Tauck has commenced sea trials in the Netherlands of its purpose-built ship for Portugal’s Douro River, the 84-guest ms Andorinha riverboat. The test run has also meant that future guests can now preview some of the ship’s facilities ahead of her full launch.
The ship will enter service in March and operate three all-new cruise itineraries along the Douro.
Tauck CEO Dan Mahar says the Douro is unique among Europe’s more popular rivers.
“Unlike other rivers, the Douro is closed to navigation at night, so all cruising is done during daylight hours,” said Mahar. “Also, the Douro has fewer towns and cities along its banks than other major rivers, so the landscapes are more pastoral and scenic.
“The Douro Valley is renowned for its beautiful warm and sunny weather. When you combine those three factors – extensive daytime cruising through gorgeous landscapes in wonderful weather – you have a unique opportunity to create a ship that really embraces the local climate and showcases the surrounding environment,” he said.
Near the stern, the ms Andorinha’s Sun Deck has been designed and outfitted to serve as a platform for taking in the passing landscapes of the Douro Valley. The Sun Deck will feature 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 will feature 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, will be 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 will offer a mix of steak house-style classics as well as a selection of regional fare, and serve 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.
Tauck’s other European riverboats all feature an Arthur’s restaurant at the stern of the ship’s Diamond Deck; however, the Andorinha is the company’s first ship to position the restaurant on the Sun Deck.
Celebrating Portugal’s Culture and Traditions
Inside the ship, a soaring glass-ceilinged atrium will span both the Ruby and Diamond decks, filling the Andorinha’s lobby, reception area, main restaurant and lounge with natural light. Elsewhere, select touches will highlight Portuguese culture and traditions. Decorative tiles synonymous with the region will adorn various spaces within the ship, local wines and culinary traditions will feature prominently at dinners, and luxury Portuguese soaps, shampoo, conditioner and lotion will be featured in all cabins.
To ensure that guests enjoy cool and comfortable conditions throughout the ship’s interior spaces (despite the Douro Valley’s abundant sunshine and warm temperatures), the 80-metre-long Andorinha will boast an air conditioning system with twice the cooling capacity found on Tauck’s 110-meter ships. In addition, windows on the Andorinha will feature a special UV-reflecting coating that lets in abundant natural light while also blocking out 82% of the sun’s warmth.
The Andorinha will accommodate just 84 Tauck guests, compared to 112 passengers – or 33% more people – on other cruise lines’ Douro ships of the same approximate size. Guests will be accommodated in 42 cabins, including twelve 91.4-square-metre suites on the upper Diamond Deck, and twenty 68.6-square-metre staterooms primarily on the vessel’s Ruby or mid-level deck. The remaining accommodations (six 61-square-metre cabins and four 45.7-square-metre cabins) will be on the lower or Emerald Deck.
Tauck is offering three Douro River itineraries aboard the Andorinha in 2020.
She will be christened on 31 March in Porto, and take her initial guests in the first week of April 2020.