palace yard, where the changing of the guard takes place. On Fridays you can enjoy a small concert in the palace yard after the changing. Denmark’s national apple, the ‘Gråsten Apple,’ was brought to Gråsten by Frederik Ahlefeldt the Younger (1662-1708), who bought the tree on a trip to the south. The tree was nursed in the palace garden’s nursery and given the name the ‘Gråsten Apple.’
  • On bicycle (3 hours) Denmark is the country of bicycles and the infrastructure is planned in such a way that it is safe to move around on a bike everywhere. Visitors can explore the city life as well as the beautiful nature in the area with Sønderborg as a starting point – either on their own hand or with a guide. Several routes have been specially adapted to cyclists and maps and trip descriptions have been created for the most interesting routes.
  • Gendarme Path (4 hours) The location of the current Danish/German border was determined by a plebiscite in 1920. During the period 1920-1958 blue dressed Gendarmes patrolled the border and the coast line on a 74 km long distance from Padborg in the west to Sydals in the east and secured illegal immigration and emigration. Today it is ramblers who use the old patrol path and enjoy the beautiful nature on both short and long walks along the path.
  • There is a lovely country (4 hours) There is a lovely country, with spreading, shady beeches near Baltic’s salty shores. These are the first stanzas of the Danish national anthem and the inspiration to this could easily have come from a ramble in Nørreskoven on the island of Als. Nørreskoven is one of the longest forests along the coast in Denmark and reaches more than 8 kilometers from Havnbjerg in the north to Fynshav in the south. The forest contains more than 80 ancient monuments of which the eldest are from 3500 BC. Many marked path systems exists from where you can explore the forest on your own hand or you can take part in one the guided walking tours with a nature mediator.
  • Castles in the Sønderborg region. (4 hours) The historical significance of Sønderborg manifests itself, inter alia, in the many castles in the area. This excursion takes the participants past the four most important castles of the area, namely Sønderborg Castle, Augustenborg Castle, Nordborg Castle and Gråsten Palace. The last-mentioned still works as a summer residence for the Royal Family and access to the beautiful palace garden is therefore only allowed when the Royal Family is not present. Sønderborg Castle holds a museum where the South Jutish history is propagated to the guests.
  • Danfoss Universe (5 hours) Are you able to lift a car? At Danfoss Universe you are and at the same time you will learn how natural science might help you solve the task. See if you can maintain your balance on a segway or play with the different forms of energy and learn about their advantages and disadvantages. Danfoss Universe is a science theme park for both children and adults. The theme park originates from the Danfoss Concern, which is the largest industrial company in the area. It was founded in the 1930’s by the young engineer, Mads Clausen, who saw the possibilities of producing and selling automatic valves for refrigeration equipment. Today Danfoss is a world wide company with more than 30.000 employees.
  • Danevirke (5 hours) You have to cross the Danish – German border and visit Dannevirke in order to get the entire War of 1864 experience. Dannevirke consists of a comprehensive rampart that has protected the Jutish peninsula against attacks from the south since the Iron Age. The rampart installations were enlarged several times and were chosen to be the place where the Prussian advance had to be stopped. However, severe frost made it possible for the Prussians to bypass the rampart, hence the Danish troops had to withdraw to the positions at Dybbøl.
  • Sailing excursions with the ketch Haabet. The waters around Sønderborg constitute an ideal surrounding for sailing, with several small sailing vessels docking in the city.

Technical Information

  • Sønderborg Habor. Nørrebro 1 A, DK 6400 Sønderborg Phone Office +45 74 42 27 65 PSFO +45 23 23 42 03 Email [email protected][email protected]
  • Port Information. Ships up to 135 m. Alongside the pier at the Castle of Sønderborg. Apart from this, ships can anchor at own or pilots discretion in approx. 0.8 nm of the pontoon bridges. Depth in the anchorage area between 15 m and 22 m. with good holding bottom.
  • Environmental restrictions. In accordance with the regulations in the Baltic Area.
  • Other restrictions. In order to perform good service to our costumers we are not able to handle more than 2,500 passengers. And more than one minor ship alongside and one at anchor at the same time.
  • Communication. Emergency & calling channel: channel 16, Working channel: channel 12, Phone: as above
  • Charts. Danish chart no. 152(INT 1373) and no. 155 ENC coverage.
  • Tidal range. Astronomical without significance. Meteorological -5 feet – + 5 feet.
  • Current. Mostly running North in the port. Occasionally up to 3 knots.
  • Pontoons. Available in the capacity needed.
  • Pilot. DAN Pilot phone +45 63 25 66 66 or www.danpilot.dk
  • Tug. Harbour tug available. With excessive need of power contact Holsoes eftf. +45 74 42 35 66 or email [email protected] six hours notice.
  • Bunkering NO
  • Garbage/waste disposal NO
  • ISPS approval Yes

Getting Further

The distance to Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, is approximately 230 kilometres. The German city of Flensburg is less than 40 kilometers south of Sønderborg.

For more information, visit www.visitsonderborg.com

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