When someone coined the expression Venice of the North to describe Amsterdam, they probably were not thinking to describe the climate (although officially classified as "mild", the Northern climate is not Mediterranean). What they had in mind was its system of canals, and in this respect Amsterdam is clearly the superior city.
Why is it that Venice does not describe itself as the Amsterdam of the South?
In the 17th century the famous crescent shape of the Amsterdam city centre was designed and constructed resulting in its unique ring of canals, the grachtengordel (canal belt). The canals are: Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht, they are linked like the spokes on a wheel by radial canals with names like Leidsegracht, Brouwersgracht, etc.
Originally constructed to facilitate the passage of horse-drawn cargo carrying barges throughout the city, today their main purpose is recreation, and Amsterdammers put them to very good use. Virtually any kind of water born craft can be had and enjoyed by the visitor; private tours, narrated canal tours, candle-lit dinner cruises, water taxis, canal buses, saloon launches, and do-it-yourself rentals of all shapes and sizes.
Some of the boats use a prerecorded tour in any of several languages. The best tours feature a live guide; conducted by either the captain, or better, a separate tour guide. Our favourite boats are those which feature a fully open rear terrace, but many companies operate a mixed fleet, so choose your boat carefully. The tours consist of a one hour to ninety minute ride through the city, traversing many of the main canals, and often a quick jog through the Ij. Refreshments are usually sold before departure to take along.
Prins Hendrikkade 25 tel: 020- 530-1090
Lovers offer a variety of cruises, including a Redlight District candle-light cruise. Lovers also operate the Museumboat and Watertaxis, listed separately below.
Damrak 4/5 tel: 020- 623-4208
Prins Hendrikkade 33a tel: 622-7788
Nicolaas Witsenkade 1a tel: 020- 626-5636
Live guide, open back deck.
Rederij Plas Damrak, tel: 020- 624-5406
In operation for over 70 years.
Stadhouderskade tel: 020- 679-1370
Rederij P. Kooy
Rokin/Spui tel : tel: 020-623-3810
Prins Hendrikkade 25 tel: 020- 530-1090 (Centraal Station)
The Museumboat makes 7 stops on its circuit through the city, during the summer departures are every 30 minutes.
The stops are:
1: Amsterdam Centraal Station
2: Anne Frank House, Westerkerk, Magna Plaza
3: Museumplein, Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum ( Modern )
4: Herengracht, Bijbels Museum, Bloemenmarkt ( Flower Market ) and Kalverstraat
5: Waterlooplein, Vlooienmarkt, Rembrandthouse and Jewish Historisch Museum
6: Nautisch kwartier, Scheepvaartmuseum and dierentuin Artis (Zoo)
7: Aankomst, Madame Tussauds Waxmuseum and the Koninklijk Paleis ( Royal Palace)
Weteringschans 24, tel: 020- 623-9886
Like the name implies, it's a water born bus. 11 stops, 3 routes. One ticket entitles you to ride all day off and on, on any or all of the 3 routes, the red, green or blue lines. Tickets are € 12.00, and they are valid until 12.00 pm the next day.
Water limousine would be a better name for these boats. They feature a well stocked minibar, catering for anything between snacks and full course meals can be arranged, and cd is carried onboard. These boats are hired for half and full day cruises. See the city in style!
tel: 020- 638-3933
De Stern was built in 1920 as the personal transport for the director of Koninklijke Nederlands Stoomboot Maatschappi ( Royal Netherlands Steamship Company). Varnished wood, brass and candlelight make it a perfect choice for enjoying a leisurely cruise through the old city. It's a very pretty boat, seats up to 12 passengers, and includes a bar, munchies, and catering is available by prior arrangement. Kiki Lameer is the owner and captain, and she'll be pleased to pick you up and take you anywhere you wish. De Stern was our choice for one of the more notorious AXXXTW photoshoots, as seen on the Playboy television programme, "Sexcetera". It was a night to remember!
Ondine / Myla / Mon prince / Swaen
tel: 020 675-8584
Four very lovely antique boats are available---one of which, "Ondine" was built all the way back in 1909---nearly 100 years ago. Capacities vary. Prices vary depending on the boat, and they range from €300, per hour to €150, per hour. After that the price is charged for actual time, not by the hour.
tel: 020- 530-1090 (Lovers)
The Amsterdamse WaterTaxi Centrale offers a range of boats with captain, seating from 8 to 25 persons.
Take a culinary discovery cruise and find out about the Watertaxi's gastronomical possibilities, ranging from a high-tea to a multiple-course dinner. Whilst enjoying this you experience the beauty of Amsterdam along the canals.
An excellent way of treating your business colleagues to something special is to hold a catered meeting on board one of these launches, it's a common practice here.
Prins Van Oranje Salonboat
De Ruyterkade 107/108 tel: 020- 419-1516
Boats for Hire
The Scheepsrecht is a rough, half-open army boat without any comfort and a engine with an ugly sound. You'll travel in real native Amsterdam style.
You are allowed to drink alcohol and smoke on board. Pick up and drop off ? No problem for them---it's anywhere you like. Once you are on board they will guide you through the canals or some beautiful spots around Amsterdam. Every now and then a visit to a local bar for a sanitary stop and a refreshment. Beer and soft drinks are available on board, or bring your own.
Do it Yourself Rentals
Unfortunately a ban was placed by the city on do-it-yourself boat rentals---which was probably a good thing. Probably.
But there is one left that we know about:
A variety of boats with different capacities are available here. From the self-driven to skippered with a hostess, for larger gatherings. We didn't know anyone was still renting self-service boats, they must've found a way to get around the ruling. Good for them.
From where they are located, and at the speed of these electrically propelled boats (very slow), one could already spend €50,- just to get to the centrum, where anyone would want to be. So, a minimum of 4 hrs would be about what you'd need to properly enjoy yourself. €140,- is not too bad when split up. In cost of boating terms, that's normal. Owning a small boat ourselves (name: Ignatzmice), it's about €75,- for petrol alone every time we take it out . The description of a boat as: "A hole in the water into which you pour money" is dead accurate ;-)