Dear Tauck Family of Friends,
A perspective I share with my kids is to appreciate the extraordinary in the ordinary, those daily rhythms and routines of life I have always enjoyed. With that in mind, I was thrilled to be back in Europe in August to celebrate the christening of our new ship, the Andorinha, specifically designed for the Douro River. And I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I touched down in Madrid. After checking into my hotel, I made a beeline for the local square. I walked the perimeter and observed the menus, waiters and diners at a number of different cafés. I picked my spot, sat down, ordered a salad and immersed myself in watching couples, families, and single individuals all going about their lives – kicking a soccer ball, taking photos, laughing, holding hands, connecting with each other. I have always enjoyed suspending time and watching “life” around me in European town squares. It was great to be back.
After the hiatus from travel we have been through, it was so gratifying to see the charms of Europe. It went beyond that lovely time at the café. The pitter-patter of cars going over cobblestone streets. The smell of coffee. The amazing architecture which graces nearly every street corner. The smiles and sense of warmth. My server rejoiced, “You are from New York… Welcome back.” It was genuine.
Tauck has restarted operations in meaningful ways – by the end of 2021 we will have operated over 900 departures across more than 80 different tour and cruise itineraries on four continents. Our river fleet is operating on the Douro, Seine, Rhône, Rhine and Danube rivers. Our small ship programs have explored Iceland, Greece, the Galápagos, the Mediterranean and the Dalmatian Coast. Of the tens of thousands of guests who have traveled with us in 2021, you may find it interesting that we had fewer than 10 positive COVID tests on tour. All were either asymptomatic or with minor symptoms. These cases were handled as medical situations are always handled, with Tauck and our partners providing continuous care and communication until the guests were able to return home.
We hear from so many guests about how they appreciate the smaller crowds in most places around the world. We have reconnected with thousands of our partners globally. There have been some service challenges in spots – but as we look across the breadth of our operations, our service and customer satisfaction ratings often exceed pre-pandemic levels, which is terrific!
I was in France just last week to attend the christening of a new luxury small ship from our partner Ponant, and was inspired by what amazing things can be accomplished. Afterwards, I returned to Paris and spent hours just walking the beautiful streets, taking in the grand architecture and energy of this vibrant city. It was during this walk when I had time to think about where we are today – versus six months or a year ago.
The last couple of months of 2021 bring exciting developments. Thanks to the smarts and hard work of the global heath industry, over 6 billion vaccine doses have been dispensed. Borders are open and Tauck is operating more substantially every month. The long-awaited recent decision by the US government to permit vaccinated travelers to come to the US in November will be a pivotal moment for the global transportation industry. Our allies desired reciprocity, and with this happening, there will be movement to further reduce entry requirements and simplify policies.
Our guests, eager to be “back,” are truly pleased with their experiences. I can’t describe how happy it made me when I read the following from a guest who had just returned from France with us: “You cannot be afraid to travel. Knowing that you guys are right there to support and guide, that provides a level of reassurance. You are not left on your own to figure it out, Tauck is there supporting you every step of the way.”
It was the icing on the cake when I recently learned that, after such a challenging year, we made the Travel + Leisure “World’s Best” list for the 24th consecutive year.
And most of all, my pride is limitless when I think of our team who has worked so hard with thousands of supplier partners. Together, they are delivering for our guests. Like any great team, each person does their part with absolute care and commitment. I am convinced we have the best team and partners in the business.
We are pleased to share that after a one-year hiatus, European Christmas Markets will be open this December and Tauck will operate these beloved itineraries on the Rhine and Danube. Our guests speak often of the “magic” of the holidays, and the glow this year will shine brighter than ever.
2022 advanced bookings are the strongest we have ever experienced. Our Worldwide Operations team is working with our supplier partners to prepare for the new year, and we are adding departures where we can. Our River and Small Ship cruises are relatively fixed in capacity and are over 80% sold for the year.
Whenever you are ready…we look forward to being by your side. To help you navigate this new world. Our team is always there to support you when necessary. We’ve always done this, and this essential support is more valued than ever.
Wishing you a warm transition to autumn!
Daniel W. Mahar, CEO