Industry refutes Amsterdam ‘ban’ on cruise ships to limit tourism


The cruise industry’s trade body has refuted recent media reports that Amsterdam has banned cruise ships from its city centre, as part of an ongoing campaign to limit tourism and pollution in the Dutch capital.

Last week (20 July 2023), Amsterdam’s city council voted to close the cruise ship terminal in its centre, near Amsterdam’s main train station, as part of the city’s attempts to limit mass tourism. The plan is to move the terminal out of the centre eventually. However, this vote is simply the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long process.

In a statement, Cruise Lines International Association says: ‘We are aware of the media reports about the future of cruise in Amsterdam. As the port has publicly stated, cruise ships have not been banned from Amsterdam. Furthermore, the port and Passenger Terminal Amsterdam have already pledged to undertake investments worth millions of Euros in port infrastructure and shoreside electricity for the long-term.’

The terminal remains open for now, and there has not yet been any indication as to when the ban will be implemented or where the terminal might be relocated to.

Cruise Port Amsterdam has also responded to the mass reports of an instant ban, stating: “On July 20, the coalition parties of Amsterdam city council called for a ban on ocean-going cruise ships docking at the current location in the city centre. The council has appealed to the College of Mayor and Aldermen, who have yet to respond. The current situation has no influence on the already booked calls at our port.”

Dick de Graaff, managing director of Cruise Port Amsterdam, told Reuters that “there is certainly no immediate ban on ships – let alone an immediate closure of the terminal.”

He adds: “We have taken note of the council’s call that they do not see any room for sea cruises in the city of the future at the current location.”

In recent months, Amsterdam has been attempting to crack down on rowdy tourists, hoping to restore quiet to its city centre. A recent ‘stay away’ advertising campaign actively discourages people aged 18 to 35 from travelling to the city for drink and drug-fuelled parties. In May, a new ban on smoking cannabis in the streets of the red light district came into force.

Centre-right party D66, which runs Amsterdam with the social democrats PvdA and environmentalists GroenLinks, has said that cruise ships do not match the city’s sustainable agenda. A statement issued by the council says: ‘Polluting cruise ships are not in line with the sustainable ambitions of our city.’

Ilana Rooderkerk of the D66 party has previously compared cruise tourists to a type of “plague of locusts” descending on the city. “Cruise ships in the centre of the city don’t fit in with Amsterdam’s task of cutting the number of tourists,” she states.

Cruise Lines International Association says that ‘there have been discussions on [the relocation of the cruise terminal] outside the city centre which started back in 2016 and which are still ongoing.’

It adds: ‘We are working with the authorities to accommodate the views expressed by council members while continuing to support the communities that benefit from cruise tourism. Of the more than 21 million visitors that Amsterdam receives each year, around one per cent arrive by cruise ship, with cruise tourism contributing around 105 million euros to the city annually.’

According to a study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, a large cruise ship can have a carbon footprint greater than 12,000 cars. During a seven-day voyage, passengers on an Antarctic cruise can produce CO2 emissions equivalent to the average European in an entire year.

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