Happy Monday! Hope everyone’s had a great weekend. I’ve had a relatively chilled one, which was much needed after last weekend!
If you follow me on social media you’ll have seen that I was in Amsterdam last weekend with 5 of my girlfriends! I thought I’d share my experience with you guys and it’s my first travel post of the year so here we go…
We headed to Amsterdam on the DFDS Seaways Mini Cruise which set sails at the International Ferry Terminal in North Shields on Friday afternoon. Located just outside of Newcastle city centre, Amsterdam and continental Europe are served by ferries from Newcastle here. The ferry sets sail at 5:00 pm.
It’s called a mini cruise because you spend 2 nights onboard the cruise ferry, enjoying all that’s on offer, and in between, you get to explore Amsterdam for 5 hours.
I’m not going to sugar coat this experience in any way but what I can say is it’s a right laugh and you really can’t complain about the price! It’s not glamorous and if you’re after a luxurious weekend away, choosing to travel via a mini cruise is not for you unless you upgrade your room!
I’ve done the cruise before so I knew exactly what to expect however my friends didn’t. I did prewarn them but nothing can prepare you for the experience, especially the initial shock of the size of the cabins. They are very small. Four of us were cosily tucked up together in bunk beds, which made the whole experience feel like we were having one big sleepover and the other two ladies had a separate cabin.
Our cabin was made up of the bunk beds, a small walkway, a mirror, an en-suite bathroom which is very compact may I add (the toilet is actually in the shower!), a few hangers and a coat peg. The cabins are spotless and modern which is ideal really.
We took turns getting sorted and comfortable in the cabin and then headed out to explore what the cruise had to offer. Onboard facilities include several bars with live music, a casino, a cinema, a kidz’ club, a hand full of restaurants plus a duty-free shop. Obviously, we headed to the bar!
The weather has truly horrendous last weekend meaning the cruise was very rocky, walking in a straight line was a challenge and unfortunately, some of my friends had terrible travel sickness! The weather resulted in the ferry being delayed too, you usually arrive in Amsterdam 9:00 am the following morning but because of the storm we’d battled with it meant we wouldn’t be arriving into Amsterdam until 2:30 pm. The poor captain!
Therefore the first evening on board was a bit of a washout… literally! *no pun intended* We were in bed for 11 pm! I was on top bunk which was probably the worst experience of my life. It’s very stuffy on the cruise and air con is limited, I didn’t sleep very well at all.
Never the less, we made it through the night even though it felt like we were on the Titanic. After breakfast, which we had at the Explorers Kitchen, a buffet style kitchen, we got ready and played a few games of ‘Snog Marry Avoid’ and ‘Charades’. Sounds pretty boring but we had a few giggles.
Time passed and we finally arrived at the dam! When you arrive you’re escorted to a coach which transports you into main city Amsterdam, this journey takes around 45 minutes to an hour. We were very pleased to be on the still ground again after a traumatic night at sea!
Finally, after a 22-hour journey, we were exploring the colourful culture of the city. Due to the delay, it meant we actually only had 2 hour in Amsterdam which was disappointing but we made the best out of a bad situation and crammed as much sightseeing in as we could!
Amsterdam is such a beautiful city. Life there is well beyond its time with its modern architecture and a large population of residents swapping cars for bikes! It all feels very relaxed. Since it was St Patricks weekend there was a certain buzz in the air and we were keen to head to the nearest Irish Bar!
After downing a pint we headed to a city hotspot, Sexmuseum Amsterdam Venustempel, located in the busiest spot of Amsterdam, at the Damrak street, just in front of the Central Station. I’m not sure what I expected the museum to be like but it was very interesting, to say the least. The Sex Museum throughout more than 20 years of its existence, has not only managed to collect many hundreds of interesting pieces of art, unique objects and rare old photographs but avoiding bluntness of pornography managing to bring them together in an organized and interesting way. It’s worth a visit just say you’ve been since it’s only 5 euros entry!
We then explored Amsterdam’s street food outlets, these chips were possibly the best chips I’ve ever tasted! The desert outlets are to die for too, I’ve never had a crepe like this one! It was smothered in Nutella and fresh strawberries inside.
Wandering the alleyways we then came across the famous Redlight District. It’s a real eye opener walking through the district as prostitution and sex are so glamorised over there. The women are absolutely gorgeous and there really isn’t any shame associated with the women a huge contrast to how it’s seen over in the UK, it’s a lot safer too.
We then browsed the shops, took plenty of Instagrammable shots of the canals and then it was time to get back on the ferry. It was a short but sweet visit!
The ferry on the way back was just the same as going there, the sea was so rough and again we faced another delay coming home. You usually arrive back at North Shields around 9:00 am but due to the weather we arrived at 12:00 pm.
Even though we didn’t spend a full 5 hours in Amsterdam I had a great time. Since we booked up in a big group we only paid £35 per person for the trip which included breakfast which is an absolute bargain! It was certainly a memorable trip but I won’t be in a hurry to head back on the mini cruise!
Have you been on a mini-cruise before?