This cruise was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. Scenic were absolutely outstanding and truly lived up to their reputation of “all inclusive’.
The Ship; Absolutely gorgeous! Ultra-modem with everything you could want on a river-boat. 3 decks of varied cabin types including sole use & disabled facility. There’s even a lift between some decks for those passengers in wheelchairs. The Crystal Dining Room (a la carte for dinner, buffet for breakfast & lunch) is beautiful and spacious. Several table sizes on offer so every group size is catered to. It also features a stunning wine storage facility. The Lounge, Bar and River Café is the place where most passengers spend their time when not in their cabins. It encourages a social atmosphere with beautiful fittings and comfortable lounge chairs. All food and drinks here are of course inclusive and provided with table service. It features 2 coffee/tea making facilities also and is accompanied by 2 big screen televisions providing info about the ship’s location. The Sun Deck up top provides full deck access to those who wish to spread their legs, enjoy a cocktail with the breeze on their face (again provided by table service) or for those wanting a quite place to just relax in the sun, perhaps on a deck chair. Scenic Gem also features a gym and a Day Spa for those who require it.
The chauffeurs who met us for our arrival & departure transfers were extremely personal and made the commutes very enjoyable. The vehicles were Mercedes minivans and extremely comfortable. The drivers were happy to chat and to point out the sights as we drove.
The staff on board were outstanding, always addressing you and asking how you were. They were never shy to interact with you and offer assistance and a smile at all times. They’d remember what type of wines you preferred, how you like your breakfast served to your liking and they were always on hand with a smile if you required anything else.
The Cruise Director and Cruise Manager made you feel very welcome and special, like it was a once in a life time holiday and their experience & demeanor really put you at ease and ready to relax. They would always ask how we enjoyed the day and what we liked the most. They also conducted port talks each evening before dinner, explaining what we would be doing as a group that night and the plan for the following day. It made for a very smooth transition and from day to day.
The Butlers were very professional & personal and as awkward as it can be to have a Butler, you’d never feel uncomfortable asking them for something, be it room service, electronic device assistance, general advice or even to have your laundry cleaned.
The Tour Guides were brilliant. They not only made the tours enjoyable but immensely educational too. They really knew their stuff and tailored the excursions to the group. You never felt rushed or frustrated as you can do sometimes on a day tour. It makes the experience so much more enjoyable when you’re at ease and able to ask questions, especially when they are a local.
Our hosts Janelle & Emma, These 2 representatives of Scenic could not have done anything more to make our trip better. They bent over backwards at every opportunity to ensure we got the full Scenic quality and exactly how Scenic would want us to have experienced it. They are unsurpassed ambassadors for their brand.
Day 1 Brisbane to Singapore
I departed Brisbane at midday for the 9 hour flight to Singapore. The food was quite nice and standard of Economy Class. I met the rest of the group at Singapore before boarding our A380 flight to Paris. We had the upper deck virtually to ourselves which made it quite an enjoyable experience. The food again was nice.
Day 2 Singapore to Paris
Departed Singapore, arrived in to Paris and transferred and checked in to the Hotel Scribe. (Pronounced Screeb) This property was outstanding and very much what you would expect from a 5 star Hotel. Next time I go to Paris, I’ll actually definitely stay here again. I could not fault their facilities, its service or its location. Metro is only about 4-5min walk away. Galleries Lafayette is only a 5 min walk away also and the hotel is surrounded by designer label stores so it's ideal for shopping. Perfect hotel to stay in post cruise before jumping on the plane home as you could spend a relaxed day shopping for last minute bargains and still be close to the hotel. Very much in line with the expectation a Scenic passenger would want. My tip would be to request a Street View room! We had the rest of the day at leisure so we spent it sightseeing and resting from the flight. That evening we had our Welcome Dinner and took the opportunity to meet the rest of the Australian and NZ group.
