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Black Sea Explorer with Bucharest & Budapest

14th Sep 2024 | 10 nights | Scenic | Scenic Jasper

Free wi-fi
Tips included
Excursions included
Ultra-luxury cruising
Return airport transfers included
Iron Gates
Ruse (Rousse)
Free wi-fi
Tips included
Excursions included
Ultra-luxury cruising
Return airport transfers included
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Itinerary Overview

Discover the Danube and all its wonders on an 11-day journey from Budapest to Bucharest that combines five-star hotel stays with a glorious cruise on a luxury Scenic Space-Ship.

14th Sep 2024 Saturday
15th Sep 2024 Sunday
16th Sep 2024 Monday
17th Sep 2024 Tuesday
18th Sep 2024 Wednesday
19th Sep 2024 Thursday
20th Sep 2024 Friday
Iron Gates
21st Sep 2024 Saturday
Ruse (Rousse)
22nd Sep 2024 Sunday
23rd Sep 2024 Monday
24th Sep 2024 Tuesday

Scenic Jasper is Scenic's 11th "Space Ship" -- so called because of the higher-than-average amount of space dedicated to public areas. The 169-passenger ship carries fewer guests than many river vessels, which typically have up to 200. As a result, public areas such as the lounge and atrium are larger.

Scenic offers an upmarket and very comfortable cruise experience, set against the backdrop of an ultra-modern ship. The vessel comes with plenty of bells and whistles, not least an all-inclusive pricing policy that really does cover everything. That means excursions, tipping and all drinks -- including wines and Champagne -- are covered by the cost of your cruise. The only extras you'll pay for are spa services and laundry, and the latter is free for top-category passengers.

The icing on the cake is that all passengers have personal butlers, who perform ever more services as you go up in cabin categories. The 85 cabins come with a stocked minibar that is replenished daily and high-tech fixtures and fittings that will appeal to gadget lovers, but may baffle others.

Scenic started life as a coach tour company (Scenic Tours), and this heritage is reflected in the quality of the shore excursions. Called Scenic FreeChoice, the daily programme includes a choice of activities, either guided or self-led with the help of hand-held and recently upgraded GPS Tailormade devices that contain a variety of suggested walking tours for each port and background information on points of interest. These sophisticated devices allow passengers to personalise free time based on their interests and preferred pace; they can also be used while touring on the ship's fleet of bicycles. In addition to the usual city tours, daily excursions also feature active outings such as evening concerts and 40.23-km (25-mile) bike rides, which go beyond the usual sedate walking tours offered by other lines. The "Scenic Sundowner" is a cultural experience where passengers enjoy a cocktail to toast the days' end at picturesque locations, such as Austria's UNESCO-listed Wachau Valley.

Scenic Jasper's cool décor, which wouldn't be out of place in a boutique hotel, reflects the hands-on touch of Karen Moroney, wife of Scenic Founder and Chairman Glen Moroney. Think one giant wooden apple on the cruise director's desk, modern art dotted here and there and the expansive use of gleaming chrome and glass -- and you get the idea.

There are six onboard dining options -- a high number for a river vessel -- ranging from fine dining to extensive buffets and an excellent, mostly vegetarian, light lunch option.

This fresh-looking line has broken the traditional mould of river cruising and will appeal to people looking for an upmarket experience, as well as younger cruisers and first-time passengers who want an all-inclusive cruise.

The ship has a relaxed, easy-going vibe. There is no special dress code, and none of the formal nights you get on ocean cruises. For dinner, smart casual attire is recommended. Jeans can be worn in the restaurant, but shorts and flip-flops are not appropriate. Many passengers up the sartorial ante for the captain's welcome and/or farewell dinner, albeit this tends to be smart casual, rather than full-on cocktail dresses and suits. Bring suitable sports gear if you want to ride the bikes, exercise in the gym or splash in the pool.

The main public area and gathering point for the cruise director's briefings and port talks is the Panorama Lounge, situated forward on the Diamond Deck. With floor-to-ceiling windows and a mixture of sofas, chairs and stools, and tables of different heights, it's a light, airy room that typifies Scenic's boutique style. Two futuristic coffee machines, with flashing lights and a platform that automatically raises different sized cups up to the nozzle, flank each side of the entrance. Available 24/7, they serve a variety of coffees including cappuccino, latte macchiato and espresso macchiato, plus hot chocolate. There are quality Eilles tea bags and loose teas and -- to cheer the hearts of tea-lovers who often have to contend with warm water for their beloved brew -- a boiling water dispenser and proper tea pots. Furthermore, on-the-go drinkers will like the disposable takeaway cups. Biscuits and sweet treats are available throughout the day.

