Amsterdam City Tour Excursion Reviews
Our tour guide with Viking was wonderful. We started the walking tour in the rain and ended in sunshine. She was informative and friendly and very helpful. Although she was Dutch herself, she is married to an Italian and suggested a restaurant to us for dinner which turned out to be fabulous. Viking provided these wonderful headphones during your cruise which you recharge at night in your room. They work well and we had no problems with them during the cruise. We loved this Amsterdam tour.
Lots of fun, good guide. Hard for me to keep up. Wouldn't have wanted to miss it.
This tour is a must for those who have never before visited Amsterdam. Although I have been to the city several times in the past, I still appreciated the points made by the tour guide about the history and development of the city, why certain forms of architecture prevail, the commercial value of the city's canals, and the individual touches that owners gave their houses. The tour essentially is a history of Amsterdam and the Dutch state, as well as its evolution from a Catholic to a Protestant country.
The city tour is a land-based version of the canal tour (although not as extensive). The guide was excellent in helping us get oriented from the hotel, and in pointing out important features of the buildings, as well as life in Amsterdam (be mindful of the bicycles). We found the city tour as a start of our own exploration of the city by foot.
The last stop on the cruise was Amsterdam, where we had booked a 2-day extension. In hindsight, we should have planned a pre-cruise extension and left immediately after the cruise to fly home. I woke up on Saturday in Amsterdam with one of the worst hangovers I have had in a long time, on top of a lack of sleep catching up with me. Needless to say, we had a great time at the Captain's dinner and the last night in the bar the previous night. We were taken to our hotel, the Radisson Blu, and while waiting for our rooms, we were taken on a two hour walking tour. The tour was great and the guide was extremely knowledgeable and helpful, especially after the tour during the rest of the day and the next day. However, nursing a hangover and needing some sleep, a walking tour was not the best way to recover, especially as the weather had turned cold. We made it through the tour and back to the hotel, where we got into our room around 2:30 pm, and were able to get some much needed rest, before tackling the crazy city of Amsterdam. Amsterdam is nice, but honestly, don't think we will be going back, other than using the airport. Amsterdam is noted for the red-light district and the availability of marijuana. And yes, there is a lot of both. However, once you've seen the red light district, you don't need to see it again. And even though marijuana is not legal in Amsterdam, a huge misconception, it is, in the words or our tour guide, "tolerated". Also, after the cruise is over, being as tired as we were, it would have been better to have gone straight to the airport, got on the plane, and slept on the way home. Oh well, you live and learn. Even though a pre-cruise extension would have worked for us, a post-cruise extension may work better for others. Some people may also want to extend the cruise at both ends; nothing wrong with that approach either. We did get to tour the Heineken factory. It was great and we picked up some presents for my son and son-in-laws there. We also did one of the get on/get off buses, which gave us a chance to see all of Amsterdam, from a distance. Also, the Radisson Blu is a very nice hotel, very well located. Our room was great. Good choice by Viking.
The airport in Amsterdam is great. Very organized and easy to get around in. Line to check in Monday morning (12/30) was extremely long, but it moved fast as they had plenty of people working the counter. I think we only stood in line for 30-45 minutes. As we kept getting closer to our gate, I kept waiting for the security lines, but they never appeared. It turns out that the security checkpoint is at the individual gate. Once we got to the gate we went to a little stand where we showed our passports and tickets and were asked the usual questions, did you pack your own luggage, has it been in your possession the whole time, etc. We then went through the scanners. Pretty easy for the most part. My wife got a pretty thorough hand search, but that seems to happen to her every time she flies. Also, the other thing that I liked about flying into Europe was once we got through customs in Frankfurt, we were done until we left Amsterdam. Because of the European Union, they have removed border checks for passports, so once you get into a country you can to everywhere else without having to be checked. Made for traveling through 4 different countries very easy.
As I said, we really enjoyed the cruise. It was pretty much what I expected based on the research I had done before we left. Let me take the opportunity, before I forget, to thank everyone who participates on these boards, allowing folks like me and my wife, to do a lot of research before any of our trips. There are a lot of issues with the internet, but the Cruise Critic website and the message boards are part of what is great about the it.
We had an excellent walking tour of the City