The prospect of doing a canal cruise during our weekend in Amsterdam is not something that initially aroused our sense of adventure. Both of us tend to stay away from “touristy” things, choosing to find our own path in a new city and seeing what lies off the beaten tourist track. That said, while on holiday we still seek out a few of the major attractions, because, well, there is usually a good reason why those places are deemed ‘attractions’ in the first place. On our short weekend getaways, we have to edit our agenda for a short visit and we often cannot see everything a new place has to offer. After arriving at Amsterdam though and seeing the numerous canals snaking through the heart of the city, we realized that taking a canal cruise and seeing the sites from the water is one of the best ways to get an overview of Amsterdam, especially when Mother Nature is not being kind.
After exploring the city for a few hours on foot, we needed a break from the rather cold, wet, snowy weather that had engulfed the city. We figured that the warmth of an enclosed canal boat was perfect. We opted for the Gray Line cruise (also called #1 Canal Cruise), departing from a dock a short walk from Amsterdam Centraal train station. Apparently, it is the most popular canal cruise, probably aided by its central location. The cruises depart every thirty minutes and we did not have to secure tickets in advance. We just showed up a few minutes prior to departure, snagged tickets and boarded the vessel.
There is an audio guide, available in what appears to be a million languages (it’s actually nineteen) that gives some insight of the city and the structures we motor by, though we preferred to just stare off and enjoy the scenery. Viewing the stunning city of Amsterdam from the heated warmth of the canal boat was surprisingly pleasant and enjoyable. Again, us not being very “touristy” we would have normally looked past the option of a canal cruise. In reality though, we had a blast, learned some neat facts about the city, stayed warm and spent an hour relaxing on the water. It would also be a good option for families where not everyone is similarly suited to hours walking.
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