Scenic Jasper Review - April 2015
Ian Warren – 07-04-2015 – Scenic Tours – Scenic Jasper
Scenic Jasper is the latest addition to the Scenic Tours fleet of 12 ‘Space-Ships’, and has only just come into service, and I was offered the opportunity to spend 4 nights onboard, at the end of March 2015. You can watch my video, have a look through my photos on Facebook, and then read about my experience. Further down the page there is some more general information about Scenic Jasper, and also about the rest of the Scenic Tours fleet. Then to get more information, or to book your cruise, call GoCruise with Ian on 01455 821770 or 0800 29 22 820.
I flew from Birmingham to Amsterdam, and was met at the airport and transferred to the ship in the port of Amsterdam. As the port is becoming much busier, with more river cruise ships based here, we were at a berth out of the main town. Please note that on a normal cruise departure you would be taken from the airport to a hotel in central Amsterdam. There would be a room where you can leave your luggage and explore, before all being transferred to the ship later in the afternoon when all the cabins were ready.
After a welcome drink I was shown to my deluxe balcony suite by the steward, and then the butler came and introduced himself to me. I was really impressed with the cabin, which had a great balcony with electrically operated glass screen. The shower has glass doors, without a curtain in sight, with a really good shower with loads of water jets, and pulsating colours.
It was quiet on the ship, as people were arriving on different flights throughout the day, so I went around the ship taking photos and video of all the different suite and cabin grades. I also took some in some of the public rooms, and then relaxed with a drink. A continuous light buffet was being served in the lounge as people arrived. Early evening we had talks from the Scenic Tours team, the cruise director and Captain, before an enjoyable buffet dinner in the main restaurant. After a couple of drinks I had an early night at 10pm.
Breakfast was really good, with an excellent omelette, which I always try on ships. At 9.00am we set off on our chosen excursions, and I went to a cheese farm in Gouda, and then to a working museum of windmills and also saw a clog making demonstration. We were back to the ship soon after 1pm, and went straight into the restaurant for an enjoyable lunch. We then set sail for Antwerp, and mid-afternoon attended the safety briefing. As it was raining this took place in the lounge. I then went to my cabin to do some work, but there was a problem with the internet, so connection was intermittent and very slow.
It was Captain’s Cocktails this evening before dinner, and I was very fortunate to be invited to dine at the speciality restaurant, Table La Rive. We had a six course taster menu, with each course paired with a specific wine. The quality of food and wine was excellent.
This morning we were berthed in Antwerp, and with Scenic FreeChoice the excursions were a walking tour of Antwerp, or a drive to Bruges with some free time there to look around. I opted for the walking tour of Antwerp, which lasted just under a couple of hours, and we learned a bit about the history of the city. I was then back onboard for a relaxing lunch, before working on my review and answering a few emails.
In the afternoon we had a tour of the galley, which was really interesting. It is amazing how the team of chefs can prepare such a lot of great food from such a small space. We then went around the various suite and cabin grades.
Tonight I had an enjoyable dinner with colleagues in the Crystal Restaurant, before having a couple of drinks in the Panorama Lounge, and then had a relatively early night.
We relaxed as we were cruising for the morning, although there was one presentation we had to attend. This was for us to find out more about Scenic Tours, and her sister company Emerald Waterways, and was conducted by William Young, who is Scenic Tours’ answer to Billy Connolly.
We were due to get to Hoorn mid-afternoon, but we were advised late morning that one of the lock gates had broken the previous night, therefore we returned to our berth in Amsterdam. Luckily Kurt, the cruise director, was able to make a few phone calls, and everything went ahead as planned, but by coach. Due to the slower pace of travel on the canals, the distance by road wasn’t great, and it was only a 45 minute drive.
One benefit of berthing back in Amsterdam was that we were next to Emerald Sky, which is one of the Emerald Waterways fleet, which is a sister-company to Scenic Tours. I managed to take a look around and take photos and video, which you can see if you click on my photos of Emerald Sky or on my video of Emerald Sky.
