Scenic Cruises

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Review of Scenic Cruises

Scenic Group (shipowner) is the parent company of three travel brands - Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, Evergreen Cruises & Tours, Emerald Cruises (Emerald Waterways, Emerald Yacht 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 of Mayflower Tours. The company (trademarked travel brand) was renamed "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 brands Emerald Waterways (2013-established/operational since 2014) and "Emerald Yacht Cruises", which in 2021 were merged into "Emerald Cruises". In July 2020, Scenic Group became a member of IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators).

In May 2021, Scenic Group moved its headquarters from Boston MA to Hollywood (Florida USA). The company's current executive team includes Rob Voss (CEO), Benny Weidacher (VP of Global Cruise Operations), Lisa McCaskill (Vice President), Joni Rein (VP of Sales and Marketing), Ken Muskat (USA's Managing Director), Colin Downing (UK Managing Director), Ann Chamberlin (VP of Sales), Donna Kurtz (Charter and Incentive Sales), Nancy Iovino (USA's RSD-Regional Sales Director).

In April 2023, Scenic Group USA promoted Robert Castro (to VP of Marketing/with the company since 2022 as Senior Director of Marketing) and also made two new appointments - Elizabeth Fettes (as VP of Sales/previously worked for Premier Worldwide Marketing as Chief Sales & Marketing Officer) and Kayla Corbett (as Director of Strategic Accounts/previously employed by NCL-Norwegian Cruise Line as Senior Manager of Key Accounts).

In June 2023 Scenic Group announced the fleetwide implementation of high-speed Internet provided by SpaceX' Starlink. As of 2023, Starlink consists of 4000+ LEO satellites (Low Earth Orbit) while SpaceX plans to deploy ~12000 satellites in total.

In June 2023 Scenic Group USA signed a partnership with Nexion Travel Group (1995-founded, subsidiary of Nexion LLC). Nexion serves North American travel agents/agencies (in the USA and Canada) with ticketing, support, and online booking.

Scenic River Cruises

Scenic Tours is among the most inclusive river cruise lines in operation today, operating two trademarked brands - "Emerald Waterways" (globally) and "Evergreen Cruises and Tours" (Australia only). Since July 2020, Scenic Group is marketing its river cruise shipping operations with the Emerald Waterways brand only.

Scenic's river cruising deals offer almost all-inclusive fares covering meals and drinks, excursions, gratuities, select excursions. The company's deals feature price-included unlimited drinks - from the in-cabin beverages (staterooms' minibars) to the alcoholic drinks consumed at all dining and lounge venues onboard. Butler service for passengers in Europe is also price-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 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 (except 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.

Since 2022, on all Scenic river cruises in Europe is provided an "Enrichment Manager to host cooking lessons, wine tastings, painting classes, cabaret nights, themed lectures and demonstrations (including by local artists boarding the boat during port stays).

Scenic river cruise tour cancellation policy

Since 2017, Scenic offers 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 the 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 started 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.

In June 2023, Scenic Group agreed to pay AU$26 million (~US$ 17,5M / ~EUR 16,2M) in a class action lawsuit filed in Australia (in 2013) by a group of 1200 river cruise passengers. In April-May 2013, central Europe suffered high water levels and flooding along its inland waterways which prevented Scenic Group’s riverboats from cruising on Rhine and Danube. Instead of canceling the scheduled voyages, the company decided to operate the same itineraries on land, via buses. Scenic Group additionally paid AU$3M (US$2M / EUR 1,9M) to reimburse the legal expenses incurred by the plaintiffs' lawyers.

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 (2019-built) and Scenic Eclipse II (2023). 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.


With Eclipse 2, Scenic Group established "MKM Yachts" (fully-owned subsidiary company) to manage newbuilds' construction. In late-April 2020, Scenic Group also announced plans to build (at Maj 3 Shipyard in Rijeka Croatia) a total of 5x superyachts in the next 6 years (2021-2027). For these shipbuilding projects was dedicated a separate section at Rijeka's Maj 3 Shipyard. In early-July 2020, MKM Yachts was granted a sub-concession at Rijeka's shipyard. This way, the company became the prime contractor for all Scenic Group's newbuilds.

Scenic Group's superyachts

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).

(Coronavirus crisis) passenger shipping pause 2020-2021

Due to the COVID pandemic, all Scenic Group travel entities have suspended passenger operations (land tours, yacht and river cruises) by canceling all voyages with pre-scheduled departures in the period March 14, 2020, through late-July 2021. Scenic Group's operations resumed in August 2021, including the riverboats.

With rebooking, Scenic Group provided an FTC (Future Travel Credit) for all canceled departures. To each of the canceled bookings (river or ocean itineraries) was provided 110% FTC (for the booking's full value), to rebook and travel by December 31, 2022. To all booked land tours (including Egypt cruisetours) during the suspension period was provided 100% FTC (for the booking's full value), to rebook and travel by December 31, 2022.

