We have just come back from a lovely weekend trip to Amsterdam. 3 whole days where it was just the two of us. It was bliss, it has done us the world of good and the boys were spoilt rotten in Lincoln for the weekend with their Auntie Kimberley.
I had won the competition on Facebook back in June and had booked it for this weekend. The competition was run by DFDS Seaways and the prize was a mini cruise for 2 people for 2 nights on board one of their cruise ships. We chose Amsterdam as it really is a wonderful city to visit. We had been back in March (another prize win last December) and loved it so much we decided to go again. I know Amsterdam gets a really bad press report what with its coffee shops and red light district but in all fairness, you can go and see the city and not see any of “these” parts. The coffee shops are a little hard to miss as they are dotted around the city but you don’t have to go into them. This should not be a reason to put off a visit as Amsterdam has many different attractions that appeal to different types of people.
We arrived at Newcastle International Port for half-past 3 a little later than we had planned but had been caught up due to massive traffic jams in the city. By the time we had gathered our things and got inside, it was 4 pm. Check-in was between 2.30 and 4.30 so we had made it by half an hour. We checked in and were given our cabin key cards. We then went to board the ship.
Once on board, we first went to check out our cabin. We were allocated cabin 4515. It was on deck 4 which is also a car deck. We were concerned we’d be kept awake by car alarms going off but this was the least of our worries as all we could hear was the noise coming from the boat engine. I did like my cabin though as I had requested a window so I could look out. When we went in March we had an inner cabin and felt it was slightly claustrophobic for us both. This time having the cabin with a window really helped this and gave us something to look out for during the journey.
Not long into our trip, I spotted a rainbow out of our window, it had to be one of the highlights of our trip. The lightning we saw at half 5 Sunday morning was pretty scary though. It lit up the whole sky and you could see all the boats and oil rigs on the horizon, something I doubt I will see again.
The boat has great entertainment facilities including 3 bars, 5 restaurants, a cinema, small casino and a duty-free shop. There is also an area for the children to play which has a ball pool and arcade games. I was pleased to see that all members of staff were very pleasant and helpful. They always had a smile on their face and were always available if needed. The boat always looked clean and tidy no matter what time of day.
We arrived in Ijmuiden at 10 am there was a coach ready and waiting to take us into Amsterdam (about a 30 – 40-minute journey away) there is an option of having a sightseeing tour but we chose to go straight into town so that we could explore for ourselves. There is so much to do within the city that the few hours you get you have to spend wisely or else you miss out on doing the things you really want to. We spent most of our day just walking around and taking in the sites, we had to avoid rain most of the day so we had to keep jumping in and out of shops many were touristy type shops – I even bought some tulip bulbs so that I can plant them in my garden. We had planned on visiting the likes of Madame Tussauds or the Amsterdam Dungeons but the queues were extremely long so we decided against it. I would have loved to go to Anne Frank’s house but again the queues were just too big to be stood around in the rain. The sun finally came out about an hour before we left Amsterdam so we did manage to get a few snaps.We have said we will go back again but maybe stay for a night so we can see more of the city and its attractions.
We were taken back to the boat via coach and then the long journey home began. We arrived back in Newcastle for 9.30 UK time (the boat operates on Amsterdam time which is an hour ahead of us). We had a really lovely weekend away on our own and hopefully will get to do it again soon. We will definitely be looking at another trip away and will consider a Europe Cruise by Celebrity when the time arrives, as we had such a great time.