Advantages Of Sailing On a Tauck “Small Ship Cruise”

Tauck Small Ship Cruises
**Click/Tap Image to expand** Above is an example of a “Small Ship Cruise” that Tauck either partially charters or fully charters for their Ocean Cruises… that Ship is with “Ponant” who averages 200 guests per ship so MUCH smaller than your average Cruise ship!

As I’ve booked over 60 million dollars worth of Cruises over the years I have 1,000s & 1,000s of clients… and most times when I talk to/make recommendations to my clients about Ocean Cruise lines like Regent, Seabourn, Silversea, Oceania, Viking Ocean Cruises, Celebrity, Princess, etc. they’re heard of these lines since most of them market/advertise a lot or they’ve had family/friends who have sailed on them, etc.


But often when I mention to my clients about a Tauck “Ocean Cruise” option, they say they didn’t even know Tauck offered Ocean Cruises… same with Tauck’s River Cruises… as I talk about here, Tauck’s River Cruises in Europe are pretty much the top-rated River Cruises you can experience in Europe and more of my clients do River Cruises in Europe on Tauck then any other line but when I first bring them up many of my clients didn’t even realize Tauck offered this option in Europe.


As Tauck has been around for almost 100 years now (they started in 1925) many of my clients know Tauck offers Land Tours as that’s what they sold when their company started/it’s what they only sold for decades and Land Tours is what they’re mostly known for but they didn’t realize they sold River Cruises & Ocean Cruises too. (FYI, as I talk about here, I only sell Tauck when it comes to Land Tours as, in my experience, their quality far exceeds the other options out there!)


So, in this post, I’m going to talk about what it’s like to sail on a Tauck “Small Ship Cruise” to help you see if for some of your future Cruises it makes sense to sail with Tauck over say a Regent, Seabourn, Oceania, Viking Ocean Cruises, etc. (As you’ll see here I’ve personally been on 80 Cruises/have sailed on almost every size of Cruise ship in the World/on all major lines… including a couple of times on Tauck “Small Ship Cruises”… so I can give you “real-life” comparisons, not just what the brochures say) 


Hands down, the #1 reason why I’d say you may want to consider a “Small Ship Cruise” Ocean Cruise with Tauck is that they “do the land better than anyone”!

What I mean by that is, when it comes to the destination you’re visiting, Tauck is going to show you that area better than anyone else… which for most of my clients is SUPER important since that’s why they’re traveling in the first place… to see & learn about a new destination.


After traveling with Tauck 7 times now on their Land Tours/River Cruises/Ocean Cruises I can definitely say no other travel company (Cruiseline or Land Tour Company) has shown me a destination better than Tauck does… and every time they’re super consistent when it comes to the quality of the day tours/shore excursions they include whether on an Ocean Cruise, River Cruise or Land Tour!


Gondola Ride in Venice with Tauck
**Click/Tap Image to expand** As mentioned in the paragraphs to the left, Tauck includes everything you want to see & experience when you visit a destination… for my first time in Venice with a River Cruise company who claims to be “All-Inclusive”, they didn’t include a Gondola Ride whereas Tauck did… and doesn’t everyone want to experience a Gondola ride when in Venice!! 😉

There are a couple of main reasons why I find the quality of how Tauck shows you a destination is second to none compared to other Cruise options out there:

  1. They include EVERYTHING you need to see & want to see when you go to a new destination!

Yes, there are Cruiselines out there who include some shore excursions in their up-front price BUT they don’t include everything you truly want to experience.

For example, Viking Ocean Cruises only includes 1 shore excursion in each port and there’s no choice when it comes to what excursion you get included in your price… it’s typically a VERY basic excursion/often a quick “Panoramic” bus ride in many places. Looking at a city like Reykjavik which I just visited when in Iceland with Tauck last month, Viking’s included excursion is “Panoramic Reykjavik” which is a basic overview of Iceland’s Capital City. As much as I thought Reykjavik was a nice city, it’s NOT the highlight of going to Iceland… I didn’t fly 1,000s of miles to see another big city! The highest-rated tour from Reykjavik/the main thing everyone does who takes a tour in Reykjavik is they do the “Golden Circle” Tour which takes them to Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Hot Spring & Gullfoss Waterfall as I did here with Tauck. (Make sure to check out the captions under the pics & videos in that Gallery as I write lots of details about what I saw & experienced!) But, to do that with Viking, you have to pay more on top of what you paid for your Cruise which means you’re not even using the tour you paid for already in the price of your Cruise. 🙁 

Then there’s Silversea… yes, they include more tours than Viking (Let’s say a port has 12 tour options, then probably 6 of those are included in your price so much more choices) but some of their best tours/the ones you really want are the additional cost ones, plus, if you want to do a tour in the morning and one in the afternoon you have to pay for the second one… they only include 1 per port. 

