By Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor, Features; updated by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
Scenic Crystal, launched in 2012, is one of Scenic Cruises' (Scenic Tours in the U.K. and Australia) popular “space ships.” If you're an American, you might wonder why you've never heard of this luxury river line. It's because its Australian parent company has not marketed to Americans until recently. European menu (items like fish and muesli at breakfast and a wide selection of cheese offered at every meal, for example).
Now a staple of Scenic's stable, the “space ship” class nods to a design
that offers plentiful public and cabin space – among the highest passenger space ratio in the industry. Standout features include the "Sun Lounge" balconies, which simultaneously make cabins feel large and airy and make the balcony space usable in fair and inclement weather; multiple dining options teased out of just two main public areas (the restaurant and the lounge); and a spa and fitness center -- small but certainly not standard on all river ships.
And the luxurious amenities can't be overlooked: Scenic is one of the most all-inclusive river lines. All meals, all drinks (minus the highest-end liquors and French Champagne), excursions, Internet and butler service in all cabins are included in the fare.
No detail is too small to be carefully considered, from a gorgeous selection of loose-leaf teas in the lounge to combination television-Mac computers with Internet in every cabin. The glassed-in showers might be the largest we've ever had in a standard balcony cabin, and you can lather up in L'Occitane shampoos and lotions before drying off in fluffy bathrobes. Even the included excursions go beyond the river cruise staples with your choice of walking, biking or museum tours in every port. Plus Scenic's exclusive GPS devices allow for independent exploration with a virtual guide and map, as well as narration during scenic cruising portions of the trip.
If there's a lot about Scenic that pleases, one downside on our trip was the quality of service. We were surprised at how many glitches there were. Our butler never introduced herself while the butler for the cabin across the hall was checking in on my neighbor daily. The waitstaff couldn't handle simple requests (no prosciutto on my antipasto or an off-the-menu request for morning oatmeal); The ship's state-of-the-art electrically assisted bicycles kept getting flat tires or running out of battery power; and we never managed to get the TV or Internet working in our cabin.
Because Scenic Crystal is not an American ship; you'll find lengthy itineraries (15-day sailings can be common) catering to Australian travel styles, European and Australian power points, and a more European menu (items like fish and muesli at breakfast and a wide selection of cheese offered at every meal, for example). But if you're looking for an upscale, all-inclusive river experience, Scenic Crystal is definitely worth checking out.
Scenic Crystal Fellow Passengers
Scenic historically has attracted Australians and Brits, but a growing number of Americans, Canadians and Germans are coming aboard. Passengers are typically aged 50 to 80, well traveled and financially comfortable. Passengers also tend to be fairly active; while Scenic Crystal does have an elevator, the focus on walking tours along cobblestoned streets in European towns means the tours aren't so suitable for wheelchair-bound or travelers with significant mobility issues.
Scenic Crystal Dress Code
Dress is casual during the day (bring sturdy, comfortable shoes for all the walking tours) and smart casual at night. Ladies would wear dressy pants outfits, skirts or dresses, while men donned nice slacks and button-down shirts (jackets optional). People dolled up a bit more for the Captain's Welcome and Farewell dinners or for dining at specialty venues Portobellos and Table La Rive.
Scenic Crystal Gratuity
The onboard currency is the euro. Gratuities are included in your fare for onboard staff and tour guides. Additional tipping is not expected.
I cannot fault the service and presentation of Scenic Crystal. The staff were excellent and our tour director Szilvia was outstanding. Everything was 5 star except the food. Most vegetables were frozen or commercially prepared and I found all the ...continue
It was a wet autum day that we embarked on the Scenic Crystal in Amsterdam heading for Budapest and this weather continued for the whole cruise almost derailing it for us.
I have done a lot of research into this style of cruising and ...continue
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I had researched long and hard for a couple of years, since our last ocean cruise in 2008 (Cherry Blossom Cruise) about European river cruises. Considering lines, ships, itineraries, inclusions and extensions that we wanted to make. Taking into ...continue