Nothing in this article is advice. For better context including why it was written in the first place, please visit our COVID Travel Hub > LINK HERE
Formally known as Scenic Luxury Tours & Cruises, you’ll appreciate their somewhat laidback approach to luxury, which really complements their distinct adventure side – step on board and you’ll quickly get to know this upper tier experience more intimately.
Their friends just know them as Scenic, you know?
Some of the first bookings I ever made were River Cruise itineraries of Europe and Southeast Asia, as Odyssean Travel’s business evolved and our clients became more discerning.
Scenic became the most requested supplier for new client bookings of river cruise itineraries during the pandemic related disruption of 2020.
There’s good reason, with most clients stating they felt Scenic offered more inclusions.
Scenic Group exemplifies what we seek in our supplier partners, offering river cruising of Europe with a more inclusive fare for their exclusive experiences. There’s a bit of an adventure twist in their Southeast Asia offering, too.
And their flagship experience and foray into Ocean Cruise is perhaps without rival. The Scenic Eclipse launched in 2019 as the World’s First Discovery Yacht and the luxury meets expedition blend is unreal. Think all-verandah stateroom options and private butler service for every suite, nearly 1:1 service.
In addition to guide-led excursions to find penguins or kayaking among icebergs you’ll find a private helicopter and even a submarine on board!
These last two are optional upgrades, not everyone is comfortable diving nearly 1,000 feet below the surface and you won’t have to pay for others to enjoy the experience either through a normalized cruise fare.
And when we look at their unbeatable river cruise options, it’s a nice and manageable fleet of only 16 ships. Some of their closest competitors have more than four times that number!
I don’t care how great they say their management training program is, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a consistent, high standard across dozens and dozens of vessels.
Scenic’s 16 Space Ships are well appointed and the experience doesn’t win customers by flooding the riverways of Europe. You’re getting the attention you deserve.
As a brand, Scenic has a few other companies and demographics within its wheelhouse, but at its heart it is Australian.
It tends to attract a high percentage of Australian or British travelers, you can expect some interesting conversation and a bit of competitive sporting spirit – and a few new beverage recommendations, but don’t expect a party atmosphere.
Why do we trust Scenic even more after COVID
As we look to the future of Cruise and a return of the travel industry following COVID related disruption, the team and I have identified 3 simple yet significant priorities for your trip planning.
Here’s how we think Scenic is doing well and why they’ve become our exclusive supplier for European River Cruise.
You need to feel safe in your trip plans
As with a number of their competitors, Scenic has taken steps to exceed those standards set forth by the leading cruise industry trade body, CLIA, as well as those international health organizations which oversee the regulatory standards.
This is especially true of the ocean faring Eclipse, as those reporting requirements for ocean cruise far exceed those of other segments of travel, including air travel and hotel stays.
You can look forward to contactless check in and check out, health screening for both passengers and crew, enhanced cleaning protocols, and something they’re calling socially aware dining. This involves more local sourcing and reduced contact of service and preparation, even for beverages.
As the Scenic Eclipse is so new and a small ship experience, topping out at 228 passengers, the modern HVAC system ensures no recirculation of air to your suite.
Following safety, here’s how you get value from your vacation time
This second priority is all about getting the best use from your time away from home.
No sense traveling half-way around the world, staying safe, yes, but seeing and experiencing nothing but the inside of your luxury cabin, right?
River Cruise is hard to beat for best use of time. You float at a leisurely pace from one incredible port of call to another – in Europe, that’s the beating heart of one great city after another!
But when compared to competitors you should find more inclusive dining & drinking, alongside a very healthy range of activities to enjoy in port when you’re river cruising, or those incredible expedition experiences on the Eclipse.
And it wouldn’t be a truly luxury service if there weren’t exclusive, curated experiences now would it?
Throughout their itineraries, there are things to do you might not be able to enjoy with other cruise lines. Not just the helicopter or submarine, but cultural or epicurean exploits in Europe or naturalist-led, up close and personal adventures with the wildlife of the Arctic or Antarctic.
During expeditions of the polar regions, Scenic Eclipse actually reduces passenger numbers from 228 to 200 and bumps up their crew with added guides and lecturers.
The intent is to provide you even more exposure to a real learning environment (if you want it) and carefully selected professionals to better observe the natural world or to guide you through those active exploits.
How is Scenic protecting your trip investment and why we like it
The third and final priority for our simple Post-COVID travel assessment was to trust our client travel exclusively to those cruise & travel companies which were being most respectful of their guests and their trip investments.
Part of Scenic’s appeal is its size. They’re just big enough to sail their first ocean faring vessel only a couple of years prior, with a second expected imminently.
Yet they have a small-ish and manageable fleet of unique ships for River Cruise itineraries. That size permits great personalized attention, balanced with a reasonably safe outlook for future business.
As I’ve promised transparency in the selection process, some of the drawbacks to that smaller size did result in a somewhat slower rollout of bonus value for Future Cruise Credits
The credits themselves weren’t an issue, it was that the bonus 10% offer came about a week or so after the big Ocean Cruises for those sailings which were first disrupted. Not an unreasonable delay given the circumstances, but a stress for those affected nonetheless.
Where Scenic has continued to exceed expectation
Unfortunately, a very small number of client trips planned for 2020 and rebooked with Future Cruise Credits in hopes to sail in 2021 were again suspended due to COVID.
Scenic was willing to engage client needs on a case by case basis, often to a level I’ve not seen in many other travel businesses.
Throughout this pandemic disruption, Scenic's Customer Care team has been available to our travel advisor team with a single point of contact for those most heavily affected passengers.
They've been communicative and supportive, even offering tailor-made solutions based on individual guest needs in a few instances where policy proved too restrictive.
I’ve also never before encountered such an engaged air desk. Some larger cruise lines I’ve worked with were only too happy to shirk responsibilities for unexpected schedule changes or passenger needs when things got tough.
Throughout 2020 Scenic’s team was instead engaged, responsive, and kept such accurate notes it didn’t matter what changes were ongoing. They’d navigate them professionally, even if they weren't able to completely override airline deposit terms.
We choose to trust your trip to a supplier partner which employs empathy and a common sense approach to individual clients every time.
Here at Odyssean Travel, our mission is pretty simple. We want you to make better vacation memories with the people who matter most in your life.
Because we’re a small, family owned business, we need your help to spread the word so we can aid more travelers in this mission! Simply by sharing this post or even just leaving a comment will help us help others enjoy a better, more memorable trip.
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