More than half of the Tauck European river cruising fleet is to be upgraded over the next two years.
The company’s five Jewel-class riverboats will have larger cabins, overall space per passenger will be increased by 20% and casual dining restaurants will be upgraded.
Overall capacity will be reduced from 118 passengers to 98 and the total number of cabins will go down from 59 to 49.
Thirty 150 sq ft cabins will be replaced with 20 cabins, each measuring 225 sq ft.
This will mean that 69% of all cabins will be 225 sq ft or larger – the highest percentage on any 110-metre riverboat in Europe, the company claims.
The 110 metre-long Jewel-class vessels include MS Swiss Emerald, MS Swiss Sapphire, MS Swiss Jewel, MS Esprit and MS Treasures.
Tauck’s two-stage plan will see its riverboats in France, MS Swiss Emerald and MS Swiss Sapphire, reconfigured, renamed and relaunched next winter in time for the 2017 operating season.
In the second phase, scheduled for winter 2017/18, the remaining three Jewel-class ships will undergo identical transformations in time for the 2018 operating season.
The new names for the refurbished ships have yet to be disclosed.
The European fleet also includes four 135-metre Inspiration-class ships – the new MS Grace and MS Joy launching later this year, and the MS Inspire and the MS Savor.
Tauck will refer to its vessels collectively as the Tauck ‘destination fleet,” reflecting a new deployment strategy to match each ship to destinations and itineraries best suited for its specific length.
For example, the MS Swiss Sapphire will operate on the Seine and the MS Swiss Emerald on the Rhone/Saonne, where their 110-metre length makes docking easier in France’s smaller or more crowded ports like Paris.
On longer cruises, including a transit of the Main-Danube Canal, Tauck will deploy 110-metre ships because their shorter length allows for greater efficiency and flexibility in passing through the canal’s many locks.
Tauck chief executive, Dan Mahar, said: “From day-one our approach has always been to limit passenger capacity and, by doing so, provide a more intimate, club-like atmosphere and more spacious cabins for our guests.
“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.
“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.”
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