Amsterdam. It's a cultural magnet, it's on the doorstep, and is just an overnight sailing away. So why wouldn't you enjoy a short break to the Dutch capital?
You're spoilt for choices when you get there. Hit the famous tourist attractions including the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum, or the Van Gogh Museum. Meander through the beautiful Vondelpark, take a lazy canal boat ride, or head to one of Amsterdam's top rated bars and restaurants. The more liberal of you may want to explore Amsterdam's red light district or one of its 250 "coffeeshops", where you can legally purchase and consume drugs.
Amsterdam truly has something for everyone, and a mini cruise is a hassle-free way to visit the city without worrying about the boring things.
What to expect on a mini cruise
Forget what you've seen or heard - cruises are not full of lords and ladies dressed up to the hilt. Mini cruises are an economical short break that are hassle-free and can represent good value for money.
Check in at the port, step aboard, and relax. There's no need to arrive at the port umpteen hours early (as with flying) and you can take all the luggage you can carry (take that pathetic luggage allowances). Wave goodbye to flying in a cramped seat and say hello to a spacious vessel with bars, restaurants, shops, and comfortable cabins.
Sure, flying gets you there quicker. But sailing overnight is effortless - and you do it while you sleep. And that's the key. The experience is just easy. That's why I'm addicted to them.
In the morning, head off into Amsterdam and spend the day doing whatever it is you want to do. Then, when you're tired, head back to the ship and sail back home.
Come sail with me - What You Need To Know
- WHEN: Mini cruises sail most days of the year, although you'll want to book early to get the best price. Generally, book three months in advance for the cheapest rates.
- WHERE: Hop aboard a North Sea ferry in Hull, Newcastle, or Harwich to enjoy a hassle-free break to Amsterdam. Sailing from Hull? If so, you can also head to Rotterdam or Bruges on mini cruises instead.
- WHO: This is a great excuse to enjoy a short break to Europe without the hassle of arranging flights, transfers, and hotels. Book your tickets and head to the port. Your ship is the hotel, and coach transfers mean you're in the city in no time. It's the perfect break for anyone young or old.
- OCCASIONS: Book a mini cruise on a whim, as a weekend getaway, or as a surprise gift for your partner or your friends.
- PRICES: Expect to pay around £90 per person for an inside cabin for two. Between September and March, the best deals start from around £40 per person. (correct at the time of writing)
- QUESTIONS: Need help? Ask questions here and I'll try to help as best I can
- TRIED THIS?: Would you recommend it? Share your thoughts here
2 Night Amsterdam Mini Cruise from Newcastle
An ideal departure port for those in the North of England or Scotland, Newcastle is easy to get to by road or rail. At just a couple of hours from Hull, it is an alternative route to the continent for those planning to sail from Humberside.
Danish line DFDS is a force to to be reckoned with in shipping and their Dutch mini cruises are extremely popular. Their ships are comfortable, with a dizzying array of dining, shopping, and entertainment options aboard.
- Two night's accommodation in a choice of cabins on a sailing from North Shields, Newcastle.
- The ferry usually leaves Newcastle at 5pm and arrives in Ijmuiden (for Amsterdam) the next day at 9.30am. It usually then departs Ijmuiden at 5.30pm and arrives in Newcastle the following morning at around 9am.
- Return coach transfers from Ijmuiden to Amsterdam city centre included.
- Travel in style by upgrading to Commodore De Luxe on King Seaways to gain access to an exclusive lounge with complimentary drinks and snacks.
- Typically spend up to five hours in Amsterdam.
2 Night Amsterdam Mini Cruise from Hull
Those travelling from the North of England, North Wales, or the Midlands might find Hull an easier departure point. It's only a couple of hours from Newcastle too.
P&O Ferries, a brand synonymous with sea travel, run daily services to Europe throughout the year. Their vessels on the Hull-Rotterdam and Hull-Zeebrugge route are comfortable with a choice of accommodation levels and things to do onboard.
- Two night's accommodation in a choice of cabins on a sailing from Hull.
- The ferry usually leaves Hull at 8.30pm and arrives in Rotterdam (for Amsterdam) the next day at 8.15am (or 9am on weekends). It usually then departs Rotterdam at 9pm (8.30pm on weekends) and arrives in Hull the following morning at around 7.30am (or 8am on weekends).
- Return coach transfers from Rotterdam to Amsterdam city centre included.
- Typically spend up to five hours in Amsterdam.
Make it three nights
Whether you want to see the Red Light District lit up in neon, you want to check out the city's nightlife, or you crave a romantic twilight voyage along the canal, experiencing a night in Amsterdam can turn a good short break into a great trip.
Sail with P&O Ferries and you can pay a small supplement to extend your two-night mini cruise into a three-night escape. You'll need to book one night's accommodation in Amsterdam separately, but that gives you choice. Stay in a budget hostel, a cheap chain hotel, a luxury pad, or even on a houseboat.
Make sure you choose "Amsterdam (via Rotterdam) Mini Cruise (depart Hull) (3 Nights)" on the price comparison page linked below.
Planning a winter trip to Amsterdam? Sailings from Hull and Newcastle are frequently on a 2-for-1 offer normally between September and March each year. The per person price effectively halves, which can save a fair bit if you don't mind sailing to the Netherlands in the colder months. 2 for 1 Mini Cruises lists details of current offers.
Amsterdam Mini Cruise from London
This isn't as effortless as the options above, but it is still doable. You'll need to book your ferry, transfers, and accommodation separately, but you can easily put together a great break.
From London, you'll need to head up to Harwich in Essex. There's an 80-minute direct train service from London Liverpool Street to Harwich International station should you opt for the train. Harwich International station is slap bang next to the ferry terminal.
Next, take the overnight Stena Line ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland. The ferry typically leaves Harwich at 11pm and arrives in Hoek van Holland at 8am. Outside the terminal you'll find Hoek van Holland train station, where two-hour train services to Amsterdam (via Schiedam) stop.
The ferry leaves Hoek van Holland at 10pm arriving back in Harwich at 6.30am, so it's up to you how long you stay for. Stay for the day and effectively enjoy a DIY two-night mini cruise (two nights aboard the Stena Line ferry). Alternatively, add as many nights as you want in Amsterdam.
Stena Line has a Rail and Sail package that starts from £178 per person return. This includes two night's ferry accommodation plus train tickets from London to Harwich and from Hook of Holland to Amsterdam.
(All prices are per person and based on two adults sharing an economy/standard inside cabin on a room-only basis at the time of writing. Prices change based on supply and demand, and are often subject to availability.)