Amsterdam Will Reduce Cruise Ship Visits and Move Terminal

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The city of Amsterdam, Netherlands, has agreed that cruise ship visits will be nearly cut in half for 2026 and beyond, with additional limitations in effect as work is done to remove the cruise terminal from its current downtown location by 2035. The move does not come as a surprise, as Amsterdam has been exploring such limits for some time.

In fact, the number of river cruise visits has already been slashed to a maximum of 1,150 calls annually by 2028, a decision that was announced in April. The limits on ocean ships, however, will be far more strict.

NCL Cruise Ship in Amsterdam
NCL Cruise Ship in Amsterdam (Photo Credit: Bert e Boer / Shutterstock)

At the moment, the Passengers Terminal Amsterdam (PTA) receives 190 cruise ship visits per year, but that will be reduced to no more than 100 per year beginning in 2026. Furthermore, only one berth will be used at a time to reduce overall congestion, and ships will be required to use shore power by 2027.

The reasoning for these limitations is due to a desire to minimize pollutants and promote sustainability. The Netherlands is a very politically liberal country, with a keen focus on climate change and environmentalism as befits the capital city, known for its extensive canals and vulnerability to sea level changes.

Analysis and input were sought from city, regional, and national stakeholders, as well as cruise lines, before this restriction was finalized.

“The city council wants a liveable, clean, and sustainable city. Sea cruise is a polluting form of tourism and contributes to crowds and emissions in the city,” said Alderman Hester van Buren. “By limiting sea cruises, requiring shore power, and aiming for the cruise terminal (PTA) to move from its current location in 2035, the council is responsibly implementing the council’s proposal to stop sea cruises.”

Ships from a variety of cruise lines, including Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, P&O Cruises, Seabourn Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Virgin Voyages, Holland America Line, Carnival Cruise Line, and Celebrity Cruises regularly visit Amsterdam.

Because cruise lines typically set their schedules a couple of years in advance, these new restrictions are unlikely to impact many existing itineraries already available for booking. Cruise lines may need to reconsider future itinerary plans, however, as new sailings are released.

Where Will Cruises Go?

Rather than calling in Amsterdam, many cruise lines will likely relocate their port of call visits to Rotterdam. The two ports are only 40 miles (64 kilometers) apart. This means that many of the same shore excursions and other experiences can be preserved for cruise guests.

“Rotterdam can take over 40 sea cruises that will no longer be allowed to dock in Amsterdam starting 2026,” the port analysis read.

Holland America Ship in Amsterdam
Holland America Ship in Amsterdam (Photo Credit: rawf8 / Shutterstock)

This will create a significant economic loss for Amsterdam, with fewer tourist taxes collected, less passenger spending, and fewer payments from cruise lines. The city will consider budget adjustments as necessary to compensate for this loss.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) estimates that cruise tourism contributes roughly 105 million Euros (approximately $112.5 million USD) to Amsterdam annually.

Read Also: Amsterdam Increases Tourist Taxes on Cruise Passengers

So far, there is no confirmed relocation point for the PTA to be rebuilt in a new location, though the Coenhaven area – northwest of the current location and outside downtown – may be considered.

Financial and legal feasibility studies for the relocation must still be completed, and it is possible the timeline for relocating the cruise terminal may be adjusted.

It should be noted that the limits on cruise stops and the relocation of the cruise terminal are just two of more than 100 different initiatives being considered to create better sustainability within the city. Tourist crowds, polluting emissions, noise pollution, and other factors are all part of the overall consideration.

Many other communities are considering cruise ship limits in recent weeks, including Sitka, Alaska; Bar Harbor, Maine; Valencia, Spain, and more.

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