Scenic River Cruise Review



 I was on a Spaceship….a name that I think has not been helpful to the Scenic brand, since to me it conjures up visions of Star Trek.  In reality the ships are elegant, floating, luxury resorts on some of the most beautiful and historic rivers in the world.

Passengers are mainly retired and come from Scotland, Canada, US, England and Australia.  The camaraderie was almost immediate with like-minded, intelligent and curious passengers.  There is very little of what do you do and there is more talk of what do you do now and how many grandchildren do you have?  The week before had a big Aussie contingent and the back-to-back pax loved their party style.  All pax speak English although the Scots we were with were the most difficult to understand.

The lady next to me at dinner had been on Tauck and she said they were equal.  Other pax are also placing Scenic high in the rankings.  It does not have the same level of service as Silversea, but close…. and it has heart; the staff is genuine, caring and attentive.  Ocean cruisers on Oceania, Azamara, Silversea, Windstar, etc., will all cross over nicely to Scenic River Cruises.

Dining options vary from traditional buffet for breakfast and lunch to dinner table service in the main dining room.  A lighter option for lunch is offered in the main lounge.   In addition, during the full day of sailing, there is a sundeck BBQ.  Room service is available for suites and there are gourmet options at both Portobello, Italian, as well as a multi-course dinner with wine pairing at Table La Rive.

I really liked the Jewel standard balcony cabins; however, luxury clients may want to step up to a suite.

  • Spa services are reasonably priced and the two we had were excellent.  A 60-minute full body Aroma-Oil-Massage was 67 euro.
  • We opened the balcony window on our full day sailing and it was relaxing. The sound of the ship moving through the water just beckoned for a nap.
  • Just as we saw with Crystal, having alcohol included gets people out of their cabins. So the vibe of the ship is pleasant and friendly.
  • Internet on Scenic was the best I have experienced on my now five river cruises. In the past, I relied on my global cell package. However, with Scenic, I was rarely without internet service.
  • The main dining room has tables for two, but they cannot be pre-reserved. More often than not, the table for two would combine with the table nearby as the passengers all interacted so readily.
  • As is true of river cruises in general, they are not oriented towards passengers with physical limitations, even though they have an elevator.

Although Scenic does an exemplary job with logistics, unless you have someone who is a self-explorer, you should plan on custom pre-post tours.  Utilizing Scenic for pre-cruise with transfers was flawless.  Everything was executed perfectly.  Embarkation was easy and we were escorted to the room and shown the basics.  Later, the butler dropped by and showed us everything in detail.

The pre-cruise overview tour by Scenic was by motor coach.  It was a good overview, but since I had just been to Budapest using private guides, I would definitely recommend using a private guide to explore beyond the basics.  The tour director is local, well-educated and articulate.  He was able to offer recommendations and directions for those who wanted to explore on their own including specific directions for public transportation and opinions regarding museums and other sites of interest.

River cruising is limited by its nature as to what you can accomplish by motor coach. When I traveled, there were four options and everyone seemed to have had a good time.  My guess is that since they have re-branded to luxury cruises that the product will continue to evolve and they will fine tune the experience.

(Written by Linda Allen-Speer on 10-day Scenic Cruise, April, 2015)

Below is an excerpt of a press release on May 19th, 2016 outlining exciting future enhancements for 2017.  I have highlighted some of the most interesting points in red.

       Scenic Adds More Guest-centric Experiences in 2017:

Cooking School, Cycling & Culinary Themes, Larger Suites, Ship Redesigns and More

Boston, May 2016 – Scenic, a company whose focus on the guest experience has always been the engine that has driven the company, is introducing a host of new possibilities in 2017, all detailed in the company’s new European River Cruise Brochure – 172 pages of wonders – and available in hard copy and downloadable versions: 2017 highlights include the rebuild of three Space-Ships in France to add Scenic

Culinaire, an onboard cooking school offering immersive courses in the culinary wonders of the Rhône and Bordeaux regions; a reduced guest count of 155; and the addition of two new Royal Owner’s Suites at 506 ft2.  New theme cruises include cycling journeys and French culinary experiences while new combination cruises allow for greater exploration of Europe’s variety. And new Scenic Enrich and Freechoice offerings bolster the lifelong memories these fully-inclusive journeys provide to guests.

