Dutch shipping

Modern entrepreneurship


The companies that operate ships are called shipping companies, and the persons responsible for the operation of these shipping companies are called shipowners. Although the Dutch fleet is not the largest in the world, it does stand out for its versatility and broad scope of activities.

Every maritime organisation develops its own business strategy in order to compete for its place in the market. The KVNR serves all affiliated ship owners in an impartial manner, keeping itself apart from specific business interests.

Entrepreneurial spirit in Dutch shipping

Companies of all sizes

Dutch shipping companies vary greatly in size. Some employ hundreds of employees to keep hundreds of ships in service. There are also smaller companies; with so-called captain-owners at the helm. These are shipowners who own one or more vessels, the management of which is often undertaken by a larger shipping company.

Family-owned company Van Oord is a well known example of a large Dutch shipping company. By working on sustainable projects such as offshore wind farm construction, companies like Van Oord and Vroon are are demonstrating how Dutch innovation is leading the world.

Dutch shipowners are united under the umbella of the KVNR. This means that they have committed themselves to intensive cooperation in order to tackle (and succeed in) collective interests. In its role as representative of this energetic and innovative industry, the KVNR acts for almost the entire Dutch shipping sector.

It comes as no surprise that shipping companies can also be each other's biggest competitors. After all, they are literally sailing in the same waters and want to achieve the best results for their own business. The KVNR holds itself above such market forces, only identifying opportunities to realize to maintain or reinforce a level playing field. Looking at global shipping, it is of great importance that Dutch shipowners are strong competitors. This is not only to be able to participate successfully on the world stage, but to also to be distinctive with a leading position.

That is why it is important that shipowners collaborate with the support of the KVNR. One of the major advantages is that the KVNR, on behalf of employers, acts as a partner in the realization of collective labour agreements. In setting safe and proper working standards for its seafarers, the united action of shipowners ensures their standing as respectful employers.

Varying operations

Due to the unpredictable nature of sailing schedules, the logistics of crew changes is a complicated subject. Moreover, port call destinations are sometimes only known at the last moment, which sometimes cause unexpected problems.

Around sixty percent of the Dutch fleet is active in shortsea transport between European countries and neighboring countries such as Russia. This shortsea sector (usually general cargo and multi-purpose) accounts for forty percent of the total goods transport between EU member states.

The vast majority of vessels in the Dutch shipping industry sail according to irregular schedules that are usually determined per voyage – the so-called tramp trade. For a part of the tramp shipping, the sailing area is worldwide, where journeys can take up to a few weeks.

Short trips, last minute changes in the sailing schedule and stopovers however, occur on a regular basis. This is so-called ‘deep sea shipping’, where crew changes can often, but not always, be planned for a maximum period of a few weeks.

The other part of the Dutch tramp trade involves a sailing area that is generally limited to European waters. This is ‘short sea shipping’. Voyages tend to be short; most commonly with an average duration of less than a week and last minute sailing schedules. In short sea shipping operations, the next port of call is often only known (or it can change) at the last moment. Crew changes are planned well in advance, but in many cases the port where a change will take place is only known at the last moment; sometimes only a few days in advance.

Market segments

Dutch shipowners are active in numerous market segments. Have a look at largest of these in the menu above.