Our week long bike tour was made possible by “The Zeeland” and its fine husband and wife crew of Audry and Linda, and a ships mate. Actually two different mates. Otto worked the ship for a few days, then left and was replaced by another much more quiteÂ guy, whose name was never offered.
This weeks tour included the following passengers.Â Â George and Lena, from Germany.Â The family of Paul, Angela, and children Huwe and Rhian from Worster England, Nadia came by herself from her home in Italy,Â and then “The Americans”, of Monkey and Honey.Â Hannamieke was our fun, energetic, and incredibly patient cycling guide who spent the week teaching us about Holland, showing us all the sights, and becoming a great friend.Â A great bike rider that we followed all week long, she set up all the stops and sights, kept us all together, and made sure no one was lost for too long.
Zeeland is located in the southwest of the Netherlands. It is criss-crossed by the Ooster- en Westerschelde estuaries. To the west is the North Sea; to the north, the province of Zuid Holland; Noord-Brabant is to its east and Belgium is to the south.
The boat was actually a working class, ocean capable ship, that has since been slightly retrofitted into a tour boat.Â These tours are billed as bike and barge trips, and our expectation of a barge was a slightly lower, darker, slower, lesser furnished version of a boat than this.Â Perhaps the word barge doesn’t mean the same thing in all countries.
The Zeeland has three levels.Â The sun-deck and captains bridge on top.Â The dining area, bar, kitchen, a toilet, the shipmates cabin and the captains quarters were on the main deck.Â With the passenger cabins, laundry, storage and engine area down below.Â The ship was well maintained, and painted.
The main deck is is the gathering area.Â You enter the boat on the main deck level through large sliding glass doors. To the right is the captains quarters and the stairways to both other levels.Â To the left, is the front of the ship where the dining area, bar and kitchen is.Â The dining area is full of teak and mahogany and furnished with clear pine tables and cabinetry.Â There are a half dozen tables, with one reserved for the captain and, for our trip, two larger tables where we all ate together.Â Eating breakfast and dinner together at the same table made for a very comfortable setting as we all got along quite well together.Â At one end of the dining area was a buffet area that, each morning promptly when the bell rang at 8:00 am, we found full of breads, cheeses, cereals, fruits, meats, juices, and sweet snacks that we had for breakfast, then bagged up the rest of it as we pleased to serve as our lunches while out on the road. Â Beyond that was the bar where we could go to get water and drinks for the meals. Behind that was the kitchen, in which we were not allowed.
This stairway leads to the cabins below. We were used to the No Smoking sign.Â The “no drugs” sign seemedÂ to us to go without saying, but hey, this is Amsterdam…….
Below deck there are 10 cabins, with 27 beds.Â Each cabin with its own bath/shower. Our cabin had 3 single beds.Â A bunk bed set, and an open space bed.Â There was a sink,Â closet, and electrical plug-ins.Â This came in handy in making coffee with our personal sizeÂ water cup heater.Â Of course this also required the power converter to go from the 110 volts used in the states, to the 220 volts used in Europe.Â That heater made the water boil very much faster with the 220!Â The sleeping area of the cabin also had two small portholes, that we were not allowed to open during the day while the ship was out in the water since the portholes are only slightly higher than the water level.Â There was also a porthole in the shower area.Â We opened all these each day as we returned from riding and did not close them again til we left for the next days ride, as it does get stuffy down there, and the breeze aided in drying the clothes that we had washed and hung out each night.Â As would be expected, the toilet/shower area was quite small. It is actually all one molded fiberglass unit. One step into the room, and you are actually in the shower, with a curtained area just big enough to turn around.Â Using the toilet means standing in the shower, made slightly inconvenient in that the slope of the floor meant that the basin never fully drained on its own.Â But we were provided a squeegee that we could use to squeegee all the water into the drain so that Honey didn’t get wet feet in the middle of the night.Â But the water was hot, the toilet works,Â and the rooms were clean and bright.
Down the hall was the laundry room, and Linda provided us with clean towels every third day.
The bikes were stored on the top deck, but there was plenty of room for them, and all of us, and chairs and all the other boat type supplies that would be needed.Â Part of it was covered, which came in very handy during the rainy times of our trip.Â And of course the captains bridge, which was polished and neat and contained a computerized navigation system that apparently made it easy to stay on course in the river channels without a lot of human steering.
A very nice boat, and a wonderful week.Â We will remember the trip and the people for a very long time.