The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and leading TT tour organiser Ride-on MotorTours have celebrated working together on 15 tours bringing motorcycle race fans to the home of road racing.
Rob and Dafne de Jong of Ride-on MotorTours have quite a story to tell about the Isle of Man, the TT and the Manx Grand Prix. Being keen motorcycle riders with a race history themselves, they have been visiting the Island since the early 1970s, when motorcycles were still lifted by crane from the harbour onto the vessels.
They, like the Steam Packet Company, which now has larger and faster ships operating Ro-Ro-style systems today, have come a long way since then.
The couple married on the Isle of Man in 1994, before travelling around the world for five years with a Yamaha sidecar and then starting their own motorcycle touring company, Ride-on MotorTours. From their base in the Netherlands, they guide motorcycle expeditions around the world, from Paris to Beijing, St. Petersburg to Vladivostok or Tokyo, or from Alaska to Tierra del Feugo, as well as shorter tours within Europe and Russia.
It all started with a tour to the Isle of Man TT, taking along 14 guests. Today they serve visitors from more than 10 countries and have a website in three languages. They have already started preparing their visit to the 2015 TT.
Rob said: “In 2007, the Steam Packet Company let us know that we shipped over the biggest group on one sailing ever to visit the Centenary TT, but next year we'll grow beyond that number.
“We keep in touch with the Steam Packet Company all year round and really appreciate the wonderful relationship we have, making it possible for so many to be at the races. Every year we see what a mega job the Steam Packet Company does with a relatively small crew and not too many ships.
“The uncomplicated way of working, the expertise to deal with motorcycles, the focus on solving a problem may there be one and the friendly way of co-operating are all exceptional. Members of the crew recognise us when we arrive.”
This year marks the 15th time the Steam Packet Company has brought Ride-on MotorTours groups to the Isle of Man.
Dafne added: “We would like to use this moment to let them know how much we appreciate their help. Because it is not possible to shake everyone’s hand, we hope that this picture shows our warm feelings for the Isle of Man and our gratitude to the Steam Packet Company for getting us there. It would be nice if it could be displayed in a place where everyone can see it.”
Isle of Man Steam Packet Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: “On behalf of everyone at the Steam Packet Company, I would like to thank the team at Ride-on MotorTours for this gift, and their kind words. We have enjoyed our years of working with them to bring groups of TT fans to the Island, watching the number of guests steadily grow and assisting Ride-on MotorTours to give their guests a wonderful experience.
“We look forward to many more years of working with Ride-on MotorTours as we continue to see the TT grow in popularity.”
Photograph: A picture of Ben-my-Chree is presented to representatives of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company by Ride-on MotorTours. Pictured from left are Rob de Jong, of Ride-on MotorTours, Steam Packet Company Marketing and Online Manager Renee Caley, Dafne de Jong of Ride-on MotorTours and Brian Convery, Steam Packet Company Sales Development Manager