TUI Maya review: TUI River Cruises launches the first …
TUI River Cruises recently welcomed TUI Maya as the first of its three new cruise ships – perfectly in sync with restrictions finally relaxed and river cruises on the rise.
TUI River Cruises was due to launch its first river cruise ship last year, but its delay proves good things are coming to those who wait
Christened TUI Maya, it was due to sail in March 2020, with its sister ship TUI Skyla, but Covid put an end to it.
So when she finally made her debut in mid-August of this year, with an inaugural Rhine cruise, there was a lot to celebrate.
TUI clearly takes its entry into the popular river cruise market seriously. The line has spent millions renovating the fleet (originally owned by German and Swiss tour operators), and it shows both in the charming public spaces and in the elegantly appointed cabins.
According to Chris Hackney, general manager of the company’s river cruises, these ships are all about “flexibility and choice” – and there are certainly plenty of both when it comes to dining options on board.
TUI Maya’s dining room is divided between the elegantly designed Verdastro, where art deco lighting gives a delightfully Agatha Christie effect, and the Bistro, which is a more casual restaurant. Both serve buffet breakfasts before turning to the menu for lunch and dinner.
But dining alfresco on Deck 4 is certainly the essence of a river cruise. After all, who doesn’t love to nibble on grilled treats as the sight scrolls?
A range of free drinks are offered with meals, although guests who want a wider choice can either upgrade to the all-inclusive drink package or pay as they go.
For entertainment, sports enthusiasts can enjoy mini-golf, pétanque, and shuffleboard, and there’s also the option of watching movies under the stars – something more commonly associated with large ocean-going cruise ships.
In the observatory, guests can take in panoramic views through floor-to-ceiling windows, and the outdoor terrace is ideal for sunbathing in warmer climates (with the added attraction of a happy hour each evening, including free canapes, plus afternoon tea once per trip).
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Evening entertainment is also provided – cruise director Jamie showed off his singing skills during my visit – and quizzes are taken care of as well.
The sophisticated surroundings of the Club Lounge – all the plush chairs, brass fittings, and mirrored tables – provide another pleasant place to relax, especially in front of its remarkably compelling digital fireplace.
As with any cruise ship worth its salt, the Atrium is the center of life on board. Here you’ll find the Cruise Director, ready to answer any questions you may have, and on Maya it’s also home to artwork by painter Simone Van Den Berg (the lights are designed to look like tulips, a twinkling). eye to its Dutch heritage).
There is also a small but perfectly appointed wellness center with a sauna and hot tub, making it a comfortable place to relax.
The cabins are thoughtfully designed, and for those happy to upgrade, the wonderfully spacious 24m2 suites with French balcony offer a host of tantalizing extras, including a set of Molton Brown toiletries, a walk-in closet , a continental breakfast in bed and priority baggage delivery. .
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River cruises have been on the rise for some time now, and Chris Hackney thinks he knows why: cities like Vienna and Budapest. ”
He also notes that after Covid, TUI is seeing an increase in demand for long-route cruises – and of course, that’s exactly what a good river trip offers.
Excursions are a vital part of the package, and TUI gives each guest a weekly credit of £ 120 to use towards their expenses.
With an average of 14 trips available on each seven-day itinerary, there’s plenty to choose from, and most trips are in the range of £ 20- £ 40, with headphones included so you can hear commentary from the guide while exploring at your own pace.
Maya’s sister ship, Skyla, will launch in late November, just in time for Christmas market season, while a third ship, Isla, will complete the family next spring.
With the entire trio operational, TUI will offer a wide choice of routes on the Main, Danube, Moselle and Rhine, as well as the Dutch and Belgian waterways, with excursion options including cellar tours, a classical concert in Vienna, a trip to see the windmills of Kinderdijk and a walking tour of Speyer, one of the oldest towns in Germany.
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Previous TUI ship godmothers included Dame Judi Dench, but for Maya and Skyla the company went in a different direction, selecting two “everyday explorers” – a Barnsley University administrator and a London-based illustrator. .
This is just a sign of the new thinking TUI is bringing to the European river cruise scene – and with ships as attractive as these, I’m sure there will be plenty more to come.
Climb on board
Six-night “Dance on the Rhine” cruise aboard TUI Maya, roundtrip from Frankfurt via Boppard, Rudesheim, Düsseldorf, Bonn and Koblenz, departing November 7, 2021, from £ 699 including flights.
TUI river cruises Cruise ships