Scenic Tours River Cruising is the only 100-percent Australian-owned and operated river cruising company in Europe. In June 2008 it launched two brand new river cruise ships on the waterways of Amsterdam MS Scenic Sapphire
and MS Scenic Emerald
. The vessels will be joined by MS Scenic Diamond
and MS Scenic Ruby
They have been specifically designed to allow the ultimate in personal space. Eighty-two percent of staterooms are private balcony suites, complete with a large teak balcony furnished with outdoor chairs and a table. Guests can watch Europe's spectacular scenery pass by from the comfort and privacy of their own balcony.
The river cruisers are among the largest in Europe, 22 percent longer than similar vessels, with proportionately larger public areas. Stylish rooms have an understated ambience, comfortable sofas in the main lounge area and floor to ceiling windows offering 180-degree views.
The observation lounge is 31m long one of the roomiest of any river cruise ship. An adjoining 5m open-air teak deck allows guests unlimited access to outside areas and is used on days when the top sundeck is closed due to the ship passing under low bridges.
There is a wellness area on board and a restaurant offering fine dining. Rather than early or late sittings, the restaurant can accommodate all guests at the one time.
Getaway was invited on board Scenic Sapphire to sample the Danube section of a 15-day Amsterdam to Budapest cruise. We joined in Vienna in time for Sapphire's official christening.
There was plenty of time to explore Vienna's wonderful attractions, including the Hoftburg Palace, Opera House and the Ringstrasse. Scenic's FreeChoice Inclusions include a guided tour of Schönbrunn Palace or visits to elegant coffee houses. The evening is spent at a concert.
The next port of call is the small riverside hamlet of Durnstein, a pretty medieval town. Self-discover it or go with one of Scenic's local guides whichever way, you're sure to be enchanted by the Pearl of the Wachau, enclosed within a triangle of walls and towers. The walls wind up to the ruined castle 150m above the town. Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned here after returning from the 12th century Crusades.
The Augustinian monastery was founded in 1410 and dissolved in 1788 and is a masterpiece of baroque architecture. The little market town of Rossatz is opposite.
Hundreds of kilometres of cycleways run the length of this section of the Danube and passengers can borrow one of the ship's bikes and pedal for two hours to the afternoon destination of Melk.
Most choose to visit Melk's Benedictine abbey, which has ornate gold leaf walls, a 195m imperial corridor and magnificent fresco ceilings. Melk was the centre of all Austria in the 10th century. The royal family lived here but when they moved to Vienna, they wanted someone to care for the place to this day 30 monks live here.
The journey will continue next week.
Along the Danube River in Austria.
Scenic Tours has a 15-day cruise between Budapest and Amsterdam. It includes return economy airfares with a two-night stopover in Asia, guided sightseeing, all meals, transfers and tipping. Prices start at $4985 per person twin-share. If you book now, you and your partner will fly for free! The cruise departs on November 17, 2008, and on various dates between March and November 2009. Taxes and surcharges are extra. Please see Terms and Conditions.
Prices correct at September 4, 2008.
For further information
Ph: 1300 723 642
Terms and conditions
Prices based on per person twin share based on specific departure dates only. Based on E category cabin (no balcony) surcharge applies for balcony cabins. For new bookings only not available in conjunction with any other offer. Strictly limited availability on all earlybird offers until sold out.
Fly Free & Free stopover offer applies to specific departures - 17 November 2008, 2 and 9 November 2009 only. Other Fly Free offers are available on various departure dates in March and November 2009. Fly Free offer is with Singapore Airlines in a specific booking class– free stopover in Singapore. Other airlines/booking class/stopover locations available on request surcharges may apply.
Check out our celebrity Getaway blog or our photo gallery for more Getaway adventure pics.