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Hamburg - itinerary advice needed

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Hi all
I know I need to do more homework on my own, but perhaps you can point me in the right direction.
My husband and I will arrive in Hamburg about 2pm on a weekday in May. We plan to get from the airport to our hotel - the Atlantic. After check in the plan is to spend the rest of the afternoon shopping and wandering around. That evening we would want a casual (inexpensive) restaurant near the shopping/hotel area. In Italy and Spain we found "buffet/self service" places and maybe there is something similar in Hamburg
Next day is a significant birthday and we are looking to spend a "special day". The only dilemma is we have friends joining us who are flying in from the UK> A dilemma in that we would need to break the day to meet them or arrange for them to head out and join us wherever we are. They should be at the Atlantic by 11am.
What to do? Head out and explore Lubeck? Hire a car and drive somewhere not too far away? Take a train or boat ride somewhere special?
That evening we would like somewhere special for dinner. Close to the Atlantic possibly though that would not be a final deciding factor.
On day 3, we check out of the hotel and around mid day we check onto our cruise ship. I thought that morning we could leave our bags at the hotel and go to Miniature World - it sounds very interesting, then take a taxi from the hotel to the ship.
The ship spends that night in Hamburg, so we could get off the ship again and go off to explore hamburg and surrounds some more.
Day 4 - I think we are still in Hamburg that morning, though I am not sure and then we set sail. I thought we would just stay on the ship that day - hence it might be an idea to go off and explore some more on day 3 after check in.

Anyway, hope this is a detailed enough outline and very much looking forward to your advice
all the best
CTF

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