I’ve just spent a wonderful few days away aboard the Scenic Jasper – Scenic River Cruises new ‘Space-ship’. Scenic describe themselves as ‘The Ultimate River Cruise Experience’ and I was keen to see if the experience would live up to my expectations.
I arrived in Amsterdam and was met in Arrivals by a friendly representative who whisked myself and other guests to the ship. We were met by our Cruise Director and crew all keen to welcome us and were brandishing umbrellas to keep us dry as we walked on board. Hot towels were a welcome touch and then I was escorted to my Suite.
I was assigned a Deluxe Balcony Suite on Diamond Deck. My Butler – every accommodation has the services of one – showed me round my room and how to use the various amenities. There was a huge flat screen TV offering 12+ TV channels, music and radio channels and a huge selection of movies. There is also a channel where you can watch what is happening in the lounge on board, so if there is a Port talk taking place you can watch it from the comfort of your suite. The full size balcony is operated by a switch so you can choose to have it open or not at the touch of a button depending on the weather. The bathroom is stocked with L’Occitane toiletries and the shower offers a choice of settings plus you can change the colour as the water comes out (something I had never seen before!). Scenic have their own sumptuous Slumber Beds which really did ensure me a good night’s sleep throughout my stay. There is a stocked mini-bar in every suite and it is replenished daily at no cost. My Butler was keen to reiterate if there was anything at all that I needed throughout my stay I could call her at any time of day or night.
Over the next few days we visited Amsterdam and Antwerp as part of their all included excursions. There was a choice of excursions at each destination all included within the holiday price. All tips were included for the guides and we were able to listen to them on our GPS Tailormade devices located in every suite and charged overnight. These really were an excellent asset and allowed you to join in with the group tour or use the GPS and make your own tour of the area. Alternatively for the more active the ship holds electric bicycles for guests to use when in port.
In our final port we visited Hoorn, an old city in the North of Holland. Here we experienced a Scenic Enrich evening. We chose between a tour of the town, clog painting or free time and then all met in the local church and enjoyed a traditional meal hosted by the locals. It was a fun and interesting evening and our hosts were enthusiastic in their welcome to us and it was a real treat to experience an authentic evening with local people. Once again everything was included and there were no extras to pay.
On board ship we also experienced some wonderful treats and endless food. The Jasper has a main restaurant called the Crystal Dining Room, where you can dine at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Alternatively there is a section at the rear of the Panorama Lounge that serves snacks, light lunches and cakes throughout the day. There are also two speciality dining restaurants on board and I was lucky to be invited to the Tasting Menu at Café La Rive one evening on board. The evening quickly become a highlight for me. There were just 20 of us and we were treated to a 6-course dining experience of fresh scampi, mushroom cappuccino soup, a salad of gravlax and beetroot, fillet steak followed by a beautiful chocolate fondant. Each course was served by a wine waiter with a different wine to complement the menu. The whole experience lasted around 3 hours and was a real treat that I can definitely recommend with a fine choice of food, wine and exceptional service and again everything was included.
Throughout the cruise all meals and drinks were included (including premium brands), return flights/rail and transfers, all shore excursions and gratuities to guides, all gratuities on board ship and the services of a butler throughout PLUS they have the most luxurious fleet in Europe.
Scenic more than met my expectations and offer a luxury and exceptional river cruise experience which I can thoroughly recommend. They offer a great selection of destinations within Europe including Russia and new for 2016 they are offering the Douro River and the Mekong aboard the most luxurious ship in that area.
Written by Alison Waterfield-Jones, Sussex Cruise Club
Contact Alison on 01243 871663
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