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The Pancake Boat
From: Rotterdam, Netherlands
D, a.k.a. , is one of Rotterdam's best dining and sightseeing values. For a modest price, you get an all-you-can-eat pancake meal plus a 75-minute harbor excursion. Kids from 3 to 12 pay a children's rate, and toddlers eat free.
The vintage boat has two decks with large windows, wood paneling, four- to six-person tables, and an outdoor area where you can enjoy fresh air after you've stuffed yourself with dinner pancakes, dessert pancakes, and optional ice cream. If our experience is any guide, nearly all of your fellow passengers will be Dutch--mostly parents, grandparents, and children.
Check the The Pannenkoekenboot's English-language Rotterdam Web page to plan your excursion.
Days of operation and departure times vary by season. The company also offers package deals that include a pancake cruise and other activities in Rotterdam.
How to enjoy the Pancake Boat:
De Pannenkoekenboot's pier is behind the red-roofed floating Chinese restaurant above, directly across from the Euromast.
The harbor is called Parkhaven, and you can reach it on foot or via ttram from central Rotterdam.
The interior of De Pannenkoekenboot includes a sculpture of a mermaid whose motto could be "Pancakes or bust."
The pancake kitchen is on the main or lower deck. When your table number is called, you go to the kitchen to collect your first pancake.
A server will hand you a plate with the type of pancake you want: plain, or with apple slices or bacon baked in (as in the photo above).
Cooks constantly load new plates of pancakes onto a rack between the kitchen and the dining area. (The plates can be hot, so you may want to use a napkin as a potholder.)
A wooden table has pans of sweet and savory toppings--everything from ham, cheese, and sliced eggs to fruit, marshmallows, and candy sprinkles. (We suggest starting off with a dinner pancake and returning for dessert.)
After you've shoveled toppings onto your pancake, you can head back to your table for dinner.
A menu at your table lists alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, which are charged separately and delivered by a server.
Another optional add-on is the sundae bar, which opens for business after passengers have had their fill of pancakes.
This photo shows a family dining on the lower or main deck. (We took it from the upper deck, which has more tables, toilets, and an open sightseeing deck at the stern.)
This dessert pancake has slices of apple, banana, and peach, with brown sugar and chocolate shavings for an added nutritional boost.
After the meal, smaller children head for a hatch on the lower deck that, when opened, reveals a hold filled with plastic balls.
At the end of the voyage, you'll be offered a Wilhelmina peppermint as you leave the boat.
The traditional Dutch mints bear a portrait of the late Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, whose reign lasted 58 years (from 1890 to 1948).