View our latest offers and deals on our offers page! See all offers

Paula Baas works in the sales department at Boat Bike Tours. Last summer she swapped her role behind the scenes for a spot on the Hansa Highlights Tour, an 8-day cycling cruise exploring historic Dutch towns and cities. Here she shares some of her favorite memories.

See all our Hansa tours


Hello Paula, I heard you took the Hansa highlights tour last summer. What do you remember the most?

Well, I loved that every night we stayed in a different city, and that you could go for a walking tour in the evenings. And even though I’m Dutch we actually visited a whole lot of places I’d never seen before!

The boat is like a mobile hotel. While you’re cycling town to town, the boat sails there too, and when you arrive back on-board, a three-course dinner is being prepared for you.

Then, when you get up in the morning, there’s a buffet breakfast waiting and you can make a picnic for lunch. You don’t have to worry about anything. Really like a floating hotel!

A floating hotel sounds relaxing, no need to pack your bags every two days. Your room just travels with you.

Yes! You have your own cabin where you just leave all your things and go out and explore, and then it’s all waiting at your destination at the end of each day. It’s a very relaxing way to travel.

The boat on this route is called De Nassau, it’s a medium river cruise ship and its cabins have just been renovated. There’s a big salon and sundeck where you can watch the passing scenery.

It sounds so easy, with lots of variety. Did it feel like life was moving more slowly traveling only by bike and boat?

In some ways the days go slowly, but they’re also very full because you’re cycling through new landscapes and stopping along the way. You might have a drink at a terrace café or look in local shops.

Every day the tour leader gives a briefing about the route and then you can cycle independently, with a map or GPS app that makes it very easy. Some days you can choose between an easy and a more challenging route.

What did you think about the cycling part of the tour? Was it hard?

No, the Netherlands is flat! So cycling is easy, even without an e-bike. I recommend doing some cycling before the tour, to get yourself in the zone. There’s always someone in the group who hasn’t ridden a bike in years, but they always get back into it!

And who did you travel with?

I went with my husband and our two teenage kids. It was great to show them what my work is about. They were always telling me, “I want to see what you do.” So now I could show them!

I wasn’t sure what they’d think, because you’re cycling and stopping to look at things every day, but they really enjoyed it.

You had a good click with your tour leader, why was that?

We got along really well with Klaas, our tour leader. He’s just a friendly guy. We’re from Monnickendam and he’s from the top of North Holland, so we share the same sense of humor.

Every evening after dinner, Klaas would give the group a summary of the day. He’d unroll a big old school map and tell us “Today you rode along here…”. Then he’d get out another map of the next province and show us where we’d be cycling the next day.

The old maps are a nice touch. Nostalgic but also informative.

I’m familiar with the regions he was talking about, but most other travelers were from abroad of course, so a lot of it was new to them. We had a really mixed group on board. There was a bunch of Italians, and quite a few Americans and Germans. My family and I were the only Dutch!

The name Hansa comes from the 14th century trade region. Did you explore mostly medieval history?

Actually, the Hansa tour explores all periods of history in that region. You travel around Arnhem and the Veluwe nature reserve, where there are quite a few WWII sites, so you learn about them too. Klaas had a lot of local and historical knowledge so he always had a lot to tell.

Did you get a better understanding of certain periods of history?

I saw the John Frost bridge in Arnhem for the first time. It’s in that movie “A Bridge Too Far”, about Operation Market Garden during WWII. We also rode along the Ginkelse Heide, where allied paratroopers landed during the war. I learnt about it in school so it was nice to see it for myself.

What were some other highlights?

I really enjoyed riding through nature in the Veluwe with all its heath. I also loved seeing Bronkhorst, it’s like a picture book Charles Dickens village. They call it the smallest dorpje, or hamlet, in the Netherlands. Every Christmas the residents literally transform it into a scene from Dickens, with people in costume and more.

What was it like with the other travelers in the group? Did you interact with them much?

The tour goes for eight days, so it’s quite easy and relaxed getting to know people. At the end of the trip we were all swapping email addresses so we could share photos.

The first day everything feels new, of course, and people are a little reserved, but the tour leader breaks the ice and makes everyone feel at ease.

Eight days is a good amount of time to get to know people. Do you think that people often make new friends on the tours?

Yes, sometimes we even get people booking trips with friends they made on a previous tour!

I also believe that a lot of people keep returning to do our tours because, once they’ve tried this mode of traveling (with their own cabin and with the sailing around), they’re won over.

People write reviews saying, “This is really the best way to travel. Next year I’m coming back!” There are so many routes to choose from and you see so many places.

Haha, if that isn’t a sign of a successful vacation, then I don’t know what is!
Thank you for sharing Paula!

Learn more about Paula’s travels on the Hansa Highlights Tour page. Or see what else we offer with our full range of cycling cruises. We hope you’ll join us!


Plan your trip