Going above and beyond to provide exceptional experiences is something that Scenic strives to do all the time. With Scenic, your river cruise provides the best highlights and most unforgettable opportunities to see Europe in a way that no other river cruise line can. Aptly named Scenic Enrich, these specially crafted and tailored experiences are included in the cost of your cruise, giving you special access to a range of fantastic locations. The Scenic Enrich programme ensures that any Scenic cruise you embark on includes an Enrich experience ranging from a private tour in a castle to dinner with a local family or wine tasting in a picturesque chateau. There’s something for everyone with Scenic Enrich, and here’s just a few examples. Avignon Be treated to a gala dinner and performance in the Pope’s Palace. Vienna A private concert in the grand Palais Liechtenstein. Portugal Visit the Burmester Cellars for dinner and traditional Fado music. What makes these experiences special is the sense of true exclusivity and luxury that Scenic crafts into them, from the stunning locations and venues (many of which are often UNESCO or World Heritage-listed), the sumptuous food or wine to the immersive performances and entertainment and the genuine passion and companionship of all involved.
One of Scenic’s most incredible experiences is the evening at Marksburg Castle, where guests enjoy a traditional medieval banquet in its grand hall. Overlooking the Rhine River on a hill near Braubach, Marksburg Castle is one of the region’s most famous and recognisable landmarks. Built in the 12th century, the castle served as a fortress protecting Braubach and the local area and was truly formidable in its many battles, never once falling to invading armies. Formerly of the Holy Roman Empire and now acting as head office of the German Castle Association, the castle is open for public touring and sightseeing but available exclusively to Scenic guests is the opportunity to enter further into the great hall for a grand medieval feast. Enjoy sumptuous local specialties and flowing red wine while performers entertain you with traditional acts including minstrels, court jesters, players and bards.
Scenic Rouge is one of the newest Scenic Rich encounters and invites Scenic guests to a spectacular French extravaganza. Guests who choose this enriching experience can enjoy an exclusive gala packed full of dazzling performances including the acclaimed French Can Can. The special event takes place underneath a decked out big-top onshore in Lyon. A must for anyone sailing the south of Frane on a river cruise with Scenic.
See more with Scenic Enrich on a Scenic river cruise
Kathleen from our dedicated river cruise commercial team recently enjoyed a river cruise in France onboard Avalon Tapestry 2 with Avalon Waterways, read about her experience and first impressions below.
The ship was lovely, the food was lovely, the crew were just extremely welcoming and friendly and I met some amazing people. Occasionally with river cruises there are complications that arise which cause changes to the itinerary, and I got to witness one of these complications first hand. as there was going to be strikes in the locks and docks, the cruise director had to make the decision for the itinerary to be sped up, meaning that we had to meet the ship in Mantes La Jolie as it picked up passengers who went on the excursion to Rouen, then we cruised on to Conflans-Saite-Honorine through lunch where the ship docked for the night. Our Cabin The cabin as I had expected was really luxurious, with supplied bathrobes, slippers and L'Occitane toiletries. What I especially liked about the cabin was where the beds were facing the window instead of facing away from it, you could just lie on your bed and watch the ever changing scenery along the river bank as you sail to the next port of call, you could even have the floor to ceiling window open to let in some fresh air – or if you’d rather there was a seating area right in-front of the window where you could sit and read a book whilst enjoy the nice breeze from the window as you cruise along the river.
There were many other things the cabin had to offer such as a safe, a fair size wardrobe a mini fridge (which was stocked with drinks, and weren’t badly priced) and a hairdryer. Food The food was also very nice. Lunch and breakfast were both buffets with quite a variety of options of food to pick from, and the options changed every day - there was also if you preferred a menu in which you could order from. Dinner was always a three course meal with a starter, a main and a pudding. Once again there was a set menu that stayed the same every day, but there was also an option that changed daily.
