Tauck/Scylla River boats

Wow!!! Check this out from Travel Bulletin !! Tauck branded river boats by Scylla given over to German VIVA Cruises! Gone are the Tauck logo gangways, color scheme, etc.? What about Arthur's? This goes way beyond what we were told- that Scylla was leasing boats to a German entity- and it does not bode well!

17 February 2021
VIVA Cruises to relaunch three ships in 2021

The newly renamed ships will sail all year round once the 2021 season resumes.

River cruise specialist VIVA Cruises has announced it has been hard at work, preparing for the beginning of the 2021 season. Three newly renamed and refreshed ships will run exclusively for the brand throughout the year. (the ships will be refreshed with new names and VIVA Cruises' recognizable blue colour schemes.)

The cruise line's most popular ships, "MS Treasures" and "MS Inspire" , leased from parent company, Scylla AG, will sail exclusively for the river cruise operator in 2021 . They will relaunch as "VIVA Treasures" and "VIVA Inspire" , respectively, to run VIVA's popular Main, Rhine and Moselle river itineraries.

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Comments

  • INTERESTING!!!
    What do people think?
    We have only taken one river cruise with Tauck and it was on the Inspire, isn’t that one of the newer ships with less passengers! Well Viva isn’t going to make any profit this season.
    I’m thinking if Tauck survives, it will specialize in small group travel at big prices.

  • Sounds like Tauck may be deciding to dump their river cruise business. If so, let's hope it doesn't extend to the other parts: small ship and land tours.

  • Alan S - I sent you a private message, but I am crushed by this news as I spent over 30min on the phone with a lady high up in Guest Relations and she NEVER mentioned this to me. Makes me wonder if our 2022 Christmas Cruise will go or if we need to switch back to Uniworld, which is our next favorite line. This is so disappointing.

  • edited February 20

    on the Tauck facebook page, their latest post is about 2022 River Cruises - I sent them a MESSAGE via facebook, as that is the quickest way I've gotten a response in the past, and I pasted the above article to my message - begging for honesty as we have LOTS of money invested in trips with them for the next 2 years.

    It also doesn't say anything about the Danube, Douro, etc Cruises - so seems they are keeping those rivers? Why can't they update their webpage and only advertise the trips they are actually doing!?!?!??!

    and it does say 'ships will run exclusively for the brand throughout the year'- wonder if Tauck will eventually get the boats back in 2022 or 2023 when things are hopefully close to normal again? Looks like VIVA is a European line and maybe that's why this has happened - whereas Tauck is American? It does kind of make sense as to what they said when they said, 'Germany chartered the boats.' Nicki made it sound to me that they 'chartered' only the Xmas Market cruises - not the whole year.

  • Very curious. To answer British, no the Inspire is one of the newer ships but it's longer and takes more passengers.

    The piece only lists 2 ships that Tauck has used in the past. The third is the Robert Burns which was never a Tauck ship.

    This may be a consolidation effort. Except for our very first cruise, the other three did not have full ships. So this may be an effort to have fewer sailings but fully booked.

    We are booked on the Douro for 2022 which is using their newest specially designed ship the Andorinha. Shorter but without height restrictions so more facilities on the sun deck.

    Not ready to give up on Tauck river cruising yet but will be watching closely.

  • This announcement covers just three boats, two “Tauck-branded” the other a UK equivalent of Tauck (they are what I call the English Poet series, Bronte, Robert Burns, Wordsworth, Shakespeare, etc) It might be relatively easy to repaint them in Tauck green and redo the companionway decal and the article wasn’t very clear how long they will be “Viva” boats, but it is hard to imagine they will work Tauck cruises by 2022. I know Inspire and possibly Treasures is 120 max pax boat with Cat 3 loft cabins which we really like and think provide the best bang for the buck. Our 2022 Summary of Purchase doesn’t provide boat name, doesn’t mention “loft cabin,” and just says “Cat 3, Emerald Deck” but who knows what that really means without knowing the boat.