Modern artworks are dotted around the lounge, which leads to the bar and small dance floor. The bar, with stools and café-style tables, incorporates the ship's trademark glass and mirrored surfaces. There is a daily featured cocktail and non-alcoholic mocktail, plus a regular bar menu, and the knowledgeable bartenders also mixed other drinks on request. The bar includes barista-service coffee.

Outside the lounge is the Panorama Terrace, with chairs and tables, which is a delightful spot. Differing from earlier Scenic ships, it can now be fully enclosed with floor-to-ceiling glass so it can be used in all weather. From here, stairs lead up to the Sun Deck.

Organised entertainment is low-key, and Scenic Jasper doesn't have in-depth daytime lectures -- probably because so much is always happening outside with the wide choice of shore excursions. On our cruise, the chef gave a couple of cookery demonstrations. When the riverboat is sailing, talks highlighting passing sights and historic buildings are available through the Tailormade device. It's a very nice feature because passengers who are interested can listen in, while those who want peace and quiet won't be disturbed by live broadcasts through a PA system.

A singer/pianist performs in the lounge before and after dinner (and sometimes during the day). On our cruise, he played an extensive repertoire, invited requests and got people on the dance floor in the evening. Outside entertainers also come onboard, and a highlight was the charming couple who demonstrated the Viennese waltz and gave a lesson for passengers who wanted to have a go -- which was equally entertaining for those watching. There was also a crew show, relatively rare on river ships.

The Sun Deck provides a perfect vantage point to watch the passing scenery, relax, read, and have a drink or alfresco snack brought up from the River Café. The synthetic deck covering resembles grass and teak decking, and six large, comfortable outdoor armchairs with footstools provide a prime spot at the front of the deck. The rest of the deck is equipped with tables and cushioned wicker chairs and sun loungers.

Parasols and canopies are available for passengers who prefer to lie in the shade. There is also a giant chess board.

The Vitality Pool on the Sun Deck is little more than a splash pool, but it's a nice place on warm days. One side contains a tiled seat with underwater jets and opposite there is an underwater recliner for lying back and soaking up the sunshine.

Scenic Jasper has a massage room on the Jewel Deck with one bed. It offers a small menu of facials and massages. These range from a 25-minute foot and leg massage to a Diamond Signature facial, also including a scalp, hand and foot massage. Next door is a similar-sized hair salon, suitable for one passenger at a time, offering cutting and styling services for men and women, eyebrow shaping and eyelash tinting.

The gym, opposite the massage room and hair salon, is equipped with a TechnoGym treadmill, cross-trainer and cycle with entertainment screens, iPod docks and the option to follow scenic routes on the display. (Of course, you could always run or cycle in port for the same effect!) There are also free weights, a Swiss ball and digital scales. Towels and still and sparkling bottled water are provided. Although small, it's a good facility for a river vessel.

The ship carries electrically assisted bicycles, which passengers can use at any time if they are not being used on guided tours, and two pairs of Nordic walking poles are in every cabin.

A small library of glossy coffee table books and guidebooks are kept by the coffee machines in the lounge. There are playing cards, board games, crosswords, puzzles and daily 'potted' newspapers with separate editions for U.S., U.K., Canadian and Australian passengers.

The programme director's desk is next to the reception on the middle Sapphire Deck. Next to the reception is a small showcase selling items of jewellery.

Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship, and the signal is generally very good in port, but can be intermittent or non-existent in areas such as locks or when a large number of people log on. Passengers without their own digital devices can request iPads, for short-term use, from reception.

There is a laundry service with clothing returned within 24 hours. This is free for Royal Panorama and Royal passengers. Diamond Deck passengers benefit from a complimentary pressing service for two items per day. There is a charge for passengers in other cabins.

A lift midship serves the Sapphire Deck and Diamond Deck, but not the Sun Deck and Jewel Deck.

All meals are included in the fare, and the vessel offers six onboard dining options. Of consistently excellent quality, meals were varied and delicious, featuring regional dishes from the countries visited, more familiar fare and the "always available" options of simpler dishes for those who prefer to skip the main menu. Different portion sizes can also be served, on request. All the passengers we spoke to were full of praise for the food. Guests with dietary requirements can easily make informed choices as all menus are clearly marked to show if they contain gluten, nuts, dairy and so forth. Vegetarian and vegan dishes are widely featured. The majority of dietary requirements can be handled, although it is best to mention this to Scenic before the cruise. The maître d' will speak to you on arrival to run through everything.

Newly introduced culinary experiences include shopping with the chef, where passengers accompany the chef and a local food specialist on a guided tour of a local market and enjoy regional dishes prepared with the produce that evening as a special dish of the day.

