For the first time in five years

RV Polarstern opens its doors to the public

On 22 and 23 April, the Alfred Wegener Institute will host an “Open Ship” event in Bremerhaven
[03. April 2017] 

On the weekend of 22 and 23 April, Germany’s largest research vessel, the icebreaker Polarstern, will open her doors to the public as part of the Science Year 2016*17 – Seas and Oceans. As they walk about the ship, visitors can tour the laboratories, living accommodations, and the bridge, giving them a feel for what it’s like to be part of an expedition. Further, the Alfred Wegener Institute will highlight its research efforts in exhibitions arrayed around the ship on the grounds of the Lloyd Werft shipyards. Science dating, presentations and fireside chats, plus interactive games for children, round out the programme.

The chance to stand on the bridge of the Polarstern, where the captain safely guides her through the ice – a veritable dream for many nautical and polar research fans. On the weekend after Easter, they’ll have the first chance in five years to make that dream come true: upon entering port – and following a six-month expedition to the Antarctic – logistics experts and researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) will immediately begin unloading the internationally renowned vessel in preparation for one of its rare Open Ship events. The audio, video and text elements accompanying visitors along the designated tour route will give them the chance to play the part of an expedition member. The ship will be open from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday and from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Sunday; on both days, the last tour will start one hour before closing time.

Visitors will also discover an exciting programme outside the ship, like a diving tower on the shipyards that brings together man and machine. The AWI’s Sea Ice group has provided its new diving robot for this special occasion, and visitors can try their hand at steering it – and see first-hand how difficult it can be to pilot underwater vehicles in three-dimensional space. In addition, the AWI’s diving group will demonstrate how they drill underwater, e.g. to install new testing equipment. Maritime fans can experience what it’s like to work in poor visibility, by putting on a tinted diving mask and then trying to tie sailor’s knots. Last but not least, underwater videos will immerse visitors in the fascinating world of polar and marine research.

In the 300 m2 Science Tent, further research groups will offer glimpses into their work, and be happy to answer visitors’ questions. Teams representing the full spectrum of research pursued at the AWI – from physical oceanography, the geosciences and marine biology, to meteorology – will display their research equipment and report on recent discoveries. For the first time, the Science Tent will also feature “science dating”: like in speed dating, visitors and researchers will meet for brief question-and-answer sessions, and switch partners every three minutes. “Fireside chats” are another new format, intended to supplement the presentation agenda. The agenda, presentation topics and the list of researchers participating in the science dating will soon be available online at

There will also be an extensive children’s programme in a separate tent. Activities involving painting and colour printing will give children a chance to learn and reflect on the topic of “water”. The AWI’s High Sea students will be offering a range of experiments where children can join in – or they can try out “waterballs”, which allow them to walk on water without ever getting their feet wet. Food and refreshments are available for guests of all ages. The Friends and Supporters of the AWI (AWI-Förderverein) will be pleased to provide you further information on all aspects of polar and marine research.

Visitors from Bremerhaven also have the opportunity to catch a “sneak peek” of a new science tour that the Alfred Wegener Institute has prepared to accompany the Science Year 2016*17 – Seas and Oceans. Starting this May, a mobile Polar Camp will give interested citizens in twelve German cities the chance to see for themselves what it’s like to live and conduct research in the Antarctic. The project was sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. For further information, including venues and dates, please visit:

Shuttle buses will be provided for visitors traveling to and from the Open Ship event, and will run between the stops Bremerhaven Hauptbahnhof (Central Railway Station), Havenwelten and Rotersand and the event venue in Brückenstraße 25 (Lloyd Werft shipyards).

Please note: The Polarstern is not barrier-free. Accordingly, persons with walking disabilities unfortunately cannot tour the ship directly; however, the accompanying programme offers them a range of other ways to participate. Baby strollers are not allowed on board. Further, due to international safety and security standards, backpacks and other large bags, food and beverages are not allowed on board. These objects can be left at the coat check, where visitors can also park their baby strollers. No pets are allowed on board. Lastly, it is imperative that all visitors have a valid identity card or passport with them, as the event organiser is bound by international shipping legislation to perform random ID checks.

The Open Ship event at a glance

There is no advance registration for the event.

Venue: Lloyd Werft shipyards, Brückenstraße 25, Bremerhaven


Saturday 22 April 2017 from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm (last admission for the ship’s tour: 4:00 pm)

Sunday 23 April 2017 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (last admission for the ship’s tour: 3:00 pm)

How to get here: The shuttle buses will start their route from the Hauptbahnhof (Central Railway Station) at 10:10 am on Saturday (and at 9:10 am on Sunday). On both days, the last bus leaving the shipyards will depart half an hour after the event closes. For detailed scheduling information on the bus stops Bremerhaven Hauptbahnhof (Central Railway Station), Havenwelten and Rotersand, please consult

Parking: Public parking is available near the Lloyd Werft shipyards (in Franziusstraße and Brückenstraße).