Amsterdam Rethinking Cruise Ship Ban? Seems so – at Least for Now!

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I’ve written previously about the strong rhetoric and dramatic action that the city of Amsterdam has taken to “ban cruise ships,” with one political leader going so far as to call cruise passengers a Plague of Locusts.  Like most headlines there’s more to the story and this one continues to evolve.

A recent USA Today story shed more light on the details with a quote from Dick de Graaff, director of Cruise Port Amsterdam, the operator of the current cruise terminal in the center of the city.  Mr. de Graff told the AP “There is no immediate closing of the terminal.  The council’s call is to relocate the terminal…”  De Graff went on to say that the Amsterdam Terminal expects 114 ships to stop in 2023 and 130 in 2024.

Relocating the terminal to outside the city center, not banning cruise ships, seems to be the main goal of the politicians with some looking to add another bridge for automobile traffic, currently impractical given the clearance required for cruise ships.  While some are opposed to any ships as they consider them environmentally harmful due to their emissions.  What I find most interesting is that moving them to another port outside of the city center does nothing to reduce emissions and adding a bridge for cars entering the city from the rapidly expanding northern suburbs also seems at odds with the stated environmental goals.

a canal with boats and trees
Amsterdam View from a Canal Boat Tour – July 2022

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) issued a statement that they’re working with Amsterdam to relocate the port outside the city center.  Interestingly, the statement noted that “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.  There have been discussions on its relocation outside the city centre which started back in 2016…”

Ms Rooderkerk who provided the controversial Locust analogy is pushing on the environmental impact of cruise ships.  On June 7 she Tweeted:

a screenshot of a phone
“The daily air pollution from one cruise ship in the port is equivalent to 31,000 trucks driving around the ring.  Time to put an end to polluting cruise ships in the heart of the city!” (thanks Google Translate!)

Again, moving the terminal does nothing to reduce emissions while arguably adding an automobile bridge for suburban drivers commuting into the city will actually increase them.  Shouldn’t the vote have included funds for adding port power to the new terminal to help achieve the stated objective?

Is this all just window-dressing or green-washing if the cruise ships are simply moved to a less visible part of Amsterdam not reducing the number of visitors to the city or the emissions from the ships?  If there was already a plan in the works to move the cruise terminal and to provide port power dating back to 2016, why was this vote even necessary? What do you think? – Michael

 

 

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