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When Jossie imagines a map of Europe, she doesn’t think in terms of roads, she sees waterways instead. Jossie is a sailor with all her heart and soul. For more than 20 years she navigated Europe’s rivers, large and small, for tour operators. More recently, however, she swapped the steering wheel for the desk chair: Jossie is now responsible for developing our new boat bike tours.

From time to time, you can still find her back on the water, as Jossie joins our cycling cruises to learn how guests experience tours in real life.

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Hello Jossie, you just got back from the Sail & Bike Tulip Tour. How did you like it?

It was great! This trip is a bit different from most of our tours because we travel on real sailing ships. And the combination of tulips, cycling and sailing is just fantastic. One of the most beautiful cycling routes leads past Alkmaar and Egmond aan Zee, alternating through tulip fields and dunes. What could be better? This tour is completely new in our program and I wanted to see for myself how everything works.

What is so special about this trip for you?

What I like so much about the Sail & Bike Tulip Tour is that it’s off the beaten tourist track. When you hear of tulips, you immediately think of Lisse and the Keukenhof gardens south of Amsterdam. But there are also plenty of beautiful tulip fields in North Holland. In this province north of Amsterdam there is much less activity and much more to discover.

On the tour we visited the Hortus Bulborum, for example. Hundreds of different, rare tulip varieties bloom in this botanical garden run completely by volunteers. They were very enthusiastic to explain the gardens and their hobby.

You travel regularly to see how the trips you plan work in practice. What did you notice on this one?

It’s always very instructive to be there yourself and to experience a tour in practice. For example, I notice every time what an important role the tour leader plays. He or she has to juggle so many different people, languages and cycling levels, all at the same time. You have to be a real organizational talent. I admire that a lot.

That’s a big compliment coming from someone who organizes so much herself! How did it go on this trip?

Our tour leader Tamara did a great job. The group was quite mixed. There were four friends from Brazil, two German couples, English, Russians and even two guests from Singapore. In the beginning everyone was a bit reserved. But by the end, they’d all melted into one big group.

The tour guide has an important task, because everyone in the group deserves attention. In the morning he or she has to sound out the mood: What do guests want and how can these wishes be fulfilled? That’s the advantage of relatively small ships. Everyone gets personal attention and a group of total strangers can grow together. Sailing itself also connects people.

Yes of course, sailing is a highlight of this trip. How did you experience that?

On one day we really sailed, which was a very special experience. Since such ships have quite a few small sails, sailing only works when some of the guests help out. Nobody has to help, but if everyone just watches, it doesn’t work either. Then, for example, you see an Englishman and a Russian standing together at the ropes. Such an experience brings people together. The atmosphere on the ship was also totally great, because we had a young, enthusiastic crew with a lot of passion for their profession.

What was the best part of the trip?

At the end of each day our tour guide Tamara would ask us, “What was your highlight of the day?” Again and again guests mentioned the bike tour. Even if it was cool and windy at times. Day trips of 40 kilometers are already a challenge. But time and again, I see how happy it makes people. They get the feeling of becoming one with the elements and having to outgrow themselves.

And your personal highlight?

I sit at the computer in the office every day. Even though I like doing my job, sometimes the longing for water still grips me. It’s fantastic to be outdoors again and feel the power of the elements. We had quite a strong wind and dealing with it was a challenge for the skipper. I really enjoyed seeing his skill in handling it.

You also join tours to learn what can be done even better. What do you notice most often?

Sitting at one’s desk, it’s easy to stuff too many activities into a tour. Of course, we want to show our guests as many great places as possible. But despite the enthusiasm, more is not always better. Our guests also want a break from time to time to relax. You need to make time for breaks too, they are on vacation after all!

How do you get the balance right when planning a new tour?

When we develop a new trip, I always go there first. For example, this year we have a tour of northern Burgundy on our program for the first time. I traveled to the area several times, explored the sights and routes, and tried out the bike tours myself.

Thank you Jossie for your wonderful insights. Happy sailing!

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