Over the last few years we have been on a mini cruise a total of 6 times and each time we were able to go when they were on offer! We have mini cruised to Amsterdam (x2), Rotterdam (x2), Bruges and Oslo. We have used both P&O and DFDS for these cruises and have enjoyed them immensely. They are a great way to have a taster of a country or city and a great way to travel with children.
The good thing about these cruises is they often have offers suitable for those with children who are restricted to school holidays, and particularly during the ‘out of season’ school holidays. We have been both during the October half-term as well as between Christmas and New Year and I cannot recommend them enough!
I checked the prices for a mini cruise to Amsterdam (prices correct as of January 2017) and for a family of 4 (including 2 children under the age of 15) departing on 13 February, this 2 night holiday will cost you the grand total of...........£79.
Yes, you read that right, just £79 for all four of you! PLUS if you go via the Quidco website, you can get 7% cashback (correct as of January 2017), which is around £5, making the price just £74.
The price includes return ferry travel, with cabin, from Newcastle to Europort and organised return coach travel from the port to the centre of Amsterdam. The ferry departs late afternoon and sails overnight. Whilst sailing you have access to restaurants and a café, on-board entertainment and kid’s clubs before retiring to your en-suite cabin. The cabins are spotlessly clean but no frills and generally consist of bunk beds. There is no weight or size restriction on luggage and you can even leave your luggage on-board whilst you are out sightseeing for the day.
You get an early wake-up call altering you to arrival in port. Upon departure there are a line of coaches waiting to transfer you to the city centre. The Dutch are friendly people who speak fantastic English (I am always slightly jealous of other European’s and their amazing language skills, as mine are zero). You have approximately 5 hours to sample the atmosphere of Amsterdam, that's plenty of time to hop on a canal cruise, pop into a coffee shop (just be careful which ones you go in, ahem), sample some great food and pick up some mini clogs and a packet of tulip bulbs as a memento – or is that just me!
If you wanted to visit Anne Frank’s House, I would recommend you pre-book your tickets online. We didn’t and then had to queue for almost two hours to get in. It was totally worth it though. Luckily on that mini cruise, we had the option to extend the stay by one night and just had to book a nights stay in a hotel ourselves before travelling.
There is, of course, the famous red light district. Perhaps not the best place to go if you are travelling with children, if only for the questions it brings up. As you can tell, I am speaking from experience as we wandered into the area by mistake, after following the masses and wondering where they were going. It has always been my philosophy to be open and honest with my kids but not necessarily whilst standing in the middle of the red light district of Amsterdam!
As with any city, there is a great range of shops and a C & A (remember them), as there is in almost all the European cities I have visited.
Then it is back to the coach pick up point and back to the port, ready for another nights sailing with free entertainment and a cabin to sleep in.
I so wish we could book this, but this year is eldest son’s GCSE year (every time I think of that it makes my stomach turn, I think I’m more nervous than he is, and it is one of those times I wish I could do it for him) and we have vowed no more holidays until they are over.
It really is only £79 for a family of 4 to visit the capital of Holland. That’s cheaper than the price of a train ticket for one to London!