The Ultimate Guide to Canal Cruise in Amsterdam


Amsterdam Canal Cruise from Central Station

Amsterdam Canal Cruise from Central Station

Most of the Canal Cruises in Amsterdam depart from Central Station. What exactly does it means? Which Cruises companies offer that? How much are the tickets? Here is what you need to know!

Amsterdam’s Central Station offers a prime, convenient location for embarking on a scenic canal cruise adventure. Many major cruise operators dock right across from the front entrance of the station, allowing direct access to board boats heading out to explore Amsterdam’s iconic waterways.

In this guide we will cover for you everything you need to know about taking a cruise from Amsterdam Central Station. So let’s get started.

Why Take a Canal Cruise from Central Station?

Amsterdam’s Central Station is the city’s main public transportation hub, making it an extremely convenient and accessible place to start your canal cruise adventure. The station has direct regional train connections to major destinations like Schiphol Airport, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht.

National and international trains also arrive into Central Station from destinations across Europe. This allows travelers easy transit access right to the canal cruise docks without having to worry about additional transportation.

The station is also a major metro and tram stop for those staying in other Amsterdam neighborhoods. Metro lines 50, 51, 53, and 54 along with numerous tram routes connect Central Station to virtually all parts of the city.

By starting your cruise directly from Central Station, you avoid potentially long walks, metro rides, or cab journeys from other districts. The ability to just walk out of the station and step aboard your waiting canal boat makes logistics nearly effortless.

The station’s proximity to attractions like Dam Square, the Red Light District, and various shops and restaurants also makes it easy to arrive early and explore the area before your embarkation time.

So for travelers arriving into Amsterdam by rail or metro, the convenience and accessibility of Central Station’s departure docks provide a smooth, stress-free transition into your idyllic canal cruise experience.

Popular Central Station Cruise Companies

Here are some popular canal cruise companies departing from Central Station in Amsterdam:

Blue Boat Company is one of Amsterdam’s most well-known canal cruise operators. Their blue steel boats depart frequently from docks across from Central Station. Blue Boat offers 1-hour daytime cruises, evening cruises, and private charters. Multilingual guides provide commentary during public tours. You can book Blue Boat tickets here.

Lovers Canal Cruises is another established company offering regular departure times from a dock near Central Station. Their day and night cruises focus on the central/western canals using a fleet of smaller boats holding about 8-12 passengers each. You can book Lovers tickets here.

Rederij Kooij cruise boats also depart across the water from Central Station. They operate traditional open sailing vessels holding 20-40 guests for standard public tours and private charters. Rederij Kooij boats have been running tours since the late 1800s.

Holland International is a budget operator catering to individual travelers with walk-up ticket kiosks across from the station. Their frequent, straightforward 60-minute cruises provide a simple intro to the canals.

Several other local companies like LoveBoat Amsterdam, Lazy Jack’s, and Wetlands Safari also offer cruise departures conveniently close to Central Station for a range of different experiences.

Types of Cruises Offered

Daytime Sightseeing Cruises – The most popular option, these 1-hour tours run frequently during the day and provide an overview of Amsterdam’s top sights like the Anne Frank House, Skinny Bridge, and typical canal architecture. Live or recorded commentary is provided.

Evening Cruises – These 1-2 hour evening cruises offer views of Amsterdam’s bridges illuminated after dark. A romantic way to see the city and major landmarks lit up.

Skip-the-Line Museum Tours – Some specialized cruises include priority entry to destinations like the Hermitage, Rijksmuseum, or Anne Frank House after the canal portion.

Dinner Cruises – These 2-3 hour evening tours combine sightseeing with a multi-course dinner served onboard. A great way to experience local cuisine.

Themed Cruises – Specialty cruises may offer specific experiences like wine tastings, jazz nights, or kids’ cruises catering to interests.

Private Cruise – Book your own private boat with guide for a customized experience just for your group. Ideal for special occasions.

Boat Rentals – Explore independently by renting your own small electric boat to navigate the canals at your own pace.

