New Ship, Purpose-Built for the Douro River, is Inspired by Local Culture and Climate
WILTON, CT (August 9, 2021) Shortly before embarking Tauck’s new ms Andorinha riverboat on Saturday for the ship’s first scheduled cruise along Portugal’s Douro River, the company’s customers were informed of a special treat – they would be the guests of honor for the ship’s official christening ceremony. The Tauck guests were traveling on Day 3 of the company’s 12-day “Exploring the Douro, plus Lisbon & Madrid” itinerary, and after an initial two-night hotel stay in Madrid, they expected nothing more than a typical embarkation experience in the riverside village of Barca d'Alva. In true Tauck fashion, attending the christening ceremony was a surprise bonus.
“In crafting our itineraries, we work extraordinarily hard to find fun and unexpected experiences for our guests and craft them into our journeys. It’s very gratifying to surprise our guests with a sense of wonder and delight, and for this lucky group of guests, we were able to provide an especially memorable experience,” said company CEO Dan Mahar. Prior christenings of Tauck riverboats have typically been attended by company executives, local dignitaries, travel advisors, supplier partners and members of the media. And while Mahar and other Tauck executives were indeed in attendance, the participation of Tauck’s loyal patrons added a fun and unique element to the proceedings for all.
Serving as godmothers for the Andorinha were two long-time Tauck employees, company President Jennifer Tombaugh and Chief Culture Officer Sharyn Cannon. In announcing their selection as godmothers last month, Mahar stated that “Jennifer and Sharyn are the embodiment of Tauck’s ethos of caring for others,” noting that “their deep care and concern for our guests, for our employees, and for our travel advisors and supplier partners guides all that they do and how they do it.” Both Tombaugh and Cannon have been with Tauck for more than 20 years.
INSPIRED BY PORTUGAL’S CULTURE AND CLIMATE
The Andorinha was purpose-built specifically for the Douro River, and its décor and design are inspired by the Douro Valley’s culture and climate. Recurring design themes on the Andorinha include traditional painted ceramic tiles, or azulejos, adorning areas throughout the ship, and decorative metalwork suggestive of grapevines that invoke Portugal’s 2,500 years of winemaking tradition. The Andorinha’s reception area, for example, features an oversized, domed ceiling light entwined with brass “branches” custom-cast from actual grapevines.
Along with the Andorinha’s decor and furnishings, the ship’s name is also rooted in local culture. Andorinhas are a species of small migratory swallow that travel to Africa every winter and return to Portugal each spring. The birds mate for life and return each year to the same nest, and small porcelain figurines of andorinhas have become a popular national symbol of family, fidelity and home.
OPTIMIZING THE ANDORINHA’S SUN DECK
Portugal is renowned for its warm, sunny weather, and the Andorinha’s Sun Deck has been designed and outfitted to serve as an ideal platform for savoring the Douro Valley’s passing landscapes. The Sun Deck features canopied Balinese day beds for comfortable, shaded lounging, plus an infinity-style pool that’s five-times the size of the plunge pools featured on Tauck’s other riverboats. In addition, the Sun Deck features an outdoor grill to host casual barbecues along with a full-service bar to ensure that Tauck guests stay well hydrated.
The most notable feature on the Andorinha’s Sun Deck, however, is a pop-up restaurant that rises from the stern of the ship on hydraulic lifts to become a fully functioning eatery with commanding views of the surrounding countryside. Named Arthur’s for Tauck chairman Arthur Tauck Jr., the restaurant offers a mix of steak house-style classics as well as a selection of regional fare, serving as a more casual alternative to the Andorinha’s main Compass Rose restaurant. When approaching any particularly low bridges, Arthur’s will be briefly lowered to improve the Andorinha’s clearance and allow the ship to continue along on its voyage.
As with its other riverboats (and rather than maximizing passenger capacity and revenues), Tauck is again offering more suites, more spacious public areas, and a less-crowded, more intimate onboard ambiance. The Andorinha accommodates just 84 Tauck guests, versus up to 112 passengers – or 33% more people – on other cruise lines’ Douro ships of the same approximate size. Even with fewer guests aboard, the Andorinha still has more director-level personnel to ensure Tauck guests enjoy the highest levels of care and service. Like other Tauck riverboats, the Andorinha is staffed by a Tauck Cruise Director and three Tauck Director guides.
Guests sailing on the Andorinha are accommodated in 42 cabins, including twelve 300-square-foot suites on the upper Diamond Deck, and twenty 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) are on the lower or Emerald Deck.
PENT-UP DEMAND LEADS TO STRONG BOOKINGS
Tauck is offering two Douro River itineraries aboard the Andorinha in 2021; the 12-day “Exploring the Douro, plus Lisbon & Madrid” journey that bookends a seven-night Douro cruise with two-night hotel stays in Lisbon and Madrid, and an eight-day “Villages and Vintages: Cruising the Douro River Valley” cruise-only itinerary along the river. “Douro Discovery: A Family River Cruise in Portugal plus Madrid,” an eight-day Tauck Bridges cruise designed specifically for families, will be added to Tauck’s Douro portfolio in 2022.
According to Mahar, bookings for Tauck’s Douro cruises in both 2021 and 2022 are very strong. “We already had incredible demand for our planned debut on the Douro in 2020,” said Mahar. “With those travel dreams deferred to this year, and with all the other pent-up demand for travel resulting from Covid, interest in our Douro cruises is unprecedented. We look forward to sharing this beautiful part of the world with our guests, and we encourage advisors to secure their clients’ space quickly as inventory is not likely to last.”
About Tauck: Founded in 1925, Tauck is a world leader in upscale guided travel, with more than 150 land tours, safaris, river cruises and small ship ocean cruises to 70+ countries and all seven continents. In each of the last 23 years, Tauck has been honored in Travel + Leisure magazine’s annual “World’s Best Awards” celebrating the very best in luxury tours, cruises, hotels and more.
Those interested in more information can contact their local travel professional, call Tauck at 800 468 2825, or visit the company’s website at www.tauck.com (www.tauck.ca in Canada, www.tauck.co.uk in the UK, www.tauck.com.au in Australia/New Zealand).
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PLEASE NOTE: High-res images available for download at www.tauck.com/mediaimages.