Tauck has released the first look at the interiors of its new river cruise ship, the Andorinha. The new ship, which has been purpose-built to sail exclusively along the Douro River, will have décor and design details influenced heavily by elements of Portuguese culture. At the same time, Tauck CEO Dan Mahar said in a written statement that the ship will be “instantly recognizable as a Tauck riverboat” to returning guests.
A recurring design theme on the Andorinha is the traditional painted ceramic tiles, or azulejos, which were brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors and gained widespread popularity in Portugal during the 1500s. Azulejo tiles (Arabic for "polished stone") adorn several areas of the Andorinha, including its main Compass Rose restaurant and Arthur's, an alternative dining venue on the ship's Sun Deck. Fabric facsimiles of the tiles accent one wall of each cabin, with the cabin's throw pillows and carpeting continuing the theme. Within the ship's soaring atrium, railings, carpeting and lamps suspended from the ceiling all have curving patterns reminiscent of azulejo designs.
The azulejos are also presented in a hand-painted tile mosaic map depicting the Iberian Peninsula and its surrounding oceans. Located in the Andorinha's reception area and reminiscent of early navigational charts, the three-foot mosaic pays tribute to Portugal's rich maritime heritage of the 15th and 16th centuries.
A second recurring theme aboard the Andorinha are grapevines, reflecting both Portugal's 2,500 years of winemaking traditions and the continued influence of viniculture on Portuguese society today. Cabins and suites all have wall lamps with decorative metalwork suggestive of grapevines, and each lamp is backed by accenting wallpaper panels that also echo the theme. More prominently, the Andorinha's reception area has a large, circular, domed ceiling light seemingly entwined in grapevines. Some four feet across, the fixture was crafted exclusively for the Andorinha with brass "branches" that were custom-cast from actual grapevines.
Throughout the Andorinha, numerous furnishings have been sourced from top-tier Portuguese suppliers, ranging from some of the ship's lighting fixtures and furniture to the luxury Portus Cale toiletries provided in each cabin. Finally, and along with the Andorinha's decor and furnishings, the ship's name is also rooted in local culture. Andorinhas are a species of small migratory swallow that travel to Africa every winter and return to Portugal each spring. The birds mate for life and return each year to the same nest, and small porcelain figurines of andorinhas have become a national symbol of family, fidelity and home.
The Andorinha is set to sail on its first cruises along the Douro in April, following its christening in Porto on March 31. It will accommodate 84 Tauck guests 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.