TUI Cruises began a 100-day countdown to the launch of its brand TUI River Cruises. The riverboats will set sail from November 26 with Christmas and New Year itineraries as well as a full program from April 2021.
Following the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) removal of the travel ban for river voyages, preparations are underway and the first images of the refurbished adult-only ships were revealed and new excursions for the winter announced.
Ahead of the first sailings, the river cruise line is implementing new health and safety measures to protect both passengers and crew. Transfer buses will be deep-cleaned between journeys, hand sanitizer will be available for passengers, the crew will wear protective equipment, social distancing will be encouraged. Passengers will be asked to fill in health questionnaires and will have their temperature checked prior to boarding. Extra cleaning measures will be in place around the cruise ships. Restaurants are already waiter-service. At breakfast, they have an a la carte menu and a small buffet. Excursion group sizes are smaller to help with social distancing. Passengers can cancel any trips 48 hours in advance. Customers will have to wear face masks on their flights, in airports and may be asked to wear them on transfers as well as onboard the ships.
TUI's 3 riverboats - TUI Maya, TUI Skyla and TUI Isla - underwent multi-million-pound drydocks (12-18 weeks per ship) and are now transformed into floating boutique hotels.
Customers have the choice of 2 restaurants both with floor to ceiling river views - Verdastro, a stylish fine dining experience, and Bistro, which is more casual. Two brand new bars are also onboard, the Observatory and the Club Lounge. Guests can choose from a selection of local wines with lunch and dinner. In addition, cruisers can buy local wines on-shore which the waiters can serve to them during meals with no corkage charge.
A choice of 7 cabin types per ship is offered with 3 cabins for solo travellers. As part of the river cruise lines sustainability initiative, all cabin carpets have been made from recycled fishing nets giving them a unique finish. There are 36 suites across the 3 ships with walk-in wardrobes, spacious bathrooms, and double French balconies.
All passengers receive a GBP 120 credit (per 7-day itinerary) to use towards shore trips and the addition of 12 winter excursions expands the total to 150. The new additions feature visits to Christmas markets and Christmas walking tours.
The river cruise company offers 32 itineraries along the Rhine, Moselle, Main, Danube, and Dutch and Belgian waterways with the flexibility of 3 to 14-night sailings for those wishing a short break or opting for a longer getaway. While TUI Maya and TUI Skyla will be preparing to set sail in April from Budapest and Frankfurt, TUI Isla will sail 3 festive Christmas itineraries including Rhine Gems, Mistletoe & Rhine, and Yuletide Wonders throughout November and December.
A Little Extras Package has been introduced for GBP 35 per cabin including extras like priority check-in, welcome prosecco and chocolates, a small group ship tour, one continental breakfast in bed, a personalized card from the captain, and a late cabin check-out.