The Ultimate Guide to Canal Cruise in Amsterdam


Blue Boat Canal Cruise Amsterdam

Blue Boat Canal Cruise Amsterdam

Cruising along the canals with Amsterdam Blue Boat is one of the best thing to consider while traveling in Amsterdam . What exactly do they offer? Which cruise you should choose? How much does it cost? What are the departure locations? and many more. Here is a full guide for Blue Boat canal Cruise in Amsterdam!

Gliding through Amsterdam atop an iconic Blue Boat is one of the best ways to explore the city’s scenic canals. Blue Boat Company offers a variety of popular daytime or night sightseeing cruises taking you through the atmospheric waterways while expert guides provide commentary.

Read on for practical details about Blue Boat canal tours to help you plan your time on the water. Here you will find everything you need to know. Let’s get started.

About Amsterdam Blue Boat Canal Cruises

The Blue Boat Company traces its origins to the 1950s, when Swedish entrepreneur Lars Bergenstråhle started offering boat taxi services in Amsterdam using surplus US Navy landing crafts. Seeing potential in leisure cruises along the city’s scenic canals, Bergenstråhle acquired a fleet of former Swedish customs boats in the 1970s and converted them into comfortable vessels suited for canal tours.

This formed the genesis of Rederij P. Kooij, established in 1979, which exclusively used blue boats and later rebranded as Blue Boat Company. They remain one of the most respected and popular canal cruise operators in Amsterdam.

Today, Blue Boat Company operates a fleet of 11 blue steel boats, each holding 55-80 passengers. The boats feature indoor heated seating with panoramic windows, restrooms, and snack bars. Experienced local captains expertly navigate the routes and provide live commentary in multiple languages.

In addition to public sightseeing cruises, Blue Boat offers private charters, themed cruises like jazz nights or wine tastings, and special kids’ cruises. They carry over 300,000 passengers annually during the spring and summer tourism season.

Amsterdam Blue Boat Canal Cruises - Cruises Types

The Historic City Route is Blue Boat’s most popular daytime public tour. Lasting 75 minutes, this loop cruise takes passengers along major canals and waterways while live guides provide commentary highlighting top sights and history. The route showcases Amsterdam’s iconic skyline, bridges, and canal houses.

The Evening Canal Cruise offers a twilight perspective on the city after dark. These 90-minute tours run during evening hours and let travelers see illuminated landmarks like the Anne Frank House, Magere Brug, and Royal Palace shining under the lights. Evening cruises have a relaxed, romantic ambience.

Designed with families in mind, the Kids Cruise has special amenities and entertainment for children under 12. Kids receive treats like candy and soda, activity packs, and a free souvenir photo. Guides engage young passengers with stories tailored for children and fun facts about sights.

For those seeking a private boat, Blue Boat’s exclusive charters can accommodate groups of up to 45. You get to decide the catering, route, and duration to customize the experience. Add-ons like flowers, cakes, and balloons are available to make private cruises even more special and personalized.

Beyond these core offerings, Blue Boat also provides themed specialty cruises on select days like Jazz Nights featuring live music and Cheese & Wine cruises with tastings on board. These showcase Amsterdam’s canals in unique ways.

Here are the most popular Amsterdam cruises of "Blue Boat":

Blue Boat Cruise Ticket Prices

The standard adult fare for the 75-minute Historic City Route daytime cruise is €17. Tickets for children ages 4-12 are €8.50. These are the base prices when purchased onsite.

Booking online in advance from website like “Tiqets“, provides a discount of around 10%, bringing adult tickets down to approximately €15.50 and children’s to €7.65 online. Advance booking also guarantees a spot, while walk-up tickets can sell out, especially during peak tourism season.

The 60-minute Evening Canal Cruise has a regular adult fare of €23.50 and child fare of €10. With online discounts, adults pay around €21.55 and children €9 when booked online in advance.

Private charters have customized pricing starting at around €325 for groups up to 12 people. The per person cost decreases the more passengers in the group, generally getting less expensive per person for groups larger than 25. Exact private charter rates vary depending on factors like month, day, hours, catering and any extras.

Specialty and themed cruises like the Jazz Night or Cheese & Wine tours come at a premium price point due to their unique nature and inclusions like live music or tastings. These tours start at approximately €25 per adult in advance.

All public tour tickets from Blue Boat Company include a €1.50 booking fee. Taxes are included in the base ticket prices. Payment online is by credit card while docks accept cash or card.

Where you should buy Tickets for Blue Boat Canal Cruises?

Tickets can be purchased in person at Blue Boat’s three departure docks located across from Central Station, behind the Floating Flower Market, and next to the National Monument on Damrak. While convenient, walk-up tickets may be limited during peak tourism periods.

