Cruise Passengers Are a “Plague of Locusts” According to Amsterdam Politician

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Amsterdam City Council took action on July 20, 2023 instituting a cruise ship ban for the Amsterdam cruise port located in the city center on the river without designating another area for them to dock.

The initiative was promoted by D66, a political party and its leader Ilana Rooderkerk.  Ilana holds a number of controversial opinions that you can read about on her bio page, but the one that caught my attention was her recent comment about cruise passengers whom she likened to “a plague of locusts” continuing to say that they “move into the city center all at once, with the associated nuisance”.

Ms. Rooderkerk shares a similarly disparaging opinion of the ships themselves, saying “To achieve a sustainable and livable future, we must act now. Allowing hugely polluting cruise ships in the heart of the city does not fit in with that.”  She added that cruise ships were “out of date” and unwelcome in Amsterdam.

Related: Things to do in Amsterdam 

This is not the first time that we’ve seen a city ban cruise ships, as René has previously covered here on the blog alongside a story of a city that wanted them to come back – California City Dumps Cruise Lines and Alaska City Wants Cruise Line Back!

Norway has taken a different approach by banning non-electric ships in certain fjords beginning in 2026.

Hopefully the sustainability efforts of the cruise industry can help stem this trend of outright bans and get Amsterdam to re-think its cruise ship ban as this is simply an amazing city to visit with stunning beauty and so many sights to see.

These port cities can also help by providing port power to dramatically reduce emissions from ships while at dock like the Port of Seattle and soon many more. – Michael

a river with trees and buildings

 

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15 COMMENTS

  1. I have to agree on the plague of locust analogy. Nothing worse than enjoying a nice location and having a flood of cruisers pour out all over town, rushing to get their souvenirs and selfies before going back to their floating sardine can.

      • You are so correct. I find it annoying that people think that since they rented a hotel room somewhere that they believe they have more rights to the city than any other visitor. My travel varies from backpacking vacations, resort vacations, driving vacations, and cruise vacations. They all have their place. And with regards to economic impact, you forgot to mention the number of cruise lines that have ships registered in Amsterdam.

  2. I am shocked at some of the rude comments !! Every cruise passenger I have seen has been extremely respectful. They deserve to explore Amsterdam just like any other tourist!

    • Varda, I wish I shared your extremely positive outlook on my fellow cruise passengers. Unfortunately not all of them are respectful, but I agree with you that they should be able to explore Amsterdam just like anyone else. Amsterdam isn’t just taking on cruise passengers, they’re actively discouraging visitors from the UK coming for bachelor/stag and bachelorette/hen parties, and are looking to limit flights into Schiphol. “Over-tourism” is a real challenge, but I think it’s right to challenge the ways that Amsterdam is attempting to address the challenge. Singling out cruise passengers, that amount to only 1% of annual visitors based on widely available data, seems like more of a political statement than a solution.

  3. I am a long time cruiser, and have to disagree with you. Sometimes the economic impact of cruisers is huge. Sometimes it is not. I’ve been on plenty of cruises where in smaller ports many passengers don’t even get off the ship. Or they get off the ship, walk into town for 20 minutes, complain it isn’t like the US, and get right back on the ship. Or they just take a ship tour and then get right back on. How many cruisers actually go into the town and actually meet and buy from local people? Or book their tours from local tourist agencies? Or book a local private guide? Or when going into town, buy from a local shop as opposed to the local Diamonds International shop?? I’ve been cruising since 1983. I’ve seen the huge cutbacks in the cruise industry. And I’ve seen plenty of cruise passengers who don’t respect the local customs or the local people. I make it a point when I travel to buy from local people and local shops, and to book local tours, and to respect the local customs. I’ve seen tourists touching ancient castles and taking pictures in the Prada museum when it is forbidden. So I totally understand why a town doesn’t want 4000 tourists flooding into it. It was one thing when the cruise ships were smalling. But when you have cruise ships holding up to 7000 people, and 3-6 ships pull into a port, I totally understand the town’s point.

    • Stephanie, I too have seen many of the challenges you note in your comment. In my opinion, it’s a shame when a cruise port becomes a destination unto itself filled with chain stores and restaurants in a labyrinth discouraging passengers to go any further. This keeps the cruise passengers from really engaging with a destination and deprives the local residents of the economic advantages of welcoming cruisers into their cities.

  4. I’m with Eric. The locusts metaphor is apt and not just in the case of Amsterdam. Have you ever been laying back enjoying yourself at an all-inclusive Caribbean resort when a horde of day tourists from a ship descend on your little slice of paradise in a swarm? Each day visitor is LOUD, boisterous, and determined to get very drunk very fast on the included booze. They grab every available (and some unavailable) seat and pretty much proceed to make a nuisance of themselves. While the analogy is not exact for Amsterdam there are some pretty strong parallels. One difference I might suggest for places like Amsterdam, Venice, and Barcelona that get crushed by the hordes would be to set a maximum passenger capacity per ship so that a 300 passenger ship could disembark passengers while a 6,000 passenger ship could not.

    • Christian, as I see it the challenge with passenger (or tonnage) limits for cruise ships is one of economics. Fundamentally to make the economics work on a small cruise ship along the lines of the 300 passenger vessel you suggest, they have to fall into the luxury category meaning fares in excess of $500/passenger/night. The larger ships have economies of scale and can operate at a much lower cost per passenger and thus have lower fares making them affordable to a wider swath of the population (there’s a reason why these mega ships typically are classified as “mass market” cruise lines, even when they have luxury cabins or “ships within ships”). Effectively when a port limits the size of the ship they are saying they only want wealthy cruise passengers visiting their cities.

      • Fairly valid. I’d still rather have cities that can handle lower levels of cruise passengers do so by allowing small ship passengers than none at all.

    • Actually, Barcelona can handle large cruise ships. Places like Belize and Cozumel can not. Cruise ships have ruined Saint Thomas. There has to be a way to balance the load of cruise ships with the size of the island or city.

  5. Boo hoo this sounds purely politically motivated. I’ve been to Amsterdam and definitely felt welcomed. The city should figure how to accommodate ships and not discourage them. Economic impact is the bottom line of any city, cruisers maybe could pay an entry fee to if need be, any politicians that turn away a financial boon is sure to raise taxes on its residents.

  6. Did your businesses collect about $1 million in payment for thousands of goods and services? I cruise all the time and there is no doubt cruisers arrive like locusts and scour the land but at least they are locusts with money.

  7. Easy to see why this dope is a useless politician while I’m enjoying myself on a cruise with my credit cards. Does the woman have no knowledge of economics whatsoever? Perhaps she might start her education by talking to the businesses in Amsterdam who are making a living, providing jobs and taking care of their families by selling goods and services to cruise pax. The solution is easy … city government (they’d need to find some people who can think) can work with the cruiselines so Amsterdam can control the number of pax roaming the streets at one time. This is not rocket science, and even a politician should be able to grasp the point.

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