Scenic Continues Rapid Expansion

New luxury river vessels debut in April and May By: Marilyn Green
Scenic ships will feature glass-enclosed balconies. // © 2012 Scenic Cruises
Scenic ships will feature glass-enclosed balconies. // © 2012 Scenic Cruises

The Details

Scenic Cruises

Scenic Cruises, which launched its fifth ship, Scenic Pearl, in 2011, has announced the 169-passenger Scenic Crystal which is scheduled to debut in April, followed by the May debut of the Scenic Tsar. The Tsar has been completely renovated for Russia cruises.

Crystal is the line’s sixth vessel in four years and represents a new generation of ships, with Sun Lounge balconies in 85 percent of the staterooms. These special balconies can become fully glass-enclosed at the push of a button. Passengers will enjoy three dining venues, including the Show Grill where gusts can watch the chefs prepare their meal, casual breakfast and lunch at the River Cafe and the main restaurant, Crystal Dining, which features a Chef’s Table.

The vessel’s extended length of 443 feet allows for staterooms and suites ranging from 164 to 315 square feet, with 27-inch and larger Apple TV monitors, wireless Internet, Egyptian linens, large showers, L’Occitane products and a glass-front bar refrigerator in each. Twenty-five percent of Crystal’s Balcony Suites are a new larger category, offering 225 square feet of space. There is also a 24-hour fitness center and three outdoor viewing areas, and Scenic claims the largest lounge and dining area of any river ship. There are also bicycles and electric assist bicycles available for guests to use on shore. In addition, Scenic is bringing in a new configuration for the engines/props with rubber-mounted structures to reduce vibration and double-insulated enclosures to attain near silent travel.

Scenic Crystal will cruise the eight-day Gems of the Danube itinerary, priced from $3,245, and the 11-day Gems of the Danube and Prague from $4,415, plus the 15-day Jewels of Europe between Budapest and Amsterdam starting at $4,895. Prices are all-inclusive, including gratuities and shore excursions.

Scenic also recently bought a ship for deployment on Russian rivers and has a $4 million-plus refurbishment under way, which will remodel the ship from the ground up, including its electrical system, plumbing and power plant. Scenic Tsar will have satellite television, private balconies in 93 percent of the staterooms and suites, a wellness area, gym, sauna and two bars. Accommodations include two Panorama suites at 334 square feet each and four, 300-square-foot Royal suites. Elevators provide access to all but the fourth deck and salon and massage services, a gym and a sauna will serve passengers. The public areas will include a single-seating Crystal dining room as well as a Panorama bar and lounge. There will be an additional, smaller open-air lounge on the third deck and a sun deck with seating on the fourth deck.

During the 2012 season from March through October, the Tsar will sail 15-day cruises between St. Petersburg and Moscow that can be booked alone or in combination with five possible land tours. These range from a total of 19 days when adding four days in Kiev, to a 33-day adventure that adds the exploration of the Ukraine and Scandinavia. Pricing is from $7,295 per person, double.

“We are incredibly excited to be able to bring the same level of luxury to the Russian rivers that we have introduced on the European rivers,” said Janice Tully, Scenic Cruises U.S. brand manager. “The accommodations, service and fully inclusive enrichment tours should be no less stellar than the many Russian treasures on the route between Moscow and St. Petersburg.”

A very important feature of Scenic is its all-inclusive pricing with all excursion programs as well as private concerts and exclusive performances included in the price. In Russia, the line devotes five days to the exploration of St. Petersburg. Touring the baroque Winter Palace, the Hermitage, Peter and Paul Fortress and Catherine’s Palace, among many others, is combined with a visit to a children’s music school and a traditional Russian lunch at the old-world wooden Podvorie restaurant. The cruise also includes four days in Moscow with tours of the Kremlin, the KGB Building, Red Square, the State Armory with its collection of Faberge eggs, the Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, and the famous Moscow Circus. Enrichment programs range from a private Russian ballet concert to meeting with a cosmonaut to visiting with a local family for tea and piroshkies.

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