Scenic Sapphire, Avignon

One thing I can tell you about river cruising is that it’s a relaxing way to see the world.

There is just something magical about it. Onboard the luxurious Scenic spaceship, we were treated to the slow-moving landscapes of the South of France. Imagine drifting through the waterways with idyllic vineyards, picturesque castles and quaint villages lining the riverbanks.

Our trip from Burgundy to Lyon was a gastronomic utopia with some of the most famous vineyards and Michelin-starred restaurants on the planet! The tours I chose were mostly all wine- and food-related since I wanted to learn more about the food culture of France. Burgundy alone has 31 restaurants with Michelin star ratings, while Lyon has 167 of them! So do buy a copy of the Michelin Guide and use it to unearth great restaurants on your free time.

Scenic offers a more meaningful experiential way to travel. Our itinerary included Lyon for exposure to the Food Capital of France, the Burgundy region for wine tasting, the Paul Bocuse Institute for a lesson in French cuisine, and even Tournus for truffle hunting with the hounds!

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

SCENIC LUXURY CRUISE & TOURS is a world-renowned luxury cruise and tour operator famed for its unique blend of five-star service at an all-inclusive fare, covering even luxuries you would expect to pay for!

I understand now why Scenic cruises has continued to be a favourite in the river cruising scene: besides the 5-star experience, cruisers also appreciate the tours that take the scenic route without rushing passengers from one shore to the next.

In case you haven’t considered it as an option for your next holiday, we have come up with 10 reasons why you should take a river cruise with Scenic…

ACEWIN Travel & Tours Corp
G/F LPL Bldg., 17 Eisenhower St.
North Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila
Landline: +632 729-66-88
Mobile: +63 915-5000-678 , +63 917-572-5540
Facebook: AcewinTours
Facebook: LuxuryForLessPhilippines
E-mail: [email protected]

1. All-INCLUSIVE PACKAGE

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

When Scenic says all-inclusive, they mean it! From the moment you step on board till the time you wave your last goodbye, everything on your vacation with Scenic is prepaid for!

Be prepared to be spoiled with their unlimited branded drinks, scrumptious dining options, curated shore excursions, airport transfers, prepaid gratuities and even your very own private butler!

In fact, I left my wallet in my suite most of the time. But make sure to bring yours during shore excursions for buying souvenirs!

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

Going to the open bar is our favorite activity during the cruise. From lunch till midnight, enjoy their fine selection of premium drinks from French champagnes, regional wines, hard drinks and boutique beers to bottled water and coffee. The best part? It’s prepaid for, so no one needs to foot the bill in case you end up drinking with new friends.

 

 

2. THE ROOMS

Junior Balcony Suite

Rooms on cruise ships are called “cabins” or “staterooms”. Like hotel rooms, they each feature a bed, desk, closet and ensuite bathroom.

Scenic boasts of some of the largest suites on the European rivers. The Scenic Sapphire has six different sizes of cabins and suites, spread over three decks  in 16 different categories. The sizes of the staterooms range in size from 160ft² to 510ft².

I stayed in the Junior Balcony Suite that’s 23m²/250ft² in size (including the ‘Sun Lounge’). I like its boutique feel—decorated with a black-and-white color scheme, wooden accents and fabric headboards. The cabins are cozy yet comfortable and not at all claustrophobic.

Every suite on board (except the standard room) has a private balcony. At the press of a button, your balcony seamlessly converts into a sun lounge, so you can enjoy the luxury of extra space and catch the thrilling views of the journey. The rooms are all fitted with individual climate controls and 32-inch Samsung HD TVs linked to Mac mini computers with internet access and selection of films on demand.

I also appreciated the maps and destination fact files provided by Scenic.

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

The rooms are restocked daily with complimentary sparkling water, snacks, chocolate and minibar items (juice, wine, coke, beer and hard drinks). Your butler can also bring other drinks to your suite.

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

Generally, cruise ship bathrooms are tiny but efficient. You’ll have the necessities: toilet, sink, shower, mirror, counter and hairdryer.

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

A soft toweling robe and a pair of slippers await. The bathrooms boast of hi-tech showers and L’Occitane toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, lotion & soap).

Cabins offer ample storage space. The closets have plentiful hangers, shelves, drawer space and even a small safe to keep your valuables.

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

The icing on the cake is your very own personal butler! It won’t take long for him to know your name and preferences because of the ship’s 3 to 1 guest-to-staff ratio. (Cabin service is twice daily.)

 

 

3. SCENIC ENRICH & SUNDOWNER (Exclusive to Scenic passengers only.)

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

Besides the daily shore excursions, we also looked forward to the Scenic Enrich & Sundowner programs. These programs are designed to culturally immerse guests and let them experience what’s inaccessible to the ordinary traveler.

For our Scenic Enrich Program, our evening was filled with glitz and glamour at Cirque Imagine with a traditional French cabaret performance under the big-top onshore that evening in Lyon.

