6 Best Tips for a Winning Amsterdam Canal Cruise in Amsterdam
Taking a canal cruise is one of the top things to do in Amsterdam. Gliding peacefully past the colorful medieval buildings as you learn about the history and culture of the city is an unforgettable experience. Follow these tips to make sure your Amsterdam canal cruise is as enjoyable as can be:
1. Choose the Right Cruise Company
With dozens of canal cruise companies operating in Amsterdam, picking the right one for your taste and budget can feel overwhelming. However, taking the time to do a little research will pay off hugely. There are a few key factors to consider when selecting a canal cruise operator:
Safety & Professionalism – Only choose legitimate, licensed companies with modern boats that meet safety regulations. Read online reviews and check whether they belong to any professional associations. You want seasoned local captains guiding the tours.
Route & Duration – Standard canal cruises take about an hour and stick to the main city loops. But some companies offer shorter or longer tours, ones that go out to harbors, or even combo cruises pairing canal rides with walking tours. Pick what suits your schedule.
Vessel Type – Traditional, uncovered tour boats hold more people while providing 360 views. But covered, glassed-in boats provide shelter. Smaller boats access narrower canals that larger ones can’t. There are even small private electric boats or pedal boats for couples.
Perks & Extras – Will there be snacks, drinks (even beers or wine), Wifi, or audio guides provided? How knowledgeable are the captains? What languages do they speak? Check if there are children’s activities too.
Night Cruises – Regular daytime cruises showcase Amsterdam’s charm. But romantic evening tours under the moon and city lights have their own magic. There are even dinner cruises.
By evaluating Amsterdam canal cruise companies across all these factors – safety, route, size, amenities, and timing, you’re sure to find the perfect one for a memorable outing.
2. Dress Comfortably and Practically for Your Canal Cruise Adventure
Amsterdam cruises boast impressive views that capture your gaze for an hour or more. But while your eyes are distracted by charm, it’s easy to forget about dressing comfortably while on the open waters. Follow these clothing tips to stay cozy during your canal tour:
First, check the weather and pack layers. Even hot Amsterdam summer days can turn chilly on the evening cruises. Bring a light sweater or jacket you can slip on if needed. Spring and fall weather changes rapidly too. Having long sleeve shirts or layers helps ensure you won’t get cold as temperatures drop.
Second, wear shoes that grip well and can handle water. Flat, rubber-soled shoes work better than slip-on flats or sandals that can slide. In case of sudden downpours or unexpected splashing, waterproof shoes also keep your feet warm and dry.
Third, caps or visors not only block the sunlight but guard against pesky seabird surprises from above on uncovered tour boats. Bring sunscreen as well.
Finally, dress comfortably without anything too loose or dangling. While most cruises are smooth, you want clothes that won’t blow wildly on breezy days or catch on anything if you need to move around the boat.
By dressing sensibly in layers, comfortable shoes, and hats for varying weather, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your memorable Amsterdam canal cruise without any clothing worries or discomforts. Being prepared to handle the wind, rain, and other elements will allow you to fully soak up gorgeous views.
3. Dodging the Crowds for a More Intimate Canal Cruise
Amsterdam’s colorful canal cruises are so popular that lines can get incredibly long and boats jam packed at peak times. With limited space and seating, overcrowded tours transform the experience from peaceful to chaotic. Luckily with smart timing, you can enjoy taking in the sights minus pushing through hordes of visitors.
The busiest hours for canal cruise tickets are from 11am to 3pm. Avoid these peak afternoon hours if wanting a more relaxed, crowd-free ride. Early morning tours departing by 10am tend to be less crowded as visitors trickle in. Not as many travelers book the first cruise timeslots when attractions open. Similarly, early evening canal tours after 5pm thin out as well. Retirees tend to take the latest afternoon rides while younger travelers shift to bars and restaurants.
Another insider tip is opting for small, private boat rentals instead of the large packed tour operators. You’ll pay much more but have an intimate setting with only family or friends instead of 40+ strangers crammed together. Check group size limits when you book.