A few official Amsterdam tourist information centers sell Blue Boat tickets, including locations at Central Station and Stationsplein. These locations charge the regular rates without online discounts.

But the best way to purchace tickets for blue boat cruises, is to book Blue Boat Company canal cruises 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.

Also, Byuing tickets with websites like Tiqets and GetYourGuide, can provide advantages like package deals and ease of booking Amsterdam activities in one place.

Blue Boat Top Departure Locations

Across from Central Station is the most popular and busiest Blue Boat dock. It offers direct access for those arriving by train or metro into the city. This location has multiple boats departing throughout the day and is the launching point for evening canal cruises.

The dock behind the Floating Flower Market on Singel canal is also a prime spot right in the old city center. Near lively flower stalls and shops, it provides quick access to attractions like the Nine Little Streets district. Daytime cruises depart frequently from here.

On the Damrak waterfront next to the National Monument, another active Blue Boat dock sits steps from Dam Square and the Royal Palace. Guests can easily combine a cruise with visiting top nearby sights. Departures are daily.

These three centrally located docks allow easy boarding by foot, bike or public transport. The surrounding areas also offer plenty of shops, restaurants, and amenities for before or after your cruise. Other companies like Rederij Kooij, Grayline, and Lovers also use these docks.

More remote docks exist but primarily serve private charters. Given Blue Boat’s prime dock real estate right in the core of Amsterdam, travelers can conveniently board daytime or evening public tours on foot after strolling just a few minutes from major landmarks and attractions.

Look for the distinctive blue steel boats docked along the waterfronts near Central Station, the Flower Market, and National Monument when seeking the Blue Boat Company for your Amsterdam canal cruise.

Tour Type Departure Docks
Daytime Cruises Behind Floating Flower Market, Next to National Monument
Evening Cruises Across from Central Station
How long is Amsterdam Canal cruise

Boarding Times and Duration

For daytime public sightseeing tours, Blue Boat cruises operate daily from 10AM to 5PM, with a new departure every 30 minutes. This high frequency allows flexibility to find a tour time that fits your schedule. The daytime cruises last approximately 75 minutes.

Evening cruises have set departure times of 7PM, 8PM, 9PM and 10PM daily. Each evening tour is 60 minutes in duration.

The company recommends arriving 15 minutes prior to your scheduled departure time for both day and night tours. This ensures you are checked in and aboard for prompt cast off. Boarding ends 5 minutes before the indicated departure time.

The 75 minute running time for the day cruises allows you to fully take in top sights like the Skinny Bridge, Westerkerk church, historic canal homes, and more at a comfortable pace. An hour is sufficient for the evening cruises to see key landmarks illuminated after dark.

Private chartered tours offer more flexibility, with typical durations ranging from 1 hour up to 4 hours, depending on the customized package purchased. Thematic specialty cruises like jazz nights also have varying durations advertised online.

With frequencies as often as every 30 minutes in peak season, short check-in windows, and defined tour lengths, Blue Boat Company keeps its shared public Amsterdam canal cruises moving smoothly and on-schedule.

What to Expect On Board

Blue Boat’s vessels feature comfortable indoor heated seating with large panoramic windows that provide ideal viewing of the scenic bridges, distinctive Amsterdam architecture, houseboats, and other sights along the canal routes. Having seating within a climate-controlled cabin allows tourists to relax and focus on the views without worrying about weather conditions outside.

The boats all have clean restroom facilities located onboard for passenger use during the cruises. This saves having to find facilities elsewhere before or after your tour.

There is an onboard snack bar where passengers can purchase light food, drinks, beer, wine, and other beverages to enjoy during the cruise. Popular options are Dutch mini pancakes, french fries, ice cream, soda, wine, and beer. Cash or credit cards are accepted at the snack bar.

On specialty family cruises, kids receive complimentary treats like soda, candy, and Blue Boat souvenirs to enhance the experience for younger tourists. These kid-focused amenities ensure children stay engaged and have fun learning about Amsterdam.

Knowledgeable local Blue Boat employees guide all public tours, providing live commentary in up to 8 languages about the sights and history. Many guides have decades of experience working on the city’s canals, so they offer valuable insights and insiders’ knowledge.

Recorded multi-lingual commentary is also available on headphones for those that prefer to listen to canal facts and background at their own pace. Commentary is provided in at least 12 languages.

Key Sights Seen on Blue Boat Tours

Here are some details on key sights spotted on Blue Boat canal cruises in Amsterdam:

The Magere Brug, or “Skinny Bridge,” is one of the most iconic and photographed landmarks in Amsterdam. This elegant drawbridge arched over the Amstel River is lit up beautifully at night. Blue Boat cruises glide right under the charming Skinny Bridge.

