Launched onto Europe’s waterways in 2015, alongside its sister ‘Space-Ship’ the Scenic Jasper, the Scenic Opal continues to support the line’s vision of contemporary, luxurious and spacious river cruises, while also providing an enriching and unforgettable itinerary each and every time. ‘Space-Ship’ refers to the ample space guests will find onboard, both in staterooms and in the public areas available, and the Scenic Opal definitely lives up to its moniker. Combine the stylish interiors with the choice of gourmet dining venues, the all-inclusive price tag (including gratuities, port taxes, Wi-Fi, meals, drinks including hot, soft and alcoholic, excursions and transfers) and voyages that take you through some of the Rhine’s best kept secrets, and it’s clear that passengers who book a stateroom or suite onboard the Opal are in for a treat.
As Scenic is an Australian-owned river cruise operator, it’s understandable that the majority of clientele onboard are from that faraway part of the world. However, river cruises on the Opal also appeal to British and American customers. All staff, commentaries and guided tours are in English too, so there’s no need to worry about language barriers. The vessel can hold up to 169 guests, with 53 crew onboard. The high crew to passenger ratio of approximately 1:3 ensures all guests can be treated with individuality - with personalised, attentive service being at the top of the to-do list.
Dining If you wish to dine in the main restaurant that dishes up buffet breakfast, buffet lunch and waiter service dinner, the Crystal Dining Room is where it’s at. However, for those who fancy a change, there are a number of alternative options, including an intimate 25-seat Italian restaurant – Portobellos – and the casual River Café if you’re looking for somewhere to grab a light bite, while the Riverview Terrace offers al-fresco dining with incredible views of the passing landscape. For somewhere a little more exuberant and indulgent, the 10-seat Table La Rive is a private area of the Crystal dining room where guests can devour a 6-course tasting menu with expertly paired wines. All hot beverages, bottled water and soft drinks are available throughout the voyage at no extra charge, and there is a wide selection of alcoholic drinks included in the price too. Other, high end spirits and selected wines are also available, at an additional charge.
EntertainmentMost guests look forward to the Captain’s formal dinners – both welcome and farewell meals – which give them an excuse to dress up a little and socialise with other travellers. However, there is also an enthralling entertainment package to keep passengers occupied, too. For entertainment (and simply to relax), the Panorama Lounge and Bar is the place to be. Equipped with a grand piano for evening performances from the in-house pianist and singer, as well as a large space that can be used for a multitude of evening entertainment activities, such as talent shows, folkloric shows and themed dance parties, it’s the place to enjoy a lively evening before retiring to the comfort of your stateroom or suite. The drinks served by the Panorama Bar are also complimentary, including cocktails, mocktails and martini of the day. Alternatively, there is an Observation Lounge and Bar on the ship’s Panorama Deck, which provides ample comfortable seating as well as an outdoor area for those relaxing mild evenings.
ActivitiesItineraries are port-intensive, so there’s plenty of focus on tours and excursions, and ample opportunity to explore the ports. Scenic’s Freechoice programme ensures you can choose itinerary fillers that suit you to a T. For onshore excursions, passengers can use Scenic Tailormade devices which include GPS navigation and audio headset so that, no matter where you are in the group, you won’t miss a word said by the expert tour guide. They also have digital maps and can be used to listen to the Cruise Director’s commentaries onboard throughout the voyage. Bikes are also available, and free to use both independently and for guided excursions. Onboard, there’s a range of planned activities which coincide with the itinerary route, such as culinary-themed demonstrations, lectures and presentations. There is a library in the Panorama Lounge, with a range of books and tour guides available, and giant chess set on the Sun Deck. The ship also boasts Wi-Fi throughout its decks, and all staterooms are equipped with TVs and Apple computer setups.
Accommodation There are 13 Standard Staterooms (with picture windows) situated on the Jewel Deck, as well as 2 full decks of Balcony Suites, Junior Suites, Panorama Suites and Royal Suites. Each suite features a private ‘Sun Lounge’ balcony that can be used regardless of the weather due to retractable windows. The various categories of suites and staterooms vary in size from 160 sq. ft. to an impressive 475 sq. ft. – among the largest in river cruising - and all provide a private butler service, with more services available for more expensive suites, such as morning coffee/tea service, in-room dining and complimentary pressing. Amenities include queen size hotel-style beds fitted with Egyptian cotton bedding, en-suite with luxury bath products, colour lighting system and shower cubicle, complimentary minibar (restocked daily), flatscreen HDTV linked to an Apple Mac with infotainment system, in-room safe, iPod dock, hairdryer, bathrobes, slippers and individual climate control. In addition, Royal Panorama and Junior suites have bathtubs as well as shower, as well as a large sitting area.
Spa/Wellbeing The Sun Deck has a walking track for leisurely strolls, as well as a vitality pool for refreshing dips. The area also has an abundance of chairs and sunloungers, as well as three retractable awnings, which help the deck to be an all-weather feature. Below the Sun Deck there is also a hair and beauty salon offering several treatments and haircare services, a fitness centre equipped with elliptical trainer, treadmill, rowing machine and stationary bike, and a massage therapist (fee applicable).
Itineraries The Scenic Opal focuses its attention on itineraries that predominantly centre on the Rhine River, such as the 15 day Romantic Rhine and Moselle river cruise that takes guests from Amsterdam to Basel, through the Rhine Gorge and Black Forest, allowing passengers to appreciate some magical regions of Europe, including Heidelberg, Strasbourg and Zeebrugge (Bruges). Other cruise itineraries are also available, and typically last between eight and 15 days. Stay a little closer to home with a European cruise onboard the Scenic Opal ship and marvel at dramatic landscapes and magical destinations that will take your breath away.