Scenic's FTC was valid for travel departures through to December 31, 2022. The FTC can be applied to any existing booking within the Scenic Group travel companies (Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, Evergreen Cruises & Tours, Emerald Cruises/Emerald Waterways) and also when rebooking future travel. The FTC is fully transferrable to another customer.

Upon the expiry of the Scenic FTC voucher (on December 31, 2022), unable to travel customers may request a cash refund equal to the amount paid. All customers with a booking that departs from July 1, 2020, and customers considering a booking after July 1st, have the option to transfer their booking (up to 30 days prior departure) to an alternate date without a fee. Scenic will waive all cancellation fees with the booking value applied as an FTC and we will review the timing for the full payment when rebooking. Please note, if you choose to cancel there may be third-party fees applicable, which will be at the customer's own expense. This policy applies to all Scenic Group's travel brands.

Itinerary of Scenic Cruises

The list of owned by Scenic Luxury Cruises ships includes:

Scenic YACHT CRUISES 2024-2025

The program is based on two superyachts (Scenic Eclipse/2019-built and Scenic Eclipse 2/2023). The season features 85 voyages visiting 50+ countries on 7 continents. Destinations include Caribbean, Oceania-Pacific Islands, Indonesia, Australia, Europe, the Americas, Arctic and Antarctica.

Highlights of 2023-2024 itineraries include:

New itineraries in 2023-2024 include:

  • 9-day "Scottish Isles: Historic Trails & Wilderness" from Edinburgh to Dublin
  • 9- and 10-day "Antarctica Insights" fly-cruise from Punta Arenas to Buenos Aires
  • 11-day "Atlantic Isles & the Caribbean" from New York to Nassau
  • 12-day "Beyond the Arctic Circle" from Tromso to Oslo
  • 13-day "Caribbean Sojourn" from Nassau to Bridgetown
  • 13-day "Passage through Melanesia: Solomon Islands & Vanuatu" from Cairns to Fiji
  • 13-day "Secrets of Indonesia: Spice Islands & Raja Ampat" (roundtrip from Darwin)

The range of itinerary offerings on the first Discovery Yacht in the world, Scenic Eclipse, got bigger as the company unveiled its 2023-2024 Caribbean Collection, featuring exotic destinations like Egg Island, Darby Island (Exuma Islands), and Long Island BahamasGrenadine’s Mayreau IslandPuerto Rico’s Isla de Culebra, and Isla de Providencia in Colombia, promise an intimate experience.

In August 2023, Scenic Group unveiled bookings for the 2024-2025 ocean sailing season, featuring new itineraries and a comprehensive range of cruises for the recently introduced Scenic Eclipse II, the sistership of Scenic Eclipse. Both ultra-luxury Discovery Yachts visit over 500 ports across 63 countries, spanning all 7 continents. This extensive coverage provides guests with unprecedented access to numerous global destinations, including many hidden gems.

The highlights of this season encompass exciting expeditions, such as journeys to the Kimberley Islands in western Australia, the Indonesian Archipelago featuring the Spice Islands and Komodo Island, explorations of New Zealand and Fiji, as well as visits to Japan and South Korea. Notably, Scenic Eclipse 2's inaugural voyage to Antarctica is set for December 2024, focusing on the continent's east coast and the Ross Sea, while the original Scenic Eclipse takes passengers to the Antarctic peninsula and below the Antarctic Circle.

For Canadian guests booking the newly launched 2024-2025 sailings, attractive offers are available, including complimentary Business and Economy Class airfare, along with savings up to CAD 5000 per couple, varying based on cabin level and itinerary.

The notable sailings in the 2024-2025 season include:

  • Discover the Kimberley Coastline: An Ancient Wilderness - 11 days of exploring Australia's sparsely-populated Kimberley region, encountering unique natural phenomena. Prices start at CAD $16,145.
  • Along the East Coast of Australia: Beaches & the Great Barrier Reef - A 12-day voyage beginning in Auckland and ending in Cairns, showcasing beautiful beaches and the iconic Great Barrier Reef. Prices start at CAD $14,695.
  • Pure New Zealand: North & South Islands - A 13-day exploration of New Zealand's culture, environment, and renowned wines, with fares starting at CAD $19,404.
  • Secrets of Indonesia: Spice Islands & Raja Ampat - A 15-day journey exploring the Spice Islands and the biodiverse reefs of Raja Ampat. Fares available from CAD $19,404.
  • Circumnavigation of Japan: Cultures & Traditions - A 17-day voyage exploring Japan's diverse culture, festivals, and scenic landscapes. Fares from CAD $29,295.
  • Antarctica's Ross Sea: Majestic Ice & Wildlife - A 24-day Antarctica expedition offering in-depth exploration and experiences aboard Scenic Eclipse II, starting from CAD $47,290.

In December 2013, Scenic released its Antarctica program for 2025-2026, offering travelers a customizable experience with diverse expedition levels. The "Antarctica Your Way" collection includes voyages tailored for Christmas and New Year's, providing an array of options for exploration.

