Scenic Sapphire Cabins
Scenic has designed staterooms on its “space ships” to make the best use of the available space,. First: Cabins have different layouts than on most riverboats. Closets face into the room and bathrooms are tucked in a nook along the outside wall rather than the entry. The result is cabins that are cozy yet comfortable, and not at all claustrophobic. The all-white beds are inviting, the storage plentiful and the bathrooms surprisingly large (with a fun, colorful lighting system).
All cabins onboard have river views. They're decorated with blonde woods, a black-and-white color scheme, marble countertops and bathroom accents, white-tiled accent walls and fabric headboards. Each cabin is stocked with still and sparkling water (replaced when used), bathrobes and slippers, a safe, a hair dryer, an umbrella, an iPod docking station with clock, and a mini-bar (with juice, soda, liqueur and snacks) that's complimentary and restocked daily.
The Scenic Slumber Beds, made especially for the cruise line, feature white Egyptian cotton sheets and duvets. Though twin beds can be joined into one queen, the duvets are twin-sized, leaving a blanket gap in the middle of the bed. A pillow menu offers the choice of synthetic soft and medium pillows or "sandwich pillows" with white goose down. Nightstands vary; some are just marble tabletops, while others are wooden with two drawers. The bedside setup is quite good, with both small lamps and directed reading lights.
Closets vary in size by cabin category but have plentiful hangers, shelves and drawer space; the doors slide open, blocking the other side, so you can't have both open at the same time. The design is ingenious from a space-saving perspective but counterintuitive (we were constantly pulling the doors in the wrong direction) and takes some getting used to.
There's no real desk -- just a countertop that juts out with a white leather ottoman-style stool and some shelving above. Cabins have European and Australian plugs, using 220 volts, so Americans will need adapters.
Standard staterooms (160 square feet) are the most basic accommodations and found only on the lowest Moselle Deck. These have windows high up on the wall and the smallest closets. Shower-only bathrooms are also compact.
Balcony Suites (205 square feet) and Deluxe Balcony Suites (225 square feet) are nearly identical, save for the 10 square ft. difference. These categories, as well as that of the suites, have Scenic's Sun Lounge balconies. The "balconies" are actually glass-enclosed portions of the cabin, behind floor-to-ceiling sheers and blackout curtains. They feature two black-and-white wicker chairs and plastic drink tables. This sun room, if you will, can transform into a balcony at the push of a button. The top half of the exterior glass wall comes down, and voila -- instant balcony. If it's chilly or raining out, bring the glass back up, and you can enjoy the view without the breeze. The design makes the cabins feel more spacious and airy, and the balcony becomes the preferred sitting area, regardless of whether the window is open.
Bathrooms in the these categories have large (enormous by cruise-ship standards) glass-enclosed showers with actual doors, bowl sinks with faucets that will splash everywhere if you don't delicately turn them on, and minimal storage space. Toiletries include L'Occitane shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion and two kinds of bar soap, as well as a nail file and shower cap. A lighted makeup mirror is useful for primping, and a clothesline in the shower makes it easy to hand wash and dry small items.
The next category up is the Junior Suite (250 square feet). But don't be deceived by square footage; the major upgrade in these cabins is the bathrooms, which feature high-sided bathtubs, small showers (likely half the size of the showers in balcony suites in order to squeeze in the tub) and expanded sink/vanity areas with actual mirrored cabinets for extra bathroom storage. The desk area has slightly more space, as well as an extra small table. However, the closets are not as wide as in the deluxe balcony cabins. If you have no use for a tub and don't mind a bit of tight bathroom storage, save money and stick with the deluxe balcony.
We have similar feelings about the top two suite categories. The Royal Panorama Suites (there are two at 325 square feet) are the corner suites and the largest. Each has windows on the aft wall, as well as a sun lounge on the side; a sitting area with a couch across the cabin; and a large bathroom with a larger shower but no tub. These are technically a lower category than the Royal Suites (300 or 315 square feet), which have more cohesive sitting areas and long, skinny bathrooms with the most cabinet space, tubs and small showers. However, the balcony is definitely smaller in these than in the Panorama Suite. If you aren't going to use the tub or have a cocktail party in your cabin, and if you're not scared of a little early-morning noise as the ship ties up or the occasional fume (the occupant on our cruise smelled nothing), we think the bigger balcony, extra windows and bigger shower make for a better experience. (pricing is not all that different between the two suite types.)
Royal and Junior Suites receive extra perks: afternoon fruit skewers, pre-dinner canapés and post-dinner petit fours. Royal suite passengers also receive airport transfers by private vehicle, upgraded bathroom amenities and $300 per couple in onboard credit.
There's one single cabin (number 224) that's essentially half a balcony suite, but it still has the full-size closet, balcony and bathroom. With the shades open, it's cute and cozy; pull the blackout curtains, and you might be a bit claustrophobic. Cabin 302 is the one wheelchair accessible cabin. It's identical to a junior suite, but it has a larger entry door and a modified shower with a fold-down seat and a grab bar. (To accommodate this, the tub has been removed.)
All passengers are entitled to butler service (there are four butlers onboard), but services increase for the higher-end cabins. Butlers in all cabins will shine your shoes, arrange shore excursions or spa appointments, and bring you drinks. Additionally, passengers in balcony cabins can have butlers arrange cocktail parties and bring early-morning tea or coffee. Passengers on deck three – where the suites are located -- can order room service breakfast and get two pressed items daily. In the Royal suites, the butlers will unpack and repack your bags, offer free laundry and pressing, serve you meals in your cabin whenever you wish, draw you a bath and deliver a morning newspaper.
Next: Scenic Sapphire Dining
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