Amsterdam to ban cruise ships in latest effort to curb mass tourism

City council says polluting vessels are not in line with its sustainable ambitions

The central cruise terminal in Amsterdam is set to close. @AMS_Cruise_Port / Twitter
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Amsterdam city council has voted to ban cruise ships in its latest attempt to curb mass tourism and pollution.

Due to the ban, the central cruise terminal on the River IJ – near the city’s main train station – will likely close.

This is in part to ongoing efforts to limit the number of tourists in the Dutch capital. Amsterdam is estimated to attract 20 million visitors this year, according to the city’s Research and Statistics unit.

"Polluting cruise ships are not in line with the sustainable ambitions of our city," the centre-right party D66, which runs the city along with social democrats and environmentalists.

The passage of cruise ships, it said, was also not compatible with plans for a new bridge between the city's historic southern district and the Noord district, the focus of recent development projects.

Amsterdam already has regulations in place to address tourism-related overcrowding. The city’s Tourism in Balance ordinance, which began in 2021, establishes a limit of between 10 and 20 million overnight tourist visits per year and requires the city to take action if it appears that number will be exceeded.

Cruise ship bans in Europe

Amsterdam is the latest European city to ban cruise ships. In 2021, Venice stopped allowing large ships from anchoring in its historical centre after damage to its lagoon had Unesco threaten to put the city on its endangered list.

Ada Colau, the mayor of Barcelona, recently said that she would limit the number of cruise tourists in the city if she is re-elected in May. Pollution is also a concern for the Spanish city, which ranked as the worst cruise port for air pollution in Europe in a study carried out by Transport & Environment last year.

The mayor of Marseille, France’s biggest cruise port, has also spoken out against cruise lines, claiming they are “suffocating” the city with air pollution.

Updated: July 21, 2023, 11:19 AM