Day 3 Paris
The morning was at leisure and we all spent it sightseeing and shopping again. I had the opportunity have a good look around the hotel and chatted with the Guest Services Manager who gave me a great run down on how are guests are looked after. At 3pm we reconvened with a complimentary refreshment in the opulent foyer of the hotel so that we could be chauffeured across town to the Scenic Gem, in preparation to begin our ‘Gems of the Seine’ cruise. Again, our driver was lovely and we never had to lift a bag or suitcase. He also was happy to chat and tell us the sights as we drove through Paris. We were welcomed aboard and shown to our cabins right away by our Butlers who took immense pride in showing us all the facilities of our cabins and how to use all the applications, from the TV to the internet and “Mood Lighting Shower”. We then met in the lounge from 6pm for an official welcome and we were then seated for our first a la carte dinner on board. We were all asked to meet on the sundeck afterwards to say our farewells to Paris and to take the opportunity to meet everyone else who was joining us on the cruise. We spent the remainder of the evening in the lounge being entertained by the ship’s musician/DJ.
Day 4 Poissy
After cruising through the night, we awoke in beautiful township of Poissy. There were 2 “Free Choices to choose from today and I opted for ‘Discover the charms of Auvers-sur-Oise & Vincent van Gogh’s room.’ It was a very insightful and emotional tour especially being that I walked in Van Gogh’s footsteps in this beautiful little French country town. Getting to visit his actual bedroom, the fields, gardens, church & laneways he used as his inspiration to paint and then seeing his final resting place really gave you an insight into the artist. Even for those who were not “Art Buffs”, the tour was very enjoyable. We headed back to the ship for a late lunch before setting sail again for an afternoon of casual cruising. That evening we got to experience a brand new element from Scenic which will be added to the tour next season. We took a short bus ride to Château de La Roche Guyon to experience the opulence and grandeur of yesteryear by enjoying a live classical concert performed by the region’s most reputable musicians. After this delightful performance, we again sailed through the night whilst enjoying the onboard entertainment.
Day 5 Vernon
We awoke in Vernon, a region rich in visual treasures. Again there were 2 Scenic Free Choices and I opted for a visit to Giverny and Monet’s former residence and gardens. This was a most magical and inspirational component of the tour. Walking through his former residence, the gardens from which he drew his inspiration and standing on the bridge from where he painted his famous piece “Waterlillies” was a bucket-list item! The entire tour was certainly a photographer’s landscape. This evening onboard, our group was treated to ‘Table leRive’, a 6 course degustation menu with locally sourced produce and beautifully matched wines. It was wonderful to experience this level of opulence and sample some of the most exquisite food, wine and French champagne all personally served by our Butlers (whom were now the Waiters). We again spent the evening sailing whilst enjoying a trivia night and disco.
Day 6 Rouen
We awoke in Rouen and started the day with an enjoyable walking tour of this historic city with its winding medieval laneways and half-timbered houses. The highlights of the excursion were seeing historic Rouen Cathedral containing the tomb of Richard the Lionheart and then witnessing the site where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. We spent the afternoon & evening cruising towards the English Channel and the town of Honfleur. From 4pm to 6.30pm, a ship inspection was conducted so everyone had the opportunity to see all the cabin types. We then had a Q&A session with the Cruise Managers & Directors which was very educational, especially as a travel agent.
Day 7 Normandy
Due to the bad weather, we were unable to sail in to Honfleur so instead docked in Caudebec-en-Caux and made the 2 hour bus trip to Crepon where we had lunch at La Ferme de la Rançonnière, a beautiful B&B that caters to inbound groups. We then drove on to the landing site village of Arromanches. After a 90min stop here to visit the Museum and walk along the harbour, we drove on to Omaha Beach to witness the US Troops beach landing site made famous by the movie ‘Saving Private Ryan’. This was easily everyone’s highlight albeit very sobering and emotional. It was then on to the ambient Normandy Cemetery with its 9,387 graves. It was then another 2hr trip back to the ship at Caudebec-en-Caux for our farewell dinner. We again sailed through the night back to Rouen. Normally Scenic Gem is able to cruise to Honfleur, avoiding the coach travel.
Day 8 Rouen - Paris
After breakfast, it was a 2hr drive back to Paris where we checked into our hotel, Crowne Plaza Republique. Not located in the nicest Parisian arrondissement but certainly close to everything a tourist would want. The Metro is literally right outside the hotel and it’s about a 15 min walk to The Louvre or Place de la Concorde. The breakfast was very good also. We had the afternoon at leisure where we spent it sightseeing and last minute shopping. We decided to all meet up for dinner and later met a local restaurant nearby.
Day 9 Paris – Home
After breakfast it was a short transfer to Paris Airport for our flight home. We again flew on the A380 which was fully booked and again the food was standard of Economy Class. We then flew home to Brisbane.