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Saturday, August 10, 2013

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

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.
 
TWO NEW ITINERARIES ON THE SEINE
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 travelling 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.
 
THE NEWLY REFURBISHED MS SWISS EMERALD
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.

ALL 2014 TAUCK RIVER CRUISES NOW OPEN FOR BOOKING

Each of the 19 European river cruises in Tauck's 2014 portfolio (on the Danube, Rhône, Rhine, Seine, Moselle, Saône, Main and Maas rivers) is now open for booking, and departure dates, prices and a host of additional information are contained in the company's new 100-page 2014 river cruise brochure.  Tauck has also debuted an expanded and redesigned section of its website at www.tauck.com dedicated exclusively to river cruising.  The new micro-site contains details on Tauck's river cruise itineraries and ships, a collection of nine new videos, the latest Tauck river cruise news, guest message boards, and more.

Tauck is also expanding its river cruising outreach to the travel agent community with the appointment of Mary Murrin as the company's first Business Development Manager – River and Small Ship Cruising.  A Tauck Cruise Director aboard the company's riverboats for five years prior to assuming her new role, Murrin is a travel industry veteran who has also worked with Ritz-Carlton and in events management.  In her new position, Murrin will focus on agent and consumer education, represent Tauck at cruise-related conferences and other events, and help Tauck maintain its leadership position within the river and small ship ocean cruising segments.

 ABOUT TAUCK

Tauck is a world leader in upscale guided travel, with nearly 100 land and cruise itineraries to some 70 countries and all seven continents.  The company has been named to Travel + Leisure magazine's list of the "World's Best Tour Operators & Safari Outfitters" in each of the past 15 years, and it has also been named to the magazine's list of the "World's Best River Cruise Lines" in each of the past four years.

ABOUT TRAVEL THE WORLD

Travel the World has been providing discerning travellers with unique luxury experiences for over 30 years. From premium cruise holidays with the world's best cruise lines to enriching cultural tours and indulgently luxurious resorts, Travel the World offers an exciting range of travel options beyond the predictable. The company has established new benchmarks of excellence in travel-related services to the Australian travel industry and consumers since 1977.

For further information on TAUCK please contact Travel the World on 1300 950 622 or visit www.traveltheworld.com.au
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