ShipParade - exclusive cruise ship photos reviews and stories about ports of call and cruise experiences
September 25, 2016 - A few weeks ago, Amsterdam received a Cruise Critic Cruisers' Award as "Best Cruise Destination in the British Isles & Western Europe". A great accolade for a port that has been welcoming cruise liners for many, many years. Most ships dock at the huge modern Passenger Terminal Amsterdam on the IJ River just across from Amsterdam's Central Railway Station - I don't think any other Western European port city has a more central cruise ship dock. Located some 25 km (16 mi) inland, a canal was dug between 1865 and 1876 connecting Amsterdam with the open sea. Passing the huge lock system at IJmuiden is another highlight and with the world's largest sea lock currently being built (check out video here) Amsterdam will in future be able the welcome the largest cruise ships. The mid-city dock and the banks of the canal create perfect vantage points to watch cruise ships sail by. You just keep on clicking... So instead of the usual 10 photos, Amsterdam gets 20. In chronological order!
In 1953, the Dutch Schelde yard in Vlissingen delivered the luxury liner Kungsholm to Swedish American Line. She measured 21,164 tons and had a capacity of 802 passengers (176 first class, 626 tourist class) and 418 crew. She was employed on liner voyages between Gothenburg, Sweden and New York in summer, and cruises in winter. When Swedish America Line ordered a new Kungsholm in the mid-sixties, the ship was sold to North German Lloyd. She was renamed Europa and continued her pattern of liner voyages and cruises, albeit from German ports. In 1970, North German Lloyd merged with Hamburg America Line to form Hapag-Lloyd. She received the now familiar orange funnels in the early seventies and was employed on worldwide cruises for a mainly German clientele. When Hapag-Lloyd ordered a new ship, Europa was sold to Costa Cruises with delivery in 1981. Renamed Columbus C, I photographed the ship in the North Sea Canal in 1983. A year later, she hit a breakwater in Cadiz, Spain and sank. She was later broken up in Barcelona.
One of the more unusual guests in Amsterdam back in 1988 was P&O Cruises' flagship Canberra. Built in 1961, she was designed with a dual role in mind. She sailed on liner voyages from the UK to India and Australia, and was used on cruises out of Southampton. When interest in her liner voyages deteriorated, the 45,000 ton, 1,737 guest Canberra became a very popular cruise ship. In 1982 the British Government requisitioned the ship for use in the Falkland War. Fondly called "The Great White Whale", she had a very active role in the war and returned to Southampton triumphantly. She was rebuilt and returned to P&O service on cruises from the UK. In 1997, Canberra was withdrawn from service and broken up in Pakistan.
In the seventies and eighties, Royal Viking Line was considered to be the ultimate luxury cruise line. Owned by three Norwegian shipping companies, Royal Viking Line operated the beautiful Royal Viking Star, Royal Viking Sky and Royal Viking Sea. Such was the success of the joint venture that these three ships were lenghtened and a new ship was ordered. In 1988 the brand new Royal Viking Sun entered service. I photographed the ship in 1989 as she transited the North Sea Canal on her way out to sea. Built in Finland, the 38,848 ton ship was the most spacious in the world, carrying only 740 passengers and 460 crew. She was used on ultra-luxury cruises around the world but sold to Cunard in 1994. She continued sailing as Royal Viking Sun until being snapped up by Seabourn Cruise Line. Renamed Seabourn Sun, she proved too large to fit in the Seabourn small ship fleet and in 2002 she was transferred to Holland America Line. She has been sailing as their Prinsendam ever since and is still a regular visitor to the port of Amsterdam.
After the France was transformed into the ss Norway in 1980, the mighty ship started her new career with a series of cruises to the Norwegian Fjords from Amsterdam. I remember the banks of the North Sea Canal crowded with onlookers as the beautiful ship made her way to the open sea, surrounded by a flotilla of small craft and sounding her bariton whistle continuously. I will never forget it. The Norway returned to Amsterdam a few more times in the eighties and nineties. I photographed her on August 25, 1998 while transiting the North Sea Canal, looking as impressive as ever. After a boiler explosion in 2003, Norway was decomissioned and later scrapped in India.
