Built in 1997 by the MTW shipyard in Wismar, Germany for operation by HAPAG-Lloyd, it carried the unusual official name of c.Columbus. The small "c" was usually omitted in marketing the ship, and it was known simply as Columbus. In 1997 there was already a Columbus registered in the Bahamas, a tanker, the former Maersk Javelin ex Jakob Maersk, and regulations prevented name duplication for official purposes.
A relatively small cruise ship, with a capacity of 420 passengers and 170 crew, it was built with several unusual destinations in mind, including the Great Lakes. To fit the St.Lawrence Seaway locks, the ship was built with no projections beyond the ship's sides. Therefore it has no bridge wings but does have small hinged platforms that allow for one person to see the ship's side when berthing. Also all lifeboats are accommodated completely inboard, and there are no rub rails.
After periodic Great Lakes visits until 2011, HAPAG decided to redeploy the ship when they ordered a newer vessel.
In 2012 operation shifted to Plantours, and the ship was renamed Hamburg.
It first called in Halifax the year it was built,