Crystal Dining Room (Sapphire Deck): The main dining room, with large windows running down both sides and a central buffet station, serves breakfast from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., and dinner from 7 p.m. (Times can vary slightly depending on the day's sailing itinerary and excursion schedule.)

Setting the tone for the vessel's classy dining offering, passengers can get the day off to a sparkling start with a glass of Champagne (alone or mixed with orange juice) from an ice bucket filled with Moët & Chandon. The breakfast is mainly a buffet, with all the regular hot favourites, such as scrambled eggs, bacon and sausages, plus a smoothie of the day, yoghurts, fresh fruit, pastries and a variety of breads. There's a made-to-order omelette station, and items such as French toast and speciality egg dishes can be ordered off the menu. An early morning nod to the ship's Aussie and British passengers is the inclusion of Vegemite and Marmite, which are rare species on most ships! Juice and hot drinks are served at the table.

Lunch is along similar lines, with a soup of the day and a wide choice of salads, hot dishes and a daily freshly cooked option, such as pasta. This is followed with desserts and cheese. The so-called regional corner showcases a local dish, such as bejgli, a pastry with poppy seed stuffing that is popular in Europe. "Scenic Classic Fare", such as burgers, chicken fillet and BLT salad, is available to order from the galley. The Vitality Bar section of the buffet features light and healthy choices. A standout lunch during our cruise was the seafood buffet, which also included live cooking stations, a sushi bar and some creative maritime-themed fruit carvings. (It was a first to see bananas turned into dolphins!)

Dinner is table service and includes a choice of two appetizers and two soups, three main courses (one vegetarian), three desserts and a cheese plate. One side of the menu features the "chef's favourite" with a suggested meal comprising the dishes on offer. The "always available" items include burgers, salads, and fish and chips. Typical dishes include Black Forest ham or bacon, onion and spinach tart to start, beef consommé, main courses of pan-fried sea bass in white wine sauce, duck leg with red cabbage or a spinach and feta strudel. Desserts might include crème brûlée with orange and ginger salad, almond cake, ice cream and fresh fruit.

Beer, wine and soft drinks are served throughout lunch and dinner. The waiting staff will suggest a white or red wine to accompany each meal, but passengers can also opt for a selection of at least 12 other red, white and rose wines that are always available. (We were impressed when we tried to recall a particularly good wine we'd been served a couple of days before, and the waitress remembered which one it was).

Table La Rive (Sapphire Deck): In the evening, the far end of the dining room contains Table La Rive, a chef's-style fine dining table for 10. This exceptional and imaginative six-course tasting menu is available only to Diamond Deck passengers, who automatically receive an invitation to dine on one evening during their cruise. It is a set menu; however, vegetarians and passengers with other dietary requirements will be served alternative dishes with advance notice. Our meal started with a novel amuse bouche of lemongrass crème brûlée and was followed by beetroot gravlax with orange and fennel slaw, scampi with mango, mushroom cappuccino soup, beef fillet and chocolate cake with balsamic cherries and vanilla ice cream. Each dish is accompanied by a different wine, and these were lyrically introduced by our sommelier. This is an extremely leisurely affair that can last three hours, so expect to be the last left in the dining room.

Portobellos (Sapphire Deck): Another evening dining highlight, available to all passengers with advance booking, is the 25-seat Italian restaurant Portobellos, located behind the bar and open for one seating from 7 p.m. Tables can be configured according to the number of diners in a party, and the area is closed off from the rest of the lounge with sliding glass doors. The meal begins with a glass of Champagne, and the sense of occasion continues with the chef working from a cooking station in front of the guests. The five-course menu includes two set appetisers, a choice of three main dishes, and a set dessert (again, these can be adapted for dietary requirements). Our menu featured prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, marinated olives and sun-dried tomatoes followed by tuna served with salad and a caper and lemon flavoured dressing and minestrone soup. Main courses were halibut in lemon and herb butter, stuffed veal loin and bell pepper roulade with ricotta cheese and polenta. The classic Italian dessert tiramisu followed. All courses are served with different wines (although you can stick to one or two if you want), and a theatrical oversized pepper grinder makes a regular appearance throughout the evening.

River Café (Diamond Deck): Open following breakfast and closing when the restaurants open for dinner, the café is part of the bar and serves buffet-style dishes for low-key light dining and snacks in the lounge. An early-bird breakfast of pastries, muesli, yoghurt and fruit is available from 6:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. A selection of sandwiches (Parma ham, salami, roast beef or vegetable) along with croissants, cakes and desserts are available all day long. There's also an ice cream bar. If you want to enjoy lunch ashore, staff will pack a hamper for you. During lunchtime, an additional range of dishes are available, most of them vegetarian. Expect to find an imaginative choice such as a tomato oatmeal drink, Moroccan carrot salad, glass noodle salad with pan-fried orange, tomato soup, chickpea banana balls and a hot dish of pasta or rice. Scenic Jasper has a custom-built pizza oven, and pizzas and other items from the galley, including burgers, are available daily.