Booking early has always been the way to secure the best pricing and suites with Scenic. For those booking a 2017 sailing by Sept. 30, 2016, Scenic is making getting there even easier – offering free and reduced airfare on all sailings. The amount of the roundtrip offer is based on the itinerary, the category of cabin booked and the departure airport, and ranges from free to $995 per person. Business class options are also available. Solo travelers are not to be left out either. Selected departures in March, April and Oct. to Dec., 2017 are available with no single supplement – on any suite; or book a standard suite on selected sailings between May and Sept. and receive 50% off the single supplement.

And to be sure travelers can leave their wallet at home – as everything is already included in the fare – Scenic is giving all guests a €100 (14 days or less) or €200 (15 days or longer) gift card to defray any personal expenses such as a massage, gifts or that piece of Linzer torte.

        Scenic Diamond in Bordeaux and Scenic Emerald and Sapphire on the Rhône and Saône in the south of France, are being rebuilt to enhance the public spaces and reduce the number of guests to 155 (78 cabins) while keeping the same staff numbers – allowing for even greater personalized service for the guests. The redesigned ships will feature two 506 ft2 Royal Owner’s Suites – the biggest suites on board European river cruise ships – larger wellness centers and gyms plus a vitality pool. One of the most exciting new elements of these ships will be the exclusive Scenic Culinaire experience. Scenic has transformed one of the on board dining venues into a private cooking emporium offering tailored classes with dedicated space for cooking stations and a cheese and wine cellar. Fresh ingredients will be sourced from local markets and cooking instructors will introduce guests to regional recipes. A real-time camera and screen ensures each participant can see every cooking move in detail. As with all Scenic programs, Culinaire is included in the price of the sailing.

New exclusive Scenic Enrich experiences (not available to guests on any other river cruise line) includes Scenic Rouge, which allows guests to take in a traditional French cabaret performance under a big-top in Lyon, including the famous can-can; and an exclusive four-course dining experience with matched vintages at the acclaimed Mumm Champagne house in Riems. New Scenic Freechoice activities include a gingerbread cooking class in Nuremberg; guided tour of Bratislava; a Tournon vineyard hike and wine tasting; and for the more active, three new cycling options in Caudebec, Arnhem and Bordeaux.

Combination cruises continue to grow in popularity as Americans devote more of their leisure time to travel. Each itinerary in France has been designed to seamlessly connect across these diverse regions by air, rail or road, to deliver the ultimate French cruising experience. The Seine and Bordeaux and Seine and Rhône have been the most popular combination cruises while the new 10-day Douro river cruise combines easily with French itineraries.

The 5-star Scenic Space-Ships offer all-inclusive luxury experiences – from private butler service and unlimited complimentary beverages and spirits including mini-bar re-stocked daily, to full-size private balcony staterooms – all making use of Scenic’s unique Sun Lounge technology – where the walkout open-air balcony can convert to an all-weather lounge with a push of a button, expanding the living area of the stateroom. Plus there is a vitality pool on the Sun Deck, a guest lift between decks, laundry concierge service, and wellness and fitness centers.

On board cuisine allows for up to six dining options, including the tradition of dégustation at Table La Rive, fine dining at Portobellos and the more casual fare at the River Cafe. As with all Scenic river cruises, guests will never have to reach for the wallet or purse as everything (except a haircut or massage) is included: tips and gratuities, expert local guides, all Scenic Freechoice activities that allow for a more personalized vacation, plus Scenic Enrich events which are exclusive to Scenic and its guests, transfers, all meals, etc.


Dear Travel Partner,

We have some very exciting news for you and your clients.

In our new 2017 full Scenic brochure, which just became available last week, pages 154-155 cover the description of our new River Cruising Guarantee; Below are links with description from the brochure. This is a real game-changer and I believe it will certainly help to assure your clients who are concerned about such unforeseen/uncontrollable disruptions affecting their cruise that they are in very good hands with Scenic!

To see information about the new River Cruising Guarantee, click here.  For examples of situations that are covered, click here.

Scenic brochure link: click here.

Thank you for your support,

Richard Hickey, Director of Scenic National Accounts

20 Park Plaza, Suite 903 Boston MA 02116 USA