Sign Up for Our Monthly River Cruise Newsletter
As the riverboat sailed slowly along the shore, I suddenly found myself face to face with a local construction worker drilling away on a platform. We made eye contact, and he started to smirk — his co-worker, whose back was turned to me, had no idea that both the smooth-sailing Tauck Savor and I were directly behind him. Finally, the man turned around, and the three of us had a good laugh before the Savor sailed away.
I had never had such an authentic local encounter without even leaving my guestroom. The whole exchange happened while I was lounging in a chair inside my cabin — on the lower deck.
A first for the cruise industry, Tauck’s new Category 3 lower-deck cabin features a split-level design that quite literally elevates the room. A second-story loft offers a seating area and a panoramic window that opens completely, illuminating the entire cabin and allowing for serendipitous encounters at sea level.
This innovative spin on the lower-deck cabin is one of the defining features of Tauck’s new Inspiration Class, which launched earlier this year with the Inspire and most recently with the Savor, increasing Tauck’s river capacity by 55 percent. The new room design is so out of the box that Tauck CEO and president Dan Mahar couldn’t quite picture it when he heard the pitch.
“It wasn’t until we saw the rooms that the potential really hit us,” Mahar said. “And that’s the challenge — and opportunity — of doing something different.”
According to Mahar, the goal for the Inspiration class was to keep a Jewel-class onboard experience while also offering more suites, larger rooms and lower-deck cabins that Tauck’s luxury clients would want to book. Tauck has found some success by offering porthole rooms to single travelers without a supplement — something it will continue to offer with four porthole rooms on Inspiration ships. But in the geography of a cruise vessel, the space below sea level is typically the least-desired region, doomed to darkness, confinement and limited views. That might be fine for other river cruise lines — but not for Tauck.
Tauck’s ships sell from top to bottom. Suites go first, and if there is any capacity left, it has typically been for lower-deck rooms.
“There are now 22 suites [at 300 square feet each] and eight lower-deck loft rooms,” Mahar said. “Other organizations don’t have the customer base to fill those kinds of cabins. We’re the only company that has this demand.”
While there are enhancements throughout the ship, the Category 3 lofts are the showstopper. At 225 square feet, the lofted cabin is not the biggest room available, but the split level makes the room feel more spacious than more expensive rooms onboard. The downstairs level is a lovely place to be as well, featuring a queen-size bed with 400-thread-count sheets; a closet; a 32-inch LED television; a spacious bathroom with rain shower and a coffee area.
How Tauck managed to pull off these rooms is puzzling at first. From the outside, the tall windows appear to be taking up space precious to deck-two cabins, but that’s the advantage of creating a ship that’s bigger and for fewer passengers — there’s more space to play with throughout the ship. With 130 guests spread out through 135 meters, everything feels roomier, including the gym, the dining room and Arthur’s, a casual dining area named after the company’s chairman.
This year, Savor will sail itineraries exclusively along the Danube River. Its sister ship, Inspire, will sail itineraries mainly along the Rhine and Moselle rivers. One more Jewel-class vessel is slated for 2015, along with two more Inspiration-class ships in 2016.