Scenic Jasper is Scenic's 11th "Space Ship" -- so called because of the higher-than-average amount of space dedicated to public areas. The 169-passenger ship carries fewer guests than many river vessels, which typically have up to 200. As a result, public areas such as the lounge and atrium are larger.
Scenic offers an upmarket and very comfortable cruise experience, set against the backdrop of an ultra-modern ship. The vessel comes with plenty of bells and whistles, not least an all-inclusive pricing policy that really does cover everything. That means excursions, tipping and all drinks -- including wines and Champagne -- are covered by the cost of your cruise. The only extras you'll pay for are spa services and laundry, and the latter is free for top-category passengers.
The icing on the cake is that all passengers have personal butlers, who perform ever more services as you go up in cabin categories. The 85 cabins come with a stocked minibar that is replenished daily and high-tech fixtures and fittings that will appeal to gadget lovers, but may baffle others.
Scenic started life as a coach tour company (Scenic Tours), and this heritage is reflected in the quality of the shore excursions. Called Scenic FreeChoice, the daily programme includes a choice of activities, either guided or self-led with the help of hand-held and recently upgraded GPS Tailormade devices that contain a variety of suggested walking tours for each port and background information on points of interest. These sophisticated devices allow passengers to personalise free time based on their interests and preferred pace; they can also be used while touring on the ship's fleet of bicycles. In addition to the usual city tours, daily excursions also feature active outings such as evening concerts and 40.23-km (25-mile) bike rides, which go beyond the usual sedate walking tours offered by other lines. The "Scenic Sundowner" is a new cultural experience where passengers enjoy a cocktail to toast the days' end at picturesque locations, such as Austria's UNESCO-listed Wachau Valley.
Scenic Jasper's cool decor, which wouldn't be out of place in a boutique hotel, reflects the hands-on touch of Karen Moroney, wife of Scenic Founder and Chairman Glen Moroney. Think one giant wooden apple on the cruise director's desk, modern art dotted here and there and the expansive use of gleaming chrome and glass -- and you get the idea.
There are six onboard dining options -- a high number for a river vessel -- ranging from fine dining to extensive buffets and an excellent, mostly vegetarian, light lunch option.
This fresh-looking line has broken the traditional mould of river cruising and will appeal to people looking for an upmarket experience, as well as younger cruisers and first-time passengers who want an all-inclusive cruise.
With its roots Down Under, Scenic has historically attracted Australians, but with increased marketing in the U.S. and U.K., a growing number of Americans, Brits and other English-speaking nationalities are coming aboard. The typical demographic of river cruising is 55-plus; however, with its modern image, selection of tours aimed at active passengers and its all-inclusive nature, Scenic is well placed to buck the trend and attract a younger crowd.
The ship has a relaxed, easygoing vibe. There is no special dress code, and none of the formal nights you get on ocean cruises. For dinner, smart casual attire is recommended. Jeans can be worn in the restaurant, but shorts and flip-flops are not appropriate. Many passengers up the sartorial ante for the captain's welcome and/or farewell dinner, albeit this tends to be smart casual, rather than full-on cocktail dresses and suits. Bring suitable sports gear if you want to ride the bikes, exercise in the gym or splash in the pool.
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