Mention the word ‘cruise’ and river cruising may not be your first thought. Ocean cruising had long seduced me, but it was river cruising that stole my heart.
There is just something magical about a European river cruise. As we drifted down the Danube River on my first river cruise, it was soon apparent the lengths to which Scenic goes to ensure every passenger is looked after.
Onboard Scenic’s newest space-ship, Scenic Amber, we were treated to a slow-moving landscape painting of vineyards, castle ruins and quaint villages lining the river banks.
Any river cruise with Scenic is a special treat. Here are just ten reasons why you will love cruising with this iconic Australian cruise company.
1. All-Inclusive, that is truly all-inclusive
When boarding your luxurious Scenic space-ship, your credit card is not required. After we checked in, our butler Zoltan escorted us to our Royal Balcony Suite, located mid-ship. Zoltan walked us through the room and its amenities, and explained the inclusions of our holiday ahead. Meals, beverages, tours, gratuities, butler services; even laundry was included in our class of suite. Enjoy a martini by the piano, explore centuries-old castles and ruins, experience a private concert in a Viennese Palace – all without any additional expense.
2. Exquisite 5-Star dining
As with all cruises, food is an important part of the experience. Local seasonal fare is used wherever possible and during select port days, you can follow the chefs as they walk through the small villages and farms in search of the freshest ingredients to feature on that evening’s menu. Just remember to pack your stretchy pants!
Breakfast is buffet style but not as you know it. A selection of European favourites such as smoked salmon, meats and cheeses are featured alongside the traditional breakfast fares of yogurt, cereal and pastries. An a-la-carte menu for hot dishes cooked to order is available with table service.
Lunch is generally included if you choose a land tour. If you prefer to not disembark the ship, lunch is served from the main Crystal dining room, similar to breakfast with a selection of buffet items or dishes cooked to order from the menu.
Dinner is a gastronomic delight. Sumptuous three-course menus that change daily, with dishes that highlight the local produce from surrounding villages and towns. Mouth-watering steaks, fresh lobster tails, exquisite desserts and dishes that resemble a work-of-art on your plate. Each guest during the voyage will also enjoy a specialty Italian dining experience and other private dining events throughout the cruise.
3. Tailormade GPS devices
This small device gently drapes around your neck and is filled with information and commentary. If taking part in a guided tour while in port, your small ear-piece is electronically plugged into your tour guide for easy listening, eliminating the traditional shouting of commentary.
If you prefer to explore the streets at your own pace, the Tailormade device doubles as a GPS locator. Simply plug your ear-piece in and when you are walking past a site of interest, the Tailormade will automatically start commentary, making for a self-guided tour experience.
If you prefer, simply tap on a designated location and learn about the destination on demand. I found the Tailormade a truly unique and interesting way to explore a city by group, or as an individual.
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4. Free Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi is provided throughout the ship and is free to all guests, although there are Wi-Fi dark-spots along the rivers. Tune into your cabin’s TV or check the public area screens around the ship for your present location, upcoming dark spots and the current signal strength.
5. Power-assisted bikes
If your first thought is to say no to the 33-kilometre bike ride between Melk and Durnstein, then this may change your mind. These motorised bikes are power-assisted to help with peddling. Simply start to pedal, select your speed and tackle those inclines with ease.
Bicycles are made available at each stop for self-guided tours. Don’t forget your Tailormade device to not only hear commentary, but be guided by the built-in GPS system.
6. Butler service
Would you like a tea and toast wake-up call in the morning? Need to do laundry? How about having a bath drawn or a meal delivered direct to your cabin? Scenic provides a 24-hour butler service for all guests, in all room categories. Each butler has been trained to the high standards of the International Butler Academy.
7. Daily mini-bar
Pour a glass of wine from one of the bottles found in your room while you relax on your balcony, watching the world drift by. But don’t worry about your consumption, the mini-bar is replenished daily with soft drinks, wine, bottles of still and sparkling water, spirits and snacks. Of course if you need anything additional, simply dial your butler.
8. Free Choice excursions
One of the hardest choices you will need to make on your holiday will be the tour selection. Each port of call offers a selection of tours to choose from which are rated active, moderate and relaxed. All tours are included in your fare and have been thoughtfully designed with even the smallest of detail covered.
Explore a nearby medieval village or town, take part in a guided tour, or go on a bike ride through the picturesque European countryside. Each day brings new and exciting tour options.
9. Scenic Enrich program
As Scenic likes to say, these are ‘money can’t buy experiences’. Each Enrich option is an all-inclusive tour designed to highlight the destination. The ‘Best of Sound of Music and Salzburg Show‘ is set in the rolling hills of Salzburg, Austria, and includes an authentic Austrian meal with a big brass band, catchy show tunes and entertainers.
Another option is the private concert inside Vienna’s opulent Liechtenstein Palace, featuring Austrian classical music, sopranos and professional Waltzers. All served with complimentary champagne and available to Scenic passengers only.
10. Nth Degree
While I had heard of the Scenic Nth Degree previously, I had never fully appreciated its meaning. With every guest needs anticipated, by the end of the cruise you are guaranteed to be on a personal name basis with each and every crew member.
With meticulous planning, exclusive inclusions and luxury and comfort always front of mind, Scenic lived up to – actually exceeded – its Nth Degree promise.
From the wallet-free zone, Tailormade tours, friendly tour guides with local expertise, and luxury coaches and transport, the Scenic Nth Degree must be experienced to be truly appreciated.
SCENIC CRUISES YOU’LL LOVE …