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Tauck is expanding its stake in the river cruise market this year with the launch of two newbuilds, four new itineraries, including the company’s first tour on the Seine, and the introduction of an interactive, password-protected site exclusively for travel agents.
The Inspire and the Savor, Tauck’s two new Inspiration-class riverboats, both launch this year. Christening for the Inspire is set for April 3rd in Basel, Switzerland. The Savor will be christened June 21st in Rudesheim, Germany.
All in the Family
Tauck’s four female cruise directors will collectively serve as godmother to the Inspire. Bridget Ashton, Lynn Hardcastle, Mary Pierik and Eszter Pusztai will take center stage for the christening ceremonies. Four of Tauck’s male cruise directors — Tod Griswold, Scott Peters, Jeremy Shifferly and Steve Marchant — will appear at the ceremonies in supporting roles. Marchant will stay on board as Inspire’s cruise director following a three-day christening sailing.
“Our Tauck cruise directors and Tauck directors have collectively been the face of our company for 89 years,” said CEO Dan Mahar. “They are the direct, critical link between Tauck and our guests, and they do an absolutely incredible job delivering the Tauck experience.”
The Savor’s godmother has not yet been announced.
Fewer Passengers, Spacious Staterooms
The Inspire and the Savor are 443 feet long and will each carry a maximum of 130 guests. River ships of similar length are designed for up to 190 passengers.
Guest accommodations include a mix of suites and staterooms, some featuring a new loft design. Twenty-two 300-square-foot suites will be furnished with French balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows, a pullout couch, a walk-in closet and a spacious bathroom with rain shower. The new ships will also have 32 225-square-foot staterooms and 13 staterooms ranging from 150 to 190 square feet. Four of the 150-square-foot cabins are designated for single travelers.
The loft design will be featured in eight of the 225-square-foot cabins located on the lower deck. Loft cabins have raised-platform seating areas, each with a small table and two chairs. A raised ceiling design enables a much taller window than can normally be incorporated into lower level cabins, allowing in much more natural light. The middle portion of the window can be opened electronically for fresh air.
Inspire will sail the Rhine and Moselle this year, while Savor is dedicated to the Danube.
In addition to launching its two new ships, Tauck is operating four new itineraries this year. They include: 10- and 14-day itineraries combining Seine cruises and land stays; a 10-day Danube cruise including two nights in Vienna; and an eight-day Rhine cruise.
This year the company expanded its complimentary drinks policy on all six of its European riverboats to include unlimited beer, wine and premium spirits throughout the day rather than at mealtimes only. Mahar said the move is consistent with Tauck’s overall policy to include all guest options in the cost of the cruise.
“We already include all gratuities, shore excursions, meals ashore, airport transfers and much more,” Mahar said.
Travel Agent Web Portal
Earlier this year Tauck introduced Agent Connect, a new password-protected Web portal that allows travel agents 24-hour access to clients’ booking details and the ability to input additional client information ranging from flight details to passport data and emergency contacts. Agents also can make online payments for their clients and register themselves to receive email notifications when clients’ travel details are due or incomplete. Agents can also use Agent Connect to access and update their own account details in Agent Connect, including full name, email address, photo and other personal information.
Tauck plans to expand the site with new features in the coming months. Travel professionals can access Agent Connect via Tauck’s general wWeb site.