Monday, 25 March 2019

A Taste of IJmuiden (for Amsterdam) from Azura

It’s always a refreshing to dock in a port which we haven’t visited before. So despite our disappointment at not sailing into the centre of Amsterdam, we were interested to see what IJmuiden had to offer. As this port is likely to be used a lot in the future, I hope my observations will be of use.

Azura passed the long harbour wall at about midday on Friday 22nd March (Dutch time) in the company of the pilot boat, and we then caught a glimpse of IJmuiden.

It appeared to consist of a large complex of mainly industrial units, though I believe that there was a small town about 2 to 3 km away. I  will shortly describe what else I discovered about IJmuiden, but in the meantime, here is a personal observation.
Our sail in to Holland was just six days before the original Brexit date, now probably postponed. I have no idea whether readers of this post are remainers or leavers, (and I have no intention of revealing how I voted), but I think most would agree that the way our government have managed the process leaves a lot to be desired. I couldn’t help but feel the irony when I saw our entry to Ijmuiden was described in the daily Horizon paper as ‘The Great British Sail In’. Our journey past reclaimed sand dunes and oil refineries was accompanied by loud renderings of ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘God Save the Queen’. As far as I could tell, apart from the port officials, there were only a couple of local spectators watching us dock. I hope they had a good laugh at our patriotic bravado.   
So what else can I tell you about IJmuiden?
It is certainly industrial, and the 3km walk into the town centre (if indeed there is one) was too far for us too attempt. P and O seemed to assume that all guests would wish to go into Amsterdam,  but had failed to book sufficient shuttle buses for the 45 minute journey each way, so there were waits announced of over an hour onboard for the first shuttles to return, and we were instructed to stay onboard until the busses arrived. I'm sure that the good people at P&O will rectify the situation on future cruises, but this did not help us. So we decided instead to take a stroll and headed on foot to the port gates, not realising that the empty red bus was actually waiting to transport any guests who wanted a lift to the port gates. (This alternative had not been announced.) We discovered a modern cruise terminal which looked as if it might be developed in the future.

There were toilets, a large photo of the Dutch Royal family, and (upstairs) a coffee shop and view point.

As you can see from the photos, the place was largely empty. There was also a charming tourist stall selling a variety of souvenirs. We had a long chat with the very lonely stall holder who begged us to tell the other guests on the ship he was there, and jokingly offered us a 10% commission if we could muster up some trade.  

We purchased some painted wooden tulips and some really charming windmill Christmas lights, but suspect we may have been his only customers for the day.
Once through the terminal we spotted some steep steps which appeared to lead to the beach.

All we found at the top was a long road, but we understand that a few other brave passengers did find the beach and spotted jumbo buggies racing along the sand. So come on P&O, get out and explore and provide some more local info for your passengers!
On our return the lonely red bus driver spotted us and took us back on the three minute journey via containers and skips to the ship's gangway.

On a more positive note, we did make it into Amsterdam the following day.....more to follow..... 

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