Someone like Regent is a bit better in that regards as they’ll allow you to do a tour in the morning and in the afternoon/evening, etc. but, like with Silversea, only some of their tours are included in your price/some of the ones you really want to do are extra money… we’re talking $100s per person!

And, in my experience (I’ve seen it again & again) many people choose to not buy additional priced excursions and they go with the included ones (since they’ve already paid for them/it’s actually the logical thing to do) so they don’t end up seeing everything they wanted to.

On the other hand, with Tauck, there are no “optional” excursions with an additional price involved… whether you’re visiting Iceland, The Great Lakes, Canada & New England, Norway, Alaska, Antarctica, The Galapagos, The Greek Isles, Dubai/The UAE, Scotland, Japan, Venice & Croatia, The Panama Canal, The Mediterranean, etc…. on a Tauck Ocean Cruise they include ALL the highlights/excursions in your upfront price so you see everything you came to see… so no having to “hem & haw” over whether to pay for additional shore excursions on top of what you paid for the Cruise… you get to experience the tours you really wanted to in the first place!

So, with Tauck, everyone gets a super high-quality experience when it comes to visiting the destination they came to see since all the tours are included/no one is simply getting off the ship for a few hours & looking around the port area just to say they visited somewhere!


2. The second reason why Tauck does the “land better than anyone” is because You get much more attention during an Ocean Cruise with Tauck!

If you go on an Ocean Cruise with Regent, Seabourn, Oceania, Viking Ocean Cruises, etc. you’ll notice they have their onboard staff to run the ship and a few people working at their “Shore Excursions” desk to book shore tours for you onboard, to make changes, deal with issues, etc. BUT none of those people get off the ship with you to make sure you have a GREAT experience in the destination you’re going to visit.

Sure, now & then you’ll have a Cruiseline employee who’s enjoying a day off end up on your tour to “take it all in” as you are doing but they’re not there to make sure things go smoothly, to answer your questions, etc. 

Which means, no one from the Cruiseline is on tour with you to “Quality-Control” your tour and make sure the guide is doing their job, everything is running on time, if there are issues they get fixed immediately, etc.

And, in my immense experience of taking 100s of shore excursions, this makes a BIG difference as, no matter the line/how much you paid for your trip Shore Excursions can be VERY inconsistent from port to port. (I’ve seen this happen on both some of the cheapest lines in the World & the most expensive ones… paying more for your Cruise doesn’t guarantee you Great shore excursions if no one from the Cruiseline is making sure they run well!) 

Yes, I’ve been on MANY/MANY shore excursions with Cruiselines that went great, showed me what I came to see, the guide was great, etc. BUT (and again on every “Level” of Cruiseline… the cheapest & most expensive ones) I’ve also experienced some absolutely terrible tours as well! 🙁

I’ve had guides sitting in the front of the bus/playing on their cell phone & not saying a word of commentary so we learned nothing about what we were seeing… I’ve had guides who really had trouble with speaking English/it was truly hard to understand what they were saying so we weren’t able to grasp what they were telling us about the destination… I’ve had guides who didn’t pay attention to time at all/we ended up missing components of our tour as we had to get back to the ship… guides who didn’t “read the crowd” at all & either walked way too fast/way too slow for our group which made it tough for many of the participants… I’ve seen tours that were nothing more than trying to get you into store after store to shop so the guide could get “kickbacks” from the store… and on & on & on… I’ve seen a lot of things go wrong. 🙁

If you want to hear more examples of this, the next time you’re on any Cruise simply hang out by the shore excursion desk as tours start returning to the ship and I can GUARANTEE you’ll find some guests at the desk/complaining how their tour wasn’t what they expected, sharing their disappointment after they flew so far for the experience, etc. 


But on Tauck, literally, not once have I ever experienced a “bad” tour!


Why is that?

Well, on Tauck (whether on an Ocean Cruise, River Cruise or Land Tour) they never “send you off” with the local guides “hoping for the best”!

Instead, on all their Cruises they have a “Tauck Director” (A VERY well-trained Tauck employee, most of the ones I’ve met have been with them for at least 5-10+ years) for about every 25-30 guests onboard… on my last Tauck Cruise in Iceland for example there were 139 guests onboard & 6 “Tauck Directors”… here’s a pic of me & our Cruise’s “Tauck Team” during my Iceland Cruise.

