From the moment you step aboard one of Scenic’s super-modern Space-Ships you know you’re about to experience something very special. And that’s because the innovative Australian company lives by its philosophy of handcrafting every aspect of its cruises. The passionate, dedicated Scenic team has spent months, if not years, hand-picking the very best of everything. From the design and construction of the ships to the destinations you visit, the tours you take, the food you eat – you name it, they’ve nailed it. Take the Space-Ships themselves – the fleet of 13 is the newest on Europe’s wonderful waterways. All are designed and built by a leading Dutch river cruise shipyard, whose owner Jacques Den Breejen was guest of honour at Scenic Jasper’s christening in May. Scenic’s founder and chairman, Glen Moroney, said, “We work only with the best shipbuilders so we can continue to break new ground with our cutting-edge design and we are proud to be the only 100 per cent Australian owned and operated river cruise line in Europe.”
Glen’s wife and design partner, Karen Moroney, is the driving force behind the ships’ stylish interiors. She oversees the entire design process, from sourcing the handcrafted marble that adorns the stairwells and bathrooms to testing bespoke fixtures and fittings in all areas of the ships. When you sink into blissful slumber every night, you can thank Karen for the extensive research she and her team conduct into everything from the mattress to the pillow menu and finding the best quality 400-threadcount bed linen. As well as working closely with the family-owned European companies who create the Space-Ships’ decor and furniture, Karen is a keen art collector. Scenic Jasper is the first Space-Ship to feature specially commissioned artworks, including those of Australian artists Peter Sharp and Waldemar Kolbusz; their distinctive paintings and sculptures are the perfect counterpoint to the ship’s understated contemporary design. Scenic runs its luxurious, all-inclusive cruises on the magnificent rivers that flow through Europe’s heartlands. The most sought-after cruise is the aptly named Jewels of Europe, which travels through five countries between Amsterdam and Budapest. Your leisurely journey takes you on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers, and along the way you’ll explore historic cities, idyllic villages and attractions that lie beyond the river.
France is becoming increasingly popular among river cruisers and Scenic’s Space-Ships ply the beautiful Dordogne and Garonne rivers in Bordeaux, the Rhone and Saone in Provence and Burgundy, and the Seine from Paris to Honfleur in Normandy. Each cruise offers the best that these incredibly varied regions offer, from chateaux and boutique wineries to gastronomic extravaganzas, colourful markets and a rich history that goes back to Roman times.
Portugal’s picturesque Douro Valley is another glorious destination waiting to be explored. One highlight of Scenic’s new Douro cruises is a private dinner accompanied by a performance of Fado music, at the renowned Burmester Cellars in Porto; these exclusive Enrich experiences are a hallmark of all Scenic cruises. On the Jewels of Europe cruise, an evening concert of classical Viennese music at Vienna’s exquisite Liechtenstein Garden Palace is an absolute standout; next year guests will also be treated to a specially created show featuring music and scenes from The Sound of Music in Salzburg. It’s taken Scenic’s team of ’journey designers’ two years to co-produce with the Salzburg Orchestra and Classic Art Vienna.
The rather enviable job of a Scenic journey designer is to travel around Europe researching not just the destinations you visit but hand-picking these memorable events that showcase local culture and traditions. Which is another reason why you’re spoilt for choice of tours and activities at every stop along the way. A personal favourite is heading into a village or town on one of the ships’ fabulous Smart-e bikes – electrically assisted bicycles that make climbing the steepest hill a breeze. Plug in your Scenic Tailormade device and you can follow any number of guided rides or walks; the built-in GPS knows where you are and gives you a commentary on everything you see on your route.
Scenic Freechoice tours are escorted by professional local guides who deliver entertaining, informative talks about the places you visit. Whether you choose to tour a world-famous Gothic cathedral, a medieval castle or a farm producing regional delicacies, your guide adds another level of insight into the whole experience. A Scenic Sundowner is another special occasion organised exclusively for guests. On the Gems of the Seine cruise, for example, you’re invited to a private reception at the Manoir d’Appreval, where you’ll sip Calvados in an unbelievably beautiful setting of apple orchards and sea views. And on the Jewels of Europe voyage, why not wind down with a relaxing cocktail while you take in panoramic views of Austria’s sublime Wachau Valley? It’s those memorable moments that make the holiday of a lifetime.