Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Copenhagen Canal Boat Tour

We're a fifty/fifty kind of family. A little something for the kids to enjoy, a little something for the adults. Granted, it sometimes seems as though we spend much more time at the playground than we ever do at the pub, but we still aim for some type of balance. Especially on longer trips to places that we may never get to experience again. Our time in Copenhagen during our recent Scandinavia trip is a good example.

We had spent the previous day in mostly kid-focused pursuits. The children's wing of the Nationalmuseet. The Lego store. Then late afternoon playtime at the park and gelato (ok, the gelato was just as much for the parents as the kids).

The following morning, we arrived in the Nyhavn area along the harbor. It was so charming, the weather was beautiful and the boats were calling out to my husband and I. We really wanted to explore Copenhagen by taking a canal boat tour. Would the kids be able to handle an hour of sitting still? (Could we keep the water-loving Little Arrow from jumping overboard?) We stocked up on snacks and took a chance.

We started by letting them run off some steam around this big anchor. All the boat tour companies seem to start and end in this area.

Then we boarded. They were all smiles in anticipation of a ride on a boat.

Luckily, they basically remained smiling most of the trip. (There was an unfortunate incident involving a pacifier that was thrown in the face of the woman behind us, but we'll never see her again, right?)

And while we cruised, we got to see Copenhagen from a unique perspective... from the water. Plus, with a guide who narrated in Danish, English and German, we got to learn a lot more about the city as well.

Like this apartment building, converted from a former military airplane hangar.

And the legendary story, The Little Mermaid, by one of Copenhagen's most famous residents, Hans Christian Andersen.

But one of the best parts, quite frankly, was a chance to take a break from pushing an 80 pound stroller up and down busy city streets. We could sit back and just admire the scenery during the leisurely ride (aside from separating squabbling brothers occasionally).

And like I said, there were still smiles to be had by the end. The only casualty was a giant bag of chips that Little Arrow polished off as we cruised. A spoiled lunch is a small price to pay for a morning of parental fun.

And, as you can see, the sides of the boat were just tall enough to prevent any little divers from jumping in.

A few "know before you go" tips:
  • Pack a snack, plenty of water and maybe a few small but quiet toys for your kids. Mostly, the Arrows just enjoyed taking in the scenery. But they definitely needed a few distractions along the way. Once on the boat, there is nothing available to purchase so plan ahead.
  • Apply sunscreen. There's no shade on the boats, so if it's a sunny day, you'll need some protection.
  • There's a public toilet available in Nyhavn for before and after the ride.
  • I'm not even sure the name of the company we cruised with. There are several stands in the harbor all selling hour-long tours. They all follow roughly the same route, so you can't go wrong (from what I could tell). Just go with whatever company is next departing.
  • There is a bit of space on the boat for movement (in other words, it's far less confining than an airplane seat). If you go early, your boat likely won't be full and that will allow you to get some more breathing room for you and the kids away from other passengers. But if you're really concerned your kids can't make it through an hour-long ride, there is a hop-on, hop-off tour that you might consider so you could jump off if it wasn't going well.
  • You can store your stroller at the dock while you're on the cruise. I'd highly recommend carrying any valuables on board with you, though, as I don't know how closely the stroller was watched by staff.