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Scenic Cruises

History, Review, Itineraries, Ships, Deck Plans, News

Scenic Cruises fleet

Review of Scenic Cruises

Scenic Group's subsidiary company "Scenic Cruises" (officially "Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours") is a brand that operates mainly riverboats on all biggest European rivers - Danube, Rhine, Main, Moselle, including in France (on Saone, Rhone, Seine), Russia (Volga), Portugal (Douro), and Southeast Asia (with regularly-scheduled itineraries on the rivers Irrawaddy and Mekong).

In February 2018, Scenic Group announced the purchase on the company brand Mayflower Tours. The company was renamed to "Mayflower Cruises and Tours" and continued to operate as a separate entity. Mayflower is based in Downers Grove (Chicago Illinois USA).

Scenic Tours also owns the river cruisetour brand Emerald Waterways (established in 2013), which started operations in 2014.

Scenic River Cruises

Scenic Tours is between the most inclusive river cruise lines in operation today. Its river cruising deals offer almost all-inclusive fares covering meals and drinks, excursions, gratuities. The line's deals feature price-included unlimited drinks - from the beverages in the staterooms minibars to the alcohol drinks consumed at all dining and lounge venues on board. Butler service for passengers in Europe is also included.

Scenic Cruise Line logo

The parent company "Scenic" (until 2015 known as "Scenic Tours") was established in 1987 in Australia by the entrepreneur Glen Moroney (Chairman, CEO and Founder). Its business started with coach trips along the coast of Australia. Later, the company included themed-event tours and expanded its operations to New Zealand, Norfolk Island, the USA and Canada, even to South America, Asia (including China) and South Africa.

In 2007, Scenic Tours opened its offices in Canada and the UK, eventually coming to the United States. The inaugural season of the new Scenic river cruise line followed in 2008 with the launch of the Sapphire boat - the fleet's first. Thus was established the subsidiary brand "Scenic Cruises", with operations exclusively in Europe. Enjoying a rapid growth, the Scenic Tours' river cruise division today operates new, purpose-built and almost identical as design luxury river ships.

In April 2015, the Scenic Tours company was rebranded as simply "Scenic". The company’s product has earned accolades worldwide for its quality, onboard and ashore services, and also for the huge diversity of land and cruise tour packages available for booking.

  • All Scenic boats are called "space ships" to emphasize on their higher than usual space ratio. The line offers upscale river cruising vacations in contemporary surroundings. However, in terms of dining, land tours and excursions and entertainment, Scenic cruises are quite traditional.
  • Meals are served in two dining venues: the dining room restaurant (named Crystal Dining) and Portobello's (smaller Italian alternative restaurant). Both are open-seating. Occasionally, a picnic-fare lunch or barbecue is served on the sun deck. Table La Rive is the line's newest dining option with a 6-course tasting menu served with tempting wine pairing. The seating takes place in a curtained-off section of the dining room. All the gourmet selections include regional cuisine specialties. Some lunches and dinners are themed to the visited country along the cruise itinerary.
  • Each of the Scenic ships has two lounges. Panorama Lounge & Bar pampers with after-dinner entertainment (cocktails, music, and dancing). It's also the venue for daily port talk, local performers showcasing their culture in the evenings, classical music recitals. Traditional performances by groups of Bavarian dancers or gypsy troupes are also presented here. The other lounge area for drinks and light snacks is the Riverview Terrace (at the boat's bow). This lounge is covered, with an open-air teak deck, seats about 20 guests and is only a deck below the Sun Deck.
  • About 84% of all Scenic river cruise ship cabins are with balconies. All the ships (excepting the chartered in Russia Scenic Tsar) have the signature "Sun Lounge" verandas. All passenger accommodations also feature flat-screen TVs and 5-star hotel luxury amenities. Bathrooms are also larger than average, with fun lighting. Guests can decide a changing spectrum of colored lights while taking a shower.
  • English-speaking local guides lead all Scenic cruise tours and excursions ashore. Innovative headsets (called "Scenic Tailormade", GPS devices) allow guests to hear the guide's commentaries or to choose between the organized tours as they cycle or walk through the places they visit. These devices also have a screen showing both photos of specific sights and a map of the scheduled cruise itinerary route.

Scenic river cruise tour cancellation policy

Starting 2017, Scenic Cruises offer a river cruise travel guarantee with refunds for voyage cancellations and delays due to weather, high/low water levels, natural disasters, labor strikes, mechanical breakdowns.

The new guarantee comes at no charge to booked customers and goes into effect with the ship's departure. Under the new cancellation policy, Scenic Tours cruise passengers receive direct cash refunds (up to USD 750 pp per day, max 7 days) or USD 5,250 pp (as opposed to industry's standard of refunding in future cruise credits). Refunds are offered in the following cases:

  • A complete cruise tour itinerary halt - the riverboat is unable to move and Scenic can't deliver the scheduled tours/excursions ashore (except by way of bus travel over 3 hours each way).
  • Scenic has the option to accommodate all passengers on another Scenic Space-Ship, but the cruise tour itinerary is delayed for over 24 hours.
  • A mechanical breakdown on the ship resulting in cruise cancellation, and there are no alternative Scenic ships available.
  • Industrial action (strikes, riots, river/canal lock damage (closure) Scenic can't pass through a river lock.

