Tauck: Limited Capacity is Luxury

ms Emerald Lyon

“Small is the new luxury. Small is big,” said Katharine Bonner, senior vice president river and small ship cruising at Tauck. “I would position ourselves at the top of the river cruise market.”

Tauck limits capacity to 130 passengers on riverboats that competitors might book at between 156 and 190 passengers, Bonner said in the 2020 European River Cruise Market Report by Cruise Industry News. “Our guests like more personal space onboard.”

They also get intimate small-group experiences on shore excursions.

The Danube Reflections tour features a mid-cruise dinner in the ballroom of Palais Pallavicini, the Vienna palace where Mozart and Salieri lit keyboard fireworks.

“When people ask me which one they should take first. That is the answer. That is our number one in terms of volume. We’ll offer that 40 to 50 departure dates in a given year,” Bonner said. “We still find the Danube is the most popular. It’s the classic.”

Truly all inclusive, the only extras a guest might need to pay for are spa treatments and souvenirs. Shore excursions can be tailored to meet most any need. “We have three tour directors and a cruise director on all our boats. That really gives a level of personal care to all our guests.”

Privately held since its founding in 1925, Tauck is in its third generation of family ownership. Company president since 2011, Jennifer Tombaugh is the first person not named Tauck to hold the role. And she’s been with the firm nearly two decades.

“Just like ocean cruising has changed in its demographic over the years, you see the same thing happening in river cruising,” Bonner said.

While Tauck’s core demographic is 50-plus, the level of fitness, activity, and travel experience in that group has greatly increased. Likewise, a greater range of ages are cruising than in decades past.

Tauck now offers bicycle tours, hiking, fast-walking and slow-strolling tours.

“It speaks to part of that care to the guests and what they need on an individual basis, but in a group.”

The multi-generational Bridges cruises are built to bridge generations, accommodating children eight- to 15-years old and their parents, and/or grandparents, widening that range even further. “About a third of the passengers are children of that age. About a third are parents, and about a third are grandparents,” she said.

Nearly all guests come from North America, followed by Australia and New Zealand, and a few from the United Kingdom.

About the 2020 European Cruise River Market Report 

The new European Cruise Market Report provides a comprehensive look at the river cruise business with capacity metrics by river and brand, company profiles and much more. 100+ pages of insights. Learn more. 



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