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When I showed photos of Scenic’s redesign of Scenic Diamond and Scenic Sapphire to half a dozen frequent cruise passengers, they thought they were looking at the interior of a brand-new seagoing ship — particularly when they saw the Culinary Center, the Salt Lounge and the bathroom in the Royal Owners Suite.
And they aren’t the only folks impressed: The two France-going ships received Cruise Critic Editor’s 2017 Pick Award for Best Ship Refurbishment.
Much of the excitement has to do with new features unveiled as part of the redesign.
Scenic is the first and only river cruise line to offer a therapeutic Salt Lounge. Scenic Diamond and Sapphire were each fitted with a three-station lounge, which provides guests with non-invasive holistic treatments in a relaxing, humidity- and temperature-controlled room made of salt bricks.
Another new addition is Scenic Culinaire, a dedicated cooking emporium where Scenic offers immersive courses in the culinary traditions of the Rhone, Saone and Bordeaux regions. Culinaire features a cheese and wine cellar, cooking stations and a real-time camera setup that broadcasts the instructors’ techniques.
Both new features are included in the cruise fare.
Scenic Diamond sails in Bordeaux, and Scenic Sapphire sails on the Rhone and Saone rivers in southern France. Itineraries run from eight to 16 days (when extended with land options).
Bordeaux sailings visit a variety of wineries so guests can practically bathe in wine. Highlights include the Grand Cru dessert wines of Chateau Guiraud, and the sweet Sauternes of the 500-year-old Chateau de Myra. In addition, cruisers will learn about foie gras at a local farm in Bergerac and participate in a chocolate and wine pairing session at the chocolate factory Mademoiselle de Margaux, which specializes in Guinettes (opulent Morello cherries in Armagnac brandy).
The company has also added exclusive Scenic Enrich experiences, including a traditional French cabaret performance with the iconic cancan in Lyon. Another new choice is an exclusive four-course dining experience with paired vintages at Mumm Champagne house in Reims.