All Australian-owned Scenic’s state-of-the-art Space-Ships enjoy a well-deserved reputation for being out of this world in terms of luxury, service and cutting edge technology. The brand new Scenic Azure, which has been custom made to cruise Portugal’s Douro River and carries a maximum of just 96 passengers, is the latest example of this unparalleled level of style, innovation and 5-star comfort.
As an Aussie river cruiser, Scenic attracts many mature passengers from Australia and New Zealand. However, she also attracts guests from the UK and North America who are happy to pay an all-inclusive price that includes absolutely everything from the replenishment of the mini bar to the services of a personal butler. With a crew to passenger ratio of nearly 1:2, nothing is too much trouble on a Scenic Cruise.
She may be smaller than the other Space-Ships, but Scenic Azure still offers the same industry-leading standards and variety of dining, with six restaurants onboard.
The Crystal Dining Restaurant on the Sapphire Deck is the ship’s main dining room, where pristine table linen, gleaming glass and tableware, and smartly presented waiters create an upmarket ambience enhanced by the views from the floor-to-ceiling windows. A relaxed, open-seating policy operates but the smart casual dress code at dinner is dressier than what is found on most river cruises. Sumptuous buffets and a la carte menus are served at breakfast and lunch, and dinner is a four-course event where seasonal influences of Portugal and elsewhere in Europe can be enjoyed.
Wines flow generously in the Crystal Dining Room, with Moet & Chandon champagne at breakfast taking all-inclusive to a new level. The Sapphire Deck is also home to Table La Rive, where Diamond Deck guests are invited by the Executive Chef to join him for a six-course evening of the highest quality of culinary art paired with exquisite wines.
The River Café on the Diamond Deck is an all-day casual dining venue, serving an early-riser breakfast and casual lunches and snacks that include pizza, fish and chips, sandwiches, pastries and gelato. This deck also boasts Portobello’s Restaurant, an intimate fine-dining Italian eatery with a fabulous selection of Tuscan wines.
Afternoon tea is served on the terrace every day, and tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beers and spirts are available 24/7.
Onboard entertainment revolves around the ship’s delicious and varied opportunities to enjoy the highest quality food and wine. Every cruise gets off to a sociable and sparkling start with a welcome reception. Passengers dress up more than usual for this event, and for meals at Table La Rive and Portobello’s. The Crystal Dining Restaurant also plays host to the ship’s seafood gala evening, and some itineraries include a Teppenyaki BBQ on the Sun Deck.
The Sun Deck, with its Riverview Terrace, is a marvellous place to enjoy a sundowner during a warm Portuguese sunset - and the Lounge & Bar is the ship’s social hub where passengers meet for a drink and mingle.
The Scenic Azure has a walking track at the front of the Diamond Deck where the views make exercise anything but boring. This deck also houses the Gift Shop, and there is free Wi-Fi for those who wish to stay in touch with home. The Sun Deck has a Vitality Pool, which is perfect for cooling off from the hot Portuguese sun.
Activities are regularly arranged to bring the itinerary alive onboard, including traditional tile-painting and a Portuguese cork jewellery presentation. Every passenger is given a device where they can listen to a commentary on the area being passed through at the touch of a button, thanks to GPS technology.
Scenic Azure passengers can expect the same high levels of service while they are off the ship sightseeing. Scenic Tailormade allows guests to use their GPS devices to personalise their tour. Scenic Enrich includes extra special experiences such as a fine-dining dinner accompanied by traditional Portuguese Fado music at the atmospheric Burmester Cellars in Porto. Scenic Freechoice is a programme designed so that passengers can choose what they want to see at a pace that suits them. All tour guides are fluent English-speaking locals and all costs are included.
87% of Scenic Azure’s spacious, stylish cabins feature the Space-Ships’ signature Sun Lounges, where passengers can let the warm Portuguese sun into their balcony at the touch of a button. The luxury feel is enhanced by the services of a butler, premium L’Occitane bath products, pillow menu, deluxe bedding and bathrobes, nightly turn-down and a shoeshine service. HDTV, safe and climate control also come as standard, as do a complimentary minibar and 24-hour room service, a rarity in river cruising.
22 of Scenic Azure’s 48 cabins are located on the Diamond Deck. At the back are the ship’s two enormous 420 sq. ft. Royal One-Bedroom Suites that feature panoramic views and the ultimate in space and luxury. Next to these are two 247 sq. ft. Junior Suites and 18 Private Balcony Suites with an area of 215 sq. ft.
The Sapphire Deck houses 20 more Private Balcony Suites and the lower Jewel Deck is home to the ship’s six 172 sq. ft. Standard Staterooms with large picture windows.
The Scenic Azure has a Wellness Area offering massages and hairdressing. There’s also a Fitness Centre and an elevator to aid movement between decks.
Scenic Azure will be sailing the eight day Delightful Douro itinerary, a round-trip from Porto with highlights including the fantastic Regua Museum, a visit to the authentic Portuguese village of Provesende and a trip to the historic Spanish city of Salamanca, where there’s a chance to experience tapas and Flamenco. The 11 day Unforgettable Douro itinerary takes a similar route with the chance to experience Scenic Freechoice activities like a canoe excursion on the Sabor River or a visit to the Quinta Bonfim estate that produces the world-famous Dow’s port. This itinerary is also available as a 14 day holiday starting with a three night stay in the Portuguese capital Lisbon.