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Scenic Azure Review

Scenic Azure
Scenic Azure
2019 Best River

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Scenic Azure
4.5 / 5.0 Cruise Critic Editor Rating
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Pros

Included drinks, Wi-Fi, tours, butler service and laundry; the plunge pool offers cool relief

Cons

The bar needs more staff in evenings, and drink/water service on the sun deck

Bottom Line

The Portuguese crew help create an authentic experience on a comfy, all-inclusive ship


About

Passengers 96
Crew 38
Passenger to Crew 2.53:1
Launched 2016
Shore Excursions 38


Louise Goldsbury
Cruise Critic Australia Managing Editor

Scenic Azure Overview

In 2016, Scenic became the first non-Portuguese company to operate on the Douro River without a European partner or chartered ships. That means the Australian line is free to uphold its high standards in crew, service, dining, touring and onboard accommodation.

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The purpose-built ship is shorter and narrower than Scenic's other vessels in order to navigate Portugal's winding river and its many locks, but it still feels spacious and easy to get around. Despite the smaller size, Scenic Azure does not lack any of the frills to which past passengers have become accustomed. It has a plunge pool on the sun deck, butler service for all cabins and six dining options. Then there's the long list of inclusions, from the free drinks to a complimentary bag of laundry (same-day service in most cases).

Adding to the luxury experience is a crew-to-passenger ratio of almost 1:2. Most crew are Portuguese, disarmingly friendly and passionate about their country. Their affable nature bolsters the relaxed vibe onboard, while the department leaders keep everything running smoothly.

With a maximum of 96 passengers and only one lounge, mingling happens easily -- especially before and after dinner. Restaurant tables are set for two, four or six, allowing couples or solo travelers to sit together or move around each day.

While sailing, passengers like to watch the scenery from the sun deck, which is the best vantage point for panoramic views of the valley. However, it can be very hot, even in the shaded area, particularly in July and August when temperatures approach 104 degrees Fahrenheit. There is no bar on the sun deck so one area of improvement would be better, regular service of cold water (or beer) to thirsty passengers.

The ship's decor is clean and contemporary, with a lot of black, white and gold. Keep an eye out for the Portuguese art, such as a wall of sardines in the main dining room. Cabins are compact and have ensuite bathrooms and comfortable, adjustable beds. All but six have enclosed balconies, known as sun lounges, with floor-to-ceiling windows that can be opened halfway down with the touch of a button.

Scenic Azure would suit couples, especially those enjoying retirement, who appreciate good food, wine, mountain views and a slow pace. This is not a ship for families, as there are no kids program or facilities.

Fellow Passengers

As an Australian company, Scenic attracts a majority of Australian passengers, along with Brits, Americans, Canadians and New Zealanders. Most are retired couples in their 60s or 70s. On the Douro itinerary, it is usually the passengers' first time in Portugal but likely to be their second, third or fourth river cruise.


Scenic Azure Dress Code

In the hot climate of Portugal, passengers dress for cool comfort. Men wear shorts and T-shirts, but are asked to wear trousers at dinner; a short-sleeved shirt is OK, and jackets and ties are not required. Women dress casually by day and might change into something smarter in the evening. A light cardigan or shawl is recommended to cope with the chilly air conditioning. A hat and sunglasses are essential for tours. Bring your swimwear if you plan to take a dip in the pool.


Scenic Azure Inclusions

Almost everything is included in the cruise fare -- alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, vtips, shore excursions, butler service for all cabins and 1 kilogram of vlaundry. For purchases of fine wines and port (not on the complimentary list), vmassages and extra laundry, the onboard currency is the euro.


Scenic Azure Awards

Cruisers’ Choice Awards

2019 Best River

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Scenic Azure Member Reviews

Scenic Azure
Ang16
Sail Date: Aug 2019
The day of embarkation on Scenic Azure was welcoming and carried out in a very professional manner. Our cabin had an ensuite, balcony with twin beds, a safe, plenty of storage and twice daily amenities...Read More
Scenic Azure
speterd
Sail Date: Aug 2019
Flight to Porto was delayed 45 min. This flight had much more legroom. Arrived around 5 pm at the Scenic Azure just as the Port Talk was starting in the lounge. Butler did not take us to our room after and...Read More
Scenic Azure
Hunt1530
Sail Date: Oct 2018
We took a 10 day Douro river cruise in Portugal on the Scenic Azure in October 2018. This was our third cruise using Scenic and like the others we have taken this cruise was outstanding in every way as...Read More
Scenic Azure
JR_J
Sail Date: Aug 2018
and having done all the other European Rivers twice (except Russia), we gave it a go! The Scenic Azure is the smallest in the Scenic fleet, but perfect for this river needing only 2 meters of water...Read More

Scenic Fleet