(BPT) - For decades – and thanks in no small part to the success of the TV show “The Love Boat” – it seemed that in the minds of most travelers, a cruise vacation automatically implied a languid ocean voyage aboard an oversized ship shared with hundreds, if not thousands, of other passengers.
Cruising, however, has branched out. Today, savvy travelers are discovering the charms of river cruising aboard smaller, more intimate vessels along scenic, historic, inland waterways, particularly in Europe. River cruises offer the same relaxing pace as ocean cruises, but they travel through the heart of the destination rather than miles offshore, allowing travelers to enjoy far more shore excursions for a more varied, culturally-enriching experience. In fact, river cruising has become so popular that leading travel magazine Travel + Leisure now includes a category devoted strictly to river cruising in its annual “World’s Best” awards celebrating the global travel industry’s finest hotels, cruise lines, tour operators and more.
The 2014 winner of Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best River Cruise Line” award was once again Tauck, which also earned the No. 1 spot in 2011 and 2013. Based on the results of the magazine’s annual readers survey, Tauck’s award reflects excellence in six key criteria including cabins/facilities, restaurants/food, service, itineraries/destinations, excursions/activities and value.
“We provide a complete destination experience with all of the various elements seamlessly integrated and meticulously choreographed,” says Tauck CEO Dan Mahar. “Our riverboats are thoughtfully and beautifully designed, and we also have 90 years’ experience immersing our guests in the history and culture of different destinations. The insider access and unique cultural experiences we build into our river cruises were instrumental in achieving this honor.”
In early 2014, Tauck launched two new Inspiration Class riverboats and four new river cruise itineraries. It also introduced a pioneering new innovation in lower-deck cabin design with the “loft cabins” on the new Inspiration Class ships. The cabins on riverboats’ lower decks straddle the ships’ waterlines, limiting lower-deck cabins to small eye-level windows that let in minimal natural light and are sealed shut to the outside air. However, each of Tauck’s 225-square-foot loft cabins features a raised seating area with a higher ceiling and a corresponding window that is taller than those normally found in lower-deck cabins. Tauck’s taller window allows far more natural light into the cabin, and it features a central panel that can be opened for ventilation.
Tauck’s fleet of six ships transport travelers on 19 different all-inclusive Tauck river cruises throughout Europe. Unlike ocean voyages, Tauck’s river cruises each include all shore excursions, gratuities, onboard beer, wine and spirits, airport transfers and more covered under one price. In addition, fewer guests and a higher number of onboard service personnel ensure Tauck travelers enjoy an intimate, club-like atmosphere and superior service.
To learn more about river cruising and to view available itineraries, visit www.tauck.com.