|Photo by Freeimages.com/William Wilhelms|
Tauck has announced a plan to reconfigure more than half of its Europe river cruise fleet over the next two years. The plan will see Tauck’s five Jewel Class riverboats enhanced with larger cabins, reduced overall passenger capacity, and upgrades to each ship's second onboard dining venue.
Tauck’s Jewel Class ships include the Swiss Emerald, Swiss Sapphire, Swiss Jewel, Esprit and Treasures. The company’s European riverboat fleet also includes four Inspiration Class ships; the new Grace and Joy launching later this year, and the Inspire and the Savor.
Tauck’s two-phase plan will first have its riverboats in France, the Swiss Emerald and Swiss Sapphire, reconfigured and re-launched next winter in time for the 2017 operating season. In the second phase, scheduled for the winter of 2017/2018, the remaining three Jewel Class ships will undergo identical transformations in time for the 2018 operating season.
The most dramatic enhancement aboard each ship will take place on the Ruby (middle) Deck, where 30 150 square foot cabins in the current configuration will be replaced with 20 cabins measuring 225 square feet each. Aboard each reconfigured vessel, 69 percent of all cabins will be 225 square feet or larger. In addition, overall capacity will be reduced from 118 passengers to 98, with the total number of cabins on each vessel going from 59 to 49. Tauck will continue to staff each ship with a Tauck Cruise Director and a full complement of three Tauck 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. The Bistro will be renamed Arthur’s, in tribute to company founder Arthur Tauck Sr., and its expanded menu will continue to provide more casual alternatives to the fine dining selections offered in the ship’s main Compass Rose restaurant. Tauck first introduced the concept of a second onboard dining venue in 2006 with the launch of the Swiss Emerald, and the dedicated kitchen and Arthur’s name are enhancements already included on Tauck’s 135-meter ships.
Tauck CEO Dan Mahar said the upgrades would put the Jewel Class vessels on an equal footing with the newer Inspiration Class ships. Following the upgrades, Tauck is abandoning the Jewel Class and Inspiration Class distinctions.
The Tauck Destination Fleet
Going forward, Tauck will refer to its ships collectively as the Tauck Destination Fleet, to emphasize Tauck's destination experience, said Mahar.
Tauck is also adjusting its deployment strategy, matching each ship to destinations and itineraries best suited for its specific length. 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. Tauck will also continue to position two 110-meter ships in France, the Swiss Sapphire on the Seine and Swiss Emerald on Rhone and Saône, where their modest length makes docking easier in France’s smaller or more crowded ports like Paris.
Tauck’s four 135-meter ships will be assigned to itineraries specifically on the Danube River, or on the Rhine and Moselle Rivers.
In the coming months, Tauck is also introducing a new 10-day Rhine River cruise. For 2016, the company has also been able to reduce its prices by up to $1,200 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 in Germany, a former Benedictine monastery (also in Germany), and a 275-year-old French chateau inspired by Versailles and today owned by descendants of Napoleon.