The River Seine is the original Paris landmark. Without it, Paris itself may never have existed, at least not in the way we know it today.
A major artery for trade since at least the 3rd century, the power, and the allure of Paris was shaped in large measure, by this enthralling waterway. Stretching all the way to the English Channel, the Seine basin remains as vital as ever, captivating adventure seekers and romantic dreamers alike.
From the classic Pont Neuf and the dozens of other bridges that span it, to the iconic landmarks that sit beside it, Paris along the Seine is about as romantic and dreamy as Europe gets.
But the river’s flowing waters anoint more than just the banks of Paris. The winding waterway hugs some of the most beautiful scenery in all of France.
It’s no wonder then, that a Seine river cruise is one of the best ways to experience Paris and the French countryside.
The Australian cruise company, Scenic, offers one of the best experiences in the cruise industry – and not just on the Seine, but through the Bordeaux region in southern France, and down the Saône and Rhône rivers of eastern France.
For this trip though, I had the pleasure of sailing on the beautiful Scenic Gem, a 110 metre luxury ship that Scenic had purpose built for the Seine River. On this trip, we would depart Paris, making our way to the English Channel and the picturesque town of Honfleur.
Boarding Scenic Gem in Paris, I stepped into the bright and sophisticated reception area where I was offered a welcome-aboard cocktail and moist towel. After a brief chat with some fellow passengers, I registered at reception and was shown to my cabin – number 310 – a Balcony Suite.
With my bags already delivered, I started to unpack when my butler knocked on the door for an introduction and quick tour of the cabin. One thing Scenic does well, is provide guests with plenty of storage space – in every cabin category.
Large closets, a mini-bar which is stocked daily, a writing desk and comfy bed with a fluffy duvet, all made a great first impression.
The bathroom too offered plenty of space, with a huge shower and ample counter space. And to make the stay even more comfortable, there was a thick bathrobe for lounging around in.
One feature I liked was the lighting in the shower. Built into the shower head is mood lighting which gives the water a cool, sparkly glow. Choose your colour for ambiance as you relax with a warm shower after a day of seeing the sights.
Guests will also enjoy an array of complimentary L’Occitane bath and beauty products. This luxury French brand is the perfect way to relax and refresh.
Of course, in every suite category, you’ll find a balcony with a large viewing window that can be lowered with the push of a button. Close off the space from your suite with sliding doors and a curtain, or lower the window and bring the outdoors in as you enjoy the airy breeze and the passing French scenery.
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When it comes time to relax, Scenic provides every cabin with a large flat screen TV for the viewing of movies and news, as well as the ship-board camera with views out from the bow.
I found the Balcony Suite perfectly suited to my needs, but if you’re looking for even more luxury, and additional space, there are several higher cabin categories to choose from.
The Deluxe Balcony Suite offers 2sq metres more than the Balcony Suite I was booked in, for a total of 21sq metres of space. Next up is the larger Royal Balcony Suite with separate seating area and 28sq metres of living space.
Measuring a whopping 42sq meters, the Royal One-Bedroom Suite, is the ultimate accommodation space on Gem. Large panoramic windows, a full-sized bathroom with two sinks, a separate sitting and lounge space, and of course, a separate bedroom with a king sized bed, makes the Royal One-Bedroom Suite the perfect home for the duration of the cruise.
The most affordable cabin option is the Standard Stateroom, with 15sq metres of living space. These cabins do not have a balcony, but rather a long rectangular window situated just above the water line.
These cabins offer equal amounts of style and comfort, and while there won’t be a balcony or sliding glass window, the more affordable price is certainly attractive.
On Scenic Gem, the prime real-estate is on the Diamond Deck where most cabin categories are available (with the exception of the standard staterooms). The advantages that come with having a cabin on the upper Diamond Deck are numerous.
While the price may be a little higher than the Sapphire deck just below, Diamond Deck guests enjoy butler service, daily laundry service and special dinners at the chef’s Table la Rive.
Regardless of the deck you’re on, or the cabin you’re in, all food and beverages are included in the price of the cruise.
Other features onboard the Gem included a gym, a spa and hair salon that Scenic calls the Wellness Centre, and the River Cafe, where a delicious selection of sandwiches and deserts are available throughout the day.
My favourite feature on the Gem though would have to be the tea and coffee stations. Stocked with the finest teas (including of course, English Breakfast) and a constant supply of tasty bikkies, this was a frequent hangout of mine.
Coffee lovers too will appreciate the self-server coffee machine for their latte, flat white or cappuccino. Just steps away, the River Cafe offers a wide choice of sandwiches and desserts.
My Scenic experience on the Seine was a truly memorable one. With a luxurious fleet of ships, attentive service, drinks and gourmet food included in the price, Scenic does an excellent job in making every guest feel at home.
Of course, Scenic’s exceptional shore excursions are what make each journey especially memorable. Whether it’s Monet’s home and gardens, the picturesque French chateaus, or the hauntingly beautiful Normandy coastline, Scenic has a way of making each experience, a special one.
Sailing roundtrip from Paris, Scenic’s 11 day Normandy and Gems of the Seine trip offers enriching shore excursions in places like Rouen, Vernon, Les Andelys, Honfleur, Caudebec-en-Caux and Conflans.
Guests will enjoy guided city tours, daytrips to the Somme Battlefields and Normandy Landing Beaches, cycling tours, as well as Scenic’s exclusive Enrich and Sundowner events.
Fares include all on board meals and drinks, shore excursions, complimentary mini-bar, free Wi-Fi, butler service, airport transfers and all tips and gratuities.
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