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Since its debut on the Rhone in 2011, Tauck’s French river cruise bookings have increased 137 percent. The company, which had no itineraries in France in 2010, will be offering seven routes in the region during its 2014 season, including three theme cruises for families, food lovers and art aficionados.
Tauck will add a second ship in France next year, bringing in Swiss Sapphire to sail two new itineraries on the Seine River. The company reports that pre-season bookings are up more than 650 percent over the same time last year and up nearly 1,300 percent over this same point two years ago.
The new two-week Cruising the Seine Plus Versailles, Paris & London itinerary, priced from $6,790 plus airfare, includes a two-night stay at the Savoy in London with a lecture by Winston Churchill’s biographer and granddaughter, Celia Sandys. The nine-day cruise portion includes an excursion to Normandy’s D-Day beaches, dinner with music at a private chateau in Rouen and a private tasting of Calvados at Chateau du Breuil, a distiller of the spirit since the 1500s. Swiss Sapphire will dock in Paris for three nights, and the trip ends with a two-night stay in Versailles highlighted by an exploration of the Chevreuse Valley and a visit to the 12th-century Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay.
Tauck’s new 10-day itinerary, Rendezvous on the Seine, starts at $4,590 per person, plus airfare. The itinerary includes a two-night stay in Paris, along with a seven-day Seine cruise visiting Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, Giverney and Monet’s house and gardens, Vernon, Les Andelys and Rouen. Highlights include a tour of Normandy’s beaches and guided visits to historic abbeys and chateaux.
Also new for 2014 are two 130-guest ships — Inspire and Savor — a larger class than the previous Jewel ships. Each has 22 suites (measuring 300-square-feet) as well as 32 cabins (measuring 225-square-feet), eight of them on the lower deck. Cabins feature a loft design that combines a raised platform seating area with a high ceiling and windo. At 443 feet in length, the new class vessels are 23 percent larger than the Jewel-class ships but carry only 10 percent more passengers.
Savor will cruise exclusively on the Danube River, while Inspire sails the Rhine and Moselle.