After a very short flight to Cologne airport from Gatwick we collected our cases and made our way to the airport exit. There was a man holding a large sign with TAUCK written on it and he was not easy to miss! This was to be a the start of the TAUCK experience. He introduced himself as Hans, and he is one of the TAUCK land-tour directors. After a warm welcome we were escorted to our transfer. Other transfers I have experienced in the past tend to be just a coach or a shuttle bus, however this was a full-size luxury coach, with TAUCK branding down the side and very comfy seats. So far, so impressed!
It was just a short ride from the airport to where the ship was docked, and we left our cases on the coach to be delivered to our cabins a short while later. We were met by the Cruise Director, Steve, who escorted us to the MS Treasures. The ship is not one of the longest riverboats on the Rhine, however the ships of the Tauck fleet (of which there are now four) are designed to be able to cruise on all the rivers. The ship looked lovely and new tied up on the Rhine, with the majestic Cologne Cathedral rising up to dominate the skyline on the opposite bank.
We simply walked onboard (on a red carpet no less!) and gave our names to the reception desk, who issued us with our room keys. Easiest embarkation ever - it really couldn't have been simpler or more pleasant.
First impressions - well the reception area was beautifully decorated with a granite floor with a crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling, with the reception desk made of a rich, dark wood. Also in this area is the shore ex desk and a small gift shop. The staff were very welcoming and there was fruit punch available if we wanted it, along with a cool towel to refresh ourselves. We were shown to our cabin on Ruby Deck, a category 3 grade, at 150 sq ft with a French balcony. The corridors are very well decorated and resemble a classic English country house hotel, opulent and classy without being over-the-top or too extravagant. The wall lights are encased in beautiful glass shades, and the thick carpeting is a delight to walk on and feature a fleur-de-lis patterns that is repeated throughout the ship. The walls have wood panelling on the lower third with cream walls leading up to the ceiling. Classic maritime prints in gilded frames adorn the walls and the whole corridor exudes a warm and welcoming atmosphere. If this was a taste of things to come then I'm very impressed.
In the cabin there is a double wardrobe with coat hangers sporting the TAUCK logo - even Silversea don't have branded hangers! Plenty of them too, and lots of space to hang clothes, including long dresses and trousers. A third cupboard houses the safe and three shelves for other bits - so plenty of storage. There is a small glass desk/table with 3 power points and a fridge with complimentary mini bar, flat screen TV, two bedside table with more power points, an Ipod docking station and clock, and of course floor-to-ceiling windows that slide open as a French Balcony. The bathroom has been very well designed with a curved shower/wet area on the left with a shower screen (no clinging curtains here) marble surfaces and L'Occitane bath amenities. The cabin is very spacious and well designed, with deep blue carpets, crisp white bed linen and wooden headboard surround. Plenty of mirrors too!
After getting a bite to eat we showered and changed in readiness for the naming ceremony. We made our way to the dockside where a marquee had been erected, and as we gathered outside a local Piper Band provided rousing music on their bagpipes.
After a few pieces, they marched through the marquee and we all took our seats. Speeches were made by senior executives and then the ships Godmother took to the podium to deliver her speech.
Robin Tauck is the daughter of Tauck chairman Arthur Tauck Jr, and joined her family's travel company in 1982 and went on to hold a number of positions including President/CEO. Today she focuses her efforts on public-private partnerships in world heritage and on sustainability issues within the broader travel industry and non-profit boards.
After Robins speech, we went outside to watch her cut the ribbon and a bottle of Moet & Chandon went hurtling towards the bow and smashed, drenching the hull in champagne. A huge cheer erupted from the assembled crew on the top deck and the ship sounded its horn. A fire boat sailed past with his water cannons spurting in celebration too.
Then it was back onboard for a cocktail party and an introduction to the crew and staff onboard the ship.
Dinner in the evening was delicious, main course was a surf and turf that was exceptional. The staff working in the bar in the afternoon were your waiters in the evening so you soon get to recognise them and make new friends.
After dinner we went up onto the sun deck to watch a spectacular display of fireworks - the MS Treasures was well and truly named!
|Author||Mr Douglas White|
|Date||19 August 2011|
|Comment||We’ve taken 15 Tauck land tours in the past, with nothing but praise for the standards shown. If the river cruises are anything up to standard it will be a pleasure to look into an upcoming chance to take a trip!.|