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Riverboat Joy

Posted by Cindy Clarke on 9/29/2016
Posted in: Tauck’s Travelogue
Tags: Travel, Tauck, Austria, River Cruise, escorted tours

joy_christening_godmothers

Named as godmothers to ms Joy,  Jacque Moran, Mary Murrin and Kristin Robinson are all
long-time Tauck employees 

Wow, when you talk to someone who absolutely radiates joy when you ask them about their job, that’s when I want what they’re having. And in this case, so do hundreds of others, guests and staff alike, who have experienced the passion and pride that Tauck employee, and recently anointed riverboat godmother, Kristin Robinson, instills in her role every day.

Kristin, a longtime travel professional who has worked on and off the river as a group travel tour director and now manages a fleet of riverboat Tauck Directors (TDs), is naturally ebullient, able to buoy spirits and engage conversations with her friendly demeanor alone. You’ve heard of the face that launched a thousand ships? Kristin’s smile is like that, especially when she thinks about the honour bestowed upon her and two of her colleagues when they were named as godmothers of Tauck’s newly christened riverboat ms Joy this past June.

“It was a really special moment for me,” Kristin said when I asked her how she felt that day when the tables turned and she was the guest of honour and luxuriated in one of the riverboat’s wonderful suites.

Kristin_coffeeTauck guests are treated as VIPs from the moment they come aboard a Tauck riverboat and this time, instead of working behind the scenes to ensure the best possible guest experience, she was the VIP!

“As godmothers, we were presented with flowers and toasted with champagne,” she recalled as she recounted the events that occurred the day of the gala christening in Straubing, Germany. “Everybody had a chance to be part of the festivities, from the invited guests, including members of the Tauck family, supplier partners and travel agents, to the townsfolk who turned out to watch us bless and launch the lovely new ms Joy for her inaugural voyage on the River Danube.”

Ship christenings are not taken lightly by sailors. They are rooted in the history and naval traditions of many different cultures for thousands of years. Both a celebration and a solemn blessing, ship christenings are intended to invite good luck for the life of the ship. Godmothers are historically entrusted with the safe guidance of the ship and its passengers by blessing the ship – usually by breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow, which, according to Kristin was successfully and enthusiastically accomplished by fellow godmother Jacque Moran!

“Ms Joy is a beautiful boat, inside and out,” Kristin said as proudly as any mother speaks about her charge. “To be able to share her with our guests makes my role as godmother and a TD Riverboat Manager even more meaningful.”

Joy_exterior

Ms Joy, one of two new 130-passenger riverboats Tauck launched this year, is 443 feet long from bow to stern. Guest accommodations aboard consist of 67 cabins in total: 22 300-sq.-ft suites, 32 225-sq.-ft. cabins, 13 150-190-sq.-ft. cabins including 8 spaciously designed loft cabins with floor to ceiling windows that soar from one deck to another one level up.

While on this three-day trip, Kristin was able to “joyously” indulge in all the perks and pampering our guests enjoy without any of the work, a regular day in the life of a riverboat TD is not the same.

A day in the life of a riverboat TD unfolds something like this:

Tauck’s trio of TDs is up early every morning with one equally hard-working Tauck Cruise Director (CD) ready to make sure everything they have planned for the day is in place and ready to roll. One may be heading off the boat to take a walk in town, take notes about the route and what the guests may do in their free time, brief the driver and local guides and test out all the VOX equipment guests will be using on their tours. The other two will be doing prep work in their cabins or at breakfast before circulating with the guests and answering questions about the activities of the day. Tauck’s CD is overseeing all the orchestration and execution with seasoned aplomb!

The TDs accompany guests on their included shore excursions; our CD stays onboard to handle paperwork, make sure logistics are on track, handle any eventualities and even prepare surprises for guests – fresh local pastries, champagne cocktails or arranging local entertainment ­– to add to the day's delight. TDs are frequently called upon to make recommendations to guests wishing to explore on their own so they make it a point to study everything they can about the destinations to provide guests with informative commentary and well-researched choices. They also make sure no one ever gets left behind and are always watching out for their guests’ best interests to help them feel safe and secure.

Joy_christening_tourAfter the shore excursions are done, the TD team touches base with one another, writes and turns in reports about the day to day details, and changes clothes for the boat’s cocktail hour where mingling with the guests is an important and enjoyable part of their job. Our director-level staff is infinitely interested in getting to know their guests and finding out what sparks a guest’s interest so they can recommend experiences that will enrich their travels.

Dinnertime for TDs and CD is another chance for them to regroup and refine the guest experience. They eat with one another to brainstorm and evaluate how the trip is unfolding before heading back to their cabins to complete any paperwork and study up for the next day’s destination. Doing as much of the work ahead of time as possible makes it easier for our riverboat team to deliver a great experience.

And the not so ordinary days?

While our riverboat team is there to make it smooth sailing for their guests 24 / 7, they have to be incredibly flexible in order to seamlessly “go with the flow.” River cruises are vulnerable to fluctuating water levels, lock issues and unexpected local events so they have to pull magic and alternative timings out of thin air. TDs, along with the Tauck Cruise Director, are continually monitoring the news and the weather for any potential impacts to the tour and guests. When called for, they take matters and changes in stride and impart information to their guests in the best most positive ways.

“When you have to move guests off the riverboat to hotels because of low or high water levels, our TDs and CDs are experts at lessening disappointments and finding the silver linings in every situation,” said Kristin. She added that their caring nature also makes any health concerns more palatable for the guests as they handle the logistics in foreign destinations with extraordinary efficiency and compassion. 

At the end of a river cruise, Kristin agrees with Arthur Tauck Sr. who once famously said, “We are only satisfied if our guests are.”

In her experience as honoured godmother, past riverboat TD and TD Manager, she has been satisfied on all counts… and that’s what brings all that joy to her.

Click here to learn more about the ms Joy.

Joy_exterior_2

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