Scenic’s roots go back to 1986, when entrepreneur Glen Moroney started offering coach tours in Australia. Rapid expansion led to a global travel company that specialised in touring holidays worldwide and in 2008, branched out into European river cruising.
Scenic’s smart, contemporary ‘Space Ships’ made an impact from the beginning, offering an unprecedented array of facilities, from private balcony suites (less common a decade ago) to luxuries including gyms, spas, swimming pools, speciality dining, butler service and all-inclusive drinks, right down to the minibar.
In 2012, the company expanded into Russia with the luxurious Scenic Tsar, and launched in Asia in 2016 with Scenic Spirit: a sumptuous, 68-passenger ship that sails the Mekong, complete with a swimming pool and open-air cinema. The same year, Scenic Azure brought a new level of luxury to the Douro in Portugal, followed by the 44-passenger Scenic Aura on the Irrawaddy.
Today, the company operates 15 river cruise ships and continues to offer some of the very highest standards in river cruising. The older vessels, Scenic Sapphire and Scenic Diamond, both of which sail the waterways of France, had complete makeovers in 2017, each re-launching with a new swimming pool and, unusually, a hands-on cookery school, Scenic Culinaire.
So, what can you expect on-board? For a start, a genuinely all-inclusive experience, with a choice of tours, tips, activities, fine dining, butler service and evening extravaganzas ashore all covered. Fellow passengers are a mixture of mature Australians, North Americans and Europeans and the atmosphere is generally jolly.
There is always a choice of excursions, ranging from more sedate sightseeing to energetic pursuits like cycling and kayaking. Scenic ‘Enrich’ events include private concerts or dinners in beautiful and historic venues ashore, from a medieval banquet in Marksburg Castle on the Rhine to dinner in Avignon’s magnificent Palais des Papes. More independent travellers can borrow a hand-held GPS device, pre-loaded with more than 240 tours of European ports.
Food on-board is classy and plentiful, with each European ship offering a choice of restaurants, from the main Crystal dining room to an Italian, Portobello’s, as well as an all-day café and exclusive wine-paired evenings for guests in the top suites.
But it is the service that really counts, from the waiters and butlers to the super-efficient cruise directors, all of whom contribute to making a Scenic holiday one of the finest river cruises available.