  • Tauck does not own the river boats, which at the moment is a blessing as they don’t have to maintain them while they are idle. I’m guessing Scylla knows full well that Tauck would never be able to fill all the boats this year, even if there is any kind of travel opening up. While most of us on the forum are keen to travel, I’m sure many more are not, especially older Tauck travelers. Scylla must be desperate to make some money and leasing to other markets might be their only hope of staying solvent. Hopefully, Tauck remains OK even if it radically needs to change its tours.
    I do wish Tauck would give more updates, even saying there are no changes would be better than nothing. I think it should go by email to all customers, it should not be up to us to keep having to go on the website to look for updates.

  • Alan, the Treasures is one of their older ships that don't have loft cabins. That includes Espirit, Emerald and Sapphire. The longer ships with lofts are Inspire, Savor, Grace and Joy. When they refitted the four older ships a few years ago they tried to make the cabin categories more or less they same but the lofts just don't have anything similar. But a Cat 3 and Emerald deck are only loft cabins. Cat 3 on the others is a small af cabin on the Diamond deck.

    The new ship Andorinha really has a different layout. This time we actually booked an Emerald deck Cat 2 which is the first time we've ever been on that deck. Normally don't like but the Douro is a short cruise and has so much public space inside and out that we didn't think it was worth spending on a big cabin.

  • I’m on the road w/ my iPad so hadn’t checked out Treasures. Unless cabin categories and deck designations have or will change, Scylla launches a new boat or two, or boats/river/cruise assignments change, we should be on Inspire in 2022 if our SOP is correct. That also means by sometime in 2022 Inspire will be under contract to Tauck again, not Viva and may or may not have been returned to Tauck livery. Does this seem likely or is our SOP wrong? So many unknowns!

  • That's a tricky one Alan. I suspect it's more likely they'll substitute a different ship. If it's the same type you'll get your loft, if not then it gets complicated. As said before, the Cat 3 on the shorter ships are 150 sqft cabins on the Diamond deck all the way at the back. Close to the coffee machine in Arthurs. Or they might offer to let you change to a different category. The Cat 1's are the same size as that but down on the Emerald deck for less money. Given that it's a short cruise with limited daylight hours that might be the better option. Good luck.

  • edited February 21

    Below is what our 2022 XMAS Mkts Summary of Purchase looks like.

    The $4798 is a place holder since the trip has not been priced. (it is only 21 months away now! @#$%^&amp;*!!!) The $60 Protection Plan Adjustment was part of the promise to us we would pay the same as we would have paid in 2021. The cost of the protection plan was $639 p/p so is obviously going up $60 to $699 p/p otherwise. The wallet (discount) is only $250 p/p since we hadn't paid in full for 2021. (the cancellation happened unexpectedly 10+ months before our scheduled departure </span), so we hadn't even thought about paying the balance!)

    No boat is named, but the description - "Cat 3, Emerald Deck, 225 sqft" can't be anything other than a loft cabin on Inspire, Grace, Joy or Savor! One of the reasons we book early and re-booked immediately when the previous trip was cancelled was to have a better chance/ensure we would get a Cat 3 Loft. It will be very disappointing if we are put on another, larger boat, without our preferred loft cabin. I guess we could be on a Viva branded Scylla boat, like others travel on Tauck branded Scylla boats. The fleet page on the Viva website (link) has photos of the Inspire, Treasures, Swiss Emerald, Esprit, and Joy, all still sporting the Tauck Compass rose companionway art.

  • Curiouser and curiouser. I noted other Tauck ships on the VIVA roster as well - Emerald, Espirit and the Joy.

  • edited February 22

    kfnknfzk
    February 20
    . . . Scylla is the parent company of VIVA Cruises, so it could simply be that Scylla is assisting in VIVA's growth.

