If you’re in the market for some good week-end entertainment, pop some popcorn and head on over to CruiseCritic, where several posters are whipping themselves into a veritable frenzy…over docking locations.
Just when you thought every conceivable dead horse had been sufficiently beaten, along comes a series of accusations about docking locations – or, more accurately, which ships are getting the short end of the stick in Amsterdam.
The problem, it seems, centers on the enormous number of ships that are flocking to the famous Dutch city for the popular Tulip Time cruises that run between late-March and mid-May. It’s the only time the country’s ubiquitous tulips are in bloom, and major attractions – like Keukenhof – are open.
Yet, several posters are unhappy that some Viking River Cruises ships have had to dock in further, more out-of-the way docking locations rather than the berths adjacent to the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam that are within walking distance of Amsterdam Centraal Station and the Red Light District.
It only takes a few posts before readers begin dog-piling on Viking. One reader advises to ‘exercise caution before cruising with this line’ while another indicates this undesirable docking space is ‘one more strike against them.’
Interestingly, only one reader attempts to point out that Viking’s pre-cruise documentation (just like – let’s face it – every other river cruise line out there) indicates that docking locations are approximate and that local authorities can request the ship move to any dock at any time. “Do not dismiss your taxi”, the statement says, “until you have positively located your ship.” Sadly, this voice of reason is drowned out in a sea of vitriolic comments about how hard-done-by readers (who may or may not have even sailed with Viking) are.
Equally fascinating: only a couple readers point out that Viking guests can get into town by way of shore excursions or shuttle service – much like they would have in Vienna, where ships dock miles outside of the center of town.
Normally, this isn’t the kind of unhelpful sideshow we’d even bother to write about, but it does beg the question: do you care where your ship berths? Is that a make-or-break detail? Would it “ruin” your trip if your ship berthed outside of town, or across the river? This frequently happens in Budapest, where docking on the opposite side of the Danube can mean a shuttle ride (or a hearty walk) across one of the many bridges to access the main town center.
If we had a nickel for every time we weren’t docked in a prime location on any cruise line – river or otherwise – we’d be very rich men. Let’s face it, we’ve also seen the inverse: prime docking locations where guests steadfastly refuse to even walk into town, preferring to take a shuttle or a cab. So, with that in mind, it’s time to offer our own patented brand of advice to use in these situations:
Relax. Take a breath. Go with the flow.
So you’re not docked in the city center, within walking distance of The Rijksmuseum, the Louvre, St. Mark’s Square, and whatever else you were hoping to see. Can you still get there? Yes. Will it cost you a dime? Likely not. Take an excursion or the organized shuttle service and head on into town. Use public transit – it’s cheap and readily available, particularly in major European cities.
There’s a reason we always counsel flexibility on any trip, and it’s this: it’s not worth destroying your own vacation because of something that is completely, wholly, and entirely out of your control.
What do you think? Is your physical docking location important to you? Would you avoid river cruises were you’re docked outside of “prime” areas? Let us know by using the comment form below!