The fastest connection to Cuxhaven is the katamaran "Halunder Jet" which takes you there from Cuxhaven in a little more than one hour. The katamaran runs at a speed of 35 knots (almost 70 kph), twice as fast as a normal ship. It actually starts in Hamburg, the only direct connection from the city to Helgoland. Unlike the ferry ships which have to moor outside the harbour and people change into small boats to reach the shore, the katamaran i the only vessel which enters the harbour and docks at the quay of Südhafen. From there it is a walk of a few minutes to the main port and the centre.
Fares are higher than for the slow ferries. Since it is a high-speed katamaran there are no open decks, you have to stay inside. Everyone has an assigned seat, which means that the tickets can sell out. In high season, prebooking at least four days in advance is recommended. I bought my ticket on the spot and was lucky to get hold of one of the last tickets for the ride to Helgoland, on the way back I had to take the ferry because the kat was booked solid.
Food and drink are served at your seat, for payment of course.
For people who are prone to seasickness, the katamaran will be more suitable than a ferry because it runs smoothly over the waves with hardly any swaying. (“Barf bags” are nevertheless available.)
The elevator to Oberland is located at the end of the shopping street – hard to miss, just follow the crowds from the port. Two lift cabins run all the time according to need and request. Both are manned, the guy inside will collect the tickets. On the way up you buy tickets from the cash box which is impossible to miss, on the way down you can buy tickets from the guy in the elevator if you don’t have yours already.
Fares: one way 0.60 €, round trip 0.95 €. For longer stays, multiple tickets are available.
This little train vehicle does round tours starting from the port. They have a tour of the lower prt of th island (Unterland) and, with only one little bus, a tour of the top part (Oberland). Each takes about 40-45 minutes and starts one per hour. A time-saving option to see a bit of the island. Tickets are sold on the spot.
However, on a normal wekday in summer Helgoland has about 4,000 day visitors and the ships arrive at roughly the same time. This little train can’t transport more than just a few dozen passengers. So there is quite a run for the tickets and chances are slim. Better have a plan B at hand in case you don’t get hold of tickets.
Helgoland is not very big and if your walking abilities are at least moderate, your feet are the easiest and most flexible means of transportation. I highly recommend the round walk along the cliffs on Oberland. To save yourselves the 200+ stairs up you can take the elevator from Unterland to Oberland and back (see Things to do tip).
All ships have to anchor out in the stretch of sea between the main island and Düne. The only ship that enters the port and drops you off right at the quay is the Katamaran. From all other ferries, and back to all others, you enjoy the the (in)famous pleasure of Ausbooten. All passengers have to change to small open boats which bring you ashore. I found the thought a bit scary, others think it is big fun. It was a clear day with little wind and calm seas, so it was easy, but I’ll rather not imagine doing this in rough weather...
Honestly, it is not really a problem. All you have to do is hold out your arms and make a big step, and four strong sailors will grab you and help you. They have, so far, gotten everyone on board, no matter how big or small, or how old and feeble.
Hint: Upon return, be at the port half an hour before your ship’s scheduled departure time. Lines are long and the boating takes time. Check the board for the gate number of the landing where the boats to your ship depart.
Ferries connect Helgoland with a couple of ports on the mainland, like Büsum, Cuxhaven, Wilhelmshaven, and Bremerhaven. In the summer half of the year all routes are served daily. In winter it’s one ship in two days, weather permitting.
On the way back I had to take the ferry “Atlantis” because the katamaran was sold out. So I was able to experience both. The ferry needs about two and a half hours for the ride between Cuxhaven and Helgoland, hence twice as long. The advantage, though, is that you are no confined to an indoor seat but you can move freely outside and inside, enjoy the transfer as a mini cruise on deck, watch ships and sea and breathe the fresh sea air. Inside, the decks are air conditioned. On the upper deck they have a restaurant where you are served food and drink at your table, the lower indoor deck and the outdoor decks have self-service counters where you can buy something to eat and/or drink, or consume what you brought with you, or nothing at all, just as you like.
There are several different companies operating between Büsum and Helgoland (not to mention the many other costal cities of having ships going to Helgoland).
We took the MS Lady of Büsum wich is a comparatively quick ferry. The 50 km trip from Büsum to Helgoland took about 1 hour and 45 min.
The ferry goes to Helgoland in the morning and returns in the afternoon giving people about 4-5 hours of sightseeing on the island.
Prices are about €30 for a return ticket (2006 prices).
Probably you might have problems to find info about getting to Helgoland in English in advance. At least I didn't find anything on the net (if you find something let me know).
So to get infos, try the following email:'firstname.lastname@example.org'.
It is the email of the company running the ships between the coast and the island. I guess they can help you.
Of course you can get information directly at the ticketseller!!!
Helogoland can only be reached by boat. The trip is - on a sunny day - of great pleasure. The waves beneath you, the wind and sunshine ... everything a sailor needs (-:
The shortest cruise one can do from Cuxhaven and leaves early in the morning to go back in the afternoon. The rock has not that big harbour (only for sailingboats / yaughts) and so the ship stays out of it. With small boats one is put ashore.
Check the Online Map, which might help you to plan your trip.
Different languages available, by clicking on the small flags.
It's not just fun to travel to Helgoland by boat. It's the only way. (O.K. you could swim the ca. 70 km...)
We took a catamaran boat with a higher speed than a normal boat.