Shawn with the 6 Tauck Directors on his Iceland Cruise
**Click/Tap Image to expand**

And on my 1st Tauck Ocean Cruise in “Venice & The Dalmatian Coast”, since there were more guests onboard, they had 7 “Tauck Directors” on that one!

**Click/Tap Image to expand**


So, how it works with Tauck, is one of these “Tauck Directors” is their main person/their “head honcho” for that sailing and they stay onboard, they make sure all tours are arranged each day, they help the guests make needed changes with their tours, they liaison with the ship in all other areas when it comes to Tauck’s guests onboard (Keep in mind, Tauck doesn’t own any of their own Ocean Cruise Ships, they “charter” space on companies like Ponant, Silversea, Windstar, etc. where sometimes it’s a “partial” charter/they just book up some of the rooms for their guests or, like on my 2 sailings with them, they chartered the whole ship), they keep us guests up to date daily whether through in-person briefings or through info sent to our rooms, etc., etc.

But the remaining “Tauck Directors” head off to participate in and “Supervise” all the tours that their guests are experiencing each day… so, not only does each tour/bus have a local guide leading them but a “Tauck Director” is onboard too to give additional info, to make sure everything runs smoothly, to help you have fun, to keep things on time, to answer questions for guests, etc. 

So, due to that, how many local guides with Tauck’s Cruises do you think sit up front & play on their phone while the “Tauck Director” is there watching them… none of course! 😉 

And because these local companies know Tauck has someone on their tour keeping an eye on them they always send their best guides to Tauck’s Tours, guides who speak great English, they know everything inside out about the destination, etc.

And don’t worry, even though it sounds like a “Big Brother” kind of thing with Tauck there overlooking everything, it’s all Very Friendly, the “Tauck Directors” and local guides get to know each other well due to repeat trips/they work together multiple times, they get along great, their chemistry/the knowledge between them both makes for great tours, everything runs smoothly, etc.

And FYI, back on the ship all these “Tauck Directors” are available to guests to ask questions, to talk about your destination, to talk about travel in general & life in general, to enjoy meals with, etc. By the end of your trip some of them will truly feel like new lifelong friends/those who share your love of travel! 🙂 


Whether it’s leading a bike ride, helping solo travelers mingle, sharing their “secret” favorite places during a land tour, helping you find a lost item, accompanying guests on a morning walk, etc. Tauck’s multiple “Director Level” Staff make the difference between an enjoyable trip & a memorable one!


And one last thing about Tauck’s excursions… as Tauck is an almost 100-year-old company (started in 1925) they have A LOT of great relationships with local companies around the World so at times they can offer exclusive tours that no one else can… after-hours access in the Sistine Chapel, at the Louvre, access to private Castles/Baroque Libraries that you can’t even pay money to get in to, I’ve been to Private Clubs with them, have experienced Private Horse Shows, have been serenaded by the top tenors at Opera Houses during “off hours”, etc.

Pretty much every Tauck itinerary has at least 1 or 2 of these unique events that you’ll never find anywhere else! 


Overall, Tauck offers exclusive travel experiences ashore that take you to the heart and soul of the world’s most amazing destinations… at times you’ll experience uncommon access that gets right to the heart and soul of a destination… and because all but 1 of the Cruise ships they use is super small, with Tauck you’ll sail to some of the world’s most beautiful ports of call as you seek out hidden harbors and island getaways where big ships don’t go! 


I know this may be all hard to grasp with me explaining it through a post like this but I promise you the next time you take a non-Tauck Cruise & notice there are multiple excursions not included in your price/they come with an additional hefty charge and you see there’s only 1 local guide/not from the Cruiseline once you’re on your tours… and then you try a Tauck Cruise and see all tours are included in your price/you have multiple “Tauck Directors” who are always with you… you’ll then truly appreciate the difference/see how much better the tours are and you’ll have a tough time finding a Tauck Shore Excursion that doesn’t go exactly as planned/doesn’t give you the experience that you traveled so far to enjoy!!


Little things like this add tremendous value to your overall experience when you visit a new destination which is why Tauck has a huge/huge repeat clientele and which is why even if you thought one of their trips may have looked a little “pricey” compared to other options when you first booked it, 1/2 way through your trip with Tauck you’ll be feeling like you got Great Value out of your trip as everything goes super smoothly/just how you imagined it!


One of Tauck’s slogans is “How You See The World Matters!” and this is just one small example of how Tauck does things differently.



Above I mentioned how it doesn’t take long into a Tauck trip when you start realizing you’re getting GREAT value for the price you paid compared to the exprience you’re receiving back… even though some of Tauck’s trips look very pricey to someone who hasn’t traveled with Tauck before, again & again during my 7 trips with Tauck I heard people talking about how great a value their trip is, how they never could have done as much & seen as much on their own for so little money, etc.