Here are the most popular Private Amsterdam Cruises

Amsterdam Cruise from Central Station Tickets and Price

Standard 1-hour daytime sightseeing cruises generally range from €18-22 per adult and €8-12 per child when booked online. Walk-up prices are usually a bit higher. Evening cruises that are 1-2 hours in length cost more, typically €25-40 per adult and €15-25 per child booked online. They can last beyond sunset.

Dinner cruises run 2+ hours and include a meal, so they have a higher price point around €50-75 per adult. But it bundles attractions and dining. Specialty cruises like jazz nights, wine tastings, or kid-focused outings are also premium experiences starting around €30-50 per adult ticket.

Private charters run €350+ per hour depending on your group size, timeslot, catering needs, and other custom add-ons. These give a fully exclusive experience. Boat rentals can start around €25 an hour for small self-piloted vessels for 2-4 people to explore independently.

Online booking in advance provides the best fares. Walk-up prices at docks are often 10-25% higher. Kids ages 4-12 generally get discounts of 25-50% off adult ticket prices on most public tours. Consider the cruise length, specifics, and your budget. But taking advantage of advance web pricing provides affordable canal cruising from Central Station.

Where you should buy tickets?

Most companies like Blue Boat, Lovers, and Rederij Kooij offer Ticket from desks and kiosks at the docks – If you didn’t pre-purchase tickets online, walk-up kiosks and ticket windows are located right at the departure docks across from Central Station.

Keep in mind availability is limited. Amsterdam tourist information centers – The VVV ticket shop at Central Station and other tourist offices sell cruise tickets, but usually at the regular rate without web discounts.

However, the best way to purchase tickets for these cruises, is to book as far in advance as possible, especially if traveling during peak tourism months. Walk-up availability is limited, so pre-booking online is recommended to save money and lock in your cruise.

You can find many online providers like “Tiqets” or GetYourGuide, which offer all online booking in advanced with flexible cancellation policies, payment in various currencies and languages and Easy price comparisons.

Some accommodations provide cruise bookings as a convenience through their concierge or tour desk, potentially with added service fees.

How long is Amsterdam Canal cruise

Standard Route and Sights

Most canal cruises from Central Station first head north passing the ferry docks and Java Island before turning west into the Canal Ring area.

The boats gently make their way into the Herengracht, Leidsegracht, and Prinsengracht semi-circular canals lined with picturesque historic gabled buildings, houseboats, and iconic bridges.

Key sights along the route include the Anne Frank House museum, Westerkerk church, Magere Brug, and views of the Nine Little Streets shopping district.

Many cruises also pass through the connecting Brouwersgracht canal noted for its tranquil scenery. Further northwest, boats may reach the Haarlemmergracht featuring warehouses converted into residential lofts.

The area between Central Station and the Canal Ring offers a relaxed intro to Amsterdam’s most picturesque residential waterways and architectures. Sail past old wealthy merchants’ mansions and former warehouses interspersed with quaint cafes.

Most tours from Central Station allocate time to glide by the city’s core landmarks while avoiding the busier docks further southwest. The route provides a fine taste of quintessential Amsterdam scenes from its main canals.

Company Standard Route
Blue Boat North to Herengracht, Leidsegracht, Prinsengracht, Anne Frank House
Rederij Kooij North to Brouwersgracht, Herengracht, Anne Frank House
Lovers North to Nine Little Streets, Anne Frank House, Magere Brug
Holland International North to Herengracht, Leidsegracht, Anne Frank House

Typical duration

The most popular offering is a standard 1-hour daytime sightseeing cruise. This provides enough time for a relaxing loop through the major landmarks and scenic canals near Central Station.

Many companies like Blue Boat and Rederij Kooij operate these 60-minute public tours continuously throughout the day, with new departures starting every 30 minutes from morning until early evening.

Evening cruises typically range from 90 minutes up to 2 hours in length. The extended duration allows you to enjoy sunset views and see the city light up after dark as you sail by top sights.

Specialty cruises like candlelit dinner tours or jazz concert cruises often last 2-3 hours to accommodate the meals or entertainment onboard. Some provide multilingual commentary as well.

Private chartered boats offer the most flexibility on duration. You can book 1 hour up to 8 hours depending on your desires. These allow fully customizing and extending the time on the water.

For the best variety, many cruise operators offer both 1-hour basic daytime tours along with longer special evening and event cruises catering to different interests.

