Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Tell someone you’re stopping at Amsterdam on your European cruise and you’ll be met with a chuckle and a knowing smile. Yes, everyone will think you’re going for a peek into the infamous Red Light District, or a visit to one of the cannabis coffee shops, but there’s much more to Amsterdam.  Really!

The 165 canals of Amsterdam have been part of the city's landscape since the early 14th century and continue to define the city’s landscape today.  In 2010 Amsterdam's canal ring was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The canals and the bridges that cross them are beautiful and floating down the canals give the first time visitor an excellent introduction to the city’s many sights. Many tourists have done a Hop-On, Hop-Off tourist bus to acclimate themselves in a city, but in Amsterdam, tourists can ride a 19-stop Hop-On, Hop-Off Canal Bus!

This whole country is really famous for its flowers, and specifically for its tulips, so it should come as no surprise that one of the most popular things to do while in Amsterdam is to stroll down the block-long flower market.  The market is unique, because all the merchandise is displayed on floating barges. This is a relic from the days when the flowers and plants sold at this market were shipped in by barges. The sight and smell of the market is lovely and offers beautiful photo opportunities. If you’re shopping for bulbs, one thing to look into is what is legal to import into your home country.

Although he sold only one painting during his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most popular artists of all time! His vivid artistic style was fresh and astounding, with impressionistic bursts of color, rough brush strokes, and a focus on nature and simple topics like haystacks and sunflowers. The Van Gogh Museum houses the largest collection of his work in the world, including more than 200 paintings, and many drawings and letters. Van Gogh's work is organized chronologically into five periods, each representing a different period of his life and work.

On a more serious note, most people know the story of Anne Frank, but that’s not enough to prepare oneself for the moving experience of walking through the annex that hid the Frank family during the Nazi occupation. Quotations from the diary, historical documents, photographs, film images, and original objects that belonged to those in hiding illustrate the events that took place here. Anne’s original diary and other notebooks are on display in the museum. Purchase tickets online before leaving home to avoid the long wait to enter.

Amsterdam is often referred to as one of the most colorful cities in the world.
Visiting this magnificent city is a unique experience, just like the European cruise that takes you there!