For Tauck Page
**Click/Tap Image to expand** When on a Tauck “Small Ship” Ocean Cruise you won’t be needing to be pulling out your wallet constantly as you will with most Cruiselines!

A big reason why Tauck’s “Small Ship Cruises” offer such Great value is that they include pretty much everything in your upfront price so NO nickel & diming at all during your trip… what you pay upfront for a Tauck Ocean Cruise is about as close to paying for every expense that you can have during your trip that I’ve seen compared to every other Cruiseline I’ve sailed with… here are some of the items Tauck includes in their prices:

  1. Airport transfers… Yes, many companies (Regent, Silversea, Oceania, Viking Ocean Cruises, etc.) will include airport transfers in their prices but ONLY if you buy their airfare… as I talk about here though buying airfare through a Cruiseline/Tauck is rarely a good idea! Virtually none of my clients who travel with Tauck book their airfare through Tauck BUT Tauck still includes airport transfers in their prices. As long as you’re staying at the hotel Tauck is using for their pre-Cruise stay (and you don’t even need to book the hotel through Tauck) they’ll pick you up at the airport (or Train Station… no other company offers train station pickups that I know of!) and bring you to their hotel… and these transfers are almost always small groups. Unlike other companies, they don’t make you sit around for 1-2hrs at the airport to “load up” a motorcoach… out of my 7 trips with Tauck I’ve had a private transfer for 6 of them/the other I had 2 more couples in my Van so their transfers are always nice & small. And same on the back-end, Tauck will bring you back to the airport after your Cruise for your flight home whether you booked airfare with them or not!

2. Pre-Hotel stay… as the majority of Tauck’s trips have a Welcome Reception & Dinner on the date your trip starts you always want to arrive at least 1 day early on a Tauck trip as if not & you arrive late you’ll miss that really nice event/even if you’re on time you’ll be too tired to enjoy it after flying overnight. But, if you’re a past guest with Tauck and book early enough (And all of Tauck’s loyal clients are used to this/they always book their Tauck trips 1-1.5 years in advance to get this promo and also because Tauck’s trips sell out way earlier than most other travel suppliers) you’ll get a FREE hotel night pre-Cruisea GREAT perk! This year for example you had to book by July 31st, 2023 to get a Free night on any 2024 trip and from now till around the same time in 2024 if you book a 2025 trip you’ll get a FREE night & so on. AND, if you’re a new guest to Tauck, no worries, I can get you a FREE pre-Cruise Hotel Night since I do A LOT of business with them! So, book early & you’ll have an extra hotel night included in your trip too and some of these are a BIG savings… as Tauck always makes sure the hotels they use are in excellent locations I’ve seen hotel nights in Venice pricing at $900 per night, in Tokyo $800 per night, etc. so it’s not an insignificant savings!!

3. Gratuities… this is always a biggie for a lot of people, worrying about who they need to tip! Most Cruiselines don’t include any tips in their prices/onboard they charge you between $16-$23 per person per day for tips for their staff… on a 2+ week cruise that can be a huge extra expense… we’re talking $500-$600+ extra per couple & then you need to tip tour guides, bartenders onboard who serve you drinks, bellhops at pre-hotels, motor coach drivers, etc., etc. But not with Tauck, on an Ocean Cruise with them they literally include the tips for EVERYONE in your upfront price… the stress of who you need to tip/in what currency, etc. total goes away on a Tauck Ocean Cruise!

4. Shore Excursions… as I mentioned earlier in this post, even companies who tell you they “Include Everything in their prices” like Regent & Silversea, they still have “extra” excursions they charge for but not Tauck… if you’re going to a destination & there’s a site you need to see/an event you should exprience, Tauck includes it… simple as that!

5. WIFI… whether you’re in a hotel before or after a Tauck Cruise or onboard one of the ships they’re chartering, they always include WIFI… most “high-end” Cruiselines include that too (many big ship lines still don’t, it can be $20-$30+ per day for WIFI on them) but some still only give you one login per room… with Tauck, every guest gets a login and when I was on Ponant with them last month they even gave me a second login so I could use 2 devices at once as they said since Tauck are such good clients of theirs it’s no big deal! 🙂

