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Kate – France River Cruise with Scenic Gem

I really couldn’t fault Scenic on my luxury France River Cruise. The staff were so friendly and always available for guests needs. The ship is modern, stylish, with lots of blues and blacks throughout the main areas. 

Kate Traynor

The itinerary really gets you to see the heart of France. From the beautiful old cities, to the little towns with the cutest patisseries in places you didn’t even know existed!

Hotel Scribe by Sofitel

  • 1 night pre-cruise
  • 9th arrondissement on the Right Bank

This is the hotel that Scenic use if you stay before or after your France River Cruise. It’s a fabulous, very grand, hotel.  Great for shopping as Galeries Lafayette and the big designer stores are all close by the hotel. It’s a 7 minute walk to the Metro (Madeline area). There is a Hop on Hop off bus tour stop about a 3 minute walk away which was really convenient.

I was upgraded to the Luxury Club Room which had a gorgeous interior with beautiful views of the street, and noise wasn’t a problem at all. One of the other agents I was travelling with was lucky enough to get a view of the Eiffel Tower from his room.  I saw the standard room which was still nice just smaller and had a different outlook. The Luxury Club Room had a Separate Shower and bath, spacious hall and comfy king bed. Breakfast was delicious with lots of variety.

48 Hours in Paris

For my 2 days in Paris before the Cruise I did the Hop on Hop off bus tour which I always recommend to see a city when you first arrive. I also did the ‘Popular Sites of Paris’ Segway tour which, was so much fun! You have to have a sense of adventure for this one, as it did get scary when crossing the roads and intersections of the crazy roads in the city. I would highly recommend this though as it was a great day out!

Scenic Gem

Our itinerary was 5 nights (6 days) with 80 agents and 20 media staff onboard. It was a sample cruise of the Normandy & Gems of the Seine River which is 10 nights (11 days) cruise.

  • Built in 2014
  • 127 Guests
  • This ship was specifically built to fit through the locks in Honfluer France
  • It is currently the only River Ship that can go into this area of France

I really can’t fault Scenic on my River Cruise. Staff we so friendly and always available for all needs. Modern, stylish, with lots of blues and blacks throughout the main areas in the ship

Food was delish with so many options. Breakfast was buffet or a la carte. The buffet had so many options with a chef there to cook anything you want. Lunch, you could either eat at the buffet in the main dining room or a light lunch in the River Café. The river Café was my favourite as the buffet food had heavier food (for me) for lunch. Dinner in main dining room each night, with different sized tables. Dinner is a 4 course A La Carte meal with different menu options.

Scenic Gem has 2 speciality dining options. We got to experience the Chefs table which is 8 courses all matched with wines. This was a really fun night and would recommend booking this when you get on board.

Cabins on Scenic Gem

I was so lucky to have my own balcony cabin. I was on the Diamond deck which is a great deck to be on. Diamond Deck has extra inclusions like breakfast delivered in your cabin and complimentary laundry service. The 2 below decks don’t get these inclusions.  All room types have their own butler.

Standard Suite ~ It was really spacious as they have the extra space due to no balcony. This has a small window at water level

Private Balcony Suite ~ My cabin. I would recommend this with confidence. Great décor, big balcony with so much light, can open up the balcony sliding doors which instantly feels like you have much more space. The wardrobes are a good size and has lots of room under the bed for suitcases

Royal Suite ~ Same as the Balcony Suite except has a separate living area.

Royal Balcony Suite ~ There are two on board the Gem. At the rear of the ship. So much space! The suite has floor to ceiling windows with bed facing the window. They get all the same inclusions except they can host a cocktail event in their suite complimentary.

Itinerary

We got to visit some gorgeous French towns along the Seine. Scenic Free Choice options included walking tours of each town, bike rides where we got to visit Monet’s Garden and Monet’s House.  We also go to see a lot of castles. These are all half day morning tours, which gives you the option to come back to the boat for lunch and then have the afternoon at your leisure.

The main day tour of the cruise is the D Day Battle field sites at Normandy Beach. Some guests choose this cruise itinerary purely to do this day tour. It is a full day which starts at 8am and finishes at 6:30pm. Its a very emotional day but so worth it.

Disembarkment from ship at the end of the sailing is very easy for guests. Scenic arrange private transfers taking them either to the airport or hotels (conditions apply) to continue their holiday.

