Cruise ship tours: Tauck’s Inspire

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Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

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Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Inspire is the first of Tauck’s new Inspiration class of vessels that feature unusually large (for the industry) cabins and a high crew-to-passenger ratio. Here, the vessel’s main entrance.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Upon entering the Inspire, passengers encounter a lobby area that is at the center of the ship’s public areas and cabin decks.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Inspire’s lobby is home to a reception desk as well as a travel desk staffed by the ship’s cruise director.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

A grand staircase at the rear of the lobby leads to three cabin decks as well as the ship’s main dining room and other public areas.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

As is typical for river ships in Europe, the Inspire has one big, forward-facing lounge where passengers gather nightly for cocktails and entertainment.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Panorama Lounge also is home to nightly briefings where one of the ship’s three tour directors map out plans for the coming day.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Located near the front of the Panorama Lounge is a semi-circular bar.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

As on other Tauck vessels, all drinks including wine, beer and premium spirits are available at any time for no eX.tra charge — an unusually all-inclusive policy that sets Tauck apart from many other river ship operators.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Clusters of seats near the front of the Panarama Lounge offer panoramic views over the ship’s bow.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Panorama Lounge features live piano music nightly during cocktail hour and after dinner.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Just in front of the Panorama Lounge is a small outside deck area with built-in benches overlooking the ship’s bow.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

As is typical for river ships in Europe, the Inspire has one large main restaurant that can accommodate all 130 passengers on the ship at once.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Dubbed the Compass Rose, the Inspire’s main dining room is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It offers a miX. of table sizes and passengers can sit where and with whom they wish.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

A glass-walled wine cellar is located near the entrance to the Compass Rose.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

A second, smaller lounge area called Arthur’s is located at the back of the Inspire. It also doubles as a second eatery, serving an ‘early risers’ Continental breakfast and sit-down lunches and dinners.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Named after Tauck chairman Arthur Tauck, Jr., Arthur’s has a cafe-like setting and features its own dedicated kitchen.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Arthur’s also has a small bar that is staffed during mealtimes.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Coffee, tea and cookies are available in Arthur’s around-the-clock at a self-serve station.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Puzzles at the ready for Inspire passengers in Arthur’s.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The top deck of the Inspire features several seating areas including this one overlooking the bow of the vessel.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

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Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The captain of the Inspire navigates from a wheelhouse located near the front of the Sun Deck at the top of the vessel.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Just behind the wheelhouse is a seating area with glass partitions to keep out the breeze on windy days.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

More seating areas and lounge chairs are located toward the rear of the Inspire’s Sun Deck.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Sun Deck also offers a lounge area open to the sun.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Also on the top deck of the Inspire near the rear is a putting green.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Just behind the putting green on the Inspire’s Sun Deck is a small pool.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

One deck down from the dining room is a cluster of spa and fitness facilities that include a hair salon and a gym.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Inspire sails with a full-time hair stylist who works in the ship’s dedicated hair salon.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Inspire has a dedicated treatment room for massages located neX.t to the hair salon.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Across from the hair salon is a small fitness center with two treadmills, stationary bikes and free weights.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Inspire also has a sauna and steam bath located in a room neX.t to the fitness center.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The interior of the steam bath.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

A sauna is a relatively unusual feature for river ships in Europe, which are limited in size due to the dimensions of locks.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The interior of the Inspire’s wood-lined sauna.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Inspire sails with several bikes that can be checked out at no charge during port stops.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Inspire has a small library of books located in a nook near passenger cabins.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Among the notable features of the Inspire are cabins that are more spacious than those of almost any other river ship.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

A third of the Inspire’s 67 cabins are suites measuring 300 square feet that feature bedrooms and separate sitting areas.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Suites feature large bathrooms with walk-in showers.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Suites also have large walk-in closets with rows of shelving and areas for hanging clothes.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Inspire features seven categories of cabins in all, including this Category Four cabin that measures 190 square feet.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Category Four rooms have contemporary bathrooms with a single sink, toilet and walk-in shower.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The walk-in shower in a Category Four cabin.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Inspire has three cabin decks that each offer two rows of outward-facing cabins divided by long corridors.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Smaller than the Inspire’s 22 suites but still large by river ship standards are the ship’s 10 Category Five cabins, which measure 225 square feet.

