Tauck has released a new preview of the Andorinha, its new river cruise ship that will sail Portugal’s Douro River. Currently undergoing sea trials in the Netherlands, the Andorinha will officially launch next March and sail on three new itineraries along the river.
The Andorinha has been purpose-built for the Douro. “Unlike other rivers, the Douro is closed to navigation at night, so all cruising is done during daylight hours,” said Tauck CEO Dan Mahar in a written statement. “Also, the Douro has fewer towns and cities along its banks than other major rivers.”
To take advantage of the views, the ship’s Sun Deck has been designed for scenery-watching, with canopied Balinese day beds providing shade. There will also be an infinity-style pool that is five times the size of the plunge pools on Tauck’s other riverboats. Finally, the space will have an outdoor grill to host casual barbecues, along with a full-service bar.
The Sun Deck’s most notable feature, however, will be a pop-up restaurant that rises from the ship’s stern on hydraulic lifts. Named Arthur’s for Tauck Chairman Arthur Tauck Jr., the restaurant will offer a mix of steak house-style classics as well as a selection of regional fare, and serve as a more casual alternative to the Andorinha's main Compass Rose restaurant. When approaching any particularly low bridges, Arthur's will be briefly lowered to improve the Andorinha's clearance and allow the ship to continue along on its voyage.
Tauck's other European riverboats all feature an Arthur's restaurant at the stern of the ship's Diamond Deck; however, the Andorinha is the company's first ship to position the restaurant on the Sun Deck. Besides having its own menu, Arthur's will also have its own dedicated kitchen and staff, and throughout the day it will offer complimentary self-serve fruit, snacks and beverages including cappuccino, latte, coffee and tea.
Inside the ship, a glass-ceilinged atrium will span both the Ruby and Diamond decks, bringing natural light into the lobby, reception area, main restaurant and lounge. Elsewhere, select touches will highlight Portuguese culture and traditions. For example, decorative tiles synonymous with the region will adorn various spaces within the ship, local wines and culinary traditions will feature prominently at dinners, and Portuguese soaps, shampoo, conditioner and lotion will be available in all cabins. The ship's name likewise reflects Portuguese culture; the andorinha is a native species of migratory swallow that returns to Portugal every spring. The birds mate for life and return each year to the same nest, and small porcelain figurines of andorinhas have become a local symbol of family, fidelity and home.
The ship will also have an air conditioning system with twice the cooling capacity of Tauck’s 110-meter vessels to handle the Douro Valley’s warm temperatures, as well as windows with a special UV-reflective coating that can block out 82 percent of the sun’s warmth.
The ship will have a capacity of 84 guests and, like Tauck’s other vessels, will sail with a Tauck Cruise Director and three Tauck Director guides.
Guests sailing on the Andorinha will be accommodated in 42 cabins, including 12 300-square-foot suites on the upper Diamond Deck, and 20 225-square-foot staterooms primarily on the vessel's Ruby, or mid-level, deck. The remaining accommodations (six 200-square-foot cabins and four 150-square-foot cabins) will be on the lower, or Emerald Deck.
Tauck is offering three Douro River itineraries aboard the Andorinha in 2020; a 12-day journey that bookends a seven-night Douro cruise with two-night hotel stays in Lisbon and Madrid, an eight-day “cruise-only” itinerary along the river, and an eight-day Tauck Bridges cruise designed specifically for families. The Andorinha will be christened on March 31 in Porto, and welcome its initial Tauck guests in the first week of April.