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Exclusive Review of Scenic Jasper's Inaugural Sailing

Weds 20 May 2015

In April 2015, all-inclusive luxury operator Scenic Tours rebranded, dropping the "Tours" to become known simply as Scenic. The new name reflects the company's extensive portfolio, from escorted coach tours to all-inclusive river cruises on state-of-the-art ships.

Scenic is committed to expanding its river cruise offering, from new destinations to brand new ships, the most recent being Scenic Jasper. Samantha, one of our Cruising Specialists was lucky enough to be invited on its inaugural sailing from the cosmoplitan capital of Amsterdam along the beautiful Dutch waterways.

Cruising on board Scenic's brand new Space-Ship Scenic Jasper

I have been on several river cruises before, but was very excited to be invited to experience Scenic’s brand new ship, the Scenic Jasper, on an ultra-luxury, all-inclusive cruise through Holland and Belgium.

Having checked in at reception I was shown to my cabin, a Deluxe Balcony Suite on the Diamond Deck (upper deck). My first reaction was WOW. The comfiest double bed with crisp white bedding and big fluffy pillows sat in the middle of a very contemporary styled cabin, decorated in tones of grey with accessories of silver and a lovely black granite dressing table. The floor to ceiling wardrobe had more than adequate space for my clothes (and 8 pairs of shoes – I’m a woman it’s obligatory!) This was also where I found the complimentary mini-bar (re-stocked daily), safety deposit box, umbrella and Nordic walking sticks all for my use whilst out and about and all included in the price of the cruise.

All of the suites on the middle and upper decks have private balconies which span the full width of the cabin. These balconies are quite a unique design, with bi-folding glass panels which open onto a decked balcony area with 2 woven chairs and a small drinks table. The best part is that at the touch of a button, the top half of the outer glass lowers to waist height providing an instant open air balcony – very impressive!

Next I checked out the en-suite bathroom, and again another WOW! Perfectly folded huge fluffy white towels embossed with the brand new Scenic logo – similar for the complimentary bath robe and slippers. There was a full range of L’Occitaine products (replenished with use), a hairdryer and shaver point. The shower was fantastic, 3 adjustable shower heads and wait for it… changeable coloured lights – I had my very own disco shower!

The rest of the ship did not disappoint either, decorated similarly to the suite in black, white and silver. The lounge was located on the middle deck at embarkation level and was very spacious with plenty of comfortable seating for all onboard. The bar was well-stocked and the bartenders were happy to serve you from breakfast until 2am – all complimentary of course. Also in the lounge was a state of the art coffee machine and tea making facilities which were available for guests to enjoy 24 hours a day.

Scenic's brand new logo Explore the Dutch capital of Amsterdam Explore the city by bike Bruges Bruges City Hall Bruges Church of Our Lady, Bruges Cheesemaking demonstration Edam cheese Royal Balcony Suite Bathroom in a Royal Balcony Suite Deluxe Balcony Suite Pool on the Sun Deck

There are three dining options on the Scenic Jasper. The Crystal Dining room is where buffet breakfast, lunch and 5 course dinner are served (lighter options are also available). At the rear of the lounge is Portobello’s, an Italian inspired restaurant which seats around 30 and at the rear of the main dining room you will find Table La Rive, a unique and intimate dining experience where guests can enjoy fine wines perfectly matched to the culinary delights of the region. All guests are invited to dine at least once during their stay in both Portabello’s and Table La Rive, with no cover charge. Once again the benefit of ultra-inclusive cruising!

Many excursions are included, but Scenic also have ‘FreeChoice’ options so you can tailormake your own itinerary, choosing the excursions which suit you best. On day 3 of my trip I opted to take a guided walking tour of Bruges as opposed to a tour of Antwerp. An English-speaking guide accompanied us in an air-conditioned coach and walked with us on our excursions. All guests have their own Tour Personaliser, a headset device which can either be linked to the guide’s microphone or if you prefer to spend free time rather than take part in an organised activity, you can listen to pre-recorded information about the local sights. While in Hoorn you could take a walking tour, spend free time or take a cycling tour of the town. Scenic have about 25 very modern electric bikes which are carried onboard at all times.

Something else which makes Scenic really stand out from some other cruise providers is their Enrich programme. These are very special experiences which really take you to the heart of the destination. Whilst in Hoorn we where privileged to come together with very hospitable locals of this quiet pocket of Northern Holland and dine with them in the magnificent Oosterkerk, a 17th Century Dutch Reformed church, designed by the architect Daniel Stalpaert. Each table of 8-10 was hosted by a local who was more than happy to indulge in conversation about his much beloved town and country. A very special evening was had by all and one that will not be forgotten.

Gratuities are included in the cruise cost, but had they not been I would have very happily opened my wallet. Every single member of staff onboard, including our Cruise Director Kurt, my butler Natalia and the very talented chefs, are worth every penny.

I had THE best river cruise experience and one which I would not hesitate to recommend to friends, family and customers alike. From start to finish I was made to feel quite special and the best part of it all – it was all included in the price!!!!

Review by Samantha, Blue Water Holidays

Blue Water Holidays Blog