I wonder if the way I count down the days to the summer, looking longingly at the water that appears around many street corners in Amsterdam, is a sign that I'm becoming more "Dutch". I certainly never used to long for boat trips along the canals and Amstel river when I first moved here, but in the years that have followed I've been lucky enough to have been invited along on many sunny summer boat rides with friends and the result is now, during my third summer in Amsterdam, I'm keen to squeeze in as many as possible (even if I am 8 months pregnant!).
I also wanted to introduce my family to this lovely summer Amsterdam past-time so when my brother, his wife and their two year old son were staying with us last year I reached out to Boaty Rent a Boat Amsterdam (or "Boaty") and asked them about hiring a boat for what would actually be my brother's birthday.
Despite some unpredictability with the weather and several phone calls with Boaty's JP who was incredibly helpful and flexible in accommodating us at the best possible time to avoid the rain - which we did - yay! - we finally climbed aboard one of Boaty's solar panelled boats at around two o'clock in the afternoon. After a very thorough but relaxed briefing from JP about driving the boat, staying safe and figuring out the best route, we set off from the boat's pick-up point near Hotel Okura in De Pijp area of Amsterdam. Boaty also provided a life jacket for my nephew, which he nearly didn't want to put on after my brother joked that he was going swimming in the canals.
My brother, boyfriend and sister-in-law took it in turns to drive and they all said it was easy to get used to with very quick steering so you could easily adjust the direction. I've previously shared some tips for driving and hiring a boat in Amsterdam and I was definitely reminded of the pecking order you will find on Amsterdam's canals but we had no problems at all. One thing that came quite clear from the outset - and JP highlighted this also - was that the boat was quite sensitive to movement so rocked quite easily, which we were also advised about. For that reason you had to think about sitting in a pattern that kept the boat balanced, which was fine for me because I wasn't going anywhere! This also meant that I could sit in one place and watch the canals of Amsterdam float by, armed with just a sandwich and my camera.
Here are some of the photos I took (in between bites)...
A full tour of the canals from De Pijp, down the Amstel along Herengracht all the way to Brouwersgracht and then back along the Prinsengracht took just under three hours with no stops (other than to hover and throw some kids' ball back to them!). We could easily have explored some of the smaller canals in the four hours we'd booked the boat for but we didn't want to risk the weather and it was getting cooler. So do bring some extra layers as sitting still will make you chillier and it can get quite windy on some of the more open waterways like the Amstel.
I would definitely recommend Boaty if you're looking for a professional, helpful and eco-friendly boat hire company to rent a boat in Amsterdam. As I mentioned, the boats aren't huge and they do rock quite easily, so keep this in mind if you want a boat for a bigger group of people. The boats are also covered (with the solar panels) which we saw as a good thing on a possibly rainy day (or even a very sunny day!) but you may want a completely open boat. If this is the case, check out Boaty's sister company Boats4Rent Amsterdam which have bigger, more open boats which you can pick up from near Westerpark.
Also can we all just celebrate how cute my nephew is? This is his exact expression whenever a camera is pointed at him, accompanied by him saying "cheeeeeeeeese!". He makes me smile, a lot!
Disclosure: Our boat trip was provided by Boaty in return for an honest review. To hire your boat contact Boaty Rent a Boat Amsterdam. The best way to book a Boaty boat is online as their reservations are all update on there so you will find out availability immediately.
Frances M. Thompson
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