The first canals of Amsterdam date back to the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century and there are now more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) of canals wrapping their way around 90 islands and 1,500 bridges.
They are crucial to the city’s identity and a huge part of its appeal as a tourism destination. Over 120 commercial barges and boats ply the waters and offer everything from sightseeing tours to lavish dinners and wedding events. There are also hundreds of small dinghies and powerboats for visitors to rent and drive themselves.
The oldest ring of canals were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, and in order to protect the waters of the canals and reduce noise pollution, 2013 Amsterdam’s City Council adopted a policy in 2013 whereby every commercial ship on the city’s canals must be zero-emission by 2020 or 2025, depending on its size.
We are now closing in on 2020 with a great number of the city’s boats converted to electric power. Some of the companies owning the boats have been on the canals for literally centuries, and the cost of electrification for older boats in particular doesn’t come cheap, as this article from the BBC outlines.
Nevertheless, there are dozens of beautiful vintage craft that cruise through the canals and along the Amstel river without emissions. Or noise.
Here are some that we think are the most impressive. By all means if you have others to add to the list, use the Leave a Reply box at the bottom of this post.
ADMIRAL HEIJN + ZONNEBOAT 1996
These boats were the first electric saloon boats on the canals, christened in 1996 by Amsterdam Mayor Schelto Patijn. Pioneering owner Frans Heijn helps initiate the construction of many electrical breakthroughs in the boating world.
An exquisite aluminum-hulled work of art from Frans Heijn with a gleaming mahogany deck and hand crafted details. Modeled after a 1920 Palm Beach runabout by wooden boat icon Nelson Zimmer. Seats four in head turning style.
Teak wooden slats with neat leather cushions, backrests of standing teak wood. Steering with steering wheel. Copper styles with partly fixed teak-wood windows. 8 people.
Fully electrically powered with oak floors, original granite countertops, built-in heating, and with leather spyker-car upholstery. The saloon boat has a steel hull with a Mahoni wood structure and an oak interior. Groups of 1 to 12 people.
“The beautiful Stern, the smallest bird in our fleet“, said the Royal Dutch Steamboat Company about their beautiful salon boat. Up until 1964, the Stern transported the board of the company every day, and the board used the Stern as a salon boat for special cruises with their guests until 1981.
After having been neglected for a few decades, the boat was fully refurbished and put into service again by our company. Today, it boasts a teak saloon with unique art-deco woodcarving, toilet and heating. All windows can be fully opened.
The teak and mahogany interior together with the unique shape of the boat recreates the charm and brilliance of the days of Dutch shipbuilding in the beginning of the 20th century. Salon boat Elisabeth is an acknowledged national heritage ship.
MONNE DE MIRANDA 1938
Built in Switzerland in 1938 by the famous shipyard Sulzer. This impressive luxury boat is a true eyecather on the Amsterdam canals. Outfitted with copper, oak floor and marble from Guatamala this salon boat has the authentic elegance of the past. Up to 50 people
Beautifully restored saloon boat with a handsome and luxurious crafted wood interior. Can be set up for a meeting with a small party or dinner. The unique open back balcony is perfect for touring the canals on a sunny day.
LIBELLE – 1910
A 20 metre (60’) salon clipper restored its original splendour. Beatifully appointed with wood throughout, the captain’s wheelhouse is particularly distinctive.
As we said, these are by no means the only electric boats for rent in Amsterdam, just some of the best examples of classic and vintage design being married to the latest technologies. If you know of others, you feel should be on the list, please use the ‘Leave a comment’ box below.