TUI Skyla is one of a trio of vessels marking the tour operator's debut into the world of river cruising. The 152-passenger ship -- along with sister ships TUI Maya and TUI Isla -- have been acquired from German river cruise operators Werner-Tours and Reiseburo Mittelthurgau Fluss and will be refitted, renamed and relaunched in 2020.
The ship will sail under the brand TUI River Cruises and offer adults-only itineraries on the Danube. Aimed mainly at British travellers familiar with TUI package holidays and reflecting the ocean itineraries run by sister company Marella Cruises, tips, flights, 20kg luggage allowance, transfers and Wi-Fi (1GB per cabin, per week) will be included in the fare.
All cruises are sold on a Full Board Plus basis, with meals and drinks at mealtimes included in the price. There is an optional excursion programme which allows passengers to do as much, or as little, as they want. Although shore tours are not included in the fare, passengers will receive a £120 credit towards trips.
TUI Skyla has two dining venues. Verdastro is the main restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast and lunch are both buffets and dinner is a served a la carte meal. Dining is on an open seating basis with tables for two, four and six. The Bistro is an intimate area behind Verdastro at the aft of the ship. It is also open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers buffet and a la carte options. Passengers can also eat at the tables and chairs set out on the sun deck and in fine weather this area is also used for barbecues.
TUI Skyla has five cabin categories, including -- unusually for river ships -- single cabins including one with a French balcony. Standard cabins, located on the lower deck, measure 129 square feet and have fixed double beds and portholes. Similar standard cabins are also located on the middle deck and have a full-size window. The one single cabin one the lower deck is also 129 square feet the same size and has a single bed plus a desk and armchair. Superior double cabins on the same deck measure 161 square feet and have a king-size bed, which can be converted into two singles, along with a desk and a lounge chair.
French Balcony cabins are situated on the middle and upper decks. They are all identical and measure 129 square feet. They have floor-to-ceiling windows that open, fixed double beds and a desk. A French Balcony cabin for single occupancy is located on the middle deck and is the same size, with the addition of a desk and chair. Superior French Balcony cabins are also located on the middle and upper deck and these measure 161 square feet and can be configured as double or twins and also have a desk and chair.
The largest staterooms are the French Balcony Suites on the middle and upper decks which can be doubles or twins. These measure in at 258 square feet and have larger bathrooms, a dressing area, sofa, coffee table and desk. All cabins come with an ensuite bathroom, air conditioning, a hair dryer, a flat-screen TV and a safe.
With a herb garden and relaxation area with loungers, the sun deck is an attractive area and also has room for a barbecue on sunny days plus an area for exercise classes such as yoga and Pilates.
Public areas include the Observatory, the main lounge bar on the upper deck, which has panoramic windows and leads to an outdoor terrace. At night the Observatory hosts entertainment, ranging from musicians to specialist acts such as comedians. A cosy Club Lounge, with a digital fireplace, is situated on the same deck.
There are no facilities for families as TUI River Cruises is an adults-only line.
TUI Skyla sails on seven-night cruises on the Danube.
Other facilities on the ship include a 24-hour reception, library, shop and wellness area.