Tauck has announced that it will offer its first-ever cruises on the Douro River in Portugal next year, and that its three new itineraries will sail aboard a riverboat that’s being designed and built specifically for the Douro.
With the new ship, the ms Andorinha, Tauck says they will continue to defy the standard industry practice of maximizing passenger capacity to boost revenue, and will instead offer more suites, more spacious public areas, and the more intimate ambiance that naturally results from having fewer guests on board. In fact, Tauck is noting that with a capacity of just 84 guests, the ms Andorinha will carry fewer guests than any other vessel currently operated by a major line on the Douro.
“At Tauck, we measure success by the quality of the experience we provide our guests, and one of the best ways to ensure a warm, relaxing and engaging atmosphere on board is to avoid crowding too many guests into a limited space,” said Tauck CEO Dan Mahar. Riverboats sailing the Douro average 260 feet in length, noted Mahar, and accommodate as many as 130 passengers. “That’s 55% more guests in the same space,” said Mahar, “and you just can’t deliver the same level experience or ambiance with those kinds of numbers.”
Even though the ms Andorinha will have far fewer guests than other ships, it will still have more director-level personnel to ensure Tauck’s guests enjoy the highest levels of care and service. As on Tauck riverboats fleet-wide, the newbuild will be staffed by a Tauck Cruise Director and three Tauck Director guides.
Mahar hinted that the ms Andorinha will also boast a number of unique design features to make it perfectly suited to cruising the Douro. “The Douro is a very different river, and so we’ve been consciously deliberate with the ship’s design,” said Mahar. “We won’t be the first company to operate on the Douro when we launch next year, but in terms of infrastructure, we’re excited to have some surprises in store that will truly differentiate us.”
Tauck is again teaming with its longtime partner Scylla AG on the design and construction of the ms Andorinha. The ship’s hull will be fabricated at Vahali Shipyard in Serbia, while final outfitting will be done in Hardinxveld, the Netherlands prior to the ship’s launch in the spring of 2020.
The new ship will have a crew of 36, and it will measure 263 feet in length with a beam of 38 feet. Guests will be accommodated in 42 cabins, including 12 300-square-foot suites on the upper Diamond Deck, and 20 225-square-foot staterooms primarily on the vessel’s Ruby or mid-level deck. The remaining accommodations – six 200-square-foot cabins and four 150-square-foot cabins – will be on the lower or Emerald Deck. The ms Andorinha will also feature a Panorama Lounge, Compass Rose restaurant for fine dining, and a second dining venue, Arthur’s (named for company chairman Arthur Tauck Jr.), serving more casual fare.
ANDORINHA: A PORTUGUESE SYMBOL OF FAMILY, HOME AND FIDELITY
The word “andorinha” is Portuguese for a species of swallow (a small migratory bird) that return to Portugal each spring after wintering in Africa. Small ceramic sculptures of the birds became popular throughout Portugal following their debut in 1891, and because swallows typically return to the same nest each year with the same mate, the figurines have become symbolic of family, home and fidelity – qualities that resonate deeply with a 94-year-old, family-owned and operated company like Tauck, according to CEO Mahar.
Tauck will offer three new Douro River itineraries aboard the ms Andorinha; a 12-day journey that bookends a seven-night Douro cruise with two-night hotel stays in Lisbon and Madrid, an eight-day “cruise-only” itinerary along the river, and an eight-day Tauck Bridges cruise designed specifically for families with four departures slated for late June/early July 2020. Itinerary details and pricing will be announced later this year.