Amsterdam gets tough on cruise ships, sets limit of 100 a year

Photo: Jvhertum via Wikimedia Commons

Amsterdam planes to cut the number of cruise ships mooring at the city centre terminal to 100 a year from 2026, almost halving the current total. In addition, the city aims to close the Veemkade terminal altogether by 2035, and move all ocean-going cruises to a new location.

The ban on cruise ships is part of a broad package of measures to limit the growth of tourism and combat nuisance in the Dutch capital. City councillors voted in favour of the move last year.

“The city council wants a liveable, clean and sustainable city,” said council ports chief Hester van Buren. “Sea cruises are a polluting form of tourism and contribute to crowds and pollution.” The “balanced steps,” she said, “aim to meet what is reasonable and acceptable to everyone involved in the North Sea Canal Area”.

From 2027, cruise ships will also be required to use onshore energy when docked in Amsterdam, which will cut pollution and noise. Cruise ships use diesel and LNG while at sea and to generate power.

According to research bureau CE Delft, a single cruise ship that spends just one day in the dock emits the equivalent nitrogen-based pollution of 31,000 lorries going once around the capital’s A10 ring road. 


Financially, the move will cut spending by tourists and tourist tax income but this is not expected to have an impact on the city’s spending plans in 2025.

Officials have also launched an investigation into moving the terminal elsewhere, with the Coenhaven area in Amsterdam’s western docks given as a possible new location.

Earlier this year, Van Buren announced plans to slash the number of river cruises docking in Amsterdam by half.

Some 2,300 cruise ships moored on the city waterfront last year but by 2028, the city wants to reduce that to 1150, a measure that would cut tourist numbers by 271,000 and hit the region’s economy to the tune of €73.5 million a year.

The problems caused by the cruises are particularly acute during the spring bulb season when 1,000 river boats anchor in the capital, Van Buren said. “We have a commitment to keep tourist numbers under 20 million a year.”

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