The MS Swiss Jewel, the newest ship in Tauck World Discovery’s fleet of luxury riverboats, was floated out at the Vahali Shipyard in Belgrade, Serbia recently.  Floating out is traditionally considered a milestone in a new ship’s construction because it represents the first time the ship’s hull comes in contact with the water and the ship actually floats.  Floating out also marks the transition from the early stages of construction, where all the work is performed while the hull is in dry dock, to the later stages where the remaining work is done while the ship is afloat.

The Swiss Jewel is currently being moved by tugboat to the Vahali facility in Gendt, the Netherlands, where its engines and other major components will be installed.  The remaining construction and final outfitting will take place in Hardinxveld-Giessendam, the Netherlands in the months prior to the Swiss Jewel’s launch in April of next year.  Although the ship’s hull and outer superstructure are complete, certain details of its interior configuration are still being finalized while Tauck gathers input from its guests regarding preferred amenities.

Tauck has confirmed, however, that the Swiss Jewel’s 59 cabins will include a total of 21 suites and junior suites, which is more than four-times the number of suites and junior suites typically found on other riverboats.  As with the Jewel’s sister ships, the MS Swiss Sapphire and MS Swiss Emerald, Tauck will limit capacity to just 118 guests, compared to 150 or more on other ships of similar size.  With fewer passengers aboard, Tauck is able to provide its guests with more spacious common areas, a “bistro” dining area as a less-formal alternative to the main dining room, and an airy, more open decor.

BOOSTING DEPARTURES BY 25%
The construction of the Swiss Jewel will help satisfy the high demand for Tauck’s river cruises, which caused the company’s 2008 river departures to be 70% sold-out by late last fall.  Tauck is also boosting its capacity for 2009 by increasing its river departures by 25%.  The Swiss Jewel will alternate with Tauck’s other vessels on five of the company’s seven river cruise itineraries next year.