Rivers of Europe
Yesterday and today, rivers are the lifeblood of Europe; civilizations were built along the banks as Europe’s great rivers sustain so many aspects of daily life, from food to transportation. In centuries past, Europe’s inland rivers were dubbed the highways of kings, carrying nobility from one village or town to the next, from country to country, with an ease and style of travel both comfortable and convenient. Stories unfold around every bend, from the Douro to the Rhine, Moselle, Danube, Rhône and Seine – and we’d like to share a few of them with you in this week’s edition.
Tauck and a time-honored tradition
There is a longstanding tradition that dates back to ancient times – the celebratory ceremonial tradition of christening a ship by breaking a bottle of champagne (or other spirits) on the bow – and naming Godmothers to bless the ship with good luck and good fortune. Several members of the Tauck family have been named as Godmothers for new riverboats in our fleet, and they share their stories here:
ms Sapphire, christened in 2008
Lee Tauck, Godmother
Being a godmother of a Tauck riverboat is a real honor. As a single traveler who appreciates a slower and kinder pace of exploring Europe, I can attest to the unique experience river cruising affords. The ships are used exclusively for us; there are never crowds and it’s easy to get to know others.
ms Jewel, christened in 2009
Kiki Tauck Mahar, Godmother
I was honored and humbled to serve as Godmother of the beautiful ms Jewel. What I remember most is the excitement and anticipation as we gathered on that beautiful, new vessel. Family, friends, colleagues and local officials gathered to bless and welcome her to the fleet. The energy was palpable. Our proud partners at Scylla rigged the champagne bottle with ribbon and pulleys to hit the bow just right, decorated the docks with flowers and tenting, and adorned the ship with boughs of greenery. Like a bride at the back of the church, she was ready for her big day.
That morning I woke early to memorize my blessing in German, a language I had never spoken. I was nervous. I envisioned saying something completely unintentional simply by mispronouncing a single word. I envisioned cutting the ribbon and nothing happening… or worse, the bottle missing the bow altogether. Luckily everything went smoothly. The ship was blessed, my young son John delivered the scissors to me on a pillow without dropping them, I cut the ribbon and the bottle smashed perfectly! The crowd cheered, champagne was poured, the musicians played, and the party began!
ms Jewel holds a special place in my heart, and it brings me great joy to know that our guests have enjoyed so many meaningful journeys on her since that day.
ms Treasures, christened in 2011
Robin Tauck, Godmother
The honor to be Godmother of Tauck’s ms Treasures riverboat is so special for me and for my family. In recent decades, our company has created and had the privilege of sharing with our loyal guests dozens of unique experiences that utilize the treasured waterways of Europe to provide a truly unique way of travel. The combination of exclusive river cruising and the comfort and hospitality of the fleet with Tauck’s signature land experiences make for an unforgettable journey – whether it’s a week in France or a longer journey all the way to the Black Sea. I love Tauck’s river cruise series; they are some of my favorite transformative, life-changing trips – true Tauck Treasures!
ms Savor, christened in 2014
Liz Tauck Walters, Godmother
It was such an honor to be named Godmother for ms Savor. The Christmas Market river cruises are simply magical! A few years ago, three generations of my husband’s family, including my children’s German grandmother, celebrated the holidays along the Rhine. From the lights, music, and unique treasures of the markets, to an impromptu gingerbread house-making session with the chefs onboard, to visits with German family and friends at several ports of call, it remains one of our most cherished family memories.
Legend of the Lorelei
Stories, folklore and legends along the Rhine
Legendary Lorelei Rock rises at a bend in the Rhine where the river is perilously fast and deep, and hazards lie in wait for careless navigators. In Rhine folklore, the promontory is said to be the home of Lorelei, a witch that lures sailors to the rocks with her siren song – but that story is not as old it claims to be. Nor is the rock named after the girl; it’s the other way around. For centuries, Lore Lay (“murmuring rock”), so called for its haunting echoes, was believed to be inhabited by spirits. But it was the German Romantic poet Clemens Brentano who gave the superstition a history and a feminine form in his ballad To Bacharach on the Rhine (1801). His tale of a beautiful temptress named Lorelei who throws herself off the precipice after being abandoned by her lover inspired Heinrich Heine to write his own version of the story, Die Lorelei (1824), in which the girl returns as a vengeful spirit to lure men to their doom. Friedrich Silcher set Heine’s poem to music in the style of a folksong that became so popular, according to one scholar, it had “the status of a national hymn.” Other composers like Clara Schumann, Felix Mendelsson, and Johann Strauss wrote their own musical tributes to Lorelei… countless Romantic painters visualized her seductive beauty… and the tragic, mystical femme fatale of the Rock became fixed in German culture as if she had always been there. So what if the original story only pretended to be folklore? It is, after all, folklore now.
Danube, Rhine, Seine, Rhône and Douro
Cruising with Tauck along Europe’s Waterways
What you experience, what you learn, what you discover, enjoy and savor along the great waterways of Europe will be intertwined with the cultural fabric of each destination you explore. Whether you’re cruising the rivers of France, the waterways of the Netherlands or the historic Danube, there’s a different adventure in every port. We’ve put together a diverse collection of behind-the-scenes stories that delve into the experiences, from a biography of the Lumière Brothers to the wines of the Northern Rhône to a look inside a historic Viennese theatre to the bridges of Paris – and begin with a video that captures the essence of Tauck’s river cruises.
The “Beautiful Blue Danube” as your backdrop
There is nothing more soothing, or inspiring for creativity, than the idea of an idyllic river cruise along the Danube. The Blue Danube (or On the Beautiful Blue Danube) by “Waltz King” Johann Strauss was inspired by the river itself – so for your next Zoom get together, we’ve provided a customized version you can use as your backdrop; let the inspiration begin!
Vineyards, Vintners and Behind-the-Scenes Insights
All About Wine
On our river cruises throughout Europe, vineyards are ever-present. Picturesque vineyards line the riverbanks, a familiar sight while cruising – and on shore excursions, visits to local wineries across the continent provide opportunities for tastings of local varietals and conversations with vintners who live there. We’ve curated a selection of podcasts, books, documentaries and more that provide a wide range of insights into the vineyards and wines along Europe’s waterways.
Dreaming of the Douro
Stories and insights into everything Portugal
Yes, we’re dreaming of the Douro, and all of the wonderful places along the shores, especially in these warm months of summer. With three new cruises debuting in 2021, we thought we’d share three videos that were taken during our development trips; they provide a good look at the river experience, the foods of the Iberian Peninsula and an introduction to Porto, Portugal’s wine capital. We’ve also curated a selection of videos, podcasts and stories, from the strong influence of Azulejos (Portugal’s ceramic tiles) to a recipe for Porto Tónico or a documentary on the tradition of building the rabelo.
Watch more videos about Portugal
During this Covid 19 Pandemic in which we have had to endure two long and severe periods of Self Isolation , my husband and I have been dreaming and planning cruise trips with Tauck on one of your vessels. We long for an escape with our WHOLE family aboard one of your magical cruises!
This is what we want to do as soon as we are able to freely travel again.
We have thoroughly LOVED the Tauck riverboat trips we’ve taken!
The next Tauck trip we anticipate (and are booked on) is to Australia and New Zealand once travel is permitted again. We have never been disappointed with Tauck–on something like 17 trips. 🙂