Finally, the months between November to March see far fewer tourists than spring and summer. While the weather is colder, cruising past Amsterdam’s charming landmarks along nearly empty canals has its own magic during the off-season.
Following these simple tips on timing and group size will reveal a crowd-free side to Amsterdam’s famed canal cruises most visitors never experience.
4. Snap Spectacular Shots: Photography Musts for Your Canal Cruise
Gliding slowly through Amsterdam by boat allows ample time to capture postcard-perfect photos. From blooming canal houses to iconic bridges, make sure your camera is ready to document the city’s scenic wonders. Follow these essential photography tips for your Amsterdam canal cruise:
First, check your device’s memory and battery life. There’s nothing worse than missing a fabulous shot due to a dead phone or full storage. Bring backup batteries, external chargers, and extra SD cards if you’ll be shooting lots of images.
Second, play with angles and perspectives. Canals provide unique below-eye views looking up at buildings and landmarks. But also photograph scenes straight on, from afar, and even panning sideways as you sail by. Move around the boat to vary compositions.
Third, adjust camera settings in advance for water reflections, sunlight contrasts, and scenery changes. Preset manual mode works well so camera doesn’t need to constantly recalibrate. If struggling for the right shot, ask your captain when favorite landmarks are approaching.
Fourth, know your subjects. Do some visual research on top sites seen on canal cruises – the Skinny Bridge, the Anne Frank House, the Westerkerk, and more. Having a shot list will help you prepare and not miss out.
With a charged camera, adjusted settings, handy angles, and shot planning, you’ll disembark your cruise with a portfolio of stunning Amsterdam keepsakes. Capturing the city by canal through photography makes for lifelong memories.
5. Enhancing Your Canal Cruise with Tasty Treats & Tours
Already an iconic Amsterdam activity, canal cruises become even more special with onboard food, drinks, and guided exploration. Numerous tour operators now provide enhancements that turn great excursions into remarkable ones. Consider these add-on options:
Cheese, Wine & Beer Tastings
What better way to admire Amsterdam’s stately canal homes than with pairings of Dutch cheeses, wines, and beers? Tasting packages allow you to sample regional specialties while a guide explains the intricacies of pairings.
For an in-depth experience, combo cruise and walking trips include tours of the inner courtyards of the Begijnhof, the blooming bulb fields, or the historic Jordaan neighborhood. You disembark to explore by foot with an expert.
Private Boat Charters
Hire an intimate private boat for you and your companions only, complete with your own captain and catering. Choose routes and provision drinks and snacks onboard for a personalized outing.
Special event cruises enrich the outing whether you love music, theater, history, or architecture. Select cruises feature live musicians, actors with costumes, noted historians, or local architects narrating sites.
By complementing your regular journey with immersive extras like tastings, tours, and themed rides, you’re sure to return home not just with photos but vivid memories of flavors, close-up sights, and Amsterdam insights to last a lifetime. The city’s waterways offer much to savor!
6. Scoping Out Strategic Sightlines for Optimal Canal Views
While canal cruises only last an hour or so, even short obstructions can hinder capturing Amsterdam at its finest from the boat’s prime photography spots. Avoid getting stuck behind heads and poles by scoping out optimal vantage points before casting off.
If booking your cruise online in advance, check out the boat layout first. Larger tour boats often have best views from the first few bench rows with standing room up top near the captain’s wheel. Uncovered boats allow you to move about freely to switch spots if needed. Small, glassed-in vessels have fewer viewing options so book early to get window seats.
Once aboard, politely ask fellow passengers if they would shift positions now and then so everyone gets a chance at the premier panoramas. You may even make some new friends by sharing the experience. If you have children along, lift them in your arms occasionally for an even better perspective.
Pack ultra-slim mini binoculars to peer closely at details near and far without obstruction. Tiny opera or theater glasses work wonderfully. For photography, you may want to secure a small tripod stool to rest cameras on top near the edges.
With a kind manner, creativity, forethought, and a zoom lens in hand, you’re sure to return home with visions of Amsterdam’s fabled tree-lined canals and charming row houses indelibly etched in your mind and camera memory card.