After a gorgeous night of sightseeing last night in Budapest, I had a chance to explore Scenic Jasper today. She’s a beautiful vessel from a company that aspires to be to river cruising what Regent Seven Seas is to ocean cruising, which is to say that Scenic wants to be the most-inclusive luxury player in the river cruise segment.
With that goal in mind, Scenic differentiates itself in a few key areas:
- The software component, with elements ranging from pillow and mattress menus to butlers (in addition to room attendants) for all staterooms and suites.
- The hardware component, including innovative Sun Lounges in staterooms as well as Apple technology driving the entertainment systems.
- Scenic’s all-inclusive product, not only on-board gratuities but also tips to tour guides and motorcoach drivers, in addition to beverages and a long list of included items.
- Cultural immersion through choice. Scenic provides a variety of ways to get to know destinations through programs such as “Scenic Enrich” to “Scenic FreeChoice” to “Scenic Tailormade” and more. These choices allow guests to choose their own way to explore, from self-guided bicycle tours using GPS devices to guided walking tours.
I’ll look at each of these components during my sailing. For the moment, I thought I would introduce you to the Sun Lounge in my stateroom. The concept is a little easier to grasp if you see it in action, so I’ve produced a short video to show how the Sun Lounge works.
The Sun Lounge functions both as a solarium of sorts and an open-air balcony. The design is ingenious. A folding glass door (new on Jasper replacing sliding glass doors on the other vessels) opens the Sun Lounge to the bedroom/living area. The open Sun Lounge creates the feeling of an expansive open space, hence Scenic calling its vessels, “Space-Ships.”
Within the Sun Lounge are two wicker chairs with cushions and a couple of small tables that complement the chairs. There’s enough space for two people to sit comfortably, even with the folding glass door closed.
In addition to the folding glass door, an exterior balcony window spans the width of the stateroom. The window is designed in two pieces, and with the push of a button, the top piece of the window descends so that it is flush with the bottom piece of the window. One particularly nice aspect of this feature is that the window can be opened when sailing so that you can not only admire the passing scenery but also breathe it in.
The Sun Lounge makes sitting in my 205-square-foot (19-square-meter) stateroom enjoyable, which is exactly what Scenic owner Glen Moroney envisioned. He tells the story of when Scenic (then Scenic Tours) chartered ships in Europe. He was on board one of the chartered vessels, and after three or four days, he wanted to get away to decompress and relax in his stateroom. The problem: It was 150 square feet with a bed and a single chair, not a room conducive to relaxing while awake. “I thought, why can’t we have balconies on river cruises,” Moroney says.
The companies that chartered to Scenic would not install balconies, so Scenic began building its own ships in 2007. Scenic was the first, Moroney says, to put so many balconies on river cruisers. Today, throughout the fleet, 85 percent of Scenic’s staterooms and suites feature Sun Lounges.
Look for continued coverage of Scenic Jasper as we continue making our way to Bratislava and beyond en route to Vienna for christening ceremonies next week.