Tauck’s new family itinerary includes a train ride to the summit of Mt. Pilatus in the Swiss Alps. // © Thinkstock
Tauck is introducing two new itineraries next year that reflect guest demand for family cruising and longer river cruise sailings in France.
The 23-day Belle Epoch: London to Monte-Carlo journey starts with a two-night stay at London’s Savoy followed by a nine-night Seine cruise aboard Swiss Sapphire. Passengers then take a high-speed train to Lyon and embark on Swiss Emerald for a nine-night cruise on the Rhône. From Arles, guests will travel to Monaco for a two-night stay at the Fairmont Monte Carlo.
The cruise is a response to a desire by guests, many of them Australian, for longer itineraries in France, said Katharine Bonner, Tauck’s vice president of river and small ship cruising.
“I love the Aussies,” Bonner said. “We had one couple who spent 40 days on European rivers with us.”
Tauck’s second new itinerary is a family version of the eight-day Castles on the Rhine route on the new Inspire. Families travel from Basel on the world’s steepest cogwheel train to the 7,000-foot summit of Mt. Pilatus in the Swiss Alps, then cruise the Rhine to destinations in France, Germany and The Netherlands.
Bonner said other cruises designed for multi-generational groups on the Rhone and Danube have done very well.
“The Rhine cruise touches several countries,” she said. “It’s colorful and interesting, so it was the obvious next place to go.”
Bonner said the company was initially concerned that river cruising would cannibalize land tours, but this has proved not to be the case. “They both can grow independently,” she said. “Some people have a preference one way or another and some switch back and forth.”
She noted that 2013 was Tauck’s strongest year in Europe for both land tours and river cruising.
She added that river cruising is very attractive to new customers who may be leery of group travel.
“They are ready to make the leap from ocean cruising and they don’t think of a river cruise as group travel,” she said. “Once they are on board they find that they enjoy traveling with like-minded people, and it acts as a gateway to other group travel.”
Travel Agent Rewards Program
Tauck launched a new Agent Rewards program March 31 to support sales of its two new ships and new itineraries. For every client booked agents registered in the program will receive a $200 credit that can be applied to a cruise, land trips or special events. During a given year agents can accumulate up to $12,000 in credits which they can redeem for themselves or share with companions traveling with them on the same Tauck departure.
The new program replaces the earlier discount program. Steve Spivak, Tauck’s vice president of sales, said the new program was designed to reward agents who sell Tauck more and provides greater potential cost savings than the former flat percentage system.
Travel agents who want to offer their clients a choice of tours or cruises can see the entire range of Tauck’s products by going online and clicking on a destination rather than a specific kind of vacation.
“They will see the full gamut of land and river offerings in that area, and can present their clients with the choices that will suit them best,” Bonner said. “Cruises may have a slightly higher price point because there are more inclusions — all meals, the drinks package, etc. However, in cities like London and Paris, there may be more value in the cruise, simply because these are expensive cities.”