Pleasure cruising

From the water, there is much to see and experience. But to ensure safe shipping traffic, all must observe the existing rules. These rules apply to yachts, rowboats and sloops but also to fishermen.

Pleasure cruise

Pleasure cruising in Amsterdam is possible on the canals that exist in and around the city centre, but also at the North Sea Canal and the river IJ. These waters are also important transport waterways which are frequently used by commercial vessels. Rules exist to ensure prompt, safe and environmentally friendly traffic.

Pleasure cruising rules

Based on these regulations, port service and police patrol boats can give compelling instructions on the water and cite parties if necessary.


  • The harbour basins in the western port area are not accessible to cruise ships
  • Keep to the starboard side
  • Keep a good lookout, in front of you and also behind you
  • Maximum speed on the abovementioned waterway is 18 km per hour
  • Roundtrip boats and ships exceeding 20 m always have right of way 
  •  Sailing is only allowed with a stand-by engine; tacking is disallowed
  • Pay attention to ferries and fast hydrofoils
  • One must switch on the navigation lights at nightfall, at dusk and in foggy weather
  • Steering a vessel under the influence of alcohol is prohibited
  • Rowboats, canoes and small vessels must avoid the river IJ as much as they can. If they do sail in this area, bear in mind the limited sight from commercial crafts.


Skippers owning a VHF should use the following channels:

  • IJmuiden lock area: VHF 22
  • From IJmuiden to the kilometre marker 14.8 on the North Sea Canal: VHF 3
  • From the kilometre marker 14.8 to the north side of the Java-eiland (‘Java island’): VHF 4
  • From the Java-eiland to the Amsterdam Rhine Canal: VHF 60
  • The Oranjesluizen lock area: VHF 18

An overview of all the maritime radio channels used in the Amsterdam port area is available at marifoonblokkanalen overzichtskaart.

Fishing in the port

Fishing on the river IJ is allowed by those holding a permit issued by the Fishing Association, and provided the existing fishing rules are observed. Fishing along the quayside is permitted. Fishing along the quayside on the fenced territories of the (oil) port area is prohibited. Fishing on the water in the oil port area is prohibited.
To ensure safe shipping traffic, fishing boats shall:

  • Stay away from the ports’ estuaries
  • Not float on the North Sea Canal or the IJ

Standing Mast Route

If you are planning on using a boat the mast of which exceeds nine metres in height on the inland waterways in the direction of Rotterdam, then the Standing Mast Route is your only option. Part of this route follows the city centre of Amsterdam. For this section the maximum depth is three metres. The entrance to this route is 1.7 km west of Central Station in Oude Houthaven. On this route, near Haarlemmerplein, you will find the Westerkanaal railway bridge. This bridge opens up only around two o’clock in the morning. From this bridge, boats sail in convoy. In front of the bridge is a mooring facility. In closed position, the bridge’s maximum vertical clearance is six metres. The other bridges are operated 24 hours a day. More information is available at Watnernet’s website (dutch only).