TUI River Cruises sets sail with Wine on Rhine trip
The newest ship in TUI’s river cruise fleet embarked this week on its first Wine on the Rhine voyage – and it offers a true Champagne experience to those on board.
TUI Maya started the seven-day trip in the German city of Frankfurt before stopping off at some of the best-known spots along the majestic river including Koblenz, Strasbourg and Mainz before disembarking in Frankfurt.
The theme of the cruise is definitely wine, and the ship travels through miles of vineyards growing the famous Reisling grapes associated with the region. There is plenty of time for tasting and visits to cellars producing some of the best vintages.
There are also daily opportunities to disembark and take walking tours of the various ports and learn about the history of these famous destinations, mostly accompanied by glasses of wine.
The TUI Maya is one of three ships in the fleet alongside Isla and Skyla.
A river cruise has less of the formality associated with ocean navigations. It’s up to the passenger to decide how strict they want the regulations to be – with few dress restrictions and casual dining options.
There is a real mix of age groups on board with lots of young passengers and couples alongside older vacationers – all with a particular interest in wine. All experiences are led by English-speaking guides, while there are onboard tastings and local wines tasted each evening with dinner.
But the real star of the show is the ship itself and the army of crew members who certainly go the extra mile to make the trip an unforgettable experience. Many work around the clock with very little downtime to ensure customers are looked after in a friendly and efficient manner.
The focal point of the four-deck ship is the third level where the Verdastro restaurant and adjoining Bistro and Club room are located. On the third level is also a lounge where free tea and coffee are served 24 hours a day and the main cocktail lounges which host evening entertainment and daytime activities.
Options include an all-inclusive cruise where all alcoholic drinks are included as well as full board. Guests can also opt for full board plus which includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner with free beers, wine, and soft drinks with meals.
During Maya’s development, TUI undertook extensive research which found that many people viewed river cruises as stifling and dominated by more mature guests. From there, the travel company set out to create contemporary and sophisticated spaces that are welcoming and relaxed.
There are lively areas of the boat but plenty of places to relax and unwind. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows provide stunning views as the boat glides across the Rhine.
TUI Maya was due to make its maiden voyage in March 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic has turned those plans upside down. The new ship took 120 days to outfit all 79 cabins and suites, two restaurants and countless onboard options for guests, including a wellness area with sauna and relaxing whirlpool.
Besides the delay in departure, the Covid pandemic has also affected the operation of TUI River Cruises.
There are rigorous cleaning routines with hand sanitizing stations located all around the vessel over 100 meters in length. Masks are worn in all common areas and are only removed for eating or drinking.
However, this focus on Covid safety does not detract from the cruising experience. Over 10,500 square meters of carpet and floor coverings and 375 liters of paint were used in the project. Some rugs are made from recycled fishing nets.
This new cruise model is already proving to be very popular, with many passengers already booking other trips.
For summer 2022, 22 routes are available. New TUI river cruise itineraries added to the program include: Legends of the Rhine and Treasures of the Main, which explore the Rhine Valley and Bavaria.
The legends of sailing the Rhine on August 12 will be in Koblenz when it hosts the Rhine in Flames festival – which is one of the biggest fireworks in Europe.
Meanwhile, for winter 2022, TUI has added three new Christmas market crossings departing from the new embarkation port of Wiesbaden. These are titled Festive Flavors, Winter Wonderlands and Christmas on the Rhine.
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Guests can visit some of Germany’s biggest and brightest Christmas markets, ticking off famous landmarks along the way.
There are also festive options for 2022 with new Christmas and New Year’s Day sailings from Wiesbaden.
The Christmas Celebrations on the Rhine is a seven-night itinerary where cruise passengers will spend Christmas Day in Düsseldorf and stop in renowned German cities such as Cologne and Mainz.
The New Years Getaway is perfect for guests who want to celebrate the New Year in style by docking in Frankfurt, ready to ring at midnight, before stopping in German and French cities including Mannheim and Strasbourg.
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