Kiel, the capital of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, is an ideal place to start and end a cruise. Some 130 cruise ships stop here annually. The show is pretty impressive when the enormous ocean liners come into Kiel and dock right near the center of the city.
Tourists leaving the ships find themselves right in the city center. The train station is just a five-minute walk away as is shopping in the Holstenstrasse, one of the oldest pedestrian zones in Germany. The Kiel Maritime Museum tells the story of seafaring and ports, but the biggest museum in the state capital is the art museum, the Kunsthalle Kiel. It houses the collection of the Schleswig-Holstein Art Association, which was established in 1843 and includes 19th century art, classical modern art and post-1945 international art.
If you want to experience the full diversity of Kiel and the surrounding area, you should definitely take a tour around the port. It includes the naval port, the Kiel Yacht Club and down the Firth of Kiel to Laboe. Once a Slavic fishing and farming village, it's developed into a popular beach resort in the last 800 years.