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Scenic Tours, one of the largest tour operators in Australia, is moving into the U.S. market with four new ships and cruises in Europe, Egypt and Russia.
Nicole DeWilde, vice president sales and marketing, North America, said that the company had previously sold its New Zealand/Australia product via wholesalers such as Pleasant Holidays. Three years ago, Scenic launched its first 165-guest newbuild for river cruising and, since it already had an office in Vancouver, British Columbia, for inbound business, the company decided to set up its North American base there.
Scenic added two new ships in 2008 and two in 2009; another is due to debut in 2011. All ships are identical.
“The ships in our fleet are 148 yards long, compared to standard European river cruising vessels which are usually at 120 yards,” DeWilde said. “That's 22 percent more space.”
Staterooms have flat-screen televisions, wireless Internet access, L'Occitane bath products, Egyptian linens, minibars and personal safes.
Accommodations on the two top decks (which make up 82 percent of the rooms) measure 200 square feet with full private balconies as well as butler service. The lower-deck staterooms without balconies have non-opening windows that measure four feet high and five feet wide. Junior Suites are 250 square feet and Royal Suites are 300 square feet.
Aside from the Crystal Dining Room, the second dining venue, Portobello’s, is reservations only (without an additional fee) and there is an outdoor barbecue on the top deck.
Scenic’s cruise fare includes all tipping (including guides), along with complimentary beer, wine and soft drinks at lunch and dinner, and as many as three sightseeing options in port. The line also features exclusive experiences for guests, including a medieval evening at Marksburg Castle in Braubach, Germany, on the Rhine River. In addition, the company is introducing Scenic FreeTime, which gives guests a map and an audio device with commentary for independent sightseeing.
Scenic is hiring more staff to sell in the U.S. and an online booking system is available to agents upon request. DeWilde said that the company is also looking at doing fams. Additionally, any agent who makes more than one booking for Scenic receives a 15 percent commission. DeWilde said that airfare is provided at net, so agents can adjust commissions for airfare as they see fit.