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

Guest were treated to an exclusive gala spectacular, complete with scrumptious desserts and bottles of wine while being entertained. You’re also welcome to take photos with the performers after the show.

The show was the best way to add a bit of sparkle to our evening!

 

 

4. FREE-CHOICE SHORE EXCURSIONS

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

One of the hardest parts of the cruise is choosing which tours to participate in. There are a lot of interesting activities that are happening at the same time and are rated from active, moderate and relaxed.

You can explore a gorgeous chateau, enjoy wine tasting at a vineyard, join a French cooking class, visit a nearby medieval town or go truffle hunting with the hounds.

All optional tours and tips were inclusive so there were no extra expenses to worry about.

Don’t forget your Tailormade device that not only prevents you from getting lost but also doubles as a headset for you to clearly enjoy the commentaries from your tour guide.

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

Transportation from the river cruise ship between tours could be by motor coach if it’s not within walking distance.

Here’s a sample of the free choice excursions that I took part in…

 

Les Hospices de Beaune (Historical Tour)

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

If in Beaune, you cannot miss a trip to this museum. Once a hospital, the story behind Les Hospices de Beaune is so interesting. You can never imagine that this was founded as a hospital for the poor in 1443 by Nicholas Rolin, owner of a prestigious wine estate. Right up to 1970, the nuns took care of orphaned children, the sick and the destitute in this harmonious setting.

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

They started the fashion of having lovely half-timbered facades with zigzag-patterned tiled roofs of sparkling colors that later became a distinctive architectural feature of the Burgundy region.

 

The Truffle Hunt (Gourmet Tour)

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

Joined the intelligent hounds and their owners in a nearby quaint village to locate and sample French truffles and white wine.

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

During the truffle hunt, we had the opportunity to walk through a real farm and get to know how truffles grow, how they can be found and even tell when they are fresh or when you’re being fooled by “gourmet” crooks.

Since truffles are usually harvested in autumn, what the truffles Chinook dug up were pre-planted for exhibition purposes only.

 

Wine Tasting  (Gourmet Tour)

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

Did you know Burgundy is known for producing the most expensive and best wines in the world? It’s mainly due to the land and climate that are suitable for growing Pinot noir and Chardonnay varieties of grapes.

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

Perched on a hill is Chateau Montmelas estate, a castle surrounded by gorgeous views of the surrounding vineyard. Every wine made here is made from a single grape variety. They are the fruit of Gamay noir å jus blanc grape, a variety that is almost exclusive to the Beaujolais region. The light-bodied wines we tasted were delicious, crisp, fresh and ideal to enjoy in the summer.

 

Learn French Cuisine (Gourmet Tour)

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

Knowing Lyon is the Food Capital of France,  I didn’t want to miss my chance to gorge on what the city is being raved about. I joined a small group of foodies to the exclusive culinary school of Paul Bocuse to learn the perfect art of French cuisine and, of course, to sample some of the delicious fares.

Paul Bocuse is one of the greatest French chefs of all time who placed Lyon in the gastronomic map. He was France’s only chef to keep the Michelin food bible’s coveted three-star rating through more than four decades!

A fun fact about Bocuse is that he liked the number three—he had three bypasses, three wives and three Michelin Stars!

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

That day’s lesson was Paul Bocuse’s famed Chicken Fricassée, cooked by his mentee, chef Sebastien. The distinct elements of the dish that Bocuse wanted to emphasize were the butter and cream that he swore by.

Now for the taste… I loved the synergy of the earthy-nutty morels and wonderfully cooked chicken. It was well-balanced in the sense that it was rich but not overly so. One of the best dishes I’ve tried on the trip!

Tip: Want to change tours during the trip? You can do so at the front desk if there are available slots!

 

 

5. 5-STAR DINING

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

Breakfast and lunch are casual and served buffet-style with something for every taste, while dinner is a multi-course affair served by waiters. A la carte options are also available during all meals.

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

The breakfast spread is composed of a selection of European favorites such as cheeses, meats and smoked salmon. There are also traditional breakfast items like bread, yogurt, cereals, fruits and bacon.

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

If you don’t like anything, an a la carte menu for hot dishes cooked to order is available with table service. A favorite of the group on the breakfast menu is the lamb chops with hash brown. Can you imagine having lamb chops for breakfast?

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

Dinner is a delight! Scenic makes sure that French cuisines as well as use of local produce from surrounding villages and towns are incorporated.

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

The three-course degustation changes daily—entrees like escargot, main courses like delicious mouthwatering steak, lobster tails and seafood and exquisite desserts that are gorgeously plated resembling works of art!

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

And with all drinks included in your package, you can pair your food with delightful free-flowing French champagnes and regional wines as you please.

