TUI River Cruises sets sail with Wine on Rhine voyage

The newest ship in TUI’s River Cruises fleet set sail on its maiden Wine on the Rhine voyage this week – and it’s offering a true Champagne experience for those on board.

TUI Maya began the seven-day journey in the German city of Frankfurt before calling at some of the best-known locations along the majestic river including Koblenz, Strasbourg and Mainz before disembarking in Frankfurt.

The theme of the cruise is definitely wine, and the ship cruises miles of vineyards growing grapes for the famous Reisling variety 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 go ashore and take walking tours of the various ports and learn about the history of these famous destinations, mostly accompanied by more glasses of wine.

The atrium is the centerpiece of TUI Maya

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 sailings. It’s up to the passenger how rigid they want the regulations to be – with few dress restrictions and casual dining options.

There’s a real mix of age groups on board with lots of young passengers and couples alongside older holidaymakers – all with a particular interest in wine. All experiences are led by English-speaking guides, while there are on-board tastings and local wines sampled 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 ensure the voyage is an unforgettable experience. Many work around the clock with very little downtime to ensure customers are cared for in a friendly and efficient manner.

The focal point of the four-deck vessel is the third level where the Verdastro restaurant and adjoining Bistro and Club room are located. Also located on level three is a lounge where free tea and coffee are served 24 hours a day and the main lounge bars which host nightly entertainment and daytime activities.

Part of the wellness area on the TUI Maya
Part of the wellness area on the TUI Maya

Options include an all-inclusive cruise where all alcoholic beverages are included as well as full board. Guests can also opt for full board which includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner with free beers, wine, and soft drinks with meals.

During the development of Maya, TUI undertook extensive research which found that many people viewed river cruising as stuffy and dominated by more mature guests. From there, the travel agency decided to create contemporary and sophisticated spaces, welcoming and relaxed.

One of the superb cabins of the TUI Maya
One of the superb cabins of the TUI Maya

There are busy areas on the boat but plenty of places to relax and unwind. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows provide stunning views of the boat gliding down the Rhine.

TUI Maya was scheduled to embark on her maiden voyage in March 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic has upended those plans. It took the new ship 120 days to fit out the 79 cabins and suites, the two restaurants and the countless onboard options for passengers, including a wellness area with sauna and relaxing hot tub.

Apart from 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 100+ meter long vessel. Masks are worn in all common areas and are only removed when eating or drinking.

However, this focus on Covid safety does not detract from the cruise experience. Over 10,500 square meters of carpet and flooring and 375 liters of paint were used in the project. Some rugs are made from recycled fishing nets.

This new cruise model is already very popular, with many passengers already booking other voyages.

For summer 2022, 22 routes are available. New TUI River Cruise routes added to the program include: Legends of the Rhine and Treasures of the Main, which explore the Rhine Valley and Bavaria.

Legends of the Rhine sailing on August 12 will be in Koblenz during 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 from the new port of departure in Wiesbaden. These are titled Festive Flavours, Winter Wonderlands and Christmastime on the Rhine.

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Shoppers can visit some of Germany’s biggest and brightest Christmas markets, checking off famous sights along the way.

There are also festive options for 2022 with new Christmas Day and New Years cruises from Wiesbaden.

Rhine Christmas Celebrations is a seven-night itinerary where cruise passengers will spend Christmas Day in Düsseldorf and stop in major German cities such as Cologne and Mainz.

The New Year’s Getaway is perfect for guests who want to celebrate the New Year in style by docking in Frankfurt to strike midnight, before calling in German and French cities such as Mannheim and Strasbourg.

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