Getting There

I flew with Singapore Airlines in economy class, and had no problems with them. We checked in online prior and chose our seats which was great as I got to select an aisle seat (my preferance). The A380 from Singapore is an older aircraft which looks a bit tired, but the food & Entertainment was good!

Kate’s Travel Tips

  • My most memorable thing that I loved was Monet’s Garden and riding our bikes along the river.
  • My packing tip at that time of the year as it was cooler (October) was my Kathmandu Jacket, it kept me so warm. It was light and can easily be folded up in my suitcase so takes up little room.
  • I would recommend this itineary to someone who has done the Amsterdam – Budapest River Cruise and wants something different. This itinerary you really get to see all of France. To the beautiful old cities, to the little towns with the cutest patiseries in places you didn’t even know existed.

Contact:  kate@destinationhq.com.au

 

 

 

Jess: Avalon Waterways River Cruising

AVALON WATERWAYS are extremely well organised with their arrival process, day tours and departure. Each time you head off you are put into smaller groups and given water bottles to take away with you. You are given headsets which makes it much easier to hear and you don’t miss out on what the guides are saying. Avalon has 1 or 2 included tours each day plus additional tours to purchase if you are interested – for example to go out to Versailles. Each day is pretty busy which surprised me as I thought would be more leisurely paced.

The food was really good, with four courses each night for dinner and alcohol served with dinner too. They kept glasses topped up well throughout dinner.

They have a main dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner and also a bistro option for dinner which offers a degustation option, max 20 guests so it’s a good idea to book when you get on the ship as this wasn’t on every night.

They do have a lift on board to accommodate those guests who need assistance.

They also cater very well for guests with food allergies and intolerance’s. We had a girl in our group who had food allergies and they were very accommodating, discussing food options for her every night and bringing gluten free bread in the morning.

I stayed in a category A stateroom and loved it as it offers a unique room configuration where the beds face looking out to the window which means you can lie in bed and get a great view! Beds were AMAZING!!

AVALON is a great product for those clients who are after a beautiful river cruise ship but don’t want to pay for the all-inclusive product (ie unlimited drinks and choices of shore excursions).  I would have noproblem recommending AVALON WATERWAYS to our clients wishing to cruise!jess avalon

Sophie – APT Europe River Cruise

European River Cruising is an Australian favourite and it’s not hard to see why. The rivers of Europe promise stunning scenery along with centuries of culture, all with the ease of unpacking once. I was fortunate enough to experience APT River Cruising first hand, and on board the AmaReina life couldn’t get much better. Everything from the ship facilities, on board cuisine and level of service was faultless.

sophie apt

Sophie Anderson

The 15 day Magnificent Europe itinerary takes you from Budapest to Amsterdam (or in reverse). I joined the river cruise half way in Nuremberg, Germany and I was impressed from the moment I stepped on board. The suites are luxurious, equipped with state of the art technology, and modern furnishings. Categories T+ and above include your very own butler who is there to make your experience even more enjoyable. There is something magical about sitting on your balcony watching the sun rise while sipping on you freshly made coffee….and you haven’t even left your cabin yet!

The food on board exceeded all expectations, with an  à la carte menu offered for every meal there was something for everyone. Any special dietary requirements were met with ease – nothing was ever too much trouble! Also with a vast selection of high end wine, there was something for every palate.

APT have their freedom of choice tour options, these tours operate at each port and it is up to you which tour you do. They are not compulsory, if you would prefer a leisurely day on board or to take a quiet stroll yourself you can do this too. That’s why it’s ‘freedom of choice’ you have the freedom to choose what you do. The tours are operated by local guides, all of whom are knowledgeable and engaging.

One of my favourite tours was to the medieval town of  Rothenburg. Rothenburg is picturesque German town where it is Christmas all year round. It’s like walking into a  fairy tale dream land. Known as the best preserved medieval town in Germany, the architecture is beyond amazing.

River cruising is a perfect way to see Europe, the ships are essentially floating luxury hotels taking you  to towns you would only dream of.

In addition to comfort and easy travelling APT European river cruises are fully inclusive of All meals, beverages and touring, there are no hidden extras!

If you enjoy the finer things in life, with a casual atmosphere then APT is for you!

