Smooth Sailing

Two years after launching Tauck World Discovery's Swiss Emerald riverboat, the tour company is roughly one year into building its sister ship, a yet-to-be-named luxury vessel that, like many younger sisters, is aiming to follow in Emerald's footsteps. Tauck's new ship is modeled after the Swiss Emerald

Last year, Tauck finalized plans for the ship, which is set to make its European debut next spring. The new vessel will have two hot tubs, a bar/lounge, restaurant and wellness center. As on all Tauck river ships, the three-deck passenger ship, complete with sundeck, will house a maximum of 118 guests.

Guests can choose from 59 outside-facing staterooms, including 14 luxury suites and seven mini-suites stocked with L'Occitane bath products.

An artist's rendering of Tauck's as-yet-unnamed new ship

"The suites will be the best rooms to book," says Rakesh Dewan, Tauck's product manager of river cruising. "They are 300 square feet, feature floor-to-ceiling windows, walk-in closets and marble baths with full-sized tubs and showers." Agents can expect details of the 361-foot ship's itinerary and maiden voyage in the next 45 to 60 days.

Primarily because Tauck's Emerald was so well received, Emerald's sister ship will have many of the same amenities, although the décor will be different, Dewan says. Like the Emerald, the entire ship will allow for wireless Internet connections and the ship's cabins will come equipped with plasma TVs, mini-bars, radios, safes and air conditioning. The ship also will offer the services of onboard Tauck directors. "Tauck has a specific philosophy in operating any kind of product—that we deliver what our customers expect," he adds. "We were very successful with the Emerald, so we're not looking to change much."

The ship will get its name through an internal contest Tauck is conducting with employees. Dewan says this is just one part of a big undertaking for the Norwalk, CT-based tour operator.

"It's part of a four-year study we did internally, focused on market demand," Dewan says. The study uncovered a strong desire for river cruising—one that is further reflected in the strong sales of the segment for Tauck.

So far this year, sales of Tauck's river cruising trips are showing a double-digit increase over 2006 and a 55 percent increase over 2005.

The appeal, Dewan says, is that river cruising offers a different way of traveling. "There are limitations to river cruising," he acknowledges, "but at the same time, you unpack once and you're docked in the center of town, which is key for a lot of people."

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