Tauck Sees Huge Growth In French River Cruising

Company’s Bookings Jump 137% in Two Years as it Adds Ships and Itineraries on the Rhone, Seine and Saône

NORWALK, CT (July 30, 2013)  When Tauck’s ms Swiss Emerald sailed on the company’s first-ever departure of its new Rhone River family river cruise earlier this month, it was just the latest milestone in Tauck’s rapidly increasing presence in French river cruising.  Although the Connecticut-based company (recently named the “World’s Best River Cruise Line” by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine) has only been operating on France’s rivers for three years, it has already chalked up some impressive growth statistics.

Since its debut on the Rhone in 2011, Tauck’s French river cruise bookings have increased 137%, and the company has gone from zero itineraries in France in 2010 to a total of seven for its 2014 operating season, including three popular specialty cruises for families, food lovers, and art aficionados.  The company will also deploy its ms Swiss Sapphire to sail on two new itineraries on the Seine next year, doubling the number of ships it has in France.  (The newly refurbished ms Swiss Emerald will continue to sail on the Rhone and the Saône.)  Tauck’s success in France shows no sign of slowing, with pre-season bookings up more than 650% over the same time last year, and up nearly 1,300% over this same point just two years ago.

Helping fuel Tauck’s incredible growth in preseason bookings are two new-for-2014 itineraries on the Seine.  The new “Cruising the Seine Plus Versailles, Paris & London” (from $6,790 per person, plus airfare) is a comprehensive two-week journey that begins with an included two-night stay in London at the landmark Savoy, featuring guided sightseeing plus a Tauck-exclusive lecture by Winston Churchill’s biographer and granddaughter Celia Sandys.  After traveling via high-speed train beneath the English Channel to Calais, guests will board the ms Swiss Sapphire in Caudubec-en-Caux for a nine-day cruise along the Seine. 

Highlights along the Seine will include an excursion to Normandy’s D-Day beaches, an exclusive dinner with music at a private chateau in Rouen, and private tastings of absinthe in the Absinthe Museum in Auvers-sur-Oise and Calvados at Chateau du Breuil, a distiller of the spirit since the 1500s.  The journey continues in Paris, where the ms Swiss Sapphire will dock for three nights as Tauck guests enjoy an in-depth exploration of the city with included sightseeing.  After disembarking in Paris, guests will have their choice of a guided exploration of the city’s colorful Montmartre district, or a guided visit to Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles.  The 14-day itinerary concludes with a two-night stay in Versailles at the Trianon Palace Versailles, a Waldorf Astoria property, highlighted by an exploration of the Chevreuse Valley and a visit to the 12th-century Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay. 

Tauck’s second new French itinerary, “Rendezvous on the Seine,” (ten days from $4,590 per person, plus airfare) also begins with an included two-night stay in Paris, at the Hotel Pullman overlooking the Eiffel Tour.  A subsequent seven-day cruise on the Seine includes ports-of-call at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, Giverney (where guests will visit the home and gardens of Impressionist painter Claude Monet), Vernon, Les Andelys and Rouen.  Highlights include a farm visit and tasting of local farm-to-table specialties in Étretat, a visit to the seaside town of Honfleur, a lecture on the events of D-Day followed by a tour of Normandy’s iconic beaches, and guided visits to historic abbeys and chateaux.

Elsewhere in France, Tauck’s Rhone and Saône River cruises will sail aboard the newly renovated ms Swiss Emerald.  Launched in 2006, the ship received a makeover earlier this year when its décor was enlivened with new carpeting, new upholstery, new bedding and other enhancements.  The Swiss Emerald is one of four Tauck vessels in its Jewel Class of riverboats, along with the ms Swiss Sapphire, ms Swiss Jewel and ms Treasures

Two new and larger Tauck riverboats, the ms Inspire and ms Savor, are currently under construction.  Set to launch next year, the 443-foot newbuilds will together comprise Tauck’s’ Inspiration Class of ships.  Each will have twenty-two 300 square foot suites (a third of all cabins), as well as thirty-two 225 square foot cabins. 

Eight of those 225 square foot cabins will be located on the lower (Emerald) deck, and they will feature an innovative “loft” design with a raised platform seating area.  Each seating area will have a table with two chairs, plus a raised ceiling that allows the use of a much taller window than can normally be incorporated into cabins on a riverboat’s lower deck.  The upper portion of this window can be opened for fresh air, and being taller, the window will allow far more natural light to fill the cabin for a much brighter and more airy ambiance than can typically be achieved in lower level cabins.

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