The five armored cruisers of the Victoria Louise class - officially called "Große Kreuzer" - were the result to build ships that should be used in overseas services and, as a secondary task, to operate as reconnaissance forces for the battle fleet. Although those ships, which were the starting point of an development that lead to the German battlecruisers over ten years later, were an improvement compared to the smaller previous designs, they failed in several respects.
Most important, their operational radius was far too small to be efficiently used away from their home bases. With their any almost unprotected sides, they were called "Ten minutes cruisers" by the British as they were seen to be very vulnerable in a battle. In addition to their bad living comfort (too hot) their slow speed made them net very useful for fleet operations.
Despite these general problems, they were good seagoing ships, but because of their high hull and superstructure they were very very affected by wind.
All ships were reconstructed between 1905 and 1910, replacing the boilers and removing one funnel and increase the operational range. They were used as training ships after that, but reactivated at the outbreak of World War I. It soon got obvious that the ships were not usable for combat operations, so they were soon removed to secondary or immobile use only. The five armored cruisers were scraped in the early 1920s.