    I dug a bit deeper. It may be worse than that- Viva is a wholly owned subsidiary of Scylla which was started by them at the end of 2018. According to the articles I found, based on their initial success, Scylla is trying to aggressively grow Viva and has even expanded into the US market. In addition to the 2021 (and possibly permanent?) claw back of Tauck contracted and previously refurbished MS Inspire, MS Joy, and MS Treasures, etc. it appears they have also clawed back two of the "poet series" river boats previously contracted to UK's Riviera Travel, the MS Lord Byron and MS Jane Austin. Take a look at what the loss of the Inspire and Joy would/could do to most 2021 Rhine and Danube tour schedules- from XMAS Mkts to Oberammergau, to Bridges, etc., etc. and to 2022 and beyond if permanent or additional boats are pulled back, without new ones launched and contracted to Tauck!!!!!!

  • It's still possible that this doesn't essentially change Tauck river cruising beyond things like logos and color schemes. Looking at their website, it looks like viva offers pretty much the same experience - all inclusive food, drink, tips, etc. If Tauck TDs and CD are still running the tour along with their traditional partners, it might not result in a major change. Might this be similar to their relationship with Ponant but hopefully without a mix of passengers.

  • Yes, it is possible, but it sure would have been or would be nice to know a little more about Tauck's plans going forward. Could this presage a major shift in Tauck's river cruising operations? We will have our first experience with a mix of passengers if and when our Treasures of the Aegean goes.

    Of interest, Scylla AG appointed two new managing directors, Robbert Verbeek and Andreas Wandinger, about the same time they launched Viva. Brothers Arno and Robert Reitsma, still own Scylla.

  • Emily - More about Florida 😀

  • Emily - More about Florida

    Probably not Florida but most likely Dutch or Belgium Horticultural themed cruise.

  • The Floriade one stumped me. Google to the rescue. "Floriade Expo 2022 is a Dutch horticultural exposition to be held in Almere, Netherlands. It will be the 23rd AIPH world horticultural exhibition and the seventh Floriade and will be held from 14 April to 9 October 2022."

  • I went to the Netherlands Floriade probably 30 years ago, I might even have the brochure somewhere?????

  • edited February 23

    Tauck_Emily
    2:36PM
    Hi AlanS,
    We share your disappointment . . . . some (???) of our ship deployment decisions for 2021 were impacted by the uncertainty around COVID-19 in the near-term. (????)

    Have no fear, we currently plan on running our full river fleet, including the vessels in this article, in 2022. . . .

    I'm not clairvoyant so just call me a mushroom!

    Emily,

    As I said in this and other posts and threads on this topic, the flow of information from Reservation Sales Agents and from Guest Relations has been nil, limited, sometimes almost deceptively incomplete, or just wrong, leaving me and others to wonder what is really going on. In these times it is a lot to ask of people to just have faith, re-book, and leave their money on account, when almost no information on the way ahead has been provided.

    Last month I learned from other sources that most of the 2021 Danube XMAS Markets cruises and possibly the 2021 Rhine XMAS Markets cruises were canceled- but not directly as a result of COVID. Since we were booked on the 2021 Rhine XMAS Markets and I had seen nothing about it on the website, I called Tauck to check on the status of our cruise. I was told all of the 2021 Rhine XMAS Markets cruises had also been cancelled. Again, nothing had been posted on the Tauck website (still hasn't) and no calls had been made to any of the nearly a dozen couples I know personally who are also personally impacted.

    Additionally, when I subsequently spoke with a Reservation Sales Agent and Guest Relations I was told the boats were chartered by a "German company," yet no reason or details were given how this happened or why. Well, that wasn't exactly true. The "German company" while it has a German address, is actually Viva Cruises the newly established (2018/2019) operating and totally owned subsidiary of Scylla the owner of the river boats. According to industry news, Scylla is seeking to expand Viva, so has added a number of formerly Tauck branded Scylla vessels to the Viva fleet and Viva is handling their bookings for 2021 and beyond. Additionally, these fairly new Scylla/Viva owned boats formerly chartered to Tauck and prized by Tauck clients (Inspire, Joy, Treasures, etc.), have been renamed and repainted from Tauck green to Viva blue, and the Tauck companionway logo has been removed. That doesn't sound like something a company would do to a "close partner" or the "close partner" would accept without alerting their customers!

