Europe’s rivers are fascinating, enchanting and utterly beautiful. What better way to explore these stunning waterways than on a luxury river cruise with Elegant Resorts? To see just how impressive these ships and their destinations are, we sent our Marketing Executive, Stuart Murray – a first time river cruiser - to beautiful Budapest to step on board Scenic Amber…
When the opportunity arose to join a luxury river cruise along the magnificent Danube River with Scenic River Cruises, I would have been foolish not to accept; a chance to visit exciting new cities, uncover stunning scenery and challenge my preconceptions was all the incentive I needed. I began with the short journey from Manchester to Budapest, the spectacular capital city of Hungary, where I was politely greeted and swiftly shown to my car transfer. After a comfortable ride through the intriguing streets of Budapest, I was treated to my first glimpse of the spectacular Scenic Space-Ship, Amber.
While Scenic Amber is compact – it only accommodates 169 guests - it is perfectly formed, spread over two and a half decks. The lounge area at the front of the ship is the boat’s social beating heart, in which I spent time meeting my fellow guests - a combination of couples, small groups and families. The variety of travellers on board was a testament to just how wide a river cruise’s appeal is.
The surprises continued as I was escorted to my Deluxe Balcony Suite by my personal butler, to be met with the highest quality furnishings, a beautiful private balcony and a very spacious living area with every amenity you could possibly need. The view was also incredible - I was greeted by Budapest’s striking Parliament Building and the blue of both the Danube and the clear sky. Exploring the ship further, I discovered the vitality pool, a fine dining restaurant, a fitness centre and salt therapy lounge - just a few of the countless world-class facilities on board.
Exclusive Excursions & Experiences
No matter which Scenic itinerary you embark upon, there is always a fantastic choice of shore excursions to enjoy; from the daily ‘Freechoice’ option to the bespoke ‘Enrich’ activities offered throughout. Each evening, I was informed of the options available for the next day, as well as the key highlights of each. I was then free to choose to do as much or as little as I wished.
After looking through the limitless list, I was eager to disembark on my second day and explore Budapest. I joined the guided city tour, led by a local expert, which took us around the city and introduced me to the old town of Buda, before moving on to the impressive Hősök Tere (or Heroes Square) which holds the iconic statue complex, the Seven Chieftains of the Magyar. With small group numbers and the knowledgeable guide, I felt fully immersed in the fascinating culture of the destination.
Along the Danube to Vienna
After returning to the ship, we set course along the mighty Danube towards the beautiful Austrian city of Vienna. Sailing overnight and waking up in a new country is something I could easily get used to. Once docked in Vienna, it was time to experience one of Scenic’s ‘Enrich’ activities. We were treated to an evening at the opulent Palais Liechtenstein - the former winter residence of the ruling family of Liechtenstein - to witness a private Viennese concert featuring the timeless music of Strauss and Mozart.
The following day was our last day in Vienna, so I decided to take one of their special e-bikes for a self-guided tour of the city, using the high-tech Scenic Tailormade device. This GPS locator offers cruising commentary when you’re onboard, expertly narrating over various points of interest through the regions you sail, as well as becoming a trustworthy interactive map that allowed me to navigate this bustling city on my own personal excursion.
Scenic stood out for its enviable all-inclusive offering and incredible level of service. During my short stay, they went above and beyond to provide the ultimate luxury river cruise experience. As soon as I arrived on board, I found a note on my bed from the Executive Chef, who had been aware of my food allergies, and invited me down early to view the menu for that evening, to discuss what they could do for me.
Back On Dry Land
As I departed the ship for Vienna Airport, I found myself wishing I was not returning home, but rather relaxing in the plunge pool on the Sun Deck, watching the world go by as we cruised along the river to the next stop. It’s safe to say that I have found a new love for river cruising and seeing the world from a different perspective.
To book your luxury river cruise, please call our Luxury Travel Specialists.