Looking for something new to do in Rotterdam? What could be hotter, wetter and better than a hot tug at night with our local correspondent Nina Sharuc…? Time to sit back and relax..

Last night I found myself drifting in a hot tub through the canals of Rotterdam, admiring the city lights from the water as fireworks exploded in the night sky and reflected in the rippling surface underneath… all the while, my body soaking in an embryonic state of bliss. What sounds like a surreal dream was in fact my “Hot Tug” experience, courtesy of hottug.nl.

So what the hell is a hot tug if it’s not the product of my imagination? It’s a hot tub in a boat, heated by an oven and floating thanks to an outer construction of wood and plastic. This creation from the designer studio Supergoed is a new leisure activity in Rotterdam. Since May 2013 the hot tug enables people to enjoy a boat cruise in the canals that always feels like the Caribbean. Sitting in a bathing suit in warm water is not something you can generally take for granted in the Netherlands… sitting in bathing suit in warm water and floating over the canals is a world premiere! Indeed, the hot tug in Rotterdam was the first of its kind worldwide, although you can now enjoy a ride in Friesland (Holland), Egham (UK) and Copenhagen (Denmark) as well.

Curious about this new activity that attracts more and more people, I arranged a night trip to experience the hot tug for myself. To top it off, we didn’t opt to go on just any old evening, but for a night during which fireworks would take place over the Erasmusbridge thanks to the ‘Wereldhavendagen’ (World Port Days). Even on my way to the tug I felt exotic: even though the temperature was well under 20°, and there was certainly no beach party going on, I wore my bikini and had my beach towel with me. A little later, when I carefully slipped my foot into the family-sized floating bath tub I knew that I wouldn’t freeze this night. The water was steaming hot.

The hot tug comfortably fits seven people. It’s up to you whether you want to be captain of the vessel or be accompanied by one of the experienced staff members. While the fast-flowing river Maas requires some sailing skills and is only open for the hot tug on certain occasions, the canals are relatively easy territory, even for a novice tugger.

So there we were drifting over the jet black water, pierced by the reflection of street lights and window glares, gently exploring Rotterdam from a different angle, undercrossing beautiful old stone bridges and many modern ones as we did so. Since the hot tug is really quiet, not a lot of people on the streets noticed that a floating bath tub was passing by – but if they did they stared at us and waved for a while. Many assumed that we were freezing our butts off, and we even were offered a bucket of hot water by some passersby. If they had known how nice and warm we were though, they might have stripped off their clothes and tried to join us. In fact, the really warm temperature of the water is the only disadvantage of it. The temperature can’t be regulated since it is an oven heating the water. So, despite the fact that we were not too convinced of the cleansliness of Rotterdam’s canals, some of us, including me, decided to cool off by leaping out of the tub and into the cold black waters. Jumping from the hot tug is fun too, and there is a ladder that makes it possible to climb back into the warm pool easily enough.

Overall, the hot tug is a great activity for anyone who wants to see the city from a different perspective and likes (being in) water. You’ll have good photo opportunities from the floating realm of the hot tug. When not taking photos, camera and other valuables can be stored safely. While there are many other (cheaper) ways to see the city from the aqua plane, the hot tug gives an original and relaxing twist to sightseeing by canal. Oft overlooked in favour of Amsterdam, Rotterdam is a destination completely underestimated – hopefully this fun new way of exploring will encourage more travelers to drop by.

Photos courtesy of Act of Traveling

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