I often get asked “are those boats worth it?” In my opinnion when you are traveling anything is only ‘worth it’ if you are willing the pay the money. I only really engage in activities I want to do and not ones I feel I have to.
I’ve been on the large boats a few times in my time in Amsterdam; have sent friends on them and had many of my tourists give me feedback on what they thought about them. The general consensis is that it is most certainly worth it.
Amsterdam was built specifically so that the canals would be used to get around the city, especially with transportation of goods. With a maximum speed of 6KmPH that are not exactly the most effecicent way to get around town but it does give you a good perspective of how the city was concieved and built.
Compared to a walking tour you won’t learn a whole lot of more information but are still informative non-the-less.
Now, there are soooo many boat companies. Who to choose from? Overwhelmingly I’d have to say that 99% of the boats offer the exact same service, especially the very large boats. The large boats are covered which is actually nice. Even on good weather days in Amsterdam the canals can be much colder than you expect. However, those big boats are designed to slide the roofs open so be sure to ask if you are uncertain because this can often give you a better view on nice days.
The 100 highlights cruise is probablly the best option to choose from; or anyone of the excusions which offer around a 60-70 minute cruise.
I find the hop-on/off and dinner/food cruises to be more in price without actually offering any extra service you want. You don’t need to be able to hop on and off. LIkely you’ll have a transport card or can walk around town. The food tends to be low quality and simply not worth the price.
Smaller boats are starting to come onto the scene this year in Amsterdam but I’ve not been on them; I hope to be able to report back to you when I have more time at the end of the season.
I’m friends with the guides who run ‘Those Dam Boat Tours.’ They can only take 12 people max and have a nice quiet electric boat. Since it’s a much smaller boat they can go down the very small cancals most of the other companies can not offer. I’ll write more about them later too!
You can pick up boats at most of the big tourist areas in the city. Cerntainly near the central train station, anne frank house, and leidseplein.