The choice of tour today was a cycling tour of Hoorn, a walking tour of Hoorn, or clog painting. Unfortunately, the cycling tour couldn’t take place, but the walking tour was really interesting. Then in the evening we all went out for a meal in Hoorn, as part of the Scenic Enrich programme. Dinner was a typical meal from the area, of vegetable soup, a beef stew with mashed potato and carrots, followed by semolina. While not Cordon Bleu it was very enjoyable, but the main point of the evening was to meet the locals. The event was held in the Oosterkerk or East Church, and everything was set up and served by volunteers. There was also at least one local on each table, and the deputy Mayor was on my table. It was actually a really interesting event, and I can imagine many people would enjoy either this event, or similar events in other destinations.
Everything was well organised, and we had breakfast, then checked our case was by the coach, and then took the transfer to the airport for the flight home. After a normal cruise you would be transferred to a hotel again, and then taken to the airport at the right time for your flight.
General Information about the Scenic Jasper (and her sister ship Scenic Opal)
At 135 feet long, and 2,721 gross tons, she carries 169 passengers in 85 cabins, with a crew of 53.
There are 16 grades of cabins and suites, with 84 doubles and 1 single, ranging in size from 160 sq ft (15 sq m) up to 360 sq ft (33 sq m), including Royal Panorama Suites, Royal Suites, Junior Suites, Deluxe Balcony Suites and Staterooms.
Deluxe Balcony Suite
All grades include the following as a minimum – L’Occitane toiletries, hair dryer, bathrobes, slippers, complimentary mini-bar (re-stocked daily), complimentary Wi-Fi, Scenic ‘Slumber Bed’ with Egyptian cotton linen and pillow menu, telephone, safe, individual climate control, Samsung HDTV linked to Mac mini system, and butler service. There are also umbrellas and walking sticks in the cabins for your use while on holiday.
All of the suites have an outside sit-on balcony, so you can relax and watch the world go by.
The level of service provided by your butler varies depending on the level of accommodation you have booked, which is shown by the deck you book on.
- Diamond Deck – valet, shoeshine, two items pressed each day, drinks service, breakfast served in suite, and an invitation to Table La Rive (plus even more if you have a Royal Suite, Royal Panorama Suite or a Junior Suite)
- Sapphire Deck – valet, shoeshine, drinks service, cocktails and morning tea & coffee
- Jewel Deck – valet, shoeshine, drinks service and cocktails
Food and Drink
Unlike many river cruise ships, you have a choice of dining venues with Scenic Tours.
- Crystal Dining Restaurant – this is the main restaurant, serving buffet breakfast, a choice of buffet or a la carte for lunch, and a sumptuous 5 course dinner. It offers open seating, so you can eat when and with whom you want
- River Café – if you feel peckish between breakfast and dinner, then there is a great selection of cakes, sandwiches and other dishes available all day
- Riverview Terrace – if the weather is good there is often the opportunity to eat al fresco here, where you can find a great buffet, or perhaps a barbecue or high tea
- Portobello’s Restaurant – serving classic Italian cuisine, to just 30 invited guests
- Table La Rive – this small exclusive venue is for those guests in the Royal and Junior Suites, and all guests on Diamond Deck, where a six course tasting menu is served
- Panorama Lounge Bar – a relaxing place to sit and watch the world go by, with a coffee or something a bit stronger
Crystal Dining Restaurant
While you are onboard the ship, all your drinks are complimentary, not just at the bar or in the restaurant, but also in your cabin, where a minibar is replenished daily. So whether it is a glass of champagne with breakfast, wine with lunch and dinner, a beer on deck, a cocktail before dinner, or a nightcap, there is no charge. The only exception to this is for a very small number of rare, fine and vintage wines, champagnes and spirits.
Exceptional Experiences Ashore
With Scenic Tours you get several options to choose between for your shore excursions, and they are all included in the price of your holiday.
