An essential part of the Rotterdam experience is taking a Spido Harbor Tour (tel. 010/275-9988; www.spido.nl; Metro: Leuvehaven). The season of the year determines how much of the vast port you're able to see, but it's an unforgettable experience to board a boat that seems large in comparison to the canal launches of Amsterdam -- two tiers of indoor seating and open decks -- and then to feel dwarfed by the hulking oil tankers and container ships that glide like giant whales into their berths along the miles of docks. The vast Europoort (pronounced the same as "port" in English) was created when its several harbors were opened directly to the sea, 32km (20 miles) away, by the dredging of a deepwater channel that accommodates even the largest oil tankers. April to September, departures from a dock below the Erasmus Bridge are every 30 to 45 minutes from 9:30am to 5pm, and October to March, departures are limited to two to four times a day. The basic tour, offered year-round, is a 75-minute sail along the city's waterfront; between April and September, it's possible to take an extended (2 1/4-hour) trip daily at 10am and 12:30pm. On a limited schedule in July and August, you can make all-day excursions along Europoort's full length and to the Delta Works sluices. Tours are 9.80€ ($16) for adults, 5.80€ ($9.30) for children ages 4 to 11, and free for children 3 and under.
Combine harbor sightseeing with a taste of a Dutch treat -- pancakes -- aboard the Pannenkoekenboot (Pancake Boat) ★, Parkhaven (tel. 010/436-7295; www.pannenkoekenboot.nl; tram: 8), moored at the foot of the Euromast. It's a way to combine a romantic evening view of Rotterdam from the water with a plain but satisfying Dutch meal. As soon as the boat weighs anchor, there's a free-for-all at the pancake buffet, with as many plain, bacon, or apple pancakes as you can eat. Departures are Saturday at 8pm. The 3-hr. cruise is 23€ ($36) for adults, 18€ ($28) for children ages 3 to 12, and free for children 2 and under.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.