As we were only in Amsterdam for a day with our Baltic Cruise, we thought that the canal bus would be an effective way to cover a lot of ground. We were wrong. Buying this particular tour was a bad idea.
The boats only run about once an hour. So after buying a ticket at 10:10, we had to stand around in a rather uninteresting part of Amsterdam until 11:00, waiting for the first boat. Then it didn't have room for all the passengers who were waiting to board.
The intersecting boat lines don't have coordinated schedule stops, so it appears that you can get off at a transfer point and wait 45 minutes to catch your next boat.
Twice, the boats arrived without sufficient room for all the guests waiting to board and guests were forced to wait even longer for their ride.
The view from onboard isn't great, as it's glass covered and there are only 4 windows which open to offer a clear view for photos. Most of the glass was too dirty to take photos through it.
The oral commentary is provided through a speaker system, rather than through headphones, and it's offered in 5 languages. So there's only time to give one short sentence on each major site being passed. And we had a difficult time hearing it, because guests on the boat who did not speak the language being broadcast through the speakers talked loudly through the entire visit.
Bottom line: for the price we paid, we stood around for ages, then got a crowded, noisy boat ride about 3 km and learned absolutely nothing about the city.
We were somewhat disappointed in this tour. But we'd describe it as "pretty good value" for money.
Unfortunately, when we called to reconfirm it, we were NOT advised that the bus would pick us up at the cruise terminal, so we first incurred an expensive cab ride over to the Hotel Viru, which the tour operator identified as our ONLY option for a pick-up point. When we got on the bus, we were upset to see passengers from our ship, who told us they were picked up at the port.
The guide was extremely knowledgeable, but spoke English very rapidly and with a very, very thick Dutch accent, so we couldn't make out much of what she was saying. She talked so quickly and so much that, though I attempted 6 times to ask a question about one of the sites we were visiting, I couldn't get a word in edgewise.
The bus tour covered the parts surrounding the old city and was interesting. The coach was modern and clean and the driving was good.
The walking part of the tour involved more of the guide's rapid-fire, nonstop commentary, so we (and several other guests) left before it was over. But the part we stayed for visited several interesting sites and offered some good photo opps.
I think this particular tour guide could provide a much better experience if she was encouraged by the company to speak more slowly and provide pauses for guests to ask questions.
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