No need to panic just yet if you have booked or are planning a cruise in Amsterdam. Reports that the hugely popular port for both ocean and river cruises is banning cruising have been exaggerated.
A few days ago, the cruise world was abuzz with reports in mainstream media that began around July 20 and 21 that the Dutch capital is eliminating cruising to limit pollution and over tourism.Reports said the city’s downtown cruise port and terminal would close – putting the future of the 100 ships that visit Amsterdam every year in jeopardy.
It was easy to believe, because the Netherlands is at the leading edge of restricting travel for sustainability purposes. The Dutch government has recently won a final court challenge to its mandate that Amsterdam’s airport not just limit, but actually cut the number of flights daily by a whole 10% in order to reduce noise pollution.
But reports about cruise ship bans missed some key facts.
First, the Amsterdam city councillors calling for the ban include ocean, not river ships.
On top of that, CLIA, the Cruise Line Industry Association, issued a statement on July 21, clarifying the actual situation, calling aspects of the earlier media reports “incorrect.”
The organization works closely with both the industry and other cruise stakeholders, like cruise destinations, on all matters related to cruising.It’s a reputable source with access to decision makers at the highest level – and so their statement rings true.
CLIA points out that the port itself has publicly stated that cruise ships have not been banned from Amsterdam.
Dick de Graaff, director Cruise Port Amsterdam (CPA) has issued a statement that CPA "is open for business as usual with cruiseships continuing to call as per the schedule."
He says CPA has bookings into 2026.
“Furthermore,” CLIA's statement continues, “the port and Passenger Terminal Amsterdam have already pledged to undertake investments worth millions of Euros in port infrastructure and shoreside electricity for the long-term.
Shoreside electricity infrastructure allows ships to ‘plug in’ to power while in port, removing the need for them to keep their engines running and contributing to air pollution. Shoreside electricity is part of an industry-wide push towards greater sustainability in cruise travel.
And Amsterdam's city council only weeks ago agreed to install shore power at CPA by 2025, with one connection for ocean and 8 for river ships. An unlikely move if an actual ban on cruising was in the works.
In addition to clarifying that there are actually long term investments and developments in place for the continued (and more sustainable) use of the port, CLIA adds, “We are working with the authorities to accommodate the views expressed by (Amsterdam city) Council members while continuing to support the communities that benefit from cruise tourism.”
And it pointed out that, if the city feels it’s become too popular for its own good, banning cruising is no ‘magic bullet’ that will solve issues associated with over tourism: “Of the more than 21 million visitors that Amsterdam receives each year, around 1% arrive by cruise ship.”
Furthermore, cruising in Amsterdam, like it does in other destinations, adds a lot of value to the local economy. CLIA’s statement points out that cruise tourism contributes “around 105 million Euros to the city annually.”
That’s not to say changes may not be on the horizon.
“There have been discussions on (the port and Passenger Terminal Amsterdam’s) relocation outside the city centre which started back in 2016 and which are still ongoing,” CLIA acknowledged.
Even if and when changes to cruise - and specifically ocean cruise - traffic into the heart of downtown Amsterdam are made, cruise travelers will still be able to visit Amsterdam via easy excursions from the nearby port of Rotterdam, for example.
The Netherlands remains a strong maritime and shipping nation, with multiple ports and coastal and inland waterway shipping and navigable routes. Cruising in the Netherlands and visits to its capital will not be disappearing anytime soon.
By: Lynn Elmhirst Producer and Host, World's Greatest Cruises
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Image: Lynn Elmhirst/ World’s Greatest Cruises
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