Scenic Ruby Sparkles

The Scenic Ruby offers top amenities and excursions and nearly everything is included

Scenic Ruby, docked in Bernkastel on a sunny October afternoon. // © 2012 Pride Travel / S. Nathan DePetris

The Scenic Ruby and its identical sister Space Ships stand out for their ability to accommodate larger floor plans of 205 square feet for most cabins, as well as for their amenities. Full step-out balconies, upgraded butler services and specialty dining are among the highlights of cruising on a Scenic ship.

Space is the most amazing amenity of the accommodations onboard. Advise your clients not to be fooled by the cozy feeling they may have, as the immense convertible King bed in suites gives the illusion of a smaller cabin. High thread count white linens contrast the dark wood wall panels and imaginative neutrals on the chairs. Closet and storage space feel above average and well designed, while soft ambient lighting brightens up mornings or evenings. Bathrooms feature plenty of counter space and a large shower in most cabins, with a full tub in Junior or Royal suites, complemented by L’Occitane toiletries.

As with many cruises on the oceans and rivers, dining is a focal point aboard the 169-passenger Scenic Ruby. Breakfast is full of options ranging from continental, cooked-to-order omelets, fruits and cereals, to fish (salmon, herring and mackerel) and heartier options such as lamb chops with hash browns and minute steak on baguettes. Elegantly prepared cold salads and hot soups, such as tomato gin bisque or lemongrass consomme, are some highlights of lunch. The galley also prepares the day’s special meat, fish and vegetarian dishes to order. Dinner is a full service five-course affair using fresh local ingredients paired with exquisite wines and beers.

Alternatively, the forward portion of Panorama Lounge transforms into Portobello’s, an included Italian specialty restaurant. Your client’s dinner may start with a butterfish caprese matched with a delectable soup and scallop skewer. The truffle-and-parmesan pasta, cooked tableside, is divine. Main course options include sea bream served simply or corn-fed chicken, followed by a cheese plate and strawberry tiramisu.

Coffee concoctions from basic to exotic are available at the self-serve machines any hour in the lounge. Tea aficionados can also rejoice, as Scenic offers over a dozen loose leaf tea blends and plenty of pots to brew them in. While the Ruby is sailing the rivers, the Panorama Lounge provides floor to ceiling glass for unobstructed views. The lounge and hallways are decorated in a minimalist, almost Spartan, modern decor. Outside and forward is the observation lounge, partially covered and shielded from the wind. Additional shaded and sunny spaces are available on the top deck, where the wheelhouse is open, when possible, for informal visits.

An onboard pianist entertains nightly, and some ports showcase local artists. Our cruise featured the delightful Bells of Basel’s show of handcrafted Swiss bell musical performances, and Strasbourg performers that sang Parisian classics a la Edith Piaf. While on the Mosel River, a lecture on wine was presented by a professor, and an exotic concert was given by a famous zither player.

Scenic’s tours are very thorough, with extensive excursions that go beyond just towns and villages adjacent to the river. On the Rhine, for example, guests delve deep into the Black Forest in Germany, or traipse the Dutch countryside to reach the Kroller Muller museum. Though busy, touring days seem properly paced and unhurried, some with lunch at local restaurants. Activities onboard and ashore are well organized and well-communicated to passengers, making the Ruby the perfect choice for clients who may need some handholding.

Scenic Ruby and her sisters sail two-week programs year-round in central Europe and offer extensive itineraries. The cruise fare is exhaustively inclusive, which means higher commissions for agents. Alongside shore excursions, beverages and amenities, Scenic adds gratuities, transfers and all tours. Work with your representative to understand the nuances, however, as some inclusions vary, like the mini bar or bottled water which is included for Royal and Junior suites, but not other cabins.

First published in TravelAge West magazine, June 11, 2012