WILTON, CT — Passengers onboard Tauck’s new ms Andorinha riverboat, which departed Madrid last weekend, were treated to a special surprise: front row seats to the vessel’s official christening ceremony.
After an initial two-night hotel stay in Madrid and while on the 12-day ‘Exploring the Douro, plus Lisbon & Madrid’ itinerary, passengers were told they would be the guests of honour at the ceremony, where Tauck’s CEO Dan Mahar was on hand for the big surprise.
“In crafting our itineraries, we work extraordinarily hard to find fun and unexpected experiences for our guests and craft them into our journeys,” said Mahar. “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.”
Mahar added that bookings for Tauck’s Douro cruises in both 2021 and 2022 are very strong, following the “incredible demand” the company saw for its planned debut on the Douro last year.
“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,” said Mahar. “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.”
The Andorinha was purpose-built for the Douro River, with its décor and design inspired by the Douro Valley’s culture and climate. Onboard, guests will find traditional painted ceramic tiles, or ‘azulejos,’ and decorative metalwork suggestive of grapevines that invoke Portugal’s 2,500 years of winemaking. 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 ship’s Sun Deck has been designed and outfitted to serve as an ideal platform for viewing the Douro valley’s passing landscapes. It features canopied Balinese day beds, an outdoor grill, full-service bar plus an infinity-style pool that’s five-times the size of plunge pools featured on Tauck’s other riverboats. The most notable feature on the 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. Named Arthur’s for Tauck chairman Arthur Tauck Jr., the restaurant offers a mix of steakhouse-style classics and regional fare.
The Andorinha accommodates just 84 guests versus up to 112 passengers (or 33% more people) on other cruise lines’ Douro ships of the same size. Guests are accommodated in 42 cabins, including 12 300-square-foot suites on the upper Diamond Deck and 20 225-square-foot staterooms primarily on the 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.
Two Douro River itineraries aboard the Andorinha are available 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 the 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 for families, will be added to Tauck’s Douro portfolio in 2022.