A few weekends ago, the boyfriend and I headed to Amsterdam… via Newcastle. This might not sound so odd but when you live in East Anglia, it’s definitely the long way round.
I won a competition through Green Traveller for a mini Cruise to Amsterdam from Newcastle with DFDS Seaways. I didn’t really think I’d win so I never looked into the prize. As it turns out, I’d won five hours in Amsterdam with two days travelling on a boat. That’s a bit odd but any hours in one of my favourite cities is good and the perfect chance to grab lunch with friends who live there.
The cabin was a bit of a shock to me as I have quite high standards as to where I sleep. A single bed feet away from an (my) attractive man in another single bed is not ideal. However, I was thankful that our cabin had a window. The DFDS Seaways boats do have Commodore Class cabins with a double bed and a bit more space but we stuck with what we were given. As it turned out, I didn’t sleep too badly. (Despite the noisiest loo fan in the world and a squeaky ceiling tile.) I love boats and being rocked to sleep by one makes me feel so relaxed.
We left Newcastle at 9am and would arrive in Amsterdam at 10am the next day. We had a lot of time to kill so the first thing we did is find out where the lifeboats were.
I like boats so to be able to explore one and see it sail out of the harbour was lovely. I haven’t been on a ship this big since a Mediterranean cruise years ago. Although, exploring that ship was a bit warmer. Newcastle on that particular day was dreary and chilly.
Boat explored, we headed to one of the three bars for a drink. I partook in a very icy cocktail that tasted nice but may or may not have contained alcohol. I switched to beer for the remainder of the trip. As someone who works in marketing, I can appreciate bumping up prices for the captive audience but £4.50 a pint was a little excessive. Our free (should’ve been £69 per person) mini cruise was actually turning out to be quite expensive.
We headed to the onboard steak restaurant for dinner and had cleverly purchased food vouchers before boarding. This meant we got around £32 worth of food each (advertised as two courses) for about £29 per person. For us, that was more like one steak and a glass of wine.
What I didn’t understand was the weird way in which the wine was sold. You could get 250ml or 500ml. I assumed 500ml was a carafe. Nope, one glass and you can’t split it between two (which would’ve saved a little money over two 250ml glasses).
The steak itself was lovely but the accompaniments were lacking. I wanted some vegetables and the ‘steak sauce’ was just strange. Kind of a creamy tomato flavour.
After the steak we went for more drinks in the bar. There was loud music; a lot of drunk girls; a stag party group who dropped to the floor whenever anyone shouted ‘vive la France'; and one guy who was off his face on something. All this proved highly entertaining. We had a bit of a dance the headed to bed.
The next morning we were very loudly awoken by the tannoy going off in our room at 8am to announce we’d be arrive at our destination in around two hours. Okay, so we were awake. We’d already bought a sandwich from the café the night before so we didn’t have to pay out for breakfast. We ate that then watched as we came into port.
Once we were off the ship and through passport control, we hopped on a bus that took us to Amsterdam’s central station. From here, we had some time to ourselves before meeting friends. We decided to explore in a direction we’d never been before.
Amsterdam was wonderful as always and we had a wonderful lunch at Burgermeester (which, I ate so quickly that I forgot to photograph it).
We walked to the top of the NEMO Science Centre too. It has this cool roof terrace full of sun loungers, water features and outdoor games. Pity is was raining but the view was great.
The time actually in Amsterdam felt so brief in comparison to how much time it had taken us to get there. I suppose this trip would be more worthwhile if you were then spending a night or two in the city. There’s not much you can do in five hours, it’s not like you can go and take in the main sights (take a look at our Amsterdam city guide for more information). That’s fine for people like me who have been to the city before and are happy to go for a walk then have some lunch. But it’s not ideal for someone who wants a bit of a cultural injection from the city.
Back on the boat we decided to think about dinner. The all you can eat buffet sounded like the best bet based on our previous experience. I wish we’d gone there the first night too, it was fantastic.
There was a huge selection of food and some of it was rather odd. I like trying new things and this was the perfect chance. We also pocketed some fruit and a macaroon for breakfast the next day.
All in all, it was an odd trip that I’m not sure I’d want to repeat. It’s not really my scene and as much as I love ships and boats, this one didn’t really do it for me. (This whole post makes me sound ungrateful and cheap. I’m not, honestly. Not usually, anyway.)
Next time I’ll be driving to Amsterdam, it’ll be quicker.