The list of unfortunate events and situations that won't be covered by the new policy includes:

  • embarkation/disembarkation less than 100 km (60 ml) from the scheduled port
  • ship swaps that don't incur a delay over 24 hours
  • replacement of scheduled cruise tour itinerary activities with alternates of similar quality
  • short-term delays in the cruise tour itinerary due to high/low water level.

The new insurance also doesn't cover personal/medical travel issues, so purchasing cruise travel insurance is recommended.

(NEW) Scenic-National Geographic River Cruises

In November 2017, National Geographic Cruises (via a partnership with Lindblad Expeditions) and Scenic Cruises teamed up and launched "National Geographic River Cruises". The new offerings combine Scenic riverboats' all-inclusive luxury experience with NatGeo's science and exploration.

Each voyage is accompanied by a NatGeo expert who leads the ship's onboard enrichment program (educational presentations, itinerary-based lectures, informal discussions). All Scenic European river cruises also have a NatGeo photographer on the boat to lead the photography-themed activities and workshops. These voyages also offer themed excursions ranging from hiking and biking to nature, culture, and history.

The new Scenic-NatGeo partnership offers itineraries mainly in Europe - on the rivers Moselle, Rhine, Danube, Main, also on Holland and Belgium waterways, in France (Bordeaux wine region) and in Portugal (on Douro River). The new NatGeo experience is also available on select Asian cruises on Irrawaddy River (in Burma). National Geographic River Cruises program starts in Spring 2018.

For Xmas season 2019, Scenic Cruises partnered with National Geographic-Lindblad Expeditions for 3 new river travel packages. The themed voyages visit Christmas markets along Danube River, gardens in Holland and Belgium, as well as Douro River Valley ports in Portugal.

Scenic Yacht Cruises

As the fleet size, vessel capacity and onboard amenities, the company is in direct competition with the top-luxury brands Ponant, RSSC Regent, Norwegian Yacht Voyages and Ritz-Carlton (main competitors), SeaDream, Windstar. About 5% of the cruise industry's multi-billion dollar business belongs to luxury brands.

As of 2018, the company has under construction 2 mega-yachts - Scenic Eclipse (2018 launch) and Scenic Eclipse II (2020). For both ships construction was contracted the company Uljanik Shipyard JSC (Pula Croatia), The following YouTube video is a timelapse of the Scenic yachts construction process.

Scenic Tours' mega-yachts

These vessels are advertised as the "world's first discovery yachts". The hull has the highest passenger ship ice-class (1A Super) allowing polar cruise operations (Arctic and Antarctica itineraries) for 3 months a year. Each ship's passenger capacity is reduced from 228 to 200 on polar expeditions allowing several landing tours per day.

Scenic Cruises yacht design

The ship's own helicopters (each with capacity 7 passengers) can be booked for private tours (hired at extra charge). Helicopter tours allow passengers to get closer to the wildlife in comparison to the Zodiac landings. Also at additional charge can be booked the shipboard submarine.

Scenic Cruises yacht submarine

The vessel has an almost 1:1 passenger-to-crew ratio and each stateroom are served by a dedicated butler. Other features and all-inclusive amenities (per yacht) include:

  • 9 restaurants (including Asian, steakhouse, seafood, French, Italian, poolside grill, 24/7 room service)
  • 4 bars and lounges
  • 240-seat Theater Lounge
  • 2 (indoor and outdoor) swimming pools, a heated indoor pool (with retractable glass roof)
  • 5900 ft2 (550 m2) wellness complex with heated indoor pool, outdoor Jacuzzis, swimming pools, Hair Salon, Spa treatment/massage rooms
  • gym (with separate Aerobics Studio for classes)
  • Staterooms as sizes range between 345 ft2 / 32 m2 (Veranda Suite) to 2660 ft2 / 247 m2 (2-Bedroom Penthouse Suite). The Owners Penthouse Suite is sized 2507 ft2 (235 m2).
  • Each of the ship's 114 cabins has a private balcony and separate lounge area.

Scenic yacht cruise deals

Scenic Cruises yacht deals are inclusive of:

  • balcony stateroom with 24-7 room service
  • butler service (regardless cabin category)
  • all tips/gratuities
  • Discovery leaders (professional tour guides on all cruise itineraries)
  • shore excursions (all landings, shore tours and organized events at ports of call and beaches along the itinerary route) - expert-led Scenic Free choice activities, discovery excursions by Zodiacs (large-capacity inflatable boats)
  • onboard dining (all dining venues are complimentary / fee-free)
  • onboard entertainment
  • e-biking, water sports (sea kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving).