6. Drinks… the most expensive Cruiselines out there like Regent/Seabourn/Silversea include all drinks onboard (except for the highest-end alcohol) but lines like Oceania & Viking Ocean Cruises only include limited drinks at meals (and the big ships include very little unless you buy a “package”) so you’ll have extra drink expense on the majority of Cruiselines. But again, with Tauck, they include drinks when you sail with them on an Ocean Cruise… like Regent/Seabourn/Silversea the highest-end alcohol will be extra but as they include some great drinks in their prices few people will ever need to spend more… I certainly haven’t on my Tauck Cruises. As you’ll see here when I sailed with them a few weeks ago on Ponant “Veuve Clicquot” Champagne was even included on “Tauck’s” drink menu (for those booking direct with Ponant though, it’s not included for them! ;-)) so it doesn’t get much better than that! 🙂


Okay, I think I “included” everything that Tauck includes in their prices but feel free to “audit” what I said Vs. what Tauck lists here! 😉  


The bottom line is, if you’re the type of person who likes to have a truly worry-free vacation by getting the money issues out of the way up front when you book, so you can enjoy a nickel-and-dime free vacation, then a Tauck “Small Ship cruise” could be a great fit for you!



Alright, hopefully this post gave you a good “feel” for some of the differences of what taking a Tauck “Small Ship Cruise” is like… the main ones being a better shore excursion/”Land” exprience than what most other companies offer and you get to experience a TRULY “All-Inclusive”/not being “Nickeled & Dimed” Vacation!!


“Shawn, this all sounds great but are there any downfalls to an Ocean cruise with Tauck?”


It depends on what’s most important to you, so let me point out the “potential” downfalls of a Tauck “Small Ship Cruise” & you can decide if they’re downfalls for you or not! 😉

  1. Room sizes… the majority of Tauck’s “Small Ship Cruises” are on Ponant, I’d say around 80% of them… and the majority of rooms on Ponant’s ships are Balcony Staterooms around 200 square feet like this. So, if you want a bigger room like you can get on Regent/Seabourn/Oceania, etc. it’s tough to get them on a Ponant ship as the biggest they get is around 500 square feet and because there are literally only a few of them onboard you pretty much need to book the day a Cruise is released/around 2 years in advance. Tauck also uses some Windstar ships where most of the rooms are on the smaller side as well. With that said, they use some Silversea ships too where the rooms start at around 350 square feet so not all the ships they use have rooms on the smaller side. Either way, if the destination is more important to you than the size of your room onboard Tauck can work for you but if you need a bigger room onboard, whether Tauck is a good fit or not, all comes down to how early you book/if you can get a bigger room.

2. Food choices… if you love having multiple food choices/restaurants on a ship like on Regent, Oceania, etc. then a Tauck Ocean Cruise may not be the best fit for you… again though, depending on the ship. The Ponant ships & some of the Windstar ships only have 1 main restaurant so, like on a River Cruise, all your meals will be in the same place. With that said, as I talk about in the caption under this pic, the food quality is still excellent but you won’t have the variety of going to a Steakhouse one night, an Asian place the next, an Italian the next, etc. With that said, as I talk about in the caption under this picture from my last Silversea Cruise, food/restaurant choices were MANY on that ship so, if on Silversea with Tauck, you’ll have a lot of choices. Again though, if the destination is more important to you then how many restaurants are onboard/Tauck can work for you but if you need that bigger ship variety when it comes to food, maybe only consider a Silversea ship with Tauck… not a Ponant or Windstar Ship.


So there you have it, some distinct advantages & reasons to consider a Tauck “Small Ship Cruise” for your next epic trip… if you want to travel with a company…

  • whose goal is to transform guest’s lives & help them have a deeper connection with the destination & memorable experiences & not just a “collection” of places they visited
  • whose clientele are people who are looking for meaningful Worldwide experiences with likeminded travelers who they have natural camaraderie with and are knowledge seekers & life-long learners… they’re not those who simply wanted the best price
  • where NOBODY pays less than their fellow travel companions for the same room as they have integrity in the way they price and NEVER offer 2for1s, 50% off, free air, etc. as they price it fairly from day 1
  • whose clientele are people who want high quality & don’t want to be disappointed after traveling so far to experience a new destination

…then Email Me Here or Call me at 1-800-219-7477 and I’ll help you get your Dream “Tauck Small Ship Cruise” Vacation turned into a Reality!


Need more details?

If so, you can check out my “Iceland” Small Ship Cruise I did with Tauck here and you can check out my “Venice & The Dalmatian Coast” Small Ship Cruise I did with Tauck here

FYI, under the pictures & videos in those galleries I write some Very detailed captions to help you get a good “feel” of what it’s like to take a Tauck “Small Ship Cruise”!


I Appreciate You!!

Shawn Power
Your Trusted Cruise & Tauck Tour Expert!