Sure, most European river cruises are scenic. But I know of only one company bold enough to capitalize the “S” and “C” and call itself, simply, Scenic Cruises.
That takes confidence, but Scenic Cruises has staked a claim to those capital letters.
How? By setting the pace for innovations in European river cruising — from more spacious viewing areas to all-inclusive pricing to exclusive and stimulating land excursions — this Australian-owned company has helped make river cruising one of the hottest segments of the cruise industry, attracting baby boomers and younger travelers alike.
No wonder: slowly wending your way down some of the world’s most romantic, historic rivers offers a relaxed, intimate perspective on Europe like no other. And unlike sea cruises, you’re always close to land and won’t get seasick.
While there are plenty of reasons to take a European river cruise with Scenic Cruises, I’ve narrowed them down to my top five:
1. You’ll be on the cutting edge of river cruising. With two new “Space-Ships” on tap for 2014, Scenic Cruises will expand to nine vessels, none older than six years. That makes it the newest fleet on European waterways (and even the “oldest” ships were just refurbished). Why “Space-Ships”? That’s easy: they’re larger and have more space per passenger than ordinary river cruise ships.
2. You can watch Europe glide by from your own full-sized, walk-out balcony, available in most cabins. If the elements intrude, just push a button and the balcony becomes a weatherproof sun lounge, with window views. And that’s just one of the luxurious amenities (private butler service, anyone?) that make these ships reminiscent of floating five-star hotels — but with casual dress codes.
3. You can pack your wallet away. Scenic Cruises are fully inclusive. That means that all meals in multiple dining venues, all drinks (including fine wines and spirits), land excursions, Wi-Fi, butler service, all gratuities aboard and on land — even airport transfers — are covered. About the only things you’ll need cash for are souvenirs and postcards.
4. You’ll have choices. First, choose among alluring itineraries carrying you from Amsterdam to Budapest, Paris to Nice, Munich to Bucharest and many more, along such legendary rivers as the Danube, Rhine, Moselle, and Seine.
Once onboard, you can choose among special “Scenic Enrich” excursions ranging from home-hosted meals to exclusive private concerts in palatial settings, or opt for “Scenic FreeChoice” excursions that offer both relaxed and active pursuits along route — all included in the fare.
5. You’ll have cool stuff to play with. Like their “Scenic Tailormade” personal handheld GPS/mapping units that will guide you on independent themed walking or biking tours. And speaking of bicycles, you can hop on electric-assist bikes that make pedaling a snap. So you can stay as cool as you look.
Just like those ultra-cool “Space-Ships” you’ll be sailing on, while reveling in Old World charm and atmosphere all the way down the river.