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As we glided along the Danube River between Budapest, Hungary, and Nuremberg, Germany, Scenic Jasper captured the attention of those onshore in nearly every place we passed. Surely, our Space-Ship from Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours was glistening in the sun — but beyond its facade, there’s so much more to experience. The brand has long held a reputation for service and amenities, and Jasper fit the description just as expected.
Scenic’s one-price-fits-all concept includes all beverages (spirits, wine and beer) at any time, not just during meals. Even with gratuities packaged into the rates, the onboard staff members perform their duties with aplomb.
The experience begins with butler service for every cabin. Dressed in formal ties and vests, butlers can tailor their roles to be as involved as a passenger likes, delivering morning coffee or tea, shining shoes or replenishing the minibar with preferred items. (The free minibar comes stocked with wine, beer, soft drinks, liquor and snacks, which I proactively devoured on a daily basis.) Turndown service delivers chocolates, and there’s an offer for free laundry services once during each cruise, which came in handy on my sailing given the summer heat.
While desks only have European or Australian power outlets, reception can loan converters to guests. It also stocks goodies such as binoculars and board games, available upon request, and the rooms have unusual river ship perks including alarm clocks, umbrellas, pillow menus, L’Occitane toiletries, illustrated maps and even walking sticks. Room service is always an option — menu offerings range from steak a la minute to Caesar salad. Guests who book the Royal and Panorama suites enjoy adjustable, remote-controlled beds with special pillows and a luxury Vispring London wool and cotton topper. These guests are also afforded extra privileges, such as hosting catered in-suite get-togethers.
The Scenic inclusive experience continues on land with a variety of shore excursions. Jasper’s Freechoice program includes culturally rich tours in port, as well as those farther afield in popular cities such as Bratislava, Slovakia; Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic; and Salzburg, Austria. Scenic Tailormade GPS-equipped devices allow guests to hear guides from afar while on walking or biking tours. I also appreciated that tips for guides were part of the inclusive Scenic price.
My favorite activities were the evening excursions that included sampling Austrian beer at the top of Aggstein Castle overlooking the Danube, and listening to a private classical concert in a Viennese palace.
A fleet of electric bikes allows cruisers to explore on their own, and, in fact, they were so popular during my sailing that the cruise director had to call for more to be delivered. Passengers spanned a wide age range; many were in their 20s, emphasizing the growth in multigenerational river cruise travel. Additionally, free Wi-Fi access throughout the ship assures that social media accounts can remain updated with every little detail.
Of course, no cruise is complete without great dining options, and again, Jasper’s culinary team did not disappoint. As a vegetarian, I appreciated the range of options from the staff, who always checked in with me to make sure I was enjoying my meals, which included many regional dishes.
For foodie clients, suggest booking the Diamond Deck’s junior and balcony suites, where guests will receive invitations to Table La Rive, a high-end wine and food pairing experience. There’s also Portobellos, a special Italian dinner restaurant located at the front of the ship, where all passengers can enjoy the fresh mozzarella, al dente pasta and lovely dessert cart on offer. And like so much onboard, it, too, was included.
Jasper proves that its amenity roster is lengthy — but the room bill at the end of the cruise won’t be.
The DetailsScenic Luxury Cruises & Tours www.scenicusa.com