Meyer Shipyard

A towering lobby of white and gold, glass-cased panorama lifts, galleries like opera boxes. This is where glittering worlds of leisure are created. Floating five-star hotels. Completely artificial towns laid out specially for smooth running and utmost comfort on the high seas. The Meyer wharf has made a name for itself throughout the world for its luxury liners. Tens of thousands of gaping spectators follow the action when the gigantic Ems dam goes into action and a brand-new passenger cruiser is tugged along the dammed up river to the North Sea. A visit to one of the two Papenburg building basins – they are amongst the largest in the world - shows how these gigantic ocean liners are constructed. Two spectators’ galleries enable viewers to get a view of the dock in big-screen format – live and within arm’s reach. The special trade mark of the local shipbuilders is assembling gigantic steel liners on a building-block principle. Films, models and photos ensure that visitors get a fascinating insight into a process which is mostly controlled by computers. And an attractive model passenger’s cabin fuels your dreams of heading out to sea at the very first opportunity.

Meyer Shipyard
Papenburg Tourismus GmbH
Ölmühlenweg 21
26871 Papenburg
+49 (0) 4961 - 83960


The Papenburg ship-owners were sceptical. They threw a piece of iron in the water, watched it sink and said “And you want to build ships out of that?” Josef Lambert Meyer did indeed. His wharf was the first in Papenburg to construct ships of steel instead of wood. At the time, around 1870, the small town on the River Ems had around 20 ship-building firms. Now there is just one: the Meyer wharf. This internationally renowned firm has been a family business for six generations. Its history goes back more than two hundred years to 1795 when it was building conventional windjammers and schooners for goods traffic. The first passenger ship was the wheel-steamer Triton in 1874. The “Graf Goetzen” built in 1914 later became world-famous as the German patrol boat in John Huston’s 1951 Hollywood classic “The African Queen”. At the time the wharf was getting more and more orders from abroad. Indonesia alone has commissioned 23 passenger ships to date. Now the inhabitants of Papenburg have named one of the world’s most up-to-date wharfs their own. It can make gas tankers, car and passenger ferries, container ships, animal transporters and – since 1986 – exclusive luxury cruisers. They are assembled by around 2,100 workers from pre-fabricated steel blocks of up to 800 tons in weight and equipped with state-of-the-art technology from satellite communication to bio-reactors for purifying waste water. It takes scarcely two years to build an almost 300 metre liner with more than a dozen stories. To enable these massive ocean ships to reach the North Sea a powerful dam is put into operation which raises the level of the water by 2.70 metres. No wonder that the Papenburg dream boats arouse such popular enthusiasm as they glide on their way through the flat countryside of North Germany.

Recommended duration of visit: 1,5 Hours
Duration of a guided Tour: 90 Minutes
Admission: Charge
Access for persons with disabilities: For details see website
Infrastructure for Children:
Visitor centre on site: yes
Gift and book shop on Site: yes

Visitation only after arrangement with Papenburg Tourismus GmbH

  • Tours in other languages
  • Guided tours for children