There is no shortage of wonders on the 11-day “Normandy and Gems of the Seine” itinerary aboard Scenic Cruises’ Scenic Gem—whether it’s trekking up to the Chateau Gaillard fortress overlooking the village of Les Andelys, visiting Monet’s famed waterlilies in the gardens of Giverny or tracing the footsteps of World War I soldiers on the Somme battlefields.
The all-inclusive and impeccably well-run Scenic Gem is slightly smaller than some of its competitors. And, with a guest capacity limited to 120, the service level from its mostly Eastern European staff was as friendly as it was efficient, with attention paid to the finer details like remembering guests’ names and drink and dietary preferences. After long days on excursions, it was a wonderful realm to return to.
Fanciest and Most Common Accommodations:
Situated at the rear of Diamond Deck, a pair of 455-square-foot Royal One Bedroom Suites tops the accommodations tier. These suites feature a separate bedroom, lounge and dining area, oversized bathroom with two sinks and a spacious shower area.
Full-length windows overlook the ship’s wake and its trademarked Scenic Sun Lounge enclosure opens into a full-fledged balcony by lowering a large sliding glass window with the touch of a button.
The most popular staterooms are the 33 Balcony Suites on the Diamond and Sapphire Decks, which measure 205 square feet and are equipped with the same Sun Lounge balcony feature, a compact but well-laid-out bathroom and a bedroom area that comes with a luxury queen-size slumber bed, a complimentary mini-bar, a large flat-screen interactive television with Internet access and wide selection of television channels and movies, individually controlled air conditioning, a hairdryer, alarm clock, phone, safe, luxury bathrobes and slippers, a computer desk with international power sockets, under-bed suitcase stowage, a pillow menu, Nordic walking sticks, rechargeable Tailormade audio devices (for excursions) and butler service.
What's Included: Economy airfare; all shore excursions and walking tours; all meals and drinks (including bottled water, soft drinks, specialty coffees and alcoholic beverages); transfers to and from the ship; tips (including tour guides); port fees; Scenic special events (concerts, tastings, etc.); unlimited Wi-Fi; 24-hour room service; fully stocked mini-bar; use of e-bikes for guided and self-guided tours; and L’Occitaine toiletries.
Best Entertainment: A Scenic Enrich evening featured a classical concerto in the medieval Chateau de la Roche Guyon, which was carved out of a cliff and notoriously served as Rommel’s headquarters in 1944.
A pianist/keyboard player performs at happy hour and after dinner in the lounge on most nights, and on one evening there was a lively music quiz. Scenic hosts guest entertainers, which on this cruise included a Dixieland ensemble and a classic rock cover band.
What's for Dinner? Open seating, buffet-style breakfast and lunch are offered in the Restaurant along with full drink service and such daily specials as French toast and Pizza Margherita, which can be ordered from the menu.
Evening meals feature a full-service menu with daily red and white wine selection (guests can also order alternate wines or other beverages for no charge).
A typical dinner menu includes regionally inspired cuisine with locally sourced ingredients, including a Leek Walnut Tart (starter), Consomme Madrilene (a soup made with tomato and celery consomme with fresh chopped herbs), seared seabream filet with ratatouille and market vegetables (entrée) and Clafoutis with raspberry sauce and hazelnut ice cream (dessert).
There are also healthy and vegetarian selections and an Alternate Choice (always available) menu with favorites such as Caesar salad, rib eye steak, salmon and chicken breast. Scenic accommodates most dietary preferences with advance notice.
The River Cafe offers an Early Bird and a Late Riser breakfast with limited selections and a light lunch. Each evening, the River Cafe is transformed into L’Amour, which features a weekly menu with an hors-d'oeuvre, a choice of two soups, three entrées and three desserts. Guests are invited to dine in L’Amour at least once per cruise.
Round-the-clock snacks are available in the River Cafe, and continental breakfast and 24-hour room service can be ordered in staterooms.
Who Books This Ship? Guests who are typically of retirement age, are affluent, lively and fun-loving Australians, Brits and Canadians, as well as a sprinkling of Americans
Insider Booking Tip: Scenic provides all the trappings of a luxury river cruise experience without the formality and pomp of other lines. With that in mind, tell your clients to pack casual, comfortable clothing – including shoes that can safely tread cobblestones—and to anticipate some rain, especially in Normandy.
Key Selling Points: Fully inclusive experience, from portal to portal; friendly, warm and welcoming staff; an attractive, intimate and comfortable vessel; excellent quality and variety of shore excursions
Agent Assistance: Scenic’s agent portal, at scenicusa.com/agentportal, features a booking tool accessing real-time availability. The line also offers fam trips, webinars, eNewsletters and an agent Facebook page (@ScenicGroupTradeUSA).