Tauck family River Cruise vs. ABD river cruise?

TravelJunkieHubby

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jan 28, 2019
I was curious if anyone has done both a Tauck river cruise and an ABD river cruise - can you compare/contrast the two? We are booked for our 8th ABD next summer and probably ready to try something new after. Our last 2 ABDs were nice and small (Galapagos - 12 people, Canadian Rockies - 25) but suspect that will be more the exception than the norm going forward. I'm mainly curious if Tauck river cruise has a smaller group feel compared to ABD river cruises?
 

sayhello

Have Camera, Will Travel
Joined
Oct 28, 2006
I was curious if anyone has done both a Tauck river cruise and an ABD river cruise - can you compare/contrast the two? We are booked for our 8th ABD next summer and probably ready to try something new after. Our last 2 ABDs were nice and small (Galapagos - 12 people, Canadian Rockies - 25) but suspect that will be more the exception than the norm going forward. I'm mainly curious if Tauck river cruise has a smaller group feel compared to ABD river cruises?
I don't know how Tauck River cruises work, but the thing about ABD river cruises is that the entire ship is ABD. Most of the ships hold 140 - 160 people. So any particular excursion could hold up to 40 people depending on how many people signed up for that excursion. If 60 people signed up, they might split it 30 and 30 in a bus with 2 Guides per bus. Or 40 and 20, with 2 Guides in one bus and one in the other. If everyone is going to the same place, it's likely there'd be 40 per bus. If only 15 sign up for a particular excursion, you'll have 15. So it's really hard to predict how many people will be on any particular excursion. Plus you already do not get to know the folks on the River cruises as well as on a land ABD, because you don't have the same group of people from excursion to excursion. So the issues/dynamics of large groups with the River cruises is different than on a land ABD. It's really not possible to get a smaller group feel. You also, in general, do not bus as far to activities, either. So group size is not as big of an issue from that perspective. One of the joys of River cruising is the fact that the rivers mostly go directly through the towns you are visiting, because towns grow around major rivers. So many times, we just walked off the ship, and had no bus time at all.

Sayhello
 

Bobo912

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 16, 2008
Tauck is the same. Everyone on the boat is a Tauck guest. They contract with a company called Scylla that owns the riverboats. The crew and staff are Scylla employees. The guides and cruise director are Tauck employees. For excursions the guests divide up into groups where 40 is the max per group and there will be multiple groups for each excursion. If you don't stay in your room while the boat is on the water, you'll get to know the other guests - at least some of them. There are activities on the boat, and you'll meet people at dinner, or in the lounge, or up on deck. And the kids who make friends usually try to get in the same group for the excursions. When I did the Tauck cruise, they had different colored poker chips in bowls at the reception desk and you choose chips to reserve your spots on the excursion. So the kids who wanted to be together usually went first thing and got the same colored chips for their families. It's been a few years so I don't know if they still do it this way.
 
  • sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Tauck is the same. Everyone on the boat is a Tauck guest. They contract with a company called Scylla that owns the riverboats. The crew and staff are Scylla employees. The guides and cruise director are Tauck employees. For excursions the guests divide up into groups where 40 is the max per group and there will be multiple groups for each excursion. If you don't stay in your room while the boat is on the water, you'll get to know the other guests - at least some of them. There are activities on the boat, and you'll meet people at dinner, or in the lounge, or up on deck. And the kids who make friends usually try to get in the same group for the excursions. When I did the Tauck cruise, they had different colored poker chips in bowls at the reception desk and you choose chips to reserve your spots on the excursion. So the kids who wanted to be together usually went first thing and got the same colored chips for their families. It's been a few years so I don't know if they still do it this way.
    So the main difference here is that the AmaWaterways reception desk *gave out* the colored cards. You couldn't just select whatever color you wanted. If you had a group of 8, of course you could request 8 of the same color, but it was just a tad more controlled than what Tauck does. And ABD doesn't actually spend that much time on the boat, even while it's traveling. Most days, if it had to move during the day, it did so while folks were out on excursions, and your excursion returned you to the new location. We saw our ship sailing past a few times while doing an activity. You could, of course, choose to stay on the boat, but few did. The only day most everyone stayed on the boat was the day we sailed the Wachau Valley. But the folks who chose to bike that route weren't on the boat. So really, the only time to meet folks was on excursions, at dinner, or occasionally at night, depending on how popular the entertainment was, and if there weren't evening excursions. Of course, I've only done the Danube River cruise, so that's what I'm describing. I'm not certain if the other River cruises follow the same pattern.

    Sayhello
     

    laceltris3

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2013
    I did the Danube on ABD in June and we are booked on the TB Siene for next year. TB is a little more inclusive (more alcohol included at meals, etc.) But they are very similar but Tauck ships seem to be smaller or at least they have greater variety (some a max of 80 or 96 guests). Their ships are contracted, but contracted full time, so they are Tauck branded, and have Tauck painted on them.

    We did ABD because of the 3 person rooms that connect with a 2 for our family of 5. On TB we have a suite for 4 and the lowest category for a single with no supplement. It was by far the best deal. And we got our free night at the Paris Arc de Triomphe. We are really looking forward to it.
     

    OhanaCuz

    I can finally say that I've been on an ABD.
    Joined
    Jan 22, 2014
    So the main difference here is that the AmaWaterways reception desk *gave out* the colored cards. You couldn't just select whatever color you wanted. If you had a group of 8, of course you could request 8 of the same color, but it was just a tad more controlled than what Tauck does.
    I don't know if it was a policy change or just the way our Ama employees operated but they did sometimes let us pick which color we wanted. It's funny with how the excursions went there were some adventure guides we barely interacted with and others we became really close with because we kept ending up with them on excursions.
     
    Last edited:

    tink1970

    DCL Platinum
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2012
    @OhanaCuz and I have had the same experience. On my 3 ABD River Cruises we could go back and switch out the cards-my family and I had definite preferences for ABD guides and we'd try to stay with them as much as possible- to the point where we'd either flat out ask or gauge based on the color of shirt which tour they were leading.
    On the last trip in June the system only failed me twice b/c I went on tiny (10 and 15?)
    person outings. That said, there was something very nice about being on those small excursions, so it was worth not having my "favorite."
     
  • Connect

    Disney News and Updates

    Daily Updates and News

    Top