Right now, Pursuitist is on a maiden voyage of sorts. on the pre-christened Scenic Jasper, from Budapest to Vienna. Our last cruise day next week ends with the christening of the Jasper.
There have been three maiden voyages of this ship, with the first revenue producing one beginning in May.
For those of us who have been on river cruises before, this new Scenic vessel, called a Space Ship, does have some unique amenities, all of which may indeed elevate the idea of luxury river cruising to a higher plane.
Just a few things: all-inclusive means, straight up, all-inclusive. There is a hairdresser and a masseuse on board, and those are the only services not included under the all-inclusive rubric. Pursuitist, like all the other passengers, has a personal butler, on duty from 6:00AM on until midnight. Also, there is a Vitality pool on board — a plunge pool on one side and a jet pool on the other, with a large workout area on a lower floor.
As Pursuitist has been before to the these cruise destinations – Budapest, Bratislava, Melk, Durnstein and Vienna — we have the unique opportunity of being able to focus on the design and flow of this new vessel, depicting the vision of the founder.
Scenic was founded by Australian Glen Moroney in 1986. It has evolved from being a domestic coach touring operator to a luxury global travel company. Most recently, as of last week, the name changed from Scenic Tours, to simply, Scenic – the word encompassing both Scenic Tours and Scenic Cruises. We spoke with Mr. Moroney briefly, and hope to again before the cruise ends.
Pursuitist: If there were one description that defines your vision for Scenic, what would it be?
Glen: It would really be to open up the sense of wonder that luxury river cruise travel can bring.
Pursuitist: And how do you do that with Scenic?
Glen: I can think of many things – one is the larger staterooms and balcony suites, actually we have the largest in the field right now. The ships we build and that you are on right now is called a Space Ship, and for good reason. We have the largest suites on the rivers with the ultimate in private balcony accommodation. The Balcony Suites, the Deluxe Balcony Suites and our Royal Panorama Suites range between 19 square meters and 44 square meters. More space, less stress!
But also, what we mean by all-inclusive. It means that while you travel with us, you don’t have to worry about bar tabs, restaurant bills, or anything monetary. You are free to eat and drink as you please, the guided tours and tips are taken care of also, so you will not have to worry about how much you are spending. This creates a stress and tension-free cruise experience.
Pursuitist: How do you carry your sense of wonder vision when the passengers leave the vessel and go sightseeing?
Glen: Off the boat, you have Free Choice experiences where you learn much more about the destination, and/or you can also choose from unusual, one of a kind experiences, relating to the destination, but carrying it further. Though we have many experiences like this now, we are also planning many for the near future.
(Note: In Budapest, the scenic enrichment choice was a combination walking/bus tour of Budapest, where the guide discussed the political and social history of this area, and spend much time talking about battles for social and religious freedom in Budapest, from about 600 AD on. We stopped — to name only a few — at the St. Matthias Church, Heroes’ Square, the Jewish Synagogue – the second largest in the world. We learned that Hungarian history is a history of conflict – the stories were enlightening, complex, sad, yet greatly educational. Other experience options on this trip included having two hours at the famous Szechenyi Thermal Bath And Spa built in the late 1912. Much of Budapest is built on thermal springs, as is this colorful yellow Bath and Spa building, so the water here is plentiful, healthful, and ranges from hot to cool.)
Finally, for the many (often including this Pursuitist) who eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner at odd times, the River Café in the lounge has great, diverse food, that includes vegan and vegetarian, and is open ffrom 7:00 Am to later into the night. This is where the open bar is also, so you can pretty much eat and drink at your leisure if you don’t want sit down dinners. And all the time, night and day, there is a coffee maker that makes Cappuccino, Americano, Latte, and other types of great Barista coffee. There is also a tea service with many different types of caffeinated and non-caffeinated, herbal and non-herbal. There are five other on-board dining options as well, including room service in-room dining.
Pursuitist will report further, our sense of wonder intact, as we roll down the Danube to the christening of our vessel in Vienna, with stops in Durnstein, and Melk along the way. Stay tuned!