Tauck’s new river cruise ship design is influenced by Portuguese culture
Tauck’s first river cruise ship is set for the River Douro with a décor and design details inspired by Portuguese culture.
Andorinha is purpose-built for Portugal’s River Douro, which has had a large impact on its interior features and layout. It is the river cruise operator’s first cruise ship set for the River Douro and is due to set sail in April 2020.
Tauck River & Small Ship Cruising senior vice president Katharine Bonner tells Passenger Ship Interior & Refurbishment Review, “Each river in Europe is different and confined by the locks. Most locks in Europe can accommodate lengths up to 125 m and 135 m, but the limitation of 80 m on the Douro makes a big difference in terms of ship design.”
Andorinha is 80 m with accommodation for 84 passengers, with a smaller, more intimate design, according to Ms Bonner. Tauck has four riverboats of 135 m that carry 130 guests, and four 110-m ships able to accommodate 98 guests.
She adds “A lot of shipbuilders put in smaller cabins to allow up to 120 guests, but ours only has 42 cabins because we want to keep the same size cabins as those on our Danube and Rhine cruise ships, as this is what our guests expect.”
Therefore, Tauck still has 28 m2 suites on deck three, while on deck two, the cabins are 21 m2. On the lower deck, the cabins are 14 m2 and 19 m2.
Furthermore, the suites keep the same layout and features as other suites in Tauck’s fleet, to ensure “repeat guests feel at home”. This includes walk-in closets, beds facing the windows and Nespresso coffee machines.
Ms Bonner said while lock limitations means corridors are shorter and the ship is confined to three decks, the bridges are higher on the River Douro compared to other European rivers. This is advantageous, particularly for the sun deck.
Ms Bonner says “On the Rhine, the deck furniture has to collapse and even the railings on the side of sun decks collapse to get under the bridge. On the Douro, there is more room so the railings do not have to collapse, and we can put in nicer furniture, including sun beds. The pool is also much larger.”
“Sometimes cruise ships are moved from river to river, so you cannot be as fluid in your design, but we have built this ship specifically for the Douro, and we considered the weather. The weather is much nicer than it is on the Danube so people want to be outside more, and we can put pop-up bars and grills out on the sun deck.”
Arthur’s restaurant on the sun deck has a very different configuration to Tauck’s casual restaurant on its other river cruise boats. It is placed on hydraulics, allowing it to rise, and go down under the bridges, allowing guests to enjoy the river views.
Ms Bonner says “The Douro has beautiful scenery, and more afternoon sailing time, so there is more time to use the restaurant. We have placed the restaurant on hydraulics so guests can enjoy the scenery.”
The destination of Andorinha also influenced the décor. A recurring design theme is the traditional painted ceramic tiles. These adorn several areas of Andorinha, including its main Compass Rose restaurant and Arthur’s, with the cabin’s throw pillows and carpeting continuing the theme. Within the ship’s atrium, railings, carpeting and lamps suspended from the ceiling all boast curving patterns reminiscent of azulejo designs.
An example is a hand-painted tile mosaic map depicting the Iberian Peninsula and its surrounding oceans. Located in Andorinha’ s reception area and reminiscent of early navigational charts, the 0.9-m mosaic pays tribute to Portugal’s rich maritime heritage of the 15th and 16th centuries.
A second theme aboard Andorinha is grapevines, reflecting Portugal’s 2,500 years of winemaking traditions. Cabins and suites all feature wall lamps with decorative metalwork suggestive of grapevines, and each lamp is backed by accenting wallpaper panels that also echo the theme. Andorinha’ s reception area features a large, circular, domed ceiling light entwined in grapevines. Some 1.2-m across, the fixture was crafted exclusively for Andorinha with brass ’branches’ custom cast from actual grapevines.
Throughout Andorinha, furnishings have been sourced from top-tier Portuguese suppliers, ranging from the ship’s lighting fixtures and furniture to the Portus Cale toiletries provided in each cabin.
Ms Bonner says “Because we have built this boat specifically for the Douro, we can include design features that are respective of the landscape. Lovely tiles are used throughout. It is not overwhelming but there are nice pieces of Portuguese design around the ship.
She explains how the Portuguese design has been adapted in certain areas. “In the bathrooms, you wouldn’t want a lot of colour, you want something a bit more serene, so they include a line of tiles like a bas-relief that are off white, which works very well there.”
Tauck has partnered with Scylla – which it used for its whole fleet – to construct and design Andorinha. Scylla’s interior architect worked closely with Tauck on the design.
Ms Bonner sums up “The fact Andorinha takes less passengers means it is more spacious, with more room for facilities including restaurants – all of this will be noticeable.”