Last updated: 03:49 PM ET, Thu November 12 2015

Luxury on the Danube

Scenic Jasper is rebranded Scenic's latest ship to grace the famed river

Vacation Agent | Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Lane Nieset

Luxury on the Danube

PHOTO: The 475-square-foot Royal Panorama Suite on board the Scenic Jasper. (All photos courtesy of Scenic Cruises)

It’s been a busy year for Australia’s Scenic river cruises. Over the past 14 months, Scenic Tours underwent a rebranding, emerging as just Scenic, with a new logo and outlook that defines the luxury brand’s focus when it comes to unforgettable river cruises.

“We’ve been Scenic Tours for a long time, and since we’ve been growing fast the past couple of years, the name Scenic Tours didn’t do [the product] justice anymore,” says Michelle Black, Scenic’s general manager of sales and marketing. “We thought about why people travel and the role we play with the idea ‘Never lose your sense of wonder,’ and we applied that across everything we do as ‘journey designers,’” she said.

This spring, Scenic showed off its new look when it launched two of its next-generation “Space Ships,” the 169-passenger Scenic Jasper and sister ship Scenic Opal. These two ships, which sail on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers, feature much larger public spaces, original art and a sleek all-marble design. Here’s a look at life on board the luxurious Scenic Jasper, featuring the largest panorama suites on Europe’s waterways as well as Scenic’s signature all-inclusive amenities.

Accommodations: Scenic was the first river cruise operator to add balconies to its ships and it still has the highest percentage of balconies on any river cruise ship today. Indeed, 85 percent of Scenic Jasper’s staterooms feature balconies. The ship has 85 staterooms, 72 of which are suites ranging from the 205-square-foot Balcony Suite to the 475-square-foot Royal Panorama Suite.

The top-tier Royal Panorama Suites and the 350-square-foot Royal Suites are much larger than the company’s last generation of ships. They also feature new amenities, such as heated bathroom floors, a hydraulic air bed system and Vi-spring bed toppers with luxury bed linens. Guests in these rooms have added amenities, such as unlimited complimentary laundry service, pre-dinner in-room canapés, a $300 credit for the hair salon or spa and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne on arrival.

Guests staying in other accommodations also get the royal treatment with amenities like butler service, L’Occitane bath products, in-room mini bars refilled daily, choice of seven pillow types from the pillow menu, custom-designed Egyptian bed linens, and new Scenic Slumber beds with three sleep system options and a featherbed topper. Of course, one of the best perks of staying in a balcony suite is Scenic’s Sun Lounge, a glass-enclosed balcony that opens halfway at the push of the button and can also transform into a personal lounge.

Public Spaces: Owner Glen Moroney gave his wife Karen full control of Jasper’s design. She says her inspiration was to “give each ship its own character and keep the class and elegance without overdoing it.” The result on Scenic Jasper is a sleek ship decked out in marble with sculpture displays and gallery walls featuring 28 original pieces of art by contemporary Australian artist Waldemar Kolbusz. “Original pieces are important for me,” Karen Moroney says. Next up: charcoal sketches to decorate the cabins.

She adds that the thought process behind the design is to make guests feel comfortable everywhere on board, from the spacious staterooms to the open lounge and bar that provides views of the outside scenery thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows lining each side of the ship. Guests also can relax al fresco up on the sundeck, which features a BBQ and outdoor dining, as well as vitality pool with massage jets. The fitness room is another hotspot on board, with state-of-the-art equipment and TV screens on each machine.

Guests don’t have to spend a cent on board in the ship’s facilities either, unless they want to visit the hair salon or spa, which offers massages and manicures.

Dining: Scenic Jasper has six dining options. Guests can order room service 24/7, with options from breakfast to burgers. Throughout the day, the River Café, just next to the lounge, offers light fare such as salads and sandwiches that can be taken and enjoyed on the Panorama Deck in view of the river. The Crystal Dining room, the main restaurant, serves buffet breakfast and lunch, with more formal à la carte dinner service. Guests can choose from a large wine list with lots of local options. Dinner is a gourmet affair with nightly changing menus depending on where the ship is passing through.

PHOTO: Scenic Jasper’s River Café offers light fare in a light-filled atmosphere.

Scenic Jasper also features two other more intimate restaurants that up the ante when it comes to cuisine. The first is the revamped Portobellos, a fine-dining Italian restaurant. Every guest on board can make a reservation to dine at the six-course spot at least once. It’s hard to top this experience, but guests staying in suites on the Danube deck can book the chef’s table, Table La Rive, for an intimate six-course wine and food pairing.

Excursions & Activities: Excursions are included in the fare, and guests can choose from 21 options in 14 locations on the 14-day Jewels of Europe cruise, including programs such as shopping with the ship’s chef at a local market in Budapest or Vienna, or cycling through the vineyards and villages of lower Austria on electric bikes (which also can be taken out at any destination along the river).

Those who want to embark solo on a walking or biking tour can take new Scenic Tailormade devices — GPS-enabled and about the size of an iPhone — which deliver 38 preprogrammed guided tours. This year Scenic also launched an offshore cocktail hour dubbed Scenic Sundowners, which takes guests to a stunning location on the river to toast to the sunset.

Another Scenic exclusive is the Scenic Enrich “once-in-a-lifetime” excursion. “These are the sort of events that you can’t buy off the shelf. You’re not going to find it anywhere in a tourist shop selling as a day tour,” says Glen Moroney. One highlight of this particular cruise is the Scenic Enrich private concert in Vienna at the Palais Liechtenstein.

Scenic Jasper also is transformed into a tour boat in Budapest when it takes guests on a nighttime cruise to see the lights and sights along the river and brings Hungarian folklore musicians and dancers on board to entertain guests post dinner. Before the ship arrives in Vienna, professional dancers hop on in Bratislava and teach a course in waltz. Most evenings there’s live piano music in the lounge, and on other evenings the lounge transforms into a disco party or comedy show, with the crew staging performances.

Service: Thanks to Scenic’s all-inclusive pricing, the crew and tour staff has already received gratuities, which means guests don’t need to worry about tipping. The crew quickly learns guests’ names and preferences. The cruise director also is ready and willing to help if guests have questions about an excursion. Butlers can provide a valet service arranging theater tickets or limousine service, as well as take care of onboard reservations at Portobellos or the salon. Every room category has its own butler, but the level of service changes the higher the category.

Cruising Style: Scenic’s “Space Ships” are some of the most spacious on the market. Scenic’s all-inclusive factor is really the main selling point, since all meals, drinks (including top-shelf alcohol), shore excursions, gratuities, butler service, Wi-Fi and transfers are included in the fare.

Itineraries & Fares: Scenic Jasper sails on the Rhine, Danube and Main on itineraries such as the 15-day Jewels of Europe, from Amsterdam to Budapest. Guests can also opt for a shorter version on the eight-day Gems of the Danube from Budapest to Nuremberg. Fares start at $5,095 per person for the 15-day cruise.

For more information, call 855-517-1200 or travel agents visit


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Vacation Agent Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the June 2015 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.


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