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July 2012

June 2012

Scenic Cruises ups the ante on river cruising in 2013

Scenic Cruises Space-Ship on the Rhine

ABOVE: A Scenic Cruises "Space-Ship" on the Rhine.

Scenic Cruises is upping the ante on river cruising in Europe with a variety of enhancements for 2013:

  • All but one of its "Space-Ships" are being refitted with "sun lounges," which allow guests with private balconies to convert their balconies into indoor lounges when the weather turns iffy. (More than 80 percent of cabins on "Space-Ships" have private balconies, according to Scenic Cruises, so the "indoor lounge" feature is more than just a marketing gimmick).
  • Most ships will have three restaurants: the River Café ("all day offerings"), Table La Rive ("degustation"), and the Terrace (for "high tea").
  • The company is introducing "Scenic Tailormade," an "exclusive bespoke GPS guided tour system with full commentary, allowing guests to choose from independent walks or cycling tours exploring interest areas like food and wine or history." This is a refreshing alternative to traditional river-cruise shore excursions, where passengers are transported to the sights en masse in tour buses.

Other Scenic Cruises amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi, butler service, unlimited free beverages, and a "no tipping" policy. (Gratuities are included in the fare, and you don't even need to tip local tour guides.)

Scenic Cruises offers river voyages of seven to 21 nights in Western and Central Europe, with add-on land packages available. For more information, visit or--if you live in the United

More photos:

The pictures below show Scenic Crystal moored along a European river, a typical suite with balcony, and a Royal Suite. (Photos courtesy of Scenic Cruises.)

Scenic Crystal

Scenic Cruises balcony

Scenic Cruises royal suite

New at Europe for Cruisers: A Silversea SILVER SPIRIT review


ABOVE: Silver Spirit in Port Mahon, Menorca, Spain.

We've just published a new 10-page Silver Spirit cruise review at Europe for Cruisers, which is the cruising section of

The review describes a 9-day voyage from Lisbon to Monte Carlo on Silversea's 540-passenger flagship, with visits to the ports of Cádiz, Málaga, Palma de Mallorca, Port Mahon (Menorca), Alghero (Sardinia), and Ajaccio (Corsica) along the way. It's packed with photos, and we'll be adding an even more comprehensive day-by-day photo diary to the review in mid-July.

Before departing on the cruise, we wondered if the Silversea atmosphere that we'd enjoyed on Silver Whisper would carry over successfully to a ship with 40 percent greater passenger capacity. We now can say that it has. There are a few differences (not every maitre d' or waiter is going to remember your name on a ship with 540 guests), but on the plus side, the new ship has more dining options, the suites are even nicer, and the Fitness Center is more spacious (and seemingly better-equipped) than its counterparts on the smaller Silversea ships.

What's impressive is how similar Silver Spirit is to Silver Whisper, Silver Shadow, Silver Cloud, and Silver Wind: It's a larger version of a proven design and layout, with an extra passenger deck and a slightly greater length and beam.

If you like Silversea's other ships, you'll probably like Silver Spirit--and if you're accustomed to cruise ships that carry 1,000, 2,000, or even 6,000 passengers, the intimacy and lack of crowding on Silver Spirit will be a pleasant surprise.

For more information, including pictures, please read the cruise review at Europe for Cruisers.