While many small boats cater to customers who enjoy relaxing peacefully on waterways, Channel Cruises Holland’s customers have better things to do with their time. These customers want to bicycle and remain very active.
Even though the boat is totally booked, most of the time, it sails almost completely empty. What you might not know, they are meeting up with happy bicycle guests at the next point.
Jan Timmermans, managing director of Amsterdam’s Channel Cruises Holland, said the 2020 European River Cruise Market Report showed passengers treat the boat like a mobile hotel.
Channel Cruises Holland is also known as Eurosail Travel and tour operator/reseller sister brand, Boat Bike Tours.
According to Timmermans, the biggest difference between other boats and Channel Cruises Holland, they are not a river cruise company. Most of their guests who book their tours want the opportunity to discover various areas by bike.
Cycling down pathways during the day and then resting on canals during the night, seems so very Dutch. The fact is, most Dutch won’t do it because it’s like touring their own backyards.
Reports show that less than 0.5% of their guests come from Holland and Channel Cruises Holland has even dropped the Dutch language website.
The bottom line, most bicyclists booking Eurosail, Channel Cruises Holland, and Boat Bike Tours are from North and South America. Their website does offer a Deutsch language option for German passengers.
Timmermans said they are a niche within a niche.
They offer cycling vacations on ships to a small market but within that niche, they have another niche with a variety of four operator offerings for cycling cruises in the Netherlands, Belgium, northern France, and western Germany.
They offer 25 different tours that can be booked per cabin and different levels of accommodations or cycling skills.
First-time guests may want a guided cycle tour that is readily available. Repeat customers and locals seem to be very independent.
Boat Bike Tours will resell tours that are put together by local companies in the Danube countries, Italy, southern France, areas of Germany, and the Czech Republic. They offer more than 70 choices for cycling cruises.
During 2019, Boat Bike Tours received long-term contracts with 23 ships, barges, and sailing vessels. Most of the ships cater to 44 passengers while two cater to 65 passengers and one large ship for 102 passengers.
There are 4 sailing ships that are much smaller, catering between 20 to 27 passengers. Most of the ships are chartered from single-ship owners or small companies that only have one or two vessels.
Walter van Berkum, a shipbuilder, has built several vessels used by companies. Notably, the Magnifique II in 2016, Magnifique III in 2018, and Magnifique IV expected to be ready in 2020.
These vessels were originally barges that were stripped to the hull, lengthened, and then rebuilt.
Channel Cruises Holland has shown constant growth with 3,200 passengers in 2016, another 300 in 2017, and an added 250 in 2018. This is an estimated 4,100 passengers in 2019.