A Scenic Cruise Along the Seine
A Scenic cruise along the Seine River
By Art Sbarsky
A summertime trip to Paris and points north in France. Ten nights aboard Scenic Gem cruising along the Seine River. Along the way, riverside cities and nearby locations filled with history, local culture, and amazing sites. On board, outstanding food and wines, terrific service, and a splendid atmosphere. And everything seamlessly and smoothly organized. It sounded good to me.
A Scenic Introduction
The very name of the company, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours (an Australian company gaining greater awareness in North America) nicely describes the overall experience.
There is so much scenery to see on a river cruise that the time spent sailing between ports is vastly different from an oceangoing cruise. It’s the very essence of the trip. Only on a river cruise does the deck staff have to take away upper-deck furniture and lower the ship’s wheelhouse so that the ship could get under low bridges along the way. Going through multiple locks is a significant part of the cruise, as is watching life along the riverbanks, where people are going through their everyday lives, taking a break and picnicking along the shore, and waving to guests on the ship, seemingly so close you can practically exchange a glass of wine with them.
This cruise began and ended in Paris, with the evening sailing into the city perfectly timed by the ship’s management to provide an outstanding view of the lit-up and twinkling Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. (Yes, they have one too, although the one they gave to the United States is way bigger.)
Life aboard Scenic Gem was a delight. When full, the ship carries only 128 guests in 64 staterooms. I’m always amazed at how staff gets to know guests. And with a total of 44 crewmembers and such a small ship with a relatively limited number of public spaces, they really get to know you in a hurry. The outstanding service — whether from staff in the dining room, bar, reception desk, or one’s stateroom — is a meaningful part of the intimate feeling on board.
Not surprising, dining is French-oriented, but not exclusively. Every lunch and dinner features a wide variety of French courses. For example, one night featured several entrée options: Filet de Salmon Omble aux Epinards, Pommes Mousseline et Jus de Truffe, Magrets de Canard et Confit d’Oignons au Cidre Pays d’Auge, and Le Ratatouille de Ratatouille. I’m not going to translate all of that, but it basically means salmon, duck, and ratatouille. Or, guests could choose from the always-available entrée list and enjoy excellent steak or deliciously grilled chicken breast.
Yes, it’s a small ship, but….
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Photo: scenic luxury cruises & tours