Tauck to Reconfigure, Re-Launch its Five Jewel Class Ships for 2017, 2018
The plan will see Tauck’s five Jewel Class riverboats enhanced with larger cabins, overall passenger capacity will be reduced, and each ship will also have its second onboard dining venue upgraded.
Tauck’s 110-meter Jewel Class ships include the ms Swiss Emerald, ms Swiss Sapphire, ms Swiss Jewel, ms Esprit and ms Treasures. The company’s European riverboat fleet also includes four 135-meter Inspiration Class ships; the new ms Grace and ms Joy launching later this year, and the ms Inspire and the ms Savor.
Tauck’s two-phase plan will first have its riverboats in France, the ms Swiss Emerald and ms Swiss Sapphire, reconfigured and re-launched next winter in time for the 2017 operating season. In the second phase, scheduled for the winter of 2017/2018, the remaining three Jewel Class ships will undergo identical transformations in time for the 2018 operating season.
The most dramatic enhancement aboard each ship will take place on the Ruby (middle) Deck, where 30 150 square-foot cabins in the current configuration will be replaced with 20 cabins measuring 225 square feet each. Aboard each reconfigured vessel, 69% of all cabins will thus be 225 square feet or larger – the highest percentage of such cabins on any 110-meter riverboats in Europe. In addition, overall capacity will be reduced from 118 passengers to 98, with the total number of cabins on each vessel going from 59 to 49.
Tauck will continue to staff each ship with a Tauck Cruise Director and a full complement of three Tauck Directors.
On the Diamond (upper) Deck of each reconfigured vessel, the ship’s second dining venue, The Bistro, will be upgraded with its own dedicated kitchen and chef. The Bistro will be renamed Arthur’s, in tribute to company founder Arthur Tauck Sr., and its expanded menu will continue to provide more casual alternatives to the fine dining selections offered in the ship’s main Compass Rose restaurant.
Tauck first introduced the concept of a second onboard dining venue in 2006 with the launch of the ms Swiss Emerald, and the dedicated kitchen and Arthur’s name are enhancements already included on Tauck’s 135-meter ships.
Tauck CEO Dan Mahar explained the reasoning behind the reconfiguration of the five Tauck vessels. “From day-one our approach has always been to limit passenger capacity, and by doing so, to provide a more intimate, club-like atmosphere and more spacious cabins for our guests,” said Mahar.
“The launch of our Inspiration Class ships took that approach to a new level, and with the re-envisioning of our Jewel Class vessels, we’re putting them on equal footing with our Inspiration Class ships.”
Given the resulting fleet-wide parity, Mahar explained, Tauck is abandoning the Jewel Class and Inspiration Class distinctions.
THE TAUCK DESTINATION FLEET
Going forward, Tauck will refer to its ships collectively as the Tauck Destination Fleet, reflecting the company’s emphasis on providing its guests with a vastly superior destination experience, said Mahar.
“We absolutely believe that we have the finest riverboats in Europe, and with the reconfiguration of more than half of our ships, we’re continuing to invest heavily in order to maintain our leadership position,” said Mahar.
“That said,” Mahar continued, “we feel that our riverboats are essentially an elegant and supremely comfortable means to an end; a way for us to deliver an incredibly enriching and memorable experience within each destination we visit. The behind-the-scenes access to exclusive cultural experiences we provide, the expertise we’ve developed leading award-winning land tours for more than 90 years, the knowledge and service delivered by our Tauck Directors and local guides… they all combine to create an unmatched land experience for our guests.”
Tauck is also adjusting its deployment strategy according to Mahar, matching each ship to destinations and itineraries best suited for its specific length. On longer cruises including a transit of the Main-Danube Canal, Tauck will deploy 110-meter ships because their shorter length allows for greater efficiency and flexibility in passing through the canal’s many locks. Tauck will also continue to position two 110-meter ships in France, the ms Swiss Sapphire on the Seine and ms Swiss Emerald on Rhone/Saône, where their modest length makes docking easier in France’s smaller or more crowded ports like Paris. Tauck’s four 135-meter ships will be assigned to itineraries specifically on the Danube River, or on the Rhine and Moselle Rivers.
While Tauck won’t begin reconfiguring its ships until later this year, it has no plans to relax in the interim. Besides launching two new 135-meter ships in the coming months, Tauck is also introducing a new 10-day Rhine River cruise. For 2016, the company has also been able to reduce its prices by up to $1,200 per couple based on foreign exchange savings it’s passing along to its guests. In addition, Tauck has also enhanced a number of its river cruises with memorable onshore dinners in exclusive venues, including a 14th-century castle in Germany, a former Benedictine monastery (also in Germany), and a 275-year-old French chateau inspired by Versailles and today owned by descendants of Napoleon.