Scenic Tours Ships
OnboardScenic Tours Europe river cruises are nearly all-inclusive trips, with fares covering meals, gratuities and shore excursions. And beginning in 2013, the line will add unlimited drinks (including those from the mini-bar) and butler service for all guests. Additionally, bicycles are provided for use between certain points on the rivers.
It calls its series of vessels "space ships" to emphasize a higher-than-usual space ratio. Offering an upscale river cruise experience in contemporary surroundings (think W Hotels crossed with a nice chain hotel), a cruise on Scenic is otherwise quite traditional in terms of dining, entertainment and shore adventures.
Evening meals are served in three open-seating dining venues: the main dining room, an Italian alternative restaurant, Portobello's, and, occasionally, the sun deck. A new dining option has also been added for 2013: Table la Rive is comprised of a six-course tasting menu served with wine pairing. All menu selections include regional cuisine. Also added in 2013, the River Café serves savoury and sweet nibbles from breakfast until dinner, including wraps, sandwiches, fish and chips and patisserie, gelati (Italian ice cream) and the occasional high tea on the terrace. A Starbucks-like coffee bar and snack area -- the first we've ever seen on a riverboat -- in the midst of the otherwise-traditional lounge and bar offers all-day casual fare for those who miss the regularly scheduled mealtimes. As mentioned, all drinks will be included on the cruise.
Each of Scenic Tours' ships has two lounges. Panorama Lounge and Bar offers after-dinner music and dancing. Many evenings, Scenic Tours brings aboard performers who showcase some element of local culture. Entertainment may include a gypsy troupe, a classical musical recital or a group of traditional Bavarian performers. The Observation Lounge is an open-air teak deck at the bow of the ship, one of three outdoor viewing areas onboard.
More than 80 percent of cabins have true balconies with seating for two -- as opposed to the glorified windows ("French balconies") found on most other Europe-based riverboats. All accommodations have flat-screen television, bathrobes and slippers. Its bathrooms, larger than average in most cabin categories, have fun lighting: you can choose colors of shower lights.
Scenic Crystal, the fleet's sixth ship, debuted in 2012 and offers some tweaks to its design class. It introduces the line's "Sun Lounge" concept -- in essence a retractable glass roof -- on all of the ship's balcony cabins, which allows passengers to enjoy a conservatory-like atmosphere during inclement weather. And the line has plans to retrofit all of its ships (with the exception of Emerald) to include sun lounges.
English-speaking local guides lead shore excursions, included in fares, and headsets allow passengers to hear the commentary. Excursion options are broken down into three categories, ScenicEnrich, which focuses on cultural experiences (live classical music and ballet performances in a Viennese Palace, for instance), ScenicFreeTime (self-guided audio tours) and ScenicFreeChoice (multiple tour options in a single port).
About Scenic ToursFounded in 1987 by Australian Glen Moroney, Scenic Tours began by offering coach trips to the Australian coast for Melbourne residents. Over the last 25 years, the Australia-based company has grown to include theater and special event tours before it expanded to Norfolk Island, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, South Africa and China.
In 2007, Scenic Tours opened offices in United Kingdom and Canada, expanding its offerings beyond its core passenger base. It has since opened its first U.S. office.
The company's inaugural river cruise season followed in 2008 with the launch of its first riverboat, Scenic Sapphire. The river cruise division has enjoyed rapid growth, and today Scenic Tours operates six nearly identical river ships, with a seventh sister, Scenic Jewel, launching in 2013.
A seventh ship, the Russia-based Scenic Tsar, also debuted in 2012. This ship, with only 112 passengers, is not part of the "space ship" series of vessels but was significantly updated and refurbished before its launch.
Scenic Tours FleetBy 2013, Scenic Tours Cruises will have a fleet of seven 169-passenger, Europe-based ships, all with 84 outside cabins. In early 2013, Scenic Jewel will join the fleet that includes Scenic Crystal (2012), Scenic Pearl (2011), Scenic Diamond (2009), Scenic Ruby (2009), Scenic Emerald (2008) and Scenic Sapphire (2008). In 2012, the line added its first Russia-based riverboat, Scenic Tsar.
Fellow PassengersScenic Tours Cruises attracts a well-traveled, somewhat affluent crowd of passengers aged 50 and up. Passengers tend to enjoy socializing, and are largely English-speaking North Americans, Europeans and Australians. According to the line, the longer itineraries feature a majority of Australian passengers where the short itineraries feature a majority of British and North Americans.
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