Itinerary of Scenic Cruises

The list of owned by Scenic Tours ships includes:

Itineraries 2019-2020

Scenic added new itineraries for company's 2019-2020 cruise season. Highlights included a 13-day "Russia’s White Sea", 21-day "Northwest Passage"; and 2 itineraries with ports along North America’s east coast, including NCY New York and Halifax NS. Departing August 15, 2020, the "Across the Northwest Passage" itinerary on Scenic Eclipse starts from Copenhagen Denmark, continues with Greenland's coast and through Canadian Arctic Islands before reaching Nome Alaska. The White Sea *on Russia's northwest coast) is surrounded on 3 sides and is a southern inlet of Barents Sea. Departing from Tromso Norway (June 21 and July 3, 2019), the itinerary visits North Cape and Murmansk Russia prior to the Russian Arctic territories Arkhangelsk and Solovetsky Islands.

For US passengers, Scenic scheduled 10- and 20-day voyages along East Coast North America. The 10-day itinerary departs from NYC (September 29, 2019) and visits Baltimore, Norfolk, Wilmington, and Charleston prior to ending in the Bahamas. Separture Sept 20 (from Halifax) adds 5 Canadian ports, such as Prince Edward Island and Lunenburg, Martha’s Vineyard.

In June 2018, National Geographic Expeditions and Scenic Cruises & Tours announced 3 new river travel packages for season 2019. The trips are Christmas Market-themed (along Danube), to the inland waterways of Holland and Belgium, and along Douro River (Portugal).

  • "The Gems of the Danube Christmas Markets" leaves from Nuremberg December 9, 2019, for an 8-day cruise to Budapest. Cruise passengers stop in Vienna, where the port city holds the market in front of the town hall, or ‘rathaus.’ Travelers also stop in Nuremberg Christmas market, that has run since 1629 and boasts a history of quality toy craftsmanship.
  • "The Dutch Sights & Belgium Delights" 8-day cruise is sailing round trip from Amsterdam, with 2 departure dates: April 17 and 24, 2019. Port calls include Keukenhof gardens, that are home to 7 million blooms; the fishing village of Volendam and Delft, a village popular for its blue & white pottery.
  • "The Unforgettable Douro" is an 11-day voyage through Douro Valley (World Heritage-designated region). Guests can see medieval villages (such as Guimaraes and Provesende), attend a private concert, meet local fishermen and sample fresh sardines, try port wines at Quinta da Roeda estate, ride a canoe on Sabor River. Departure dates are May 25 and September 23, 2019.

Each of the new cruises is accompanied by a NatGeo expert leading presentations, discussions and additional excursions. A National Geographic photographer is also aboard, ready to help vacationers with their photography skills.

Scenic's 2019-2020 Southeast Asia brochure includes an extended program through Cambodia, Vietnam and Burma on the boats Scenic Aura and Scenic Spirit. The company also offered free one-way business class flight upgrade valid for new bookings made through October 31, 2018. Also new was the environmental initiative giving passengers cruising on Irrawaddy River (Myanmar) and Mekong River (Vietnam and Cambodia) the opportunity to use reusable water bottles. Suites also include glass refillable water bottles.

Company's enrichment program includes Angkor Temple Gala Dinner in Siem Reap. Freechoice option provides a range of all-inclusive choices - from hands-on cooking class and visit to Hoi An’s central market (for ingredients) to guided Vintage Vespa food tours in Hanoi. The 15-day "Treasures of the Mekong" itinerary (Saigon to Siem Reap) is priced from GBP 5300 pp.

River itineraries 2020

Scenic's 2020 "Europe River Cruise Collection" was available for booking on May 16, 2019. Early-booking deals receive free roundtrip economy airfare (8- to 11-day itineraries) or premium economy airfare (11-day/longer itineraries). Diamond Deck cabin passengers on 15-day cruises receive free door-to-door transfers.

New for 2020 is the "Spectacular South of France" itinerary (12-day) from Paris France. Passengers then head to Lyon by high-speed train and board Scenic Sapphire. Cruising on Saone, travelers stop in Tournus, where they can sample French truffles or visit Chateau de Cormatin. The cruise continues to Beaune and Tournon to see castles and vineyards. The voyage features two days in Avignon before Tarascon and Viviers, plus 3 days in Lyon (debarkation).

The new 11-day "Windmills, Tulips and Belgian Delights" itinerary (from London to Amsterdam) begins with 3 days in London UK, followed by travel to Amsterdam Holland (embarkation). It visits scenic towns like Edam-Volendam as well as metropolises such as Antwerp and Rotterdam.

The new 8-day "Lower Danube Explorer" itinerary visits riverports in Eastern Europe leaving out of Budapest to Belgrade Serbia. Guests can immerse themselves in local traditions, witness a horse show, visit Osijek Croatia.

Scenic Cruises related cruise news