What do you get the girl who has everything? A mini cruise to Amsterdam! It was my 27th birthday recently and John decided to whisk me away to Amsterdam. Knowing I love boats he booked the Amsterdam Mini Cruise with DFDS Seaways where you spend two nights on-board and 5 hours exploring the Dutch capital.
The ferry leaves from Royal Quays, North Shields which is near Newcastle and pretty easy to get to from the A1. My birthday was on a Monday so we chose the cruise which left on Sunday afternoon and returned on Tuesday morning.
We checked in at 2.30pm and had plenty of time to explore the ship before our 5.00pm departure. First we went to find our cabin and see where we would be laying our heads. John had upgraded to a room with a window so we could enjoy the view and the cosy cabin had everything we needed.
Once we were settled in we headed to the upper decks to watch as our voyage got under way. On the top deck we found the Sky Bar, ordered a drink and enjoyed the sea air.
In the evening there were plenty of restaurants to choose from and we settled on Little Italy which is also the cheapest except for the cafe. It offers fresh stone-baked pizzas and classic pasta dishes. A margherita with fresh basil set us back €15.50 while a large portion of spaghetti bolognese was €18.50 so it was on the pricey side but we were expecting to pay over the odds for food on-board.
After dinner we had a few drinks and listened to music in our cabin before heading to the Columbus Club to see what entertainment was available. We had brought our own bottles of wine but needn’t have bothered as the shop was duty free making it cheaper than the supermarket at home.
The Columbus Club is the main bar and spans the width of the ship. It has a stage, dance floor, casino and even offers table service. We watched the live band while we drank and left when the bingo started, it’s really not our game!
Our 2-berth cabin had an en-suite bathroom, air conditioning and bunk beds. We had already agreed John would take the top bunk (he was worried I might fall out after a few glasses of wine!) but the bunk beds were a decent size and very comfy so we both slept soundly.
In the morning the ships tannoy woke everyone up an hour before we arrived in Amsterdam. We grabbed something to eat in our cabin then went out on deck to watch as we docked.
The buses were waiting for us after we came through passport control and we began the 45 minute journey to the centre of Amsterdam.
We had five hours to explore so first thing was first. Cheese!
So. much. cheese.
Then we took in the sights and smells of the world famous flower market.
These ones didn’t smell quite as good.. and I didn’t notice they were wooden until after I had taken the photo!
At 12 noon we were surprised to hear an air raid siren blaring. We had no idea what was going on but since none of the locals were batting an eye lid we decided everything must be fine. When we returned home we did some research and found that on the first Monday of every month at noon a network of 4200 sirens are tested all over The Netherlands. It’s called Waarschuwingsstelsel and no matter where you are in the country you should be able to hear the sirens. If it’s not the first Monday of the month you should go instead, shut all doors and windows and turn on your radio!
After that little drama we decided the best way to see the rest of the city was by boat and booked ourselves a canal cruise. We chose Lovers Canal Cruises which was €16 each and spent an hour touring the harbour and the many scenic canals. Unfortunately my camera was having a wobbler so I had no choice but to sit back and relax. Lovers Canal Cruises also offer evening cruises with dinner and drinks and if we stay overnight in the future I would love to go on a candle light or even a pizza cruise!
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the city centre, enjoying the architecture and dodging the April showers.
At 4.00pm we headed to our pick up point and took the coach back to the ferry terminal. Boarding was much quicker when we were getting back on the boat and before long we were heading home.
The evening was spent watching the sunset and enjoying a few drinks. We ate in Little Italy again and watched people gamble in the Casino before calling it a night.
We docked in North Shields at 9.00am the following morning and immediately started thinking about our next voyage on the high seas!
If you want to have your own adventure Amsterdam mini cruises with DFDS Seaways start at £85.00pp.