Why go to Amsterdam?
Amsterdam is charming and easy to navigate, and most people speak English
There's way too much to see and do in just one day
Plan ahead to maximize time in port during your visit
Amsterdam Cruise Port Facilities?
Though vendors usually appear in the terminal when a ship arrives, there is far more to do, see and buy nearby in town. The port offers a welcome market in the terminal, where you can buy access cards for various attractions. You can also purchase an iAmsterdam card at the tourist office in front of Central Station. The card will give the holder discounts on bus tickets, museum admission and entrance to other places of interest.
Good to Know?
The Red Light District can get a bit rowdy at night, with the mobs coming out to pay their respect for various reasons. Amsterdam visitors should also be aware that the term "coffee shop" has a different meaning here; these are places where no hard liquor is sold, but the sale of marijuana is officially tolerated.
On Foot: For visitors who plan to explore on their own, almost everything can be done on foot -- and when you tire, trams cover the main areas of the old city, and buses go almost everywhere, including the Docklands area. (The tourist office, opposite Central Station, is a convenient place to get maps and information and purchase tickets.).
The city's central point is the huge Dam Square, just a five-minute walk from Central Station via Damrak, a busy tourist street. The canals form five circles around Dam Square, and several other squares will help you get your bearings as you study the city map. Lively Leidseplein and Rembrantsplein are lined with sidewalk cafes that are ideal places to rest and watch the passing scene.
Major museums and the classic Concertgebouw concert hall are near the Museumplein, just beyond the canals. Waterlooplein is home to the Jewish Museum, the Muziektheater, the city's handsome concert hall, and Amsterdam's biggest flea market; the Hermitage museum and Rembrandt's House are also nearby. The Jordaan, a bohemian neighborhood with unusual shops and galleries, can be found by looking for the Westerkerk Church and the Anne Frank House.
The adventurous can join the Dutch on their bicycles; rentals are available at MacBike at Central Station.
By Bus: The #326 bus, headed to Central Station, stops right in front of the cruise terminal; the #16 trolley travels from the passenger terminal to the city center. The Canal Bus, a cruise boat traversing the canals with stops at all the city's main attractions, is a sightseeing trip, as well as an easy way to get around; you can get on and off all day.
By Taxi: Metered taxis are readily available, but they can be expensive. There are also human-powered Tuk Tuk taxis. Pricing is based on "zones."
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
The Netherlands is part of the European community, and the euro is the official currency. For up-to-the-minute conversions, visit www.xe.com or www.oanda.com.
Bank hours are typically Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.; on Mondays, some banks are open only in the afternoon. ATM's are plentiful; a machine can be found just to the left as you exit the cruise terminal, as well as at the airport, train station and dozens of banks. When out and about, look for the ubiquitous lion symbol (IMG ATM's). Credit cards are widely accepted.
Dutch is the official language, but English is the second language of the Netherlands and is spoken everywhere.
Where You're Docked?
The Amsterdam cruise terminals are busy in season, hosting more than 200 oceangoing vessels and more than 1,800 river ships that carry more than 786,000 passengers from spring through fall.
If you're on an ocean cruise, you'll dock at one of two areas. The Passenger Terminal Amsterdam (PTA), near the start of the new Eastern Docklands development, is a 10-minute walk or a five-minute ride from Central Station, where all of the city's bus, trolley and boat lines can be boarded. The second terminal area is Felison Terminal, which recently added a second berth. This area is located just in front of the locks.
The city's multitude of river cruise vessels dock behind the Central Station on the River IJ, along a long street called de Ruyterkade.