Tauck today announced sweeping new plans to reconfigure more than half its European river cruising fleet over the next two years.
The five Jewel Class riverboats will have larger cabins, overall space per guest will be increased by 20% and the casual, second dining restaurant will be upgraded.
Tauck CEO Dan Mahar said: “From day-one our approach has always been to limit passenger capacity and, by doing so, provide a more intimate, club-like atmosphere and more spacious cabins for our guests.”
Tauck’s 110-metre Jewel Class ships include the MS Swiss Emerald, MS Swiss Sapphire, MS Swiss Jewel, MS Esprit and MS Treasures. The European riverboat fleet also includes four 135-metre Inspiration Class ships: the new MS Grace and MS Joy launching later this year, and the MS Inspire and the MS Savor.
Tauck’s two-phase plan will see its riverboats in France, the MS Swiss Emerald and MS Swiss Sapphire, reconfigured, renamed and re-launched next winter in time for the 2017 operating season. In the second phase, scheduled for winter 2017/2018, the remaining three Jewel Class ships will undergo identical transformations in time for the 2018 operating season. The new names for the refurbished ships have yet to be disclosed.
The most dramatic enhancement aboard each ship will be on the Ruby (middle) Deck, where the 30 150 sq ft cabins will be replaced with 20 cabins, each measuring 225 sq ft. This will mean that 69% of all cabins will be 225 sq ft or larger – the highest percentage on any 110-metre riverboat in Europe. Overall capacity will be reduced from 118 passengers to 98 and the total number of cabins will be reduced from 59 to 49. Tauck will continue to staff each ship with a Tauck Cruise Director and a full complement of three Tauck Tour Directors.
On the Diamond (upper) Deck of each reconfigured vessel, the ship’s second dining venue, The Bistro, will be upgraded with its own dedicated kitchen and chef. In tribute to company founder Arthur Tauck, The Bistro will be renamed Arthur’s. The expanded menu will continue to provide more casual alternatives to the fine dining selections offered in the ship’s main Compass Rose restaurant.
The Tauck Destination Fleet
Tauck also announced that it will refer to its ships collectively as the Tauck Destination Fleet, reflecting a new deployment strategy to match each ship to destinations and itineraries best suited for its specific length. For example, Tauck will position the ms Swiss Sapphire on the Seine and the ms Swiss Emerald on the Rhone/Saonne, where their 110-metre length makes docking easier in France’s smaller or more crowded ports like Paris. Similarly, on longer cruises including a transit of the Main-Danube Canal, Tauck will deploy 110-meter ships because their shorter length allows for greater efficiency and flexibility in passing through the canal’s many locks.
Mahar said: “We absolutely believe that we have the finest riverboats in Europe and, with the reconfiguration of more than half of our ships, we’re continuing to invest heavily in order to maintain our leadership position.
“Our riverboats are essentially an elegant and supremely comfortable means to an end, a way for us to deliver an incredibly enriching and memorable experience within each destination we visit. The behind-the-scenes access to exclusive cultural experiences we provide, the expertise we’ve developed leading award-winning land tours for more than 90 years, the knowledge and service delivered by our Tauck Directors and local guides… they all combine to create an unmatched land experience for our guests.”
As well as launching two new 135-metre ships in the coming months, Tauck is also introducing a new 10-day Rhine River cruise. For 2016, the company has been able to reduce its prices by up to £850 per couple based on foreign exchange savings it’s passing along to its guests. In addition, Tauck has also enhanced a number of its river cruises with memorable onshore dinners in exclusive venues, including a 14th-century castle and a former Benedictine monastery in Germany and a 275-year-old French chateau inspired by Versailles and today owned by descendants of Napoleon.