To start, the total number of holidays in the Netherlands amounted to nearly 41 million in 2018. 22.1 million were registered as holidays spent abroad, of which 26 million were long-haul. The number of tourists visiting the Netherlands surpassed the visitor volume of the previous years. In 2018, approximately 19 million tourists were counted, which is an increase of roughly three million visitors compared to 2017. This positive trend reflected the contribution of travel and tourism to the GDP.
Observing the cruise industry, individuals traveling with cruise ships from the Netherlands grew exceptionally in numbers from 2016 onwards. In 2016, 104 thousand passengers went on a cruise, whereas by 2018 it increased to 113 thousand Dutch cruise travelers. The majority of passengers were older than 40 years. In 2018, 24 percent were aged 60 to 69 years, whereas approximately 15 percent of passengers were 40 to 49 years old. The same year, one-week long cruises were the most popular type of cruises among Dutch tourists. Approximately 65 thousand passengers from the Netherlands went on a cruise trip for a week. By contrast, only about three thousand passengers went on a cruise journey for 21 days or more. On average, cruise trips had a duration of nine days.
Comparing Dutch cruise passenger volumes to other European countries, the Netherlands were ranked 8th in 2018. Passengers from Germany and the UK/Ireland account for the largest volume, with over 4.24 million travelers combined either embarking at domestic ports or flying to other countries to board. Looking at the European river cruise industry, the two main markets are the US/Canada and Germany. Collectively they represented most passengers’ onboard cruises on European rivers, whereas Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg (Benelux) counted just over one million river cruise passengers.
Whenever sea cruise passengers arrive or depart from the Netherlands, most of them dock at the Port of Amsterdam. However, in 2019 the capital city received approximately 120 cruises, which is a significant decrease compared to the previous year when there were 180 cruise calls registered. This decrease was the direct result of the implemented tourist tax for cruise passengers, initiated by the municipality of Amsterdam as of January 2019. To avoid such taxes, cruise companies did not dock in Amsterdam, but arrived at other harbors in the Netherlands, such as Rotterdam.
Besides the Netherlands, the so-called ABC islands located north of Venezuela are popular cruise destinations as well. All three islands are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, even though they remain outside of the European Union. Aruba and Curaçao are autonomous, while Bonaire is a special municipality of the Netherlands. As of 2018, Aruba received approximately 815 thousand cruise visitors, whereas Curaçao and Bonaire counted roughly 757 and 390 thousand passengers, respectively.