Insider Tips

Here are some insider tips for having the best experience on a canal cruise departing from Amsterdam’s Central Station:

  • Book your cruise tickets online directly through the company’s website well in advance for lower fares and guaranteed availability.
  • Arrive at the dock at least 15 minutes before your scheduled departure time to check in and board.
  • For the best views, try to get a seat at the front or back of the boat. Side seats can get blocked.
  • Evening cruises tend to be more intimate, romantic, and less crowded than busy daytime tours.
  • Engage with your guide by asking questions during live commentary. They love sharing insider knowledge!
  • Dress warmly with layers, even in summer. Winds off the water can make it chilly, especially at night.
  • Consider splurging on a private charter cruise for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, proposals, etc.
  • Walk through the Red Light District or grab a drink at a waterside cafe before your cruise if you have extra time.
  • Purchase the snack or drink voucher often included in your ticket price to enjoy onboard.
  • Take advantage of discounts offered like early booking, student, senior, group, and child fares.
  • For private charters, customize details like catering, route, decorations, music to make it unique.
How long is Amsterdam Canal cruise

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do the canal cruises from Central Station last?

Most are 1 hour long. Evening and specialty cruises run 90 minutes to 2 hours. Private charters can be extended.

What languages are the cruises offered in?

Most cruises have live or audio commentary in 8-12 languages – English, Dutch, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, etc.

Can you bring your own food and drinks onboard?

No outside food/drinks are allowed except bottled water. Some cruises sell snacks and drinks onboard.

Do the boats have restrooms?

Yes, boats have restroom facilities available for passenger use during the tours.

What is the best time of day to take a canal cruise from Central Station?

Midday and early afternoon tend to be less crowded. But evenings offer romantic ambience.

What discounts are available?

Advance online booking, child, senior, student, and group discounts are often available. Check company websites.

Are private boat rentals offered?

Yes, many companies can arrange private boat rentals from Central Station. Ideal for groups and special occasions.

Are cruises wheelchair accessible?

Some boats have wheelchair lifts and accessible restrooms. But space is very limited. Always inquire about accessibility needs when booking.

Amsterdam Central Station Cruise - Pros and Cons


  • Convenient, easy access right from the major public transport hub
  • Avoid extra travel to departure docks in other parts of the city
  • Nearby attractions like Red Light District to explore before/after cruise
  • Frequent departure times make it easy to find a tour time
  • Established operators like Blue Boat offer high quality tours
  • Romantic evening cruise options available
  • Can pre-book tickets online for discounts and availability


  • Daytime cruises can be crowded with tourists arriving by train
  • Limited food/drink options compared to other locations
  • Views and photo opportunities may be more restricted
  • Less choice compared to docks with multiple operators
  • Standard route may feel repetitive for return travelers
  • Evening stag parties frequent area which could be disruptive
  • Must transit to see attractions after disembarking

Traveler Reviews of

Here are some reviews from travelers who have taken canal cruises from Amsterdam’s Central Station:

“So easy to take the train right to Central Station and then walk across the street to hop on our canal cruise – didn’t have to figure out Amsterdam’s transport at all!.”

“We did an evening cruise and it was amazing seeing the city light up as the sun set. Very romantic vibe.”

“Our guide was amazing and gave us great tips at the end for exploring the city once we docked.”

“Nice way to start our visit to Amsterdam with an overview of the layout and must-see sights along the canals.”

“Found a discounted combo ticket that bundled the cruise, a museum visit and tram pass. Awesome value for getting oriented.”

“Try to avoid the really busy midday departure times if you can. We could barely move around to see any views.”

“Easy to walk around the Red Light District beforehand which was an…interesting intro to Amsterdam before our cruise.”

“Don’t expect great food – just light snacks for sale. But the live music on our evening jazz cruise made up for it!”

More useful information about Amsterdam Canal Cruises

We are a group of travelers who love to explore and write about Amsterdam. Over the years, we have gained extensive experience with cruising over the Canals in Amsterdam. Here, you could find all the essential information you need to know about Amsterdam Canal Cruises, including the different types of cruise, prices, tickets, operating hours, departure points, and many more.


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