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The activities in the shipyard certainly don’t look like a vacation: a massive boat hull is being busily welded, drilled and painted. The shipbuilders are hard at work. But next year, thanks to their efforts, you’ll be able to relax on the sun deck, enjoying a coffee as you watch the passing countryside.

We’re in the Frisian town of Franeker where the Magnifique IV, the fourth ship in our popular Magnifique fleet, is being built. But there’s still plenty to do before we can welcome the first guests on board. Take a peek behind the scenes to learn what our newcomer will look like!

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In the beginning there was a cargo ship, the Vigila, built in 1965. Now, she is undergoing a transformation to become a refined river cruise ship complete with all modern comforts. The man responsible for this miraculous makeover is Walter van Berkum. Not only is he a master shipbuilder, he’s also one of our most experienced boat operators at Boat Bike Tours.

2020 maiden voyage

Together with his team, Walter is working flat out to ensure that the Magnifique IV is ready for her maiden voyage in the spring of 2020. First, the ship’s hull was completely gutted, then the machinery and equipment were replaced. “We’re done with that,” says van Berkum. “Now we are busy with constructing and furnishing the interiors. The electrical lines are being laid, the ship’s carpenter has started his work and the painters are painting the first doors.”

A trend for genuine quality and luxury

The Magnifique IV is not the first ship that Walter van Berkum and his team have built for Boat Bike Tours. The three spectacular sailing ships Mare fan Fryslân, Leafde fan Fryslân and Wapen fan Fryslân, were each beautifully renovated. They were then followed by the three successful ‘older sisters’ in the Magnifique family.

“I don’t know of any other cycling cruise provider who has ships custom-made for their tours. Boat Bike Tours is unique in this,” van Berkum explains. “When you construct a ship in this way you can really cater to the wishes of your guests.”

So what is it that makes the Magnifique fleet so popular? Walter van Berkum sees a very clear trend behind this: “It’s the move towards more luxury and quality. People prefer to spend a little more, but get more for it.”

An intimate atmosphere

Just like her sisters, the Magnifique IV will have an “ambience that is luxurious and sociable”, says van Berkum. She will travel on various tours around the Netherlands and Belgium. With no more than 36 passengers on board, this intimate number of guests ensures that the atmosphere remains personal and familiar.

The biggest difference between the Magnifique IV and her predecessors is that there will be 10 spacious suites on the upper deck, instead of four or five. So more guests will be able to enjoy more luxury, space and comfort.

The suites are 16m² (172 sq. feet) in size and have room not only for a double bed, but also a cosy sitting area. From the French balcony, with its full-length glass doors, you can enjoy a great view of the landscape. Only the top deck offers a better view: here you can relax on asunbed or in the jacuzzi.

See the chef in action

The 12m² (129 sq. feet) double cabins on the lower deck all have their own bathroom with shower and toilet. On this level you will also find the inviting restaurant where breakfast and dinner are served. The ship designers planned something a little extra here: a glass wall offering a clear view into the kitchen. Guests will be able to see the cooks in action as they prepare the delicious meals.

On the upper deck there will also be a spacious and tastefully decorated saloon with bar, lounge area and panoramic windows. Here you can sit back and relax after your bike rides and spend convivial evenings with other guests.

Real teamwork

It’s still a long way until the Magnifique IV is ready for her first tour, but for Walter van Berkum, every part of the process is exciting. “The great thing about a project like this is being able to participate in all phases, from design to launch. We all work together as a team towards the finished ship, and along the way we see it take shape. We’re really looking forward to the end result!”

Travel on the Magnifique IV

Would you like to be among the first guests welcomed aboard the Magnifique IV? Take a look at the trips we are currently offering on our newest ship!

Would you like to gain even more impressions of the Magnifique IV? Then take a look at our Facebook page and let yourself be inspired by the pictures.

Why not fill in a few brief questions here and let us help you find the right tour for you? And if you’re not quite ready to have a chat, sign up for our free email course—you’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about boat and bike tours in Europe.


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