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 Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Shore Excursion and Port Reviews

Amsterdam (From in Front of the Train Station)

Amsterdam, The Netherlands Port Information
Tom Ogg

Entry Requirements
Language and Currency
What is Amsterdam Like?
What is the Weather Like?
Where Does the Ship Dock?
Where is the Shopping?
What is There to Buy?
What is There To Do?
Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?
Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?

Amsterdam, The Netherlands Port Reviews

Entry Requirements

A valid passport is needed, but no visa is required for stays of less than 90 days.

Language and Currency

The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch, however, English is widely spoken in Amsterdam. The official currency is the euro. The best exchange rates and the most convenient way to obtain euro is by using your ATM card at one of the plentiful ATM machines in Amsterdam.

What is Amsterdam like?

Amsterdam's Canals

Amsterdam is a wonderful pedestrian city made up of mazes of canals, pedestrian streets and unique architecture. Everyone loves Amsterdam as its "wide-open" personality is unique in the world.

Amsterdam is Visually Pleasing

To say that Amsterdam is liberal, would be a huge understatement. Because drugs and prostitution are legal in Amsterdam, the population is made up of an eclectic and international group of folks that reside in Amsterdam's unique environment. Unique to Amsterdam are the hundreds of "Cafes" where coffee is not the drug of choice. These "Cafes" have a menu of marijuana and offer several different types that may be taken away or consumed right in the "Cafe". One must be 18 years of age to enter and no alcohol or hard drugs are served. Walking by one of these cafes with their clientele of primarily young people zonked out of their minds is one aspect of Amsterdam many (including me) find unfortunate. No matter where you stand on the issue of legalizing marijuana in the United States, Amsterdam makes an excellent study to see the cultural effects.

What is the weather like?

Amsterdam's Architecture is Very Interesting

Amsterdam enjoys excellent weather in June with temperatures in the low 70s (evenings are cool, however) and very little rain. July and August enjoy similar weather, but it can rain quite a bit in these months. Winters are cold and rainy and the spring/fall temperatures can be cool as well with some rain. Be sure to have an umbrella handy, just in case.

Where does the ship dock?

Docked at the Cruise Terminal in Amsterdam

Ships dock right at the main cruise ship terminal just a ten minute walk from Amsterdam's central train station and the entrance to the central part of Amsterdam's grid of canals and streets. If several ships are in port, it is possible that you could dock further up the canal, which would require a taxi ride to the train station. HINT: If taking a taxi, have them drop you at the rear entrance of the train station, as it will cost another 5 euro to negotiate many streets to the front side where they normally drop you. It is only a 1-2 minute walk through the train station to the spot where they would normally drop you.

The QE2 normally docks in the commercial harbor some miles away from downtown Amsterdam, but they always provide shuttle service into town from the ship. HINT: Be aware that taxi drivers do not know where the ship is if you intend to return via taxi. Get written instructions from the ship if this is your intent.

Where is the shopping?

Amsterdam Shopping Street

Immediately outside of the train station is access to the very center of Amsterdam's hub of streets that lead to the various squares and more hubs. By heading across the bridge over the canal and following the street car tracks. it will lead you to Damrak (a street) with lots of restaurants, pubs and tourist stores. If you turn to the right one block, you will come to a major pedestrian street that is full of department stores and shops.

Amsterdam's Dam Square

Follow this street to Dam Square to find more department stores and the Magna Plaza, a huge shopping mall. Cross Dam Square and continue on the pedestrian shopping street until it terminates at a canal.

Amsterdam's Flower Market

If you go over the canal, you will see the flower market to the right. Follow the flower market to the street where it ends and then turn to the left for another few blocks of excellent shopping. Streets that offer shopping opportunities are everywhere in the maze that makes up Amsterdam but these are the most popular. Also, just north of Amsterdam is the village of Delft, the home of the blue and white china that the Netherlands is so famous for. It is an easy trip to enjoy and is usually offered on a shore excursion (or you can take the train.)

What is there to buy?

Amsterdam does offer some products that are reasonably good buys. Delft china and other unique collectible porcelain, linen and lace items, jewelry (loose diamonds are available duty free) antiques, local art and traditional purchases such as clothing, luggage, accessories, perfumes and cosmetics, Dutch chocolates and candy and don't forget tulip bulbs and other fabulous plants.

What is there to do?

Riding a Bike in Amsterdam is the Normal Mode of Transportation

Amsterdam is a great place to just take in walking about its canals, pedestrian streets and squares. You will see just about everything in Amsterdam. Renting a bicycle is another great way to see a lot of Amsterdam quickly. You can rent bikes from a number of companies that offer them by the hour or by the day. HINT: If you are going to rent a bike, bring along a good bicycle lock as bike theft is rampant.

Certainly, you should take one of the canal cruises to really see all that Amsterdam has to offer and it is best to do so early so that you can identify areas you want to visit on foot. In addition to shopping, a canal cruise and walking about Amsterdam's unique environment there are some more important sights worth seeing.

Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House is well worth a visit. This is where Anne Frank wrote her famous diary while hiding from the Germans in WWII. Plan to visit early in the morning as the line can be quite long to get in.

Rijksmuseum contains the largest collection of Dutch artist works anywhere in the world. With a good number of Rembrandt paintings and other famous artists. If you are into doll houses and all the paraphernalia, this is also a must visit.

The Van Gogh Museum is another "must see" if you enjoy art. There are numerous pieces from all periods of Van Gogh's life on display. There are numerous other museums found right n Amsterdam, as well as parks, historical buildings (don't miss the Royal Palace and Nieuwe Kerk or New Church on Dam Square)

Of course, everyone wants to visit the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Prostitution is legal and there is an established red light district featuring with showcase windows complete with a red light that is turned on when the prostitute is available for calls. One simply walks down the street checking out the various ladies that are available as they pose in the showcase windows waiting for the next customer to come in. A word of caution however. The Red Light District is seedy, to say the least. I have seen numerous characters of questionable ethics in, and around the area, so I would caution everyone to visit the area in groups and to not wear expensive jewelry or other items that might get stolen. I would not go into the area individually after dark unless you can take care of yourself.

Is there anything of “Don’t Miss” quality?

I would give the entire city of Amsterdam this rating. It is a unique experience that is not available anywhere else in the world and is well worth exploring. Even if you are personally opposed to many of the elements of Amsterdam (as I am) it is interesting to see what life is like.

Just One Booth at the Amsterdam Flower Market

Also, if you like plants and gardening, don't miss the flower market. The array of flowers and bulbs is simply mind boggling. You will not believe the variety of tulips that are sold in the market.

Are there any great restaurants or bars?

There are a good number of restaurants in Amsterdam, but I have not found one that stands out. Ditto for a special bar. Amsterdam's Brown Cafes (as they are known to locals) are worth a visit. These sparse individually owned bar/cafes offer local dink (gin and pils) and some excellent food at reasonable prices. These are where the local Amsterdamers do their drinking and eating and you will not see many tourists in them.

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