Cruise and Tour Boom: Tauck’s Post-lockdown Resurgence Is All Over the Map | Travel Research Online


Cruise and Tour Boom: Tauck’s Post-lockdown Resurgence Is All Over the Map

Tauck is experiencing a post-lockdown boom that is making Steve Spivak, vice president of global sales, very happy. “We’re seeing such a great resurgence in the type of travel we offer,” he told me, “not just luxury, but truly immersive, bucket list-type travel.”

Tauck has already carried more passengers this year than it did in all of last year. Its booking pace has exceeded that of 2019, the last year before the COVID pandemic. As unprecedented as the lockdown was, the bounce back for Tauck is also creating a novel constellation of market forces. The pent-up demand is across the board for cruise and land products, destinations around the world, and various styles of travel packages. Tauck’s customers are ready to travel, to make up for lost time. And there’s a greater sense than ever that time is limited, and so may be their opportunities to fulfill their lifetime travel dreams.

“People have been waiting for almost three years now to have these experiences that they’ve dreamed of,” said Mr. Spivak. “They are willing to splurge on travel now more than ever. It’s not just people who had planned to travel in 2020 and 2021 and couldn’t. It’s people who had been sitting on the sidelines, and maybe had done other types of travel in the past, and now that they’re able to travel again they are splurging. And they are looking for the best way to travel. They are looking for the care of a great company and of great guides. And they are looking for someone to take care of all the details and provide an exceptional experience.”


ms Andorinha, photo courtesy of Tauck


Cruising on Small Ships

Tauck’s small ship cruises, whether on rivers or oceans, differ from the standard big ship cruises. Some of that is in the advantages of small boats and ships, but it’s also in the fact that the itineraries are designed to provide an in-depth experience of the destinations, as opposed to the megaship cruise lines’ emphasis on the ships themselves.

“Our guests really want to get to heart of the destination,” he said. “They don’t want to just see it for a couple of hours from a cruise port. They really want to get into the heart of the cultural experience, the historical experience, and the culinary experience. It’s all those things. When you’re on a small ship, you are with many fewer people than when you’re on a big ocean liner. You can really enjoy those immersive experiences that are far more intimate, that the thousand or two thousand people on a megaship couldn’t experience.”

In Tauck World there is a saying that small is big. “A smaller ship with fewer people allows for a much bigger experience,” he said, “much bigger in terms of content, bigger in terms of immersion, and bigger in terms of the impression it makes on our guests. Whether it’s private after-hours visits to museums or private performances, you have a more intimate experience when you travel with a smaller group of people.” And small ships can get into ports and harbors that are inaccessible to big ships.

As the post-lockdown period unfolds, Tauck is in a good position to observe the changes in demand.

“We are in many ways exceeding pre-pandemic levels of demand, and it’s across our entire portfolio, not limited to one area,” Steve told me. “Not only are people wanting to rebook the itineraries they had booked but couldn’t travel on because of the pandemic, we have this big pent-up demand. People who were on the sidelines are now looking to book as well. The biggest challenge we have now is capacity, making sure we are adding capacity, securing additional space and hiring additional staff to make sure we’re able to answer the phones and take the reservations, and to add tour directors and cruise directors so we’re able to meet that demand.”

The New Shape of Demand

Tauck is seeing a heightened demand for more robust and immersive experiences. “They haven’t been able to travel for so long, so they are looking to splurge,” he said. “We’re so fortunate that across our entire portfolio, cruising and land, we are seeing demand like never before.”

Programs for 2023 are already selling briskly, and the company plans to soon open 2024 programs for booking. Since prices are not set yet, clients will be able to book and reserve space with a deposit. When prices are announced, they’ll have two weeks to either pay or cancel. Because of the problem of availability, the company recommends booking far in advance.

“We encourage advisors to have that conversation with their client, not only ‘Where do you want to go next year?’ but ‘Let’s really plan your future travel, so we can secure that space on the itineraries you are really dreaming of going on.’”

Tauck’s cruise programs are seen by the company as a good way to introduce its style of travel to people who are new to group travel.

“Clients who are on a cruise have to go with a group,” said Spivak, “So, a good way to introduce them to Tauck is through those bucket list cruise itineraries, Antarctica, or their Mediterranean cruise, or Iceland. A small ship cruise would appeal to those people, because it’s a much more immersive, intimate and exclusive experience. But once they see how Tauck travels, they get it.”

Tauck is seeing strong demand for its full range of destinations. Some travelers are still staying close to home with North American programs; but, the company is also seeing strong demand for its programs for Africa, the Middle East, Egypt, Israel, and Jordan. Tauck just put out a new cruise to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman called Portrait of Arabia, which is selling well. And the company is also re-introducing Japan, now that it’s open for travel again.

The Tauck Bubble

The central plank of all Tauck programs, cruise or land, is what they call “The Tauck Bubble.”

“It’s taking care of all the details,” he said. “It’s one up-front price, inclusive of everything; but more than that, it’s an exceptional destination experience, whether on land or on a cruise. We always start with the destination experience, and how can we make it exceptional. It gives people confidence that anywhere in the world we travel, ‘Tauck will always take care of me.’”

During the pandemic, when the company started operating in January, it saw that the client comment cards were responding with increased enthusiasm for the Tauck bubble.

“No matter where we’re traveling,” he said, “despite the fact that you’re traveling with other people, you feel this sense of security and peace, and freedom to really experience the destination because you are in the Tauck bubble. It’s not just a bubble in the sense of COVID protocols, but in the sense of: when you travel with Tauck, you’re never alone.”

The bubble is maintained by several levels of operations. “We have a great team of people back in Connecticut,” he said, “taking care of our guests, making sure that no matter where they are in the world they travel, they are safe. We have our team out in the field of great cruise directors and tour directors who are Tauck employees, with an average tenure of 15 years. We have our global response team ready to jump to action at a moment’s notice, should anything go wrong. We have our guest relations team making sure that if someone needs assistance, they are there to provide it. And then, of course, the like-minded travelers and our great partners around the world, our hotel partners, our destination partners and our cruise partners. Everyone within this ecosystem is equally committed to taking care of people, so they can enjoy these experience they have dreamed of for a lifetime. Even if people have traveled with us 25 times, which is not uncommon, they still have that same feeling of fulfilling a lifelong dream. And it never gets old for them. “

Now we are all two or three years older than when the lockdown first cut back our opportunities to travel. Time is wasting. No one lives forever. Our bucket lists are beckoning.

“Time is our most precious commodity,” said Steve. “People want to spend their money wisely, but they also need to spend their time wisely. And if they’re not getting the most out of their time, eventually they are not going to be able to spend their money.”


David Cogswell is a freelance writer working remotely, from wherever he is at the moment. Born at the dead center of the United States during the last century, he has been incessantly moving and exploring for decades. His articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Fox News, Luxury Travel magazine, Travel Weekly, Travel Market Report, Travel Agent Magazine,,, and other publications. He is the author of four books and a contributor to several others. He was last seen somewhere in the Northeast U.S.

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