Passengers aboard the inaugural sailing on Tauck‘s new riverboat, ms Andorinha, were the surprise guests of honour for the luxury vessel’s christening ceremony in the riverside village of Barca d’Alva, Portugal.
Held on Day 3 of Tauck’s ‘Exploring the Douro, plus Lisbon and Madrid’ itinerary, after an initial couple of nights in Madrid, guests were expecting nothing more than a typical embarkation experience before being treated to the christening ceremony as 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 in attendance, the participation of Tauck’s loyal patrons added a fun and unique element to the proceedings for all.
Serving as godmothers for ms Andorinha were two long-time Tauck employees, company President Jennifer Tombaugh and Chief Culture Officer Sharyn Cannon. Both Tombaugh and Cannon have been with Tauck for more than 20 years.
MS 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.
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.
Andorinha’s Sun Deck has been designed and outfitted to serve as an ideal platform for savouring 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. There’s also an outdoor grill to host casual barbecues along with a full-service bar.
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.
MS 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, 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.
Tauck is offering two Douro River itineraries aboard Andorinha in 2021; the 12-day cruise tour and an eight-day cruise-only voyage. A third eight-day Tauck Bridges cruise designed for families, will be added to Tauck’s Douro portfolio in 2022.
More at tauck.com.au.