A Weekend in Amsterdam: Minicruise

Recently I visited Amsterdam for the second time, and once again I was not disappointed. Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands and probably the most vibrant and lively city I have ever visited. Every corner has something new, the streets are lined with the most beautiful canals and tulips edge each turn. When I first visited Amsterdam the only thing I thought would be there was a hell of a lot of weed and the whole place would smell like Leeds Festival; I was pretty wrong (sort of). On this trip I decided to document more of what we did, prices and our trips there, so this is what this blog is, what we did on our weekend trip to Amsterdam.

As both me and my friend Sophia had turned 18 we thought what better way to celebrate this than go to the capital city of sex and drugs? I’m kidding, it was kinda unplanned. We sat in the car one day bored of Sheffield and decided to just go somewhere cheap but fun. We happened to come across the P&O mini cruise deals, they offer a 2 for 1 deal between October and March, allowing two people to travel for the price of one. This included 2 nights travel on the ferry and a day in Amsterdam for £90 (£45 each). You can see the website here: P&O MINICRUISE WEBSITE . So we booked it on the 24th February 2017 and got ready to set sail on the 29th March 2017.

The Journey: day one

On the 29th March 2017 we woke up (a little too excited) and headed for a train to Hull from Sheffield. We decided this would be the best option as neither of us drive and a return fare was only £19 each, making it easier than getting a lift. We arrived in Hull at around 3pm so decided to get a taxi from the station to King George docks which again was rather cheap at about £6. We then went through custom checks, which led to Sophia being bag checked and questioned about her crystal nail file and suspected vodka bottle (spoiler it was water). We then boarded the ferry by walking up about 6000 steps, there is a lift but we decided to race everyone else. 

The ferry its self is quite basic but still boasts quite a lot to do for an overnight stay. The room we had was a premier 4 bed room with two beds next to each other and two that folded out on top of them to be used as bunk beds, we just used them to take the extra pillows! The room also had a vanity table with a stool, lights and a mirror, a small place to hang up coats and an ensuite bathroom with a shower. We also paid to have a window in our room rather than going with the standard price with a basic room and no window. The room was quite large for a small ferry and was kept warm enough to sleep with a thin blanket. 

The ferry had a showbar with themed nights and discos, an Irish bar, a cinema, a sky lounge bar, a fashion/makeup duty free shop, a chocolate shop, a duty free alcohol shop, 2 restaurants, Starbucks and a children’s playarea. On the ferry you had to pay in English pounds and the shops and restaurants did not open until the ferry set sail. The only thing I would say regarding food on the ferry is the price is very expensive. The buffet restaurant was around £30 each, the nicer restaurant was around £20 for a main meal and drinks were around £10-12 for a cocktail. So we decided to eat in the Starbucks which serves hot dogs for £5, pizza for £7/8, pies at £5 and a variety of things for breakfast. Plus we got to sit at the window and watch the ferry set sail!

Arriving in Rotterdam: day two

We both woke up around 6am ridiculously confused about what time it was as our phones kept changing times. So we decided to run up in our pjs to the sky deck to see the sunrise and it was amazing! We then got dressed headed for some breakfast and went up to the sky deck again to see how the port of Rotterdam was looking. We arrived in Rotterdam at around 8am but due to port traffic was held back for 30 minutes causing us to board the coach to Amsterdam at around 8:30/9am after customs. The coach journey to Amsterdam was so enjoyable, we passed countryside views with windmills, small villages and beautiful tunnels and bridges that felt a million miles away from England. The journey itself was around 1 and a half/2 hours from Rotterdam, we parked in Amsterdam central and was given from 10:30am till 5pm to explore Amsterdam if on the minicruise.

Our day in Amsterdam: carrying on day two

As I have visited Amsterdam before using the minicruise I knew my way around the city quite well allowing us to visit everything in one go. We also had a map from my previous visit allowing us to plan our route prior to arriving, which helped us massively. We knew we had little time compared to if we stayed in Amsterdam so prebooked a canal cruise on the ferry (9 Euros each)  to see the main sites. We used the “LOVER” canal cruise (see the website here LOVERS CANAL CRUISES )which used a beautiful long boat with both an inside and outside area. As it was 26-28 degrees on the day we visited we sat on the outside part. The canal cruise was so worth every penny, it passed through the canals past everything you would want to see. We passed the port, Anne Frank house, The opera house and so many other landmarks. The cruise offered earphones to listen to information throughout about each passing landmark, making the cruise last around an hour.

