Boat Bike Tours restarts
Boat Bike Tours was one of the first shipping companies to restart operations on 19 June. The vessel De Amsterdam departed for its first cruise through western Netherlands. Director Jan Timmermans explains what measures Boat Bike Tours is taking to ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable trip.
There are no words
"How does it feel to be allowed to start again? There are no words to describe it," says Jan enthusiastically. "It's no surprise that we are one of the first to start, because our cycling holidays are very well-suited to these times. We have relatively small vessels with small groups, no coach excursions and people are outside and active during the day."
Jan can see a big difference from last summer's restart. “Back then we were fully booked and had many cancellations, now people have waited and are booking last minute. That means that our schedule is very flexible: sometimes we add trips, sometimes we cancel trips or combine them. We will slowly scale up further over the coming weeks," he explains.
COVID-19 protocol developed in-house
Boat Bike Tours has developed its own COVID-19 protocol over the past year together with the BBZ trade organisation, based on the government rules. That protocol is now being applied again. Jan says: "Of course all the main rules apply, such as social distancing, sanitising and face masks. We also do breakfast and dinner in two smaller consecutive shifts. The group that is waiting can enjoy activities on shore, such as a city tour. There is also a one-way system in the corridors with the cabins. And if a passenger develops symptoms, we immediately call in the municipal health service and isolate them on a special quarantine ship, which is an empty river cruise vessel. As soon as they test negative, we get them back on board."
The crew are also adapting. "All crew members receive Covid-19 training before a voyage starts, so they know exactly how to act in certain situations. In addition, they all take a rapid test beforehand. In that way we make sure everything is literally shipshape," says Jan.
Despite all the COVID-19 rules, customer reviews last year were even more positive than usual. Jan says: "Passengers appreciated our clear communication, and said that their enjoyment of the voyage was not affected by the rules. We were very happy about that. Of course we are aiming for such a good score again this year." Monic van der Heyden, commercial manager at Port of Amsterdam, is also enthusiastic about Boat Bike Tours. "The bike voyages are sustainable, because they do not require any coaches, for example. As a result there is little impact on the environment. I think it's great that they are starting up again, although that also applies to every shipping company!"