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Category Five cabins have floor-to-ceiling French balconies with one sliding door that opens.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Category Five cabins feature a pillow top Queen-size bed that can be reconfigured as two twin beds. It measures 62 by 77 inches.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Category Five cabins have a sitting area with two chairs and a table.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Like other Inspire cabins, the ship’s Category Five rooms have stylish, contemporary bathrooms.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

A stairway leads down to the Emerald Deck, the lowest of Inspire’s three cabin decks.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Among the most innovative and unusual cabins in the river cruise business are the Inspire’s eight Category Three rooms found on the Emerald Deck, which offer a raised seating area neX.t to soaring windows.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Category Three rooms on the Inspire measure 225 square feet, which is unusually large for cabins on the lowest level of a river ship.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Carved out of space from the deck above, the raised seating area in Category Three rooms is filled with light from soaring one-and-a-half-deck-high windows that open at the top.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Category Three rooms feature large, contemporary bathrooms with walk-in showers.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

High-end touches in Inspire cabin bathrooms include Villeroy & Bach sinks.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Walk-in showers in Category Three rooms feature a rainfall shower head as well as a traditional, wall-mounted shower head.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Bathrooms on Tauck’s Inspire feature high-end Molton Brown toiletries.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Category Three cabins have built-in armoires along a wall near the bed.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The interior of the built-in armoire’s in Category Three cabins have room for hanging clothes and drawers.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Built-in drawers in Inspire cabins offer plenty of storage space.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

All of the Inspire’s cabins come with a miniature refrigerator stocked with complimentary water and soft drinks that is replenished daily.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Inspire cabins also have Nespresso espresso machines for passenger use. Coffee pods for the machines are complimentary and replenished daily.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Inspire cabins are wired with both U.S.-Style and European-style outlets.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Inspire cabins feature side tables neX.t to beds with iPhone docking stations.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Inspire passengers can open and close their cabin curtains from switches located neX.t to the bed.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

A control area on the wall of Inspire cabins lets passengers regulate the sound level of ship-wide announcements — or turn them off completely.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Portable VoX. audio systems located in each cabin allow passengers to listen to guides during shore eX.cursions.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Like a growing number of river ships, the Inspire has a key slot near the door that activates the rooms lights and television.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Inspire’s reception desk.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Bins of umbrellas near the Inspire’s reception desk are available for passenger use on rainy days.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Inspire offers a small store selling jewelry, scarves and other items, located in the lobby across from the reception desk.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Inspire has an elevator connecting all interior decks.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The interior of the Inspire’s elevator has room for several people at once.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

A relatively unusual feature of Tauck river cruises is the presence of Tauck buses that follow the ship from port to port for use during tours.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Inspire’s ceremonial bell noting its christening in 2014 is located at the front of the vessel just outside the Panorama Lounge.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

A second, larger ship’s bell is located on the Sun Deck.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Launched in 2014, the Inspire was built at the Vahali shipyard in Belgrade, Serbia.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

A map of Europe’s waterways is located in the Inspire’s lobby near the reception desk.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Inspire’s complimentary drinks menu includes a wide range of top-shelf brands including Glenlivet single-malt Scotch and Hennessy cognac.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Passengers who grow hungry between meals can order a snack to their rooms.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

Passengers enter the Inspire through entryways located on both sides of the vessel.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Inspire sails with its own eX.it ramp that it deploys in ports with a mechanical arm.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

The Inspire is one of two Inspiration class vessels that debuted at Tauck in 2014. Two more of the ships are due in 2016.

Gene Sloan, USA TODAY

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