The meaning of luxury has been well –defined in terms of scarcity, legacy, craftsmanship and worth, especially when it comes to great handbags, clothing, perfumes, and real estate.
But the luxury experience has also been re-imagined in terms of the land vacation, and in exponentially growing river cruise vacation as well. Arguably, the leader in this newly emerging niche is Scenic river cruises. The elegant nature of the Scenic cruise emerges in many dimensions, all leading to a high-end, compelling experience.
Classically, a scenic route lies in direct contrast to a direct, faster path. This route allows the voyager to be with river, feel its flow, meander with the circuitous whorls and diverse streams, breathing deeply and seeing colorful, historic vistas in an unhurried way. Taking the scenic route gives the voyager time, and time, as many assert, is the ultimate luxury. And the Scenic cruise always takes the scenic route.
We recently experienced a Scenic cruise from Budapest to Vienna, on the Danube, and we saw how the Scenic view of luxury has been re-imagined in an elegant, yet practical ways.
The first is the all-inclusive nature of the Scenic cruise. Scenic bundles in all food, wine, high-end spirits, and gratuities, even for the onshore tour and bus guides. Everything you need is included: airport transfers, tips, meals, drinks, and excursions. However, the onboard spa, hair salon and laundry must be paid for. But even with these things, the all-inclusive strategy is a wonderful fiscal retreat, so the traveler can really enjoy the Scenic route, without have to calculate percentages in tipping, and worry about how much actual Euros they have.
The second advantage is the space. Scenic has the largest river cruise ships on the market, the reason they are called space ships. They are 443 feet long and 38 feet wide. Scenic’s vessels have a maximum capacity of 171 passengers while other companies hold 220—on similar or smaller ships. 88% of the cabins on Scenic’s boats have balconies, furnished with two chairs, a table and an electric sliding-glass window. The window, with a push of a button, can eliminate the cold/heat, rain/snow and the occasional bug.
The third is the Private Butler. Every guest has one, and he or she will take care of need and wants, coffee, food service items.
And fourth, is the Scenic dining experience. There are the five dining venues, in addition to room service, another amenity rare on river cruises, but offered on Scenic. And the dining venues are spectacular. Here is a dinner menu from La Rive, one of the restaurants. If you didn’t know where it came from you might think it was from a Michelin starred dining room:
- Amuse Bouche: A Lemongrass Crème Brulee with a light Grauburgender Michelfelder Himmelberg, similar to an Italian Pinot Gris except a little sweeter.
- First Course – an exceptional Beetroot Gravalax with an orange infused fennel slaw, paired with a crisp Saint-Veran Aux Monts, a white burgundy.
- The salad course was a Scampi with mango and arugula, with a Sauv Blanc from the Zantho Vineyards in Burgenland, Austria.
- The soup, Mushroom Cappuccino, was paired with a semi-sweet, slightly green Gruner Veltliner wine from the Wachau valley in Austria.
- The main course is a beef filet with Fois Gras, and truffle jus, paired with a dazzling red Brunello di Montalcino.
- Finally, there was dessert: chocolate cake with Balsamic cherries, paired with a late harvest, Hungarian Tokaji Aszu 5.
And this was just one night, one dinner. The other dining venues were equally substantial, whereas the River Café caters to light eaters and vegetarians and vegans. It is open from 7AM until 11PM.
The dining experiences were one luxury dimension on this Scenic cruise; the others were the varied off boat experiences, all free of charge. Two in Vienna were a private Lipizzaner Stallion exhibition at the Spanish Riding School and a classical chamber music concert at the historic Palais Arsenol.
Another favorite was the 19-mile electric-assist bike ride from Durnstein, through the Wachau Valley in Austria in the spring. These electric assist bicycles have an integrated electric motor that can be used for propulsion, but all retain the ability to be pedaled by the rider. The Scenic vessels usually have about 30 of these on board.
With these experiential pleasures, Scenic has set a global benchmark for luxury river cruising – providing the voyager with a cruise experience where they can savor the wonder of the Scenic route, following river, land, sunrise and sunsets in memorable harmony.
for US — www. scenicusa.com, phone 844 – 788- 7985
for Canada: www.scenic.ca