There is nothing quite as magical, and as relaxing, as a scenic river cruise through the heart of Europe. Enjoy the riparian beauty along the Rhine and Danube Rivers while admiring the charming steeple clad villages and century’s old country castles on an alluring tour of discovery.
Travel Associates consultant Kirsty Peckham recently embarked on just such a journey sailing on the luxurious Scenic Crystal – one of Scenic's "Space-Ships" so called for its remarkably spacious interior and modern cabin appointments.
Kirsty’s cruise itinerary departed from Amsterdam, a city known for its lovely canals and extensive river transport. Departing on the Scenic Crystal, the ship is renowned for its all-inclusive luxury, and there was little for her to do but to sit back and enjoy the personalised service for the next 7 days.
“Scenic European river cruises are an extremely relaxing way to travel,” said Kirsty. “The ship itself is welcoming and homely and the staff are tremendously friendly and helpful. It is total comfort all the way on Scenic Crystal, and with so many inclusions and activities, passengers can choose the things they want to do, and all at their own pace.”
The Scenic Crystal was launched in 2012 and regularly plies the great river waterways throughout Europe. The ship’s Sun Deck offers exhilarating 360 degree panoramic views of the passing scenery and is a place where passengers can meet for an alfresco meal or drink, or even a relaxing dip in the Jacuzzi hot tub.
You certainly won’t go hungry either during your exclusive river excursion. Like any cruise, much of the enjoyment comes from the delicious food. Below decks are the five star Portobello’s Restaurant and the Crystal Dining buffet where you will enjoy the finest European cuisine and desserts.
The Panorama Lounge Bar offers an inviting area where passengers can enjoy their favourite beverage. In the evenings it becomes the ship’s centre of live entertainment and in the style of a glamorous big city hotel lounge, a small band serenades the mingling guests.
Drinks are provided complimentary throughout the cruise and even the cabin mini-bars are restocked daily. Guests are also treated to private butler service, free Wi-Fi and on board entertainment.
Departing Amsterdam, the ship’s first stop was Cologne. Gently plying its way along the Rhine River, the Scenic Crystal docked near the city’s most striking landmark, the imposing Gothic cathedral, whose striking spires towered over the city. The cathedral was one of just a few building to survive World War II.
Of course, pretzels are Cologne’s other claim to fame. The smell of fresh baked bread wafted through the city as the bakeries prepared their daily pretzel batch for the eager residents and visitors.
With stops in Rudesheim, Miltenberg, Wurzburg and Bamberg, passengers had a full day to explore each of the lovely cities. “Definitely make use of the e-bikes on board the ship,” said Kirsty. “I did a bike tour in Rudesheim and thoroughly enjoyed my rides through the narrow laneways and city streets. We went to the top of the city and had a spectacular view looking back out over the city and the river.
"This was truly the best of Europe served on a silver platter,” Kirsty exclaimed. “Best of all, we only had to unpack once. The ship itself was spacious, well appointed, had ample viewing areas, and was always within easy access to the cities and towns we stopped at. For those locations where our tours were a bit further away, there was always a coach waiting to drive us home.”
Europe river cruising has become one of the most popular ways to see the Continent, and the attentive service, relaxing atmosphere and elegant surroundings on a Scenic Space-Ship are exceeded only by the magnificent scenery on display.