A rather special photo of two Royal Caribbean ships shot on August 2, 2002. To the left is the then brand new, 90,090 ton Brilliance of the Seas, having just been delivered to Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines by Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany. To the right is Royal Caribbean's first-ever cruise ship, the 1970 built Song of Norway. Originally measuring 18,416 tons, Song of Norway was built in Finland and proved to be an instant success on 7-day Caribbean cruises from Miami. She stayed in the Royal Caribbean fleet for 27 years, after which had a chequered career for various operators. In 2002, she sailed for Airtours Sun Cruises as Sundream. She was broken up in 2014. If anything, the photo above shows 30 years of progress in cruise ship design.
When the P&O Group purchased Sitmar Cruises in 1988, they inherited orders for no less than three new cruise ships. One of these was delivered in 1991 in Princess livery as Regal Princess. She is shown here steaming down the North Sea Canal on May 18, 2003. The 70,285 ton ship carries over 2,000 passengers and 660 crew. Regal Princess stayed in the Princess fleet for 15 years until transferred to the P&O Australia fleet. She was refurbished and entered service from Sydney, Australia in 2007 as Pacific Dawn
Whenever Cunard Line's magnificent Queen Elizabeth 2 visited Amsterdam, the ship had to dock at the container terminal as her draft was too big to venture downtown to the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam. In fact, I was on board when the ship first made her way to Amsterdam on December 13, 1995. This photo was shot on August 14, 2004 on a beautiful summer's day that suddenly turned very gloomy. I think the dark skies make the imposing vessel stand out even more. Queen Elizabeth 2 entered service in 1969 and spent almost 40 years at Cunard Line until replaced by Queen Mary 2 in 2008. She has been laid up in Dubai since 2009.
Ships with a white "X" on a blue funnel have always been a very familiar sight in the port of Amsterdam. Chandris Lines first started sailing from the port in the seventies, using their classic ships Regina Magna, Britanis, The Victoria and Amerikanis on cruises to the Norwegian Fjords and the Baltic. When Celebrity Cruises formed and the Chandris brand faded out, the brand new Century was sent to Amsterdam. This photo shows her on June 26, 2005 during a busy turnaround day. Built in 1995 by Meyer Werft, the 71,500 ton ship carried 1,814 passengers and 843 crew. In 2000, Century was replaced by Millennium and later Constellation. Since 2015 Celebrity Silhouette calls Amsterdam home in summer.
What would this ShipParade photo gallery be without the ship that was named after the Dutch capital? Pictured here is Holland America Line's Amsterdam on May 20, 2006. Amsterdam is considered one of the flagships of the Holland America fleet, being the ship to operate the line's prestigious annual World Cruise. Also in this picture is MSC Cruises' Rhapsody, originally Cunard Princess. She is now sailing as Golden Iris for Israel's Mano Maritime.
Seen here docked at the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam on June 18, 2006 is the pretty twin-funnel Kristina Regina, built in 1960 as a passenger/car ferry for Bore Line. She sailed between Sweden and Finland for 27 years before transferring to Kristina Cruises in 1987. She cruised in northern waters, the Mediterranean and Canary Islands before being replaced by larger Kristina Katarina in 2010. The ship was brought back to her original state and is now a stationary hotel ship in Turku, Finland under her original name Bore
If you ask me, Royal Caribbean's Radiance Class prove that mega ships can look really good. Pictured here is Jewel of the Seas approaching Amsterdam's city center on May 20, 2007 - a beautiful spring day. Jewel of the Seas is the fourth and last Radiance class vessel and was delivered in 2004 by Papenburg-based Meyer Werft. She carries 2,500 passengers and 842 crew.
Carnival Cruise Lines seem to have a love-hate relationship with Europe. Ships come, ships go but so far there has not been a long term commitment. In 2008, Carnival sent its newest and then largest ship Carnival Splendor to Europe and planned a number of Baltic cruises from Dover. Amsterdam was included as a port of call on every itinerary. The photo above shows the giant ship on July 13, 2008 against the backdrop of Java Island, once home to the famous Dutch liner Oranje that was employed on the Amsterdam to Jakarta service.