To contact sophie E-mail: sophie@destinationhq.com.au

 


Reece: Scenic Europe River Cruise

I have just returned from an amazing adventure on board Scenic’s new Space Ship, Scenic Jasper. Scenic have recently rebranded their offerings, focusing on the “wonder” of the destinations they visit, and introducing two new Space Ships as well as updating their coaches. What a beautiful transition it has been, using their new black colour scheme with mirrors and elegant surfaces, the attention to detail has not gone unnoticed.

The Rooms.

The suites are a little subtler in their colour scheme, providing a very pleasant space that entices rest and relaxation. I was able to view all the room categories, but the one stood out from the rest was the single balcony cabin, room 224. It is a great option for a single traveller with the cabin being slightly narrower than regular cabins, you are given your own space. However the bathroom and balcony layout is the same as regular cabins, giving you plenty of room to enjoy the Scenic experience. Having stayed in this cabin I can tell you first hand that there is no noise disturbance and is a great option for single travellers.

The balconies, known as ‘Sun Lounges’ are amazing. The sun lounges are a floor to ceiling, wall-to-wall window giving maximum views from your room. The top half winds down at the push of a button to open up and become a true balcony allowing the outside in.

You can partition the rest of the room off if needed as the air conditioning does get shut off once the balcony is opened for obvious reasons.

The Food.

The food on board was some of the best I have eaten, truly fantastic. I dined at all the restaurants on offer, from the Crystal Dining Room to the River Café, and was never disappointed. The cuisine in the Crystal Dining Room changes from day to day, with a buffet breakfast and lunch, and a la carte for dinner.

The River Café is a light dining option offering sandwiches and pastries plus a smaller buffet and pizzas for lunch.

Portobello’s offers great Italian food on board, serving 7 courses with fine wine, it is a great option but a reservation is required.

Rounding out the dining options on board is Table La Rivé, a premier experience reserved for guests on the Diamond Deck (top deck). It is a 6-course degustation with paired wines, and is truly lavish and luxurious. Reservations are also required as it has a maximum capacity of 10 guests per sitting. There is also a 24-hour a day ‘butler service’ that serves as Scenic’s concierge/room service option.

The Staff.

The staff couldn’t be more helpful. They are very prompt with their service and friendly, always saying hello and having a chat. They were more than accommodating with some of the special requests, especially regarding meals.

The Extras.

The Tailor-made devices are another unique addition this year and offer another level of depth to your journey. The device is essentially a handheld, GPS activated tour guide that talks to you through a very comfortable earpiece.

They can be used as a self-guide with points of interested loaded onto a map with your location plotted via GPS. Tour guides can use it on guided walks so there’s no more need for mega phones or to fight the rest of the group for front position. They can even be used on board the ship to give commentary of the river, also using GPS plotted points of interest.

The Destinations.

Enough about Scenic though, as they’d tell you “It’s not just about the on board experience, it’s about the destinations.” Scenic just make it all that more enjoyable.

Here’s an example: I wasn’t really “getting” Vienna to start with. It’s a pretty city and I had heard that there was a lot of music history there but it was a little ruined by all the souvenir shops selling silly Mozart dolls on springs, dancing up and down in their windows.

Scenic’s Enrich program took us to Palais Lichtenstien in the heart of Vienna. We all got dressed up and were welcomed with champagne for a traditional 12 piece symphony, complete with opera singers and ballet dancers. Now that is something that I didn’t think would interest me, but they put on a fantastic show and from that moment on I really “got” Vienna and now have an appreciation for that music history I was so underwhelmed with before.

This continued back on the spaceship where I took part in one of the many on board entertainment activities and I learnt the Viennese waltz!

The Sundowner Experiences are also something special. On one of our included shore excursions, a bicycle ride from Durnstein to Melk, everyone had noticed an impressive castle up on a hill on the opposite bank. Little did we know we be later exploring that castle with sunset drinks, as part of the Sundownder Experience. There was Austrian singing and dancing, plus this was opened specifically for our group so it felt even more special.

Scenic Tours really are all-inclusive and the staff truly goes the extra mile. It is a very refined product that I can’t rate highly enough. They truly provide the perfect way to experience Europe.

 

For more information about Reece’s Scenic European adventure, give one of our travel experts a call on 1300 783 840.