After the cruise we headed down the central way past the shops which is always busy and packed with tourists towards the trams behind the Royal Palace. We caught the number 5 tram to the Museumplein to see the IAMSTERDAM sign (IAMSTERDAM) plainly just for the photo opportunity. The only issue with this place is how busy it is! you have to fight for a letter just to get a photo there was hundreds of people surronding it. If you stay for a weekend id say to go early in the morning if you’re wanting the sign to yourself. The sign is surronded by Vondel park and beautiful areas to sit, especially if it is warm. The sign is also close to the shopping centre allowing a good walk back through shops and restaurants.

 If you go anywhere for food I recommend dropping in to FEBO, (WWW.FEBO.NLits a fast food restaurant that you place money into a small vending machine like slot and press a button and recieve your food. It costs around 2.50 Euros and sells burgers and breaded tubes with sauce in (no idea what you call them). Its honestly the coolest place I have ever seen and the food isnt half bad either!

After exploring Amsterdam a little further and as the weather got warmer we headed towards the Anne Franks house. If you do ANYTHING in Amsterdam, book to go. A few weeks/months before going the house put a certain amount of tickets online for the same price as on the door (around 9 euros each, SEE HERE http://www.annefrank.org )This is the best thing to do as this allocates you entry at the time chosen to the house without queuing. Without a ticket people can queue for anywhere between 2 and 6 hours and even after queueing a lot wont even get into the house due to the times they are allowed in, its not worth risking it!!!!

Upon arriving you are bag checked and scanned to ensure you are not carrying any items you are not allowed (large cameras, food, glasses bottles, sharp items etc). You then enter a small room which leads you through videos, stories and pictures of the life of the Franks. The house is mostly intact allowing you to walk freely through the house and newly built musuem. There is no furntuire left in the house as after being discovered the house was ordered to be cleared, like all Jewish homes found. The musuem leads through the rooms they hid in, the bookcase and the steps leading up to the Annexe. Each room is bare except for photos and words and it needs no more. This may be the most heart felt place I have ever visited, you cannot do anything but feel devasted by what happened to so many people all because of one persons beliefs. The final room leads through the documents left, Anne’s diary, their death files and notes from Otto Frank. It may be the most heart felt place you could ever stand reading the story and knowing that they were days away from surviving like so many people. I wont speak much more of it as I believe if you want the expereince you HAVE to make time for this when visiting Amsterdam.

At the end of our day we headed through the Red light district, which im sure on a hot day needs no other explanation other than drugs, sex and a hell of a lot of creepy men who enjoy shouting chat up lines at you. Some of my ultimate favourites we got in the space of 10 minutes are “are you French? Beautiful girls” “want a tattoo? No? Well i know what your momma would be proud of” “hello, is it me youre looking for?” “Ohh the most beautiful girls in all of Amsterdam”. These sound like fun and games but are slightly creepy for two 18 year old girls alone who couldnt keep a straight face at them.

The journey back to the ferry: Still day two

At the end of the day we got back on the coach at around 5pm and headed back to the Europort in Rotterdam. As this also happened to be rush hour it took around 2 and a half hour to get back, but to be fair everyone was pretty much asleep on the coach to even notice. We arrived at the ferry for around 7:30pm, went through customs and got on the ferry for no later than 8pm. We walked up to the sky deck and watched the sunset and had our evening meal again in Starbucks (students on a budget here!) while watching the ferry depart the port. We again went into the shops and bought some amazing makeup duty free buys, including a smashbox pallete for less then £20 and plenty of cheap chocolate! Exhausted from our hectic day of serious walking we headed to bed like the exciting students we are! (we did spend about 3 hours discussing how big whales are and if we could swim the sea but you dont need to hear that part…).

Back in hull: day three

We arrived back in Hull for around 7/8am, we were so exhausted that we missed our alarm and didnt even wake until we heard the speaker voice in the room. We decided not to have breakfast and wait till we got to hull. We departed the ferry and crossed through customs and got on the bus that departs the port and arrives at the train station within 10/15 minutes, allowing us to get breakfast and head home on the train. Finishing an amazing few days away.

I couldn’t recommend the ferry over to the Netherlands enough if you dont have much time but want to see everything. It gives you a cheap way of going over to an amazing city. However, if you want more time i would say to book a hotel over three and spend a few days to explore, which is dwefiantly hat we will do next time! But overall, we had an amazing time and i cant wait to visit again! Overal in Amsterdam, we spent 20/30 euros compared to the 50 euros we did take, i would also recommended taking a mix of notes and coins!

If you have any questions on our trip or any more recommendations I have please feel free to message me on my Instagram: @aimeebrowes

But for now,

Much love x

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