The Nine Little Streets (Negen Straatjes) is a neighborhood with a grid of picturesque narrow streets filled with unique boutiques, cafes, restaurants and art galleries. It captures classic Amsterdam charm.

The Houseboat Museum provides a glimpse into Amsterdam’s unique houseboat culture. Visitors can step inside one of these quirky floating homes that line many of the city’s canals.

The Anne Frank House is the famous canal-side building where young Anne Frank and others hid during WWII. It offers a poignant look at Anne’s life through preserved rooms and her diary.

The Royal Palace of Amsterdam is a grand 17th century building that was once Amsterdam’s city hall and now serves as a palace for the Dutch royal family. Its regal facade overlooks the water.

Westerkerk is a landmark 17th century Protestant church in central Amsterdam. It has the tallest church tower in the city, providing panoramic views. The famous painter Rembrandt is buried here.

The beautiful Seven Bridges curve over the elegant Reguliersgracht canal. Seeing seven bridges in a row makes for a memorable canal photo opportunity.

Insider Tips for Blue Boat Canal Cruises.

Here are some insider tips for having the best experience on a Blue Boat canal cruise in Amsterdam:

  • Book a ticket for the front rows or back benches to get unobstructed forward-facing views as you cruise along. Side seats can get blocked.
  • Evening cruises are more intimate, romantic and less crowded than busy day tours. Seeing the bridges illuminated after dark is mesmerizing.
  • Engage with your guide by asking questions during live commentary. They love sharing little-known facts and stories about Amsterdam’s past and culture.
  • Come dressed for the weather with layers, jacket, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Amsterdam’s winds and weather can surprise.
  • For special occasions like proposals, birthdays, honeymoons, etc. upgrade to a private charter with catering and decorations.
  • Consider adding on a pre or post-cruise visit to attractions near Blue Boat’s docks like the Royal Palace, National Monument or Flower Market.
  • On private charters, customize your route to glide through side canals for a more intimate, less-trafficked canal experience away from major thoroughfares.
  • Don’t forget your camera! Capture unique vantage point photos of Amsterdam’s lovely bridges, tree-lined canals, and gabled buildings from aboard your Blue Boat.

Frequently Asked Questions

What food and drinks are available on board?

Blue Boat vessels have an onboard snack bar where you can purchase light food like mini pancakes, ice cream, french fries as well as hot and cold beverages including soda, wine, beer and coffee. Cash or credit cards accepted. Outside food and drinks are prohibited except for water and baby food.

Are children and families allowed on cruises?

Yes, children are welcome aboard all public tours. Discounted tickets are available for kids ages 4-12. The Kids Cruise has amenities tailored specifically for families traveling with children.

Can you bring your own alcohol?

Outside food and drinks are not allowed on regular public cruises. The exception is bottled water and baby food. Private charters have brought your own beverage (BYOB) options.

Do the boats have restroom facilities?

All Blue Boat vessels are equipped with clean restrooms maintained by staff and available for passenger use during cruises.

What languages do the guides provide commentary in?

On public tours, live guides provide commentary in at least 6 languages – English, Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Recorded audio commentary is available in 12+ languages.

Are discounts available on tickets?

Yes, advance online booking, child tickets ages 4-12, and groups of 10+ people qualify for discounted rates. Student and senior discounts may also be offered seasonally.

Blue Boat Cruise - Pros and Cons


  • Iconic blue boats known across Amsterdam
  • Centrally located docks near top sights
  • Panoramic heated boats protect from weather
  • ideal for families with kids cruises
  • Expert local captains and guides
  • Commentary available in many languages


  • Daytime tours can feel crowded and rushed
  • Evening cruises have limited visibility after dark
  • Food is limited to an onboard snack bar
  • Popular tours sell out in peak season
  • Set loop route with no customization
  • Not ideal for travelers prone to motion sickness

Traveler Reviews of Blue Boat Cruises

“We took the evening canal cruise and it was amazing to see the city light up as the sun set over the canals. The staff was friendly and commentary really brought the sights to life. Would highly recommend”.

“Great easy activity with our young kids during our family trip. The kids’ commentary and gifts kept them engaged and they loved waving at everyone along the canals”.

“Fantastic overview of Amsterdam from the water. Helped us get oriented and figure out what we wanted to go back and explore more on foot after”.

“The live guide made such a difference compared to pre-recorded audio tours. Her passion and knowledge about Amsterdam’s history was incredible”.

“Such a fun experience! The cheese and wine pairing evening cruise was a unique way to see the canals”.

“We learned more about Amsterdam in just 75 minutes on the boat than we would have in days wandering ourselves. Informative cruise that brought the city alive”.

“Everything lived up to expectations. Easy online ticket purchase, centrally located dock, and wonderful views on a comfortable boat”.

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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