Excursions Every evening just before dinner and usually just after or before happy hour (an hour when cocktails were half price) the cruise director would talk over the excursions for the next day and what’s going to happen. Also, every evening a leaflet would be put on the beds in every cabin to outline everything that was happening the next day. This was very helpful as it meant that you could carry it around with you throughout the day and refer to it. Each day there was the choice between included excursion, and on some days there was even an extra excursion with an added cost. Some of the included excursions we went on where a tour of the Notre Dame Cathedral, and a tour of the Château de Malmaison. Overall the cruise was definitely an experience that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. I personally went on the cruise not really sure on what to expect, but also not expecting much. It was a lot better than I had anticipated and it was certainly nice to get away and just sit back and chill and do stuff like relax on the sky deck, maybe even play one of the board games available in the back lounge, or even read a book whilst sipping on a cup of tea whilst eating a doughnut. After this experience, I definitely would go on a river cruise again, and I would highly recommend Avalon Waterways.
Have you sailed with Avalon Waterways? Tell us about your experience in the comments below
A river cruise is a popular way to experience a multitude of exciting destinations in a relaxed and enjoyable way. Cruising the world’s waterways opens up the chance to visit many new places in one holiday. With the ability to access cities and villages that ocean cruise liners can’t, plus more opportunities for port stops, it’s easy to see why river cruising is a popular holiday choice. With several river cruise lines, ships and itineraries to choose from there is something for everyone. Whether you dream of seeing the sunset in Cambodia sailing along the Mekong or hope to visit the fairy-tale castles of Europe’s northern capitals, there is a river cruise to suit. Once you have decided upon the river cruise of your dreams, don’t wait to make your dream a reality. Ships have a limited capacity in order to reach river ports and so can fill up quickly with savvy cruisers choosing their cabins. There are many benefits to booking your river cruise early, see just a few of these below.
When you book early you have a bigger selection of cabins and decks to choose from. If the view is of great importance to you, we suggest going for a middle or upper deck as these cabins tend to have larger windows or even balconies, whereas lower decks tend to have portholes. You may also prefer to be away from the engine or anchor, or based in the middle of the ship for a sturdy sailing.
Most airlines tend to have lower airfares when you book in advance. This can be true of both scheduled and low cost flights. With non-direct flights you are also likely to get better flight times for connecting flights the earlier you book. It is now possible to book up to a year in advance for some airlines.
There is almost always a plus to being first in the queue and many river cruise lines reward early bookers with early bird offers and discounts. Take advantage of early booking benefits and relax knowing you’ve also secured the cabin and deck you dreamed of.
There are popular times to take a river cruise depending on where you want to sail. May, June and September are known busy times, and with limited departure dates cruises can sell out fast. Book ahead to make sure you can cruise when you want and get the best from your destination of choice. Check out our river cruise calendar for tips on when to cruise.
Our favourite benefit to booking your river cruise early, having something to look forward to! A holiday on the cards is excellent motivation and the best kind of reward for all of your hard work.
A river cruise can be a leisurely and exciting way to explore a new destination. From cruising the diverse and scenic riverbanks to stepping ashore in the heart of the city, there is plenty to see and do depending on your preferred pace of holiday.
Most river cruises provide ample opportunities to explore on foot. Make a point to delve into new destinations whilst in port and you can enjoy local cuisine, embrace new cultures and see a whole new way of life. Depending on when you chose to cruise you may be lucky enough to catch unique community events, celebrations or local festivals during your trip. With river cruises available worldwide, the breadth of new and exciting experiences is endless. Check out a few of our favourite events below which you could encounter on your next river cruise. Rhine in Flames Sail on a Rhine river cruise in Summer and you might just catch the Rhein in Flammen festival held near Koblenz. You can expect a large audience of around a quarter of a million enjoying a fantastic firework display amidst this beautiful castle-lined region. Budapest Summer Festival Held between June 14 and August 31, the Summer Festival is an incredible opportunity to experience the arts and music of Budapest. With musical performances from the Budapest Symphony and various jazz groups, theatrical productions, exhibitions and more. See Budapest on a Danube river cruise.
The Vienna Festival
As one of the icons of music and culture, Vienna holds a yearly festival highly regarded for its musical productions, from classical performances to operas and exhibitions. Stop in Vienna between May and June and you can see prime examples of Austria’s cultural magnificence. Explore Ausria when you river cruise the Danube. Mardi Gras The unique and rarely touched region of the Mississippi river takes river cruisers through some of USA’s famous musical and cultural hotspots, including Memphis and New Orleans. New Orleans in particular is known for the Mardi Gras festival where parades and floats move through the city daily. Cruise on the Queen of the Mississippi.
