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'A polluting form of tourism': Amsterdam slashes cruise ship traffic in half

  • Amsterdam will slowly phase out cruise ships and ultimately shutter its cruise terminal.
  • The city’s Passengers Terminal Amsterdam (PTA) will cap cruise ships to 100 per year starting in 2026.
  • By 2035, Amsterdam's terminal will close.

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Amsterdam announced it will slowly phase out cruise ships and ultimately shutter its current cruise terminal as the popular destination continues to crack down on overtourism

Starting in 2026, the city’s Passengers Terminal Amsterdam (PTA) will cap cruise ships to 100 per year. Currently, the maximum is 190. The terminal will reduce to just one berth by the following year, requiring cruise ships to use shore power. 

By 2035, Amsterdam's terminal – a brief 15-minute walk to the city centre – will close.

“The city council wants a liveable, clean and sustainable city,” said Amsterdam Deputy Mayor Alderman Hester van Buren in a statement. “Sea cruise is a polluting form of tourism and contributes to crowds and emissions in the city.”

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When cruise ships use shore power, they can switch off their own machinery, which cuts down on the local emissions being emitted and noise pollution. Around 35% of cruise ships are currently equipped with shore power connections, according to the Cruise Lines International Association.

The proposed measures, a result of collaborative discussions between stakeholders from the industry, city, region, and national government, reflect a shared commitment to the city's future. 

In the announcement, the Dutch city acknowledges the potential “economic consequences” from fewer tourists spending money in shops or museums, and “less tourist tax is collected.” The following budget memorandum is slated to include the financial consequences of the cruise ship ban.

Tourist boats cruise along a canal in Amsterdam, on April 4, 2024.

The city is also considering a possible relocation of the PTA to Coenhaven, a harbor in the northwest portion of Amsterdam. This move could bring new opportunities and a breath of fresh air to the area. 

“Based on this feasibility study, the council will decide in consultation with the government, the Port Authority, and the province of North Holland whether relocation is feasible by 2035,” the announcement said. 

“The announcement is a great example of the cruise industry’s long-standing partnership with the Port of Amsterdam and the direct outcome of our collaborative discussions on the relocation of the passenger terminal outside the city centre, which started back in 2016,” a spokesperson for CLIA told USA TODAY.

“Amsterdam is and will remain a popular cruise destination, and cruise tourism will continue delivering important economic benefits to the city,” the spokesperson said, adding that cruise tourists bring around $105 million annually, and make up 1% of the over 21 million visitors to the Dutch city. 

The news in Amsterdam coincides with Seattle’s new order requiring all cruise ships to use shore power by 2027 in order to push its own cruise industry to be more sustainable. 

Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at

The Key Points at the top of this article were created with the assistance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and reviewed by a journalist before publication. No other parts of the article were generated using AI. Learn more.

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