A crisp and sunny picture taken on July 24, 2008 of the impressive 93,558 ton Norwegian Jade. Norwegian Jade started her life in 2006 as the American-flagged Pride of Hawai'i for Norwegian Cruise Line's subsidiary NCL America. Her career in Hawaiian waters was short lived though and in 2008 she was reflagged to Bahamian registry and renamed Norwegian Jade. Large ships cannot turn directly in front of Amsterdam's Passenger Terminal and have to sail upstream to a large turning basin before moving back to the cruise dock.
December 17, 2009 - In the old days, Amsterdam was a summer cruise destination but in recent years the season gets longer and longer. Some time ago, Amsterdam Cruise Port proudly announced that they had booked cruise ship calls for every months of the year. And rightfully so, because Amsterdam doesn't lose its appeal when the temperatures drop. In fact, visiting the city's many sights is much more pleasant in the off season. Photographed during a snow flurry on December 17, 2009 are Black Watch and Queen Victoria, both on so called "Christmas Market" cruises. Amsterdam is also a popular port of call on New Year's Eve, famous for its massive fireworks displays that are best seen from the decks of a cruise ship docked in central Amsterdam.
Tulip Time! In April the cruise seasons for Amsterdam starts in full force as guests flock to the annual Keukenhof flower display. In this photo, AIDAcara is seen turning around in front of the cruise terminal on April 13, 2011, with passengers out and about on the open decks enjoying the fine weather. Built in 1996, AIDAcara was originally named Aida, introducing a novel casual club concept for the German market on the seven seas. It proved very popular. So much so that there are now 11 AIDA ships in the fleet, with three more on order.
We started this random list with Costa's Columbus C. The ships of Costa Cruises have always been popular and frequent guests in Amsterdam and for many years the cruise line used the Dutch capital as their turnaround port. In 2011, Costa Magica was based in Amsterdam. Seeing the provision operation during one of these turnaround calls is interesting, with up to 10 Italian trucks filled to the brim with everything from linen to lettuce parked dockside. I took this photo on May 30, 2011 while sailing the canals and port of Amsterdam on a small boat, just like so many locals do when the weather is nice.
The Amsterdam waterfront has changed considerably in the past few decades. These days grubby dockyards have made way for sleek modern apartment buildings, a landmark photography museum, wonderful restaurants and towering hotels. In this photo shot on August 29, 2012, Windstar Cruises' sail-assisted ship Wind Surf passes the impressive white Palace of Justice. Sister to Club Med's seagoing Club Med 2, Wind Surf was built in 1989 and has been in the Windstar fleet since 1998.
On May 3, 2013 I sailed out from Amsterdam on the brand new Europa 2 and was up on deck when another luxury German cruise ship approached. Deutschland is a one-off small cruise ship that is decorated in a classical Grand Hotel style. She was delivered in 1998 to Reederei Deilmann and became quite well known for her old-world service and formal, rather serious ambiance. In complete contrast the new Europa 2 has been designed to appeal to a younger, affluent clientele that is looking for an unstructured, casual lifestyle. While Reederei Deilmann and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises were competing heavily in 2013, both ships greeted each other like long lost friends when passing each other in Amsterdam. Check out our photos of a recent visit to Europa 2here
After Holland America Line's new Koningsdam was officially named in Rotterdam by Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, the ship left Rotterdam and sailed overnight to Amsterdam, her summer home base. Holland America Line made sure the guests would remember this special christening voyage so while in Amsterdam all of Koningsdam's were brought to the fabulous Rijksmuseum for a private viewing of -amongst others- Rembrandt's "Night Watch". I photographed the ship on the evening of May 21, 2016 from a canal boat. Check out our detailed ShipTour with many unique interior photos here
MSC Cruises' 137,936 ton MSC Splendida is one of the largest cruise ships ever to visit the port of Amsterdam. She is pictured here on a sunny September 24, 2016 making her way to the open sea after an overnight in port. Check out our MSC Splendida Photo Gallery with many interior photos here
Where in the world is Amsterdam?
Copyright & Disclaimer
This article was first published on September 25, 2016. All photos
are copyrighted to the respective owners. Photos and text may not be
reproduced without permission. All information was believed to be correct at time of publication, but may have changed since. No responsibility is accepted for the content of this website or any of its contributors. Please
email us if you have any comments or questions.
Copyright 2016 www.ShipParade.com - all rights reserved