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In a springtime ceremony, Tauck family members and executives joined with selected partner-suppliers and travel agents to celebrate the christening of the line’s new Grace riverboat in Maastricht, the Netherlands. The launch of the elegant 130-passenger Grace on itineraries along the Rhine and Moselle rivers is part of Tauck’s process of more than doubling the size of its European fleet, which is expanding from four vessels at the start of 2014 to nine this year, with the upcoming June christening of another new ship, Joy. Tauck has also announced the reconfiguration of its five 361-foot ships over the next two years.
Three longtime Tauck employees who guide the company's river cruising efforts shared godmother honors: Katharine Bonner, senior vice president of river and small ship cruising; Rebecca Sellet, director of worldwide operations for river and small ship cruising; and Michelle Lavrado, product manager for European river cruising.
"The christening of this beautiful new ship is a wonderful opportunity to say thank you to all of the people who work so hard to make Tauck river cruises the best in the world," said Dan Mahar, CEO of Tauck. "We're thrilled to honor not only Katharine, Rebecca and Michelle, but also the many incredible partners who've joined us for this great occasion."
Other attendees included Celia Sandys, a biographer and the granddaughter of British statesman Winston Churchill, who speaks to Tauck guests on select itineraries, as well as other partners who provide special access for the company’s passengers.
The 443-foot Grace has 22 suites (defined by Tauck as staterooms of 300 square feet or more), each with two French balconies, walk-in closets, a pullout couch and a spacious bathroom with a rain shower. Pillow-top mattresses are dressed with 400-thread-count linens. The ship’s lower (Emerald) deck has eight 225-square-foot Loft cabins, and an additional 24 junior suites of the same size are located on the Ruby (middle) deck. Additionally, a total of 13 cabins ranging from 150 to 190 square feet are split between the Ruby and Emerald decks.
The additional suites are possible because Grace carries just 130 guests, whereas comparable ships may carry up to 190 people. Fewer passenger numbers also allow for the company’s second onboard dining venue, Arthur's, with its own dedicated, open kitchen and more casual fare than the main dining room, the Compass Rose. Passengers will have four staff members to cater to their needs: a Tauck Cruise Director, plus three professional Tauck Directors.
Mahar says the hardware is only half the story — the other half is composed of the destination experiences that the company delivers, drawing on its 90 years of land tour experience.
“It's the onshore and onboard experiences that keep our guests coming back," he said.