I’ve read a story that suggests that the city of Amsterdam is considering a building new cruise terminal further away from the city centre than the the present one.
I’m sure that many of my readers will have visited Amsterdam on a cruise and will be familiar with the cruise terminal there. It’s quite handily-placed – you can walk from there into the heart of the city. I’ve always reckoned that it takes about 10 minutes or so to get as far as Centraal station (from where trams can be caught) or a few minutes more than that to get to Dam Square. So as long as you’re active, the current cruise terminal is very handily placed.
So why is Amsterdam considering doing this? City officials are worried about the capacity of the city to take further visitors, and they’re looking at the future (this is at least five years away, btw). The city planners are looking to a time when not only will more ships be calling at the city but they will be bigger, and that this could increase congestion. Apparently the locks at the North Sea end of the NordSee canal – the route into Amsterdam – will be widened in the coming years, possibly to the point where they can accommodate an Oasis-class ship. The planners’ aim is to make Amsterdam city centre a destination for arriving cruise passengers, and not necessarily the destination.
Well, it’s a nice thought and I understand their motivation. Amsterdam is after all a living commercial city, it’s not just a tourist destination. Indeed, arguably tourism should come second to the city’s business which has always been – well, ‘business’. But I’m not sure how successful they’ll be. We’ve been to Amsterdam a few times, and while it’s true that on our last visit we did an excursion away from the city, that was on the second day of the visit; on the first day (or afternoon) we headed straight into the city – had the usual walk around and then found a bar somewhere near Rembrandtplein, if I remember correctly. I have a feeling that walking the canals, visiting the museums, and enjoying a drink will always the No. 1 attraction of Amsterdam. At least from the current cruise terminal we could walk to a point where we could pick up public transport. If a new terminal is any distance out, special arrangements will have to be made to get people into the city centre, and I really don’t think Amsterdam could handle a fleet of shuttle buses every time there’s a big cruise ship in port.
But it’s interesting that the city is considering this. We’ve begun to hear about restrictions on cruise passengers, of one sort or another, from a range of ports around Europe. Venice has already done it, and there was talk about Santorini also restricting the daily passenger load. I have a feeling that it’s inevitable. It would be really interesting to get the figures for the numbers of cruise passengers calling at these popular places 20 years ago and compare them with the figures for today. I think we’d be shocked by how much they’re increased – I wouldn’t be surprised if the average daily passenger load in the popular spots has increased three- or four-fold that time.