SCENICScenic Gem travels the Seine offering upmarket river cruises through France
Scenic Gem, launched in 2014, is one of Scenic’s fleet of stylish “Space-Ships” that cruise the rivers of Europe.
It is a more boutique affair than many river ships, at only three-quarters the length of most and carrying just 128 guests thanks to it being designed especially for the twisting, sometimes narrow, River Seine.
Life on board is one of understated luxury amid subtle, contemporary, décor.
Its cruises are all-inclusive, with the Panorama lounge and bar that occupies the front third of the ship being the hub of the action.
SCENICScenic Gem has 64 suites and all but six have balconies
Scenic Gem has 64 suites, all but six (those on the lowest of the three decks) with balconies. All the balconies have the Sun Lounge system, which involves the glass wall behind the glass balcony folding back so that the whole room is opened up like a conservatory. Top of the range are the two one-bedroom Royal Suites that occupy the rear of the ship.
They not only feature a Sun Lounge balcony to the side but also a floor-to-ceiling window at the back, giving panoramic views as you sit up in bed or relax in the lounge area.
And you can happily do that all day, as the service includes a private butler who will bring lunch and dinner to your room for no charge. He also stocks your mini-bar daily (and unlike most mini-bars there’s no charge) and will get your clothes pressed for you.
The décor is smartly contemporary, a wave of pale greys and browns set amid white and stainless steel; relaxed but never throwaway beige. Rooms feature HD TV, individual climate control, a pillow menu and a goodly sized bathroom, most with shower.
SCENICThe River Café offers Earlybird and Late Riser breakfasts and light lunches
Crystal Dining is the main restaurant, cool, white and sophisticated. Here you’ll find the big buffet breakfast, decent lunches and multi-course evening meals such as Arctic char with spinach, potato mousseline and black truffle juice.
The River Café, which takes over the front of the Panorama lounge, offers Earlybird and Late Riser breakfasts and light lunches. And you can always make yourself a cappuccino or other coffee, tea or chocolate drink from the machines (fresh cookies too).
The lounge area to the front of the Panorama is curtained off each evening, becoming the discreet L’Amour – a handful of tables for 22 people. This has a five-course menu pairing regional specialties such as duck breast marinated in cider, with local wines – and everyone gets an invite to try it at least once.
Passengers in the top suites, on Diamond deck, have the chance to sample the 10-person Table La Rive, a chef’s table experience.
There are daily free Scenic Freechoice excursions, with a choice of Relaxed, Moderate and Active options, from a wander round town to a hike or bicycle ride. Scenic Gem has a fleet of ebikes that can be borrowed in each destination – for instance you can cycle to Monet’s garden.
Also included are Scenic Enrich experiences such as the classical recital in Chateau de La Roche-Guyon.
The sun deck is the place to sit and watch the world go by – there are loungers, chairs and shaded areas – or you can keep moving on the walking track around the edge.
The front of the sun deck is the Riverview Terrace, an open-air bar, perfect for an early evening tipple under the setting sun. Down below there’s a small but smartly modern gym as well as a wellness area for a massage or other treatment.
SCENICThere are daily free excursions, with a choice of Relaxed, Moderate and Active options
Before dinner there’s always a talk about the next day’s destination; it could be Vernon, for Monet’s garden at Giverney, or the medieval city of Rouen or Caudebec-en-Caux with its riverfront MuséoSeine.
But evenings are mostly spent in the Panorama lounge where there might be live music from an acoustic guitar duo, or grooving on the dance floor.
Scenic Gem sails a regular eight-day Highlights of Normandy & the Seine cruise, from £2,120pp, and an 11-day Normandy & Gems of the Seine cruise, from £2,745pp, both round-trips from Paris, all-inclusive with flights or Eurostar.
Details: scenic.co.uk/0808 163 1190