Oktoberfest Usually during the last week of September, Oktoberfest is the most famous beer festival in the world. Say prost! (cheers!) with the locals in Munich as you learn of Bavarian traditions, enjoy the locally brewed beers and experience a whole host of celebrations.
Eastern Europe has so much to offer holiday goers and explorers alike, with unique quirks, historical towns and beautiful landscapes, there is something to appeal to everyone. The likes of Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia are now seeing an influx of visitors from Western Europe and the welcoming locals make a trip here truly unforgettable. One nation in particular which is growing in popularity is Slovakia, with the capital Bratislava an absolute must on a European cruise.
Iglu Cruise offer a number of river cruises along the Danube, starting in Hungary and stopping off in Bratislava en route to Austria. So what is there to do in Slovakia's largest city? Here are our top five suggestions.
Sitting on a hill of the Little Carphathians overlooking the city, Bratislava Castle is arguably the most historic and recognisable sight in the capital. It provides stunning views over Bratislava, parts of Austria and on clear days you will you be able to see as far as Hungary. As you would expect, the castle has a long and rich history. It can trace its origins back to the ninth century where it was believed to have been built by the Romans as a frontier post. It was accidentally burned to the ground by garrisoned soldiers in May 1811, leading to a full rebuild in the 1950s. It is home to both The History Museum and the National Museum, with one of the rooms dedicated to the works of Slovakian and foreign artists. Around 3,500 paintings, statues and print are housed in the castle, the most impressive being copies of 15th century altarpieces by Paul of Levoca.
Sticking with the historical theme, St Martin's Cathedral is a testament to Bratislava's Gothic architecture. Situated on the edge of the Old Town, the church can trace its history back to the 13th century when it was originally built in a Romanesque style. However, by the 14th century it was replaced by a three-nave Gothic dome and was fully transformed by 1452. Being the largest and one of the oldest churches in Bratislava it has been the scene of many a famous ceremony. Between 1563 and 1830 it was known for being the coronation church for the Kingdom of Hungary and saw 19 Hungarian Emperors crowned during this time. Today, it remains open to the public allowing people to wander around this magnificent structure and the see the work of famous Austrian baroque sculptor Raphael Donner.
Both St Michael's Street and St Michael's Gate are go-to places for anyone visiting Bratislava. It is the main hub of activity in the city with shops and restaurants lining the street, making for a very lively place. Both locals and tourists alike come out to enjoy the ambiance on an evening with street bands providing a great atmosphere as the sun goes down. At the top of the street is St Michael's Gate which remains the only city gate in Slovakia that has been preserved of the medieval fortifications. Originally built during the year 1300, it was rebuilt in 1758 and has survived several wars, occupations and the Communist rule, a period renowned for tearing down and replacing historic buildings. Now it is seen and appreciated as a hugely relaxing area, ideal for enjoying a glass of wine or two and simply watching the world go by.
If you get the chance, a visit to the Slovak National Theatre is an absolute must if you are a lover of the arts. It is the oldest professional theatre in the country and consists of three ensembles - opera, ballet and drama. It is split into two separate buildings the old, opened in 1886, and the new, opened in 2007. The former was designed by Viennese architects R. Fellner and H. Helmer, responsible for creating ten buildings across Europe. It is the home of Neo-Renaissance opera, ballet and philharmonic performances and if you have the chance to catch a show, then it will be an unforgettable experience.
While Bratislava Castle provides a beautiful panoramic view of the city, for more spectacular views head to one of the more modern structures in Bratislava - Novy Most Bridge. Despite being built during the era of Slovak Communism, the 1971 bridge does not follow conventional architecture of the time. It is more inkeeping with Bratislava's more historic side and has drawn comparisons to the Space Needle in Seattle. Providing a link over the Danube, you can venture up the impressive structure to an observation desk where you can take in all the views of Bratislava. Maybe even have a spot of lunch at the restaurant UFO, a popular eatery so booking is advised.
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