Many rivers are steeped in history, having one time or another been the method for the transportation of goods and people. Such history makes these waterways of constant intrigue to travellers and creates the perfect platform for a relaxed and fantastic way to explore some of Europe and Southeast Asia’s most beautiful towns, villages and landmarks.
Scenic’s innovative approach to travel and their custom-designed state-of-the-art Space-Ships, boasting some of the largest suites on Europe’s waters, has set the benchmark in 5-star luxury river cruising.
Each guest suite features creative technology, enabling the balcony to be transformed into a Sun Lounge at the touch of a button.
A Scenic river cruise is a truly all-inclusive experience with all meals, drinks, shore excursions, return flights or a no-fly option via rail and Eurostar, gratuities, transfers and taxes included.
They appeal to folk who enjoy the laid-back pace of river cruising and an appreciation for individual choice and exploration to discover the artistic, historical, culinary and culturally enriching experiences of a destination.
All “Freechoice” shore excursions are memorable experiences, carefully selected by “Journey Designers”, encouraging as much or as little activity as desired, so beauty spots and landmarks can be explored at whatever pace suits. I won't forget my client Alison's amazing feedback about her Vespa foodie tour of Saigon.
GPS-fitted E-bikes allow independent discovery off the beaten track, while small group hikes help to acquaint more active explorers with areas of outstanding natural beauty in a different way.
Onboard, there is access to a range of amenities at a dedicated Wellness Area, including relaxing yoga, invigorating Sun Salutations, or even the Five Tibetan Rites – a remarkable set of exercises believed to reverse the effects of ageing.
Scenic is also the only river cruise line to feature the wonderful Salt Therapy Lounge, where inhalation of the air inside is said to promote healing, improve respiration and boost the immune system.
An exciting and diverse choice of menus that perfectly echo the culinary highlights of destinations are available across a range of on-board restaurants along with complimentary all-day drinks, not forgetting your free in-suite minibar.
So, where to start your journey?
Well, in my humble opinion, there is nothing more beautiful than watching Europe transition through the seasons and no matter what time of year, moments of wonder will await.
From French fields of summer sunflowers and lavender to the snow-white peaks of the Swiss Alps and the riverbanks of the Rhine dotted with ancient castles, fortresses and award-winning vineyards, there will always be something in which to immerse the senses.
Picking a specific itinerary to share is never easy but I have opted for Portugal’s Delightful Douro 8-day round trip from Porto which offers something for enthusiasts of architecture, explorers, history buffs and wine-lovers alike.
The Douro River is a major waterway that flows from Spain and across the entire Douro River Valley in the Northern Portuguese countryside. It is known for its tranquillity and showcases Portugal’s stunning river-based cities, from vibrant Pinhao to the fabulous old-world city of Porto.
With its authentic traditions and warm local hospitality, not to mention its world-class port wines and tantalising local fare, you’ll observe a way of life that has remained largely unchanged for centuries.
This luxury Douro river cruise begins on Porto’s west coast and travels to Entre-os-Rios, a town situated between the Douro and the Tamega River.
Visit the Ducal Palace in Guimaraes, a city often referred to as 'the birthplace of the Portuguese nationality', as well as the birthplace of Alfonso I, the first King of Portugal.
Making its way down the Douro River, the ship reaches the municipality of Regua, a region well-renowned for its exquisite port wine. This is where you can grab an opportunity to visit Casa de Mateus, the castle depicted on the labels of Portugal’s renowned Mateus wine.
Guests also have the chance to stop in beautiful Tarouca, located in the heart of the Varosa Valley and walk across Ucanha, the country’s very first toll bridge, above the Varosa River.
The Douro takes the cruise through central Portugal and into the Vinhateiro region, the heart of the Douro Valley’s wine-growing region.
With its ornate architecture and historic landmarks, Salamanca offers both architectural and historical intrigue.
Be immersed in local culture in Pinhao, a region reminiscent of old-world Portugal, where you can visit Provescende’s local church for a special recital and tour the vibrant local markets.
A tour along the Douro River Valley wouldn’t be complete without a stop in Porto, the country’s second-largest city after Lisbon.
Renowned for its port wine production, this magnificent city offers the best in Portuguese culture and the schedule enables over a day to explore.
Activities include enjoying fresh catch prepared by local fishermen in Afurada, taking a relaxing stroll through the tranquil Cristal Gardens and touring either a canning or corking factory, some of the oldest remaining in the region.
Scenic offers an outstanding exclusive collection of unforgettable Enrich and Freechoice experiences that showcase the colourful and storied heritage of Portugal.
Attend a Sundowners cocktail event on the manicured lawns of the Douro Museum as the sun sinks beneath the fruitful vines of Régua’s plentiful vineyards or tour the Baroque-style town of Lamego, which sits nestled among the terraced slopes of one of the Douro’s most prestigious port wine-producing regions.
Absorb the architectural splendour of Salamanca, whose historic centre is protected by UNESCO on account of its important heritage or join an exclusive degustation fine dining experience in the Burmester Cellars of Porto, where you’ll sample the resident port wine and be entertained by traditional Fado musicians.
The tour includes:
1 exclusive Scenic Enrich experience
A choice of 7 Scenic Freechoice activities
Up to five onboard dining options, from casual to fine dining: 20 meals – 7 breakfasts. 6 lunches and 7 dinners
Complimentary beverages all day, every day
Butler service for all guests
Cruise Director to guide and assist
All tipping and gratuities
This is a fantastic itinerary for next summer and autumn and is available for booking now.
Please contact me for further information and about additional Scenic river cruise options.