Key highlights include:

13-day Antarctica in Depth:

  • Buenos Aires round-trip aboard Scenic Eclipse.
  • Intensive exploration of the Antarctica Peninsula with multiple Zodiac landings daily.
  • Opportunities to visit historical sites, witness wildlife, and explore volcanic craters.
  • 5 departures from November 2025 to February 2026.

20/23-day Antarctica, South Georgia, and Falkland Islands:

  • Departure from Ushuaia, stopping in Montevideo, Antarctica Peninsula, South Georgia, and Falkland Islands.
  • Highlights include Gypsy Cove in the Falklands, Zodiac cruises along South Georgia's mountain range, and exploration of Stanley in the Falklands.
  • Full exploration of Antarctica over 5 days.

16-day Antarctica in Depth (Dec 21, 2025):

  • Witness landscape changes and abundant wildlife in krill-rich waters.
  • Scenic Discovery excursions to penguin, seal, and whale habitats.
  • Departure on December 21, 2025.

25-day Mawson’s Antarctica: Along the East Coast (Dec 13, 2025):

  • Follow Douglas Mawson’s Antarctic expedition footsteps.
  • Christmas and New Year's celebration in one of the world's remotest areas.
  • Journey starts from Queenstown, New Zealand, and concludes in Hobart.

24-day Antarctica’s Ross Sea: Majestic Ice and Wildlife:

  • Explore the Ross Sea region onboard Scenic Eclipse II.
  • Sailing from Hobart to Dunedin on January 6, 2026, and a round-trip from Dunedin on January 29.
  • Highlights include Ross Island, Cape Adare's Adelie penguin rookery, and Franklin Island's volcanic landscapes.

Scenic MINI-CRUISES 2024

In January 2024 were opened for booking the company's first mini-cruises (two itineraries) specifically designed for first-timers.

The 6-nighth/7-day “Portugal, Spain and France Mini Cruise” itinerary (tour code 301E, from Lisbon to Fowey) visits Leixoes/Oporto (Portugal), Vigo (Spain), Le Palais (Belle-Ile, Brittany France) and Douarnenez (Brittany France) before Fowey. The voyage (May 28-June 3, 2024) was priced from GBP 3000 per person, with fares inclusive of a flight from England to Portugal/Lisbon.

The 4-night/5-day “Hidden Gems of the British Isles and Dublin Cruise” itinerary (tour code 301E, from Fowey to Dublin) visits St Mary’s Island (Isles of Scilly, England), Fishguard (Wales), and Douglas (Isle of Man UK) before Dublin. The voyage (June 3-7, 2024) was priced from GBP 2000 per person, with fares inclusive of a flight from Dublin to England.

Scenic RIVER CRUISE itineraries

The line's 2025 Europe River Cruising and Land Journeys brochure is presenting an array of 23 itineraries spanning 7 rivers and 3 land routes. The updated collection introduces guests to an assortment of fresh Scenic Freechoice excursions and meticulously curated schedules.

Among the notable additions for 2025 are the following Scenic Freechoice Included Experiences:

  • Gottweig Abbey (Krems, Austria): Guests have the opportunity to explore the renovated 6th-century Gottweig Abbey, renowned for its exquisite frescoes and Austria's largest Baroque Staircase. This experience is available on Jewels of Europe, Danube in Depth, Christmas Markets, and Christmas & New Year Journeys.
  • Craft Beer and Chocolate Pairing (Antwerp, Belgium): Travelers can indulge in Belgian culinary delights with craft beer and chocolate pairings, a quintessential experience in Belgium. Available on the Romantic Rhine & Moselle Journey.
  • Dusseldorf's Altbier (Dusseldorf, Germany): Delving into Dusseldorf's rich brewing heritage, guests visit esteemed microbreweries and savor tastings of Altbier, a traditional top-fermented brew. Offered on the Romantic Rhine & Moselle Journey.
  • E-bike cycle to Klosterneuburg Monastery (Vienna, Austria): Cyclists can traverse vineyards en route to Klosterneuburg Monastery near Vienna, relishing Danube vistas and the scenic pathway to this architectural gem. Available on the Danube in Depth Journey.

Additionally, a new port, Krems, situated along the Danube River in Austria, has been introduced for 2025 on select itineraries. Travelers can delve into its rich history, medieval fortifications, and renowned wineries through included Scenic Freechoice excursions.

Highlighted Feature Itineraries include:

  • 15-day Jewels of Europe River Cruise: Ideal for first-time river cruisers, this itinerary uncovers iconic landmarks, historical sites, and cultural gems.
  • 10-day Danube in Depth River Cruise: Exclusively with Scenic, guests can immerse themselves in the wonders of the Danube, enjoying extended exploration time and local delights.
  • 11-day Beautiful Bordeaux River Cruise: This immersive journey navigates the picturesque Bordeaux region, renowned for its culinary offerings and breathtaking cycling routes through Medoc and Sauternes.
  • 11-day Unforgettable Douro: Cruisers can embark on a deeper exploration of the Iberian Peninsula's culture during this enriching cruise experience.

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