Leah Johnson & Nicola Atkinson, who work at our travel agents in Felixstowe and Ipswich respectively, recently took a river cruise along the Rhone with Scenic Tours. Here is how they found it.
Operator/Host: Scenic Tours
(Hotel names/Ship name): Scenic Emerald
Duration: 7 nights
Check-in was carried out quickly and the staff were friendly enough and our outbound flight was on time. It was only a very short journey from London Gatwick to Marseille, so we did not purchase anything on board.
Our return flight from Lyon, however, was significantly delayed by around 5 hours due to an issue with the aircraft. But when we did board the plane, the take-off was very efficient and the crew were very friendly and apologetic for the delay.
We were greeted by very friendly staff with hot towels, which was lovely. The ship is very modern, with plenty of seating in the lounge and sun deck, all of which was very comfortable. The entire ship was always immaculately clean and the staff could not do enough for you. They were always incredibly friendly.
We were introduced to our butler within minutes of arriving in our cabin. This was very clean and the beds were wonderfully comfortable. We were in a D grade standard suite on the Jewel deck, which was a little on the small side with a small window. I would probably encourage you to consider upgrading to a larger cabin for the extra space.
The great thing about a Scenic river cruise is that they all include all excursions. Most days offered “Scenic free choice” whereby two or three different excursions would be offered and guests are able to choose which one they would like to take. These can be pre-booked on board during the second evening, after a short presentation from the cruise director about the excursions offered.
However, the excursions for the first two days of the trip must be pre-booked prior to departure. As we had not done so, we opted to make the most of the Scenic Tailormade GPS system for the first day. These were really useful devices as they point out points of interest as you pass them and give you brief audio descriptions of the area, helping to create your very own shore excursion. The map on them also means you don’t get lost. The Tailormades are yours for the entire trip, so if ever you don’t wish to do an excursion or wish to explore independently you are free to do so.
The Scenic bikes, which are electronically assisted, are also available to take out if you wish. The assist is optional and varies from level 0 (no assist) to level 7 which you are strongly advised not to use.
Other excursions that we chose to join were:
A walking tour in Viviers
A wine tasting in the Beaujolais region
A cycling tour in Lyon
We also went on a tour of the ship’s galley, which was interesting. In addition to the free choice excursions, Scenic also arranges a “Scenic Sundowner”. This consists of an activity that takes place in the evening and, for us, it was a cocktail on the terrace of the Castle of Tournon as we watched the sunset. As well as this, we attended a “Scenic Enrich” event. It was a lovely classical concert in a castle in the town of Uzès.
My favourite part of the trip was the cycling tour in Lyon. Cycling along the river was very picturesque and the tour took us to the local park, which was massive and encompassed a lake, botanical gardens, a rosary garden and a sizeable zoo. Entry to this park is completely free and I would definitely recommend that anyone planning a trip to Lyon pays a visit.
The cycling was at a nice, leisurely pace and the route avoided any main roads so it was suitable for cyclists of mixed abilities. The Scenic Sundowner was also a memorable event, as the view from the terrace while the sun was setting was truly stunning.
At the Scenic Enrich classical concert, there was no representative from Scenic that accompanied the group, which include the majority of the guests. This would be fine, however, once it ended, there was a large crowd of people waiting for the coaches to return and, with no representative from Scenic to re-assure guests, they did seem a little concerned. In the future, it would probably be good to have somebody to accompany guests.
I would recommend taking a Scenic river cruise.
Whilst they are one of the more expensive river cruise lines, they do include absolutely everything. Drinks, gratuities and excursions, as well as the special experiences encompassed by Scenic enrich and Scenic Sundowners, are all offered as part of the price.
Another thing that was great about this trip was that, as Scenic is an Australian owned brand, there was a real mix of different nationalities on board. The guests were mainly Australian, American, Canadian and British. The atmosphere on board was always excellent too and people were very social. I would definitely recommend Scenic to holidaymakers that like to meet new people on their travels.
The crew really were amazing. They worked really hard and were always so friendly.
Must see? Views from the sundeck as you cruise along
Must do? The Cycling tour in Lyon
Must try? Dining in the speciality restaurant L’amour
At Fred. Olsen Travel, we can offer a range of different holiday options, including a river cruise like the one that Leah and Nicola enjoyed. If you are interested in learning more, drop by one of our East Anglia travel agents or visit one of our shops on the south coast.