We’ve been back about ten days from our cruise on the P&O cruise ship Azura and the photos taken on that short time away have now all been uploaded. As you can tell from the picture below we came back with plenty of tickets and leaflets and guides connected to our cruise and the places we visited in Amsterdam.
I Amsterdam City Card
A quick word about the city card that I wrote about previously here: I Amsterdam City Card. These turned out to be fantastic for us. Because we had a decent idea how long we’d be in Amsterdam (we thought about 30 hours) we went for the 48 hour cards and when fate granted us extra time in the Dutch capital this worked out nearly perfectly for us. Our first activation to last usage of the cards probably ran to around 42 hours in the end.
TIP: My advice with the I Amsterdam city cards is to NOT order them in advance but instead pick them up in the city when you arrive; we hadn’t really given much consideration to weather affecting things so much and learned of another ship due to come into Amsterdam that couldn’t while we were there. Had things worked out a little differently we might have been out the cost of both the cards and the fairly hefty delivery charge.
I’ve worked out that we each spent €72.50 on the cards, including delivery, but that we each saved €120.00 off entrance fees and an €18.00 canal cruise plus got about €15.00 worth of freebies in the form of mints and drinks and €12.50 for public transport (the trams were so handy). We could have done so much more with the cards but that’s close to €100.00 each in terms of how much we saved. Absolute bargain.
Departure from Southampton was accompanied by a lovely sunset. I wrote a little bit about being on board Azura for this cruise but not too much as it had mostly been covered in the cruise we’d taken on her earlier in the year.
Some initial disappointment at a lack of full promenade and a tunnel of smokers with which to contend gave way to joy in my industrial- and brutalist-loving heart as we first approached the Dutch port of IJmuiden and then proceeded down the North Sea Canal past some lovely architecture.
Note: I’ve since learned that Azura’s promenade deck has a hidden section.
Our first evening in Amsterdam saw us pick up free mints and a free (filled to the brim) glass of Genever. Genever is grim. We would have stayed longer at the place giving it away with our card but there was a funeral wake on for the former landlord who had drunk himself to death. We didn’t want to impose. We also went visiting a couple of museums, including the oldest building in the city, Oude Kerk in the heart of the red light district. The night was finished with us locating a pub with loads of ales and a visiting butcher handing out free meat delicacies, followed by us finding a place that did Argentinian steak (at a rough estimate there are 25,000 Argentinian steakhouses in Amsterdam), and using the trams for the first time.
Our second day in Amsterdam saw us hit the maritime museum, the botanical gardens, the Hermitage (including a wonderful exhibition in the Outsiders gallery), the Gassan diamond factory (lovely tourist place opposite that does free coffee, by the way), grab some lunch, then take advantage of our free canal cruise (which ran to two hours in length). We finished with another tram journey to escape the rain, some more drinks in that pub we’d been in the night before (where a mini beer festival was taking place), and then a walk back to the ship as twilight came down and brought the city’s architecture to life.
The next day was due to be a sea day but the weather kept us pinned to the dock which meant we had some bonus time to take further advantage of our cards and visit Amsterdam zoo. That trip wasn’t without incident.
The final photos from our trip to Amsterdam on Azura were of us leaving the country via the North Sea Canal once more and the great architecture (well I think so) along its northern banks, chased by rainbows all the way.
One other portfolio of photos was uploaded, those being of the drinks downed and food consumed in the ship’s specialty restaurant, The Epicurean. We were talking over drinks on the final night with a young couple who’d got engaged on Azura in The Epicurean. They’d been more impressed with the restaurant than we were but less impressed with the cruise ship overall probably due to their expectations and talking to the wrong people for advice. Hopefully, we gave them some better ideas and more realistic expectations from our chat.
We had been looking forward to a visit to France as we’ve only been there once before on a booze cruise and had booked an excursion to a distillery with some great-looking architecture. This wasn’t to be thanks to the French port workers so our last day was spent on Azura where emergency entertainment was put on. Quizzes were played (and lost (but only just)) and drinks were imbibed (but fewer than planned as the ship’s staff during the day seemed to still be set as if three quarters of the passengers were ashore).
An enjoyable little cruise and our next one with P&O will be on board Azura’s sister ship, Ventura, so we can’t wait to compare the two.