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Scenic has announced a number of developments in France next year.
These include surprising ship renovations that reduce capacity while beefing up public spaces for Scenic Diamond in Bordeaux and Scenic Emerald and Scenic Sapphire on the Rhone and Saone rivers in the south of France. The number of guests on each vessel will drop from 167 to 155 (for a total of 78 cabins), while keeping the same staff numbers.
Each ship in France will have two 506-square-foot Royal Owner’s Suites with oversize bathrooms and outdoor balconies, and features of the rooms will include 32-inch Samsung HD televisions linked to Mac mini-computers and complimentary internet access through an upgraded Wi-Fi system.
The redesigned ships will have bigger fitness and wellness centers, and each will have a vitality pool. Two dining areas — River Cafe and Table la Rive — are being added, and all public areas will receive new artwork, carpet and designer furniture. The elegant bar in the new Panorama Lounge of each ship will be transformed with Port Laurent marble, a dark stone veined in gold.
One of the onboard dining venues on each ship will be transformed into the new Scenic Culinaire, a cooking school offering courses in French cuisine. The facility will have a dedicated space for cooking stations and a cheese and wine cellar. Ingredients for the dishes will come from local markets, and participants will learn regional specialties. There will a real-time camera and screen set up to ensure that everyone can see the techniques being taught. Best of all, as with all Scenic programs, Culinaire is included in the cruise fare.
Active travelers and foodies will appreciate Scenic’s new theme cruises, which include exploration by bicycle and shoreside culinary excursions. The company also has added new exclusive Scenic Enrich experiences, including Scenic Rouge in Lyon, where guests can attend a traditional French cabaret performance, complete with the iconic “cancan” dance. Another new choice is an exclusive four-course dining experience with paired vintages at Mumm Champagne house in Reims.
New Scenic Freechoice activities include a gingerbread cooking class in Nuremberg, Germany, a vineyard hike and wine tasting in Tournon, France, and — for the more active — three new cycling options in Caudebec-en-Caux, France; Arnhem, the Netherlands; and Bordeaux.
In addition, to extend the all-inclusive experience, Scenic is giving all guests a 100 euro gift card (for 14-day or less sailings) or a 200 euro gift card (for 15-day or longer sailings) to apply to any personal expenses, from gifts to massages.
For solo cruisers, there are select departures in March, April and October to December 2017 with no single supplement on any category. Single travelers also can book a standard suite on select sailings between May and September and receive a 50 percent reduction on the single supplement.
Passengers booking a 2017 cruise by Sept. 30, 2016, are being offered free or reduced airfare on all sailings, with the extent of the offer based on the itinerary, the category of cabin booked and the departure airport. Costs range from complimentary air to $995 per person, and there are business class options available, as well.
Agents can profit from a trend that Scenic has noted: the growth of its combination cruises in the U.S. market. These grew popular after the line debuted with Australian passengers, who opt for longer vacations after traveling so far, and they are now becoming increasingly attractive to Americans. The French itineraries in particular have been designed to connect across the various regions by air, rail or road; the Seine and Bordeaux and the Seine and Rhone are the most popular combinations. In addition, Scenic’s new 10-day Douro river cruises are easily combined with the France itineraries.