- Scenic Enrich – exclusive to Scenic, and often once-in-a-lifetime experiences, such as a classical concert in a grand palace, a magical dinner in a historic castle, or an invitation into the home of a local family
- Scenic Sundowners – on each cruise you will get the opportunity to enjoy an exclusive cocktail reception, hosted at one of Europe’s most majestic locations, as the sun goes down. Examples of possible locations include Tournon Castle in the Rhone region of France, the Kalemegdan Fortress of Belgrade, or the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress high above Koblenz
- Scenic FreeChoice – in each destination you can choose your preferred excursion, from two or three on offer, rather than being told which one is available for that day. Some examples are shown below: –
- Regensburg – either a guided walking tour and organ recital, or a trip to Weltenburg Abbey
- Strasbourg – a guided tour of the French vineyards and villages of the Alsace region, a guided walking tour of Strasbourg or shop in the local food market with the chef
- Bernkastel – travel to Luxembourg, have tour of Trieste or take a walking tour of Bernkastel
- Passau – visit Salzburg, and the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or take a full day excursion to Cesky Krumlov
- Vienna – visit the Spanish Riding school to see the Lipizzaner stallions, visit Schonbrunn Palace, travel to Bratislava by train, of join your chef for a trip to a local market
- Scenic Tailormade – if you want to just get off and explore on your own, Scenic will provide you with a GPS touring device, complete with an interactive map and commentary. You can also make use of one of Scenic’s electrically-assisted bicycles if you wish to go a bit further
Travelling to Join Your Ship
- By Air – you can choose to fly from up to 15 airports in the UK, all for no extra charge. On a number of departures there are direct flights from London Gatwick and London Heathrow, with indirect flights from some or all of the other 13 airports.
- By Rail – on a number of itineraries there is the option to take a ‘no fly’ return journey by Eurostar from London St Pancras or Ebbsfleet, in Eurostar’s Standard Premier Class
General Information about Scenic Tours River Cruises
There are 12 ‘Space-Ships’ in the fleet, which are listed below: –
- Scenic Gem – 64 cabins, 128 passengers and 44 crew
- Scenic Sapphire, Scenic Emerald, Scenic Diamond, Scenic Ruby and Scenic Pearl – 84 cabins, 167 passengers and 53 crew
- Scenic Crystal, Scenic Jewel and Scenic Jade – 85 cabins, 169 passengers and 51 crew
- Scenic Jasper and Scenic Opal – 85 cabins, 169 passengers and 53 crew
- Scenic Tsar – 56 cabins, 112 passengers and 71 crew
New for 2016
- Scenic Spirit – 34 cabins, 68 passengers and 50 crew (on The Mekong)
- Scenic Azure – 48 cabins, 96 passengers and TBA crew (on The Douro)
The following list shows the different itineraries offered for 2015
- 15 day (14 night) Jewels of Amsterdam (Amsterdam to Budapest)
- 8 day (7 night) Gems of the Danube (Nuremberg to Budapest)
- 11 day (10 night) Gems of the Danube and Prague (Prague to Budapest)
- 9 day (8 night) Black Sea Explorer (Budapest to Bucharest)
- 8 day (7 night) Highlights of the Rhine (Amsterdam to Basel)
- 15 day (14 night) Romantic Rhine & Moselle (Amsterdam to Basel)
- 8 day (7 night) Dutch Sights and Belgian Delights (Netherlands to Belgium)
- 11 day (10 night) Bordeaux River Cruise (Bordeaux to Bordeaux)
- 13 day (12 night) Splendours of Southern France (Chalon-sur-Saone to Tarascon)
- 8 day (7 night) Enchanting Rhone (Chalon-sur-Saone to Tarascon)
- 11 day (10 night) Gems of the Seine (Paris to Honfleur to Paris)
- 15 day (14 night) Imperial Jewels of Russian (St Petersburg to Moscow)
New for 2016
- 15 day (14 night) Treasures of the Mekong (Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap)
- 24 day (23 night) Essence of Vietnam, Cambodia & Mekong Cruise (Hanoi to Siem Reap including Halong Bay)
- 29 day (28 night) Grand Indochina and Luxury Mekong River Cruise (Hanoi to Luang Prabang)
- 20 day (19 night) Journey Along The Mekong (Ho Chi Minh City to Luang Prabang)
- 19 day (18 night) Gems of Southeast Asia (Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City)
- 11 day (10 night) Douro River Cruise (Porto to Vega de Terron to Porto)
- 14 day (13 night) Lisbon & Douro Cruise & Tour (Lisbon to Porto to Vega de Terron to Porto)
Please note: –
- Not all itineraries are available on all ships, and the one way cruises also operate in the reverse direction on alternate dates
- Not all the onboard features and inclusions mentioned in this review apply to the cruises on Russia’s Waterways, The Mekong and The Douro, so please ask me for specific details for these cruises
Scenic Tours has a sister company called Emerald Waterways, which also operates a fleet of modern cruise ships on the waterways of Europe.
If you would like any further information on any Scenic Tours or Emerald Waterways river cruises, call GoCruise with Ian on 01455 821770 or 0800 29 22 850