A month after the launch of its new MS Swiss Sapphire luxury riverboat, Tauck World Discovery has announced that construction has begun on another new vessel. The as-yet unnamed ship, which will begin operations in the spring of 2009, will be the third new Tauck-branded luxury riverboat launched in three years.
Although Tauck has confirmed that the ship is currently being constructed in the Netherlands, it is not providing specific details about some of the ship’s key features or amenities. There’s a good reason for the company’s reticence – the new build’s final configuration won’t be determined until later this year.
“We really try to let feedback from our guests drive what we offer on our riverboats,” explained Tauck CEO, Dan Mahar. “We won’t make any final decisions about some of the features on this newest ship until the fall, in order to take advantage of guest feedback we’ll be gathering over the course the 2008 operating season.”
According to Mahar, the company has already adapted its existing ships in response to guests’ suggestions. “We’ve added bistro dining on both the MS Swiss Sapphire and MS Swiss Emerald, so our guests can enjoy lighter fare in a more casual atmosphere, as an alternative to the main restaurant,” said Mahar, noting that Tauck is the only river cruise operator with a choice of onboard dining options.
Mahar also explained that the Swiss Sapphire’s design was modified mid-construction, after the company learned that guests would prefer an exercise room and massage studio to the facilities originally planned for the space. “River cruising is still evolving,” said Mahar, “and the best way to satisfy our guests’ evolving tastes is to solicit their input and incorporate it into what we do.” As on every Tauck trip, guests on Tauck river cruises complete a detailed feedback form near the conclusion of each voyage.
MORE SUITES AND FEWER PASSENGERS
Although the overall size of riverboats is limited by external factors like lock sizes and bridge clearance issues, Mahar explained that within those parameters, Tauck is still able to put its own unique and distinctive stamp on its vessels. “The new build will have a total of 21 suites and junior suites, just like the Swiss Sapphire and Swiss Emerald. That’s more than four-times the number of suites found on most other riverboats,” said Mahar. “We’ll also again limit capacity to just 118 guests, compared to 150 or more on other ships of comparable size. Like the Sapphire and Emerald, the new build will have spacious common areas and roomier cabins, for a more open and relaxed atmosphere.”