Tauck offers good news for travel agents selling river cruises with its decision to expanded its ships and itineraries on the Rhone, Seine and Saone rivers for 2014. Since its debut on the Rhone in 2011, Tauck reports French river cruise bookings have increased 137 percent, and the company has gone from zero itineraries in France in 2010 to a total of seven for its 2014 operating season. This includes three popular specialty cruises for families, food lovers, and art aficionados, Tauck notes.
The company said it will also deploy its ms Swiss Sapphire to sail on two new itineraries on the Seine next year, doubling the number of ships it has in France. (The newly refurbished ms Swiss Emerald will continue to sail on the Rhone and the Saône.)
Tauck says its success in France shows no sign of slowing, with pre-season bookings up more than 650 percent over the same time last year, and up nearly 1,300 percent over this same point just two years ago. Helping fuel Tauck’s reported growth in preseason bookings are two new-for-2014 itineraries on the Seine.
The new “Cruising the Seine Plus Versailles, Paris & London” (from $6,790 per person, plus airfare) is a comprehensive two-week journey that begins with an included two-night stay in London at the landmark Savoy, featuring guided sightseeing plus a Tauck-exclusive lecture by Winston Churchill’s biographer and granddaughter Celia Sandys. After traveling via high-speed train beneath the English Channel to Calais, guests will board the ms Swiss Sapphire in Caudubec-en-Caux for a nine-day cruise along the Seine. (Full, detailed itineraries can be found at www.tauk.com)
Tauck’s second new French itinerary, “Rendezvous on the Seine,” (ten days from $4,590 per person, plus airfare) also begins with an included two-night stay in Paris, at the Hotel Pullman overlooking the Eiffel Tour. A subsequent seven-day cruise on the Seine includes ports-of-call at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, Giverney, Vernon, Les Andelys and Rouen. Highlights include a farm visit and tasting of local farm-to-table specialties in Étretat, a visit to the seaside town of Honfleur and a lecture on the events of D-Day followed by a tour of Normandy’s iconic beaches.
Elsewhere in France, Tauck’s Rhone and Saône River cruises will sail aboard the newly renovated ms Swiss Emerald. Launched in 2006, the ship received a makeover earlier this year. The Swiss Emerald is one of four Tauck vessels in its Jewel Class of riverboats, along with the ms Swiss Sapphire, ms Swiss Jewel and ms Treasures.
Two new and larger Tauck riverboats, the ms Inspire and ms Savor, are currently under construction, Tauck reports. Set to launch next year, the 443-foot newbuilds will together comprise Tauck’s’ Inspiration Class of ships. Each will have twenty-two 300 square foot suites (a third of all cabins), as well as thirty-two 225 square foot cabins.