 

6. SCENIC TAILORMADE DEVICE & FREE TIME ASHORE

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

Shore excursions last around 3-4 hours depending on the destination, and that gives you a good amount of time to go on your own adventures after the tour.

You can be your own guide! Guests can either choose to enjoy the facilities onboard, do some independent exploring in the city with Scenic’s innovative Tailormade devices or go on a leisurely ride on the e-bikes.

New in the cruising scene are the Tailormade devices that you won’t find anywhere else.

If you don’t have mobile data or a pocket wifi with you, Scenic’s Tailormade devices are lifesavers! They serve as your guided map complete with a GPS tracker. They also contain a variety of suggested walking tours for each port and background information of each city from various vantage points so that you can discover new places at your leisure.

 

 

7. E-BIKES TOUR

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

Go on a bike ride through the picturesque European countryside.

At first, it can be intimidating to hear that you’re going on a 25-km bike tour, but rest assured these motorized bikes are power-assisted to help with pedaling. Simply start to pedal, select your speed and tackle those inclines with ease.

The fitter among us pedaled all the way, while the rest adjusted their gears and allowed the bikes’ batteries to supply additional thrust.

 

 

8. FACILITIES

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

The sundeck complete with lounge chairs is perfect for relaxing and getting a tan while the ship is sailing.

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

Jacuzzi complete with butler service to get you a glass of champagne.

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

Facilities onboard also include a well-equipped gym, a vitality pool, a salt room and a walking track.

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

Scenic’s new on-board cookery programme, Scenic Culinaire, introduces the tastes and flavours of French cuisine with on-board classes.

 

9. FREE WIFI

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

If you just can’t seem to get off the grid, whether it’s for work or social media purposes, you may have found your next vacation option. Unlike aboard a massive cruise ship at sea where internet is very expensive, the internet aboard Scenic river cruise is 100% free of charge.

The only thing to remember is that, while the ship is moving, some remote areas might have a slower connection. The good news is that you are given fair warning by your Cruise Director and Scenic Tailormade device as to when the off-the-grid times occur.

 

 

10. GET CLOSE & PERSONAL

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

In comparison to its ocean counterpart, river vessels are smaller and can hold a maximum of 155 passengers.

A smaller vessel means fewer guests, which means you’re certain to have a more intimate experience. You’ll likely see the same faces over and over on a daily basis and get to know them quite well.

It was easy to form new friendships! I ran into two couples from Australia and America who met on the cruise and became good friends. This particular Scenic cruise was their 3rd consecutive trip together.

 

Scenic Luxury Cruise & Tours

Reasons why we love Scenic:
– These cruises don’t come cheap, but that just means you’re paying your money’s worth for more quality and meaningful experiential travel.
– Everything’s all-inclusive! One comment I overheard time and again was what a relief it was that gratuities were included so there was no need to worry about how much to tip. The only extras you’ll pay for are spa and laundry services.
– The ships are luxurious. Public areas have incredible contemporary decor with lots of glass and plenty of light.
– Scenic started as a coach tour company (Scenic Tours), and this heritage is reflected in the quality of the shore excursions.
– There’s no worrying about logistics. River cruising obviates the need for arranging transportation between cities, making hotel reservations, selecting restaurants and lining up for a tour.
– Unlike its counterpart at sea, river cruises are more intimate, with limited guests. That means you don’t need to worry about finding a seat at the dining table or getting into a long line since everyone is accounted for and guaranteed to have a hassle-free experience.
– Scenic’s Tailormade devices allow passengers to personalize free time based on their interests and preferred pace.
– You’ll never get seasick sailing through the calm rivers.
– Cruisers only need to unpack and pack once!

The passengers are mainly from Australia and New Zealand (not surprising since Scenic Tours is an Australian company). There were some Canadians, British, Americans and those from other English-speaking countries aboard.

The typical demographic of river cruising is 50-plus; however, with its new vessels and more active shore excursions, river cruising with Scenic is attracting more new passengers who are looking for an upmarket experience that’s all-inclusive.

If you’re looking for a river cruise experience along European rivers, I strongly recommend Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours on your list! Scenic itineraries include the Danube, Main, Rhine & Seine rivers, as well as the rivers of France, Portugal & Russia. Asian itineraries include sights in Myanmar & the Mekong River. For Scenic River Cruise & Emerald Waterways inquiries & bookings, contact Scenic’s Philippine booking office, ACEWIN Travel & Tours Corp.

For more info about SCENIC Cruises, please visit www.scenicusa.com.

ACEWIN Travel & Tours Corp
G/F LPL Bldg., 17 Eisenhower St.
North Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila
Landline: +632 729-66-88
Mobile: +63 915-5000-678 , +63 917-572-5540
Facebook: AcewinTours
Facebook: LuxuryForLessPhilippines
E-mail: [email protected]

 

Live an Awesome Life,

Abigailnew-1

ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet

Disclosure:  We were media guests of Acewin Tours & Scenic. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions and insights.