    While it should not matter who owns and operates the boats as long as we get the Tauck Experience, it certainly raises questions when reliable info about schedules, boats, etc. is lacking. What is a person to think when the first time they learn of this is from non-Tauck sources? This is especially true when letters to the CEO, Chairman, and Guest Relations are not acknowledged nor answered.

  • I just got off the phone with NIckie C. (??sp) and she was super nice and very reassuring that they have NO INTENTION/desire/plans of getting rid of their River Cruises - she assured me that their relationship with Scylla is strong and they have new ships coming out.
    She said she is in daily and close contact with Dan and Jennifer - their relationship with Scylla is stronger than ever and we have nothing to worry about. All the changes/dropped itineraries/etc is truly COVID related and when travel is safe to resume, so will Tauck.

    I did have some questions about what it means to be 'waitlisted' since our Xmas Market cruise canceled for 2021 and then we 'transferred' to the only other one going this year, then we had to cancel that one for 2021 due to Board of Nursing Quarantine Mandates and now we are 'waitlisted' on 2022. It's a bit discouraging as we had this 2021 cruise booked since January of 2020 (TWO years to assure the room we wanted) and now we may have to pay more since we are waitlisted for a room in 2022. She will be calling me back after she checks on some answers for me.

  • She just called me back and is able to get us our preferred rooms since our initial cruise canceled. She was very helpful and reassuring. She also said our boat 'may' be the JOY -- which is exactly how I am feeling right now. Now, here's hoping we get COVID under control so there's not too many restrictions when we do go. We've all had both our doses of the vaccine - hoping others will too -- HERD IMMUNITY.

  • edited February 23

    Tauck could avoid all this by giving us more and timely information! I'm still struggling with Scylla/Viva/Tauck cancelling the XMAS Mkts cruises en-mass so early when a lot can change between now and December and it will evidently be OK (safe?) for Viva passengers but not Tauck passengers? Will they rename Athur's to "Artur's" or "Siegfried's"? :D

    Best of luck with your waitlist! I didn't get around to calling her today, but Nickie C. probably didn't want to talk to me anyway. I'll just let it go for now. After all, I'm officially a grumpy old man! :) I wonder if Tauck would rather talk to a TA?

  • edited February 24

    I spoke with Tauck CEO, Dan Mahar, this morning about the river boats and other issues. He reiterated what Emily posted above. He speaks with the owners of Scylla regularly, but wasn't sure why they repainted and renamed a few of the boats. He said that won't make a difference when it comes time for Tauck river cruises to start again. He assured me things will be OK and Tauck will be back on the rivers in a big way again with Scylla when we get past COVID. When that will happen, as everyone agrees, is a big question. He said he would review and discuss with his staff the points I raised in my letter and we discussed this morning, including about keeping us better informed. He, personally, and many Tauck employees are as eager as we are to begin traveling again. He made specific mention of his anticipation to experience the Douro River from the new MS Andorinha, which was custom-designed by Tauck's long-time partner Scylla.

  • Ooooh, get you Alan. A personal call from the CEO. We're all dully impressed. Glad to hear the news too. B)

  • All Hail Alan!! Not sure which of the following best depicts your conquering way. :D



  • I like the last one of the guy wearing old Levis converted into a "skirt" :D

  • Sure, the last one because of the old Levis! It has nothing to do with the fact that it's Russell Crowe when he was young and fit. Yeah, OK let's go with the Levis story. :D

  • edited February 26

    I'm just waiting for my April river cruise to be canceled for the second time, it's the Cruising the Seine plus Paris and London, don't know why they haven't canceled yet as it will be impossible to go to London. Don't know if I'll rebook for 2022

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