(4:06 p.m. EST) — Tauck River Cruising plans to reconfigure more than half of its European fleet over the next two years, bringing its older ships in line with new-builds, and matching each vessel to its destination.
The luxury line’s five Jewel-class riverboats — Swiss Emerald, Swiss Sapphire, Swiss Jewel, Tauck Esprit and Treasures — will receive larger cabins and an upgraded second dining venue. The ships will also see a reduction in capacity, going from 118 passengers to 98.
The changes will make the older ships similar to Tauck’s newer vessels, Inspire and Savor, which launched in 2014, and Grace and Joy, which are launching in spring 2016.
“From day-one our approach has always been to limit passenger capacity, and by doing so, to provide a more intimate, club-like atmosphere and more spacious cabins for our guests,” Tauck CEO Dan Mahar said in a press release. “The launch of our Inspiration Class ships took that approach to a new level, and with the re-envisioning of our Jewel Class vessels, we’re putting them on equal footing with our Inspiration Class ships.”
The planned changes to the ships are as follows:
On the middle deck, 30 cabins that currently measure 150 square feet will be replaced with 20 cabins measuring 225 square feet. The total number of cabins on each vessel will go from 59 to 49.
The Bistro, an alternative dining venue on the ship’s upper deck, will be renamed Arthur’s (after the company founder) and upgraded with its own kitchen and chef. The menus will be expanded with more casual items.
Staffing will remain the same, with each ship having a cruise director and three Tauck directors.
Swiss Emerald and Swiss Sapphire will be the first to receive the makeovers in winter 2016, in time for the 2017 season. Because the ships are 110 meters long, they will remain in France after the refurb, as the shorter length makes docking easier in France’s smaller and more crowded ports, such as Paris.
The other three ships, which are also 110 meters, will receive the upgrades in winter 2017, in time for 2018. They will be deployed on itineraries that include the Main-Danube Canal, because their length allows for greater efficiency and flexibility while passing through the canal’s locks.
The ship’s four newer vessels, which are 135 meters, will sail the Danube, Rhine and Moselle rivers.