Riverview Terrace (Sun Deck): On fine days, the area at the front of the Sun Deck is an outdoor dining area with tables, parasols and comfortable wicker chairs with arms, where passengers can take food and drink from the River Café. There is also a barbecue here, and passengers can expect at least one outdoor lunch during the cruise, weather permitting.

Room Service: Passengers on Sapphire and Diamond decks can have early morning tea and coffee and continental breakfast served in their cabins, while Jewel passengers can order tea and coffee only. Guests in the Junior and Royal suites also have fruit skewers delivered every afternoon, canapes before dinner and petit fours after the evening meal.

A 24/7 room service menu is available in all cabins. It includes soup, sandwiches, burgers, desserts and a cheese platter. An additional benefit for Royal Panorama Suite passengers is breakfast, lunch or dinner from the main menu delivered to their cabins. They also have the option of "French-style" service, where courses are delivered one at a time instead of all at once.

Jasper's 85 river-view cabins are located on the Jewel (lower), Sapphire (middle) and Diamond (upper) decks. They are divided into six categories: Royal Panorama, Royal, Junior, Deluxe Balcony and Balcony suites, plus Standard Staterooms. In most cases, the use of the word "suite" is rather a misnomer as only the Royal Panorama and Royal cabins feature an integrated floor-to-ceiling sliding door, so they can be divided into two rooms with a separate living and bedroom area. However, all the cabins make excellent use of space and light.

The majority of cabins on the Sapphire and Diamond decks are Deluxe Balcony and Balcony suites, measuring 205 square feet and 225 square feet, respectively. Aside from the slight difference in size, there is not much to tell them apart. These decks also have Junior Suites, which are 250 square feet, and there is one cosy single cabin on the Sapphire Deck, which has all the standard amenities but is half the size of a Balcony Suite with a fixed window.

The most spacious cabins are on the upper deck. The four Royal Suites, located midship, measure 350 square feet, and the wow factor pair of Royal Panorama Suites, situated aft, are a generous 475 square feet.

The Standard Staterooms on the Jewel Deck measure 160 square feet and have a fixed window set high on the wall.

An innovative feature in all cabins, bar those on the Jewel Deck, is the "balconies", which are an integral part of the room. Typical outside balconies become redundant areas in bad weather, but with Jasper's set-up, the space can be used all the time. Each balcony comprises a floor-to-ceiling window that drops down halfway, or anywhere else in between, at the flick of a switch. This gives a real open-air feel on sunny days and provides fresh air at night. There are two wicker chairs and a table in this area, and it can be divided off from the rest of the cabin by folding concertina-style glass doors, but they are fiddly to use. We left ours folded back the whole time as it made the cabin seem larger.

The sense of space is amplified by the generous use of mirrors, which can take a bit of getting used to as you see your reflection at virtually every turn. There is a floor-to-ceiling glass mirror by the door, and additional mirrors on each side of the bed over the bedside cabinets, above the dressing table/desk, inside the bathroom door and, where you'd expect to find them, above the wash basin.

The blissfully comfortable beds can be configured as twins if required. Bed linen is Egyptian cotton, custom made for Scenic, and the pillow menu features seven down and synthetic options.

There is plenty of room to stow everything away in the main cabin area. Standard amenities include bedside tables with drawers, room under the bed for suitcases, shelves above the dressing table/desk and an adjoining narrow shelf.

All cabin categories have safes, iPod/iPad docking stations, iMac or Mac mini and keyboard, a pair of Tailormade devices, umbrella, two sets of Nordic walking poles, shoe horn and shoe shine. Ear plugs are a thoughtful touch for light sleepers, not that the ship is noisy. The electricity supply is 220v and there are European power points, plus one Australian socket.

Scenic loves high-tech gadgets. The grey cube on the bedside table is a clock. Clap or make a noise, and it bursts into life. The entertainment system, which includes a good choice of TV stations, films on demand and music -- divided into different genres -- also includes a soothing fireplace effect. It was unnerving to discover a "Big Brother" webcam pointing at the lounge, but it is only turned on during the cruise director's nightly talk for those who want to watch from their cabin. To save hanging "do not disturb" or "make up my cabin" signs outside the door, there are switches that illuminate a red or green light. For the uninitiated, it's easy to leave the former switched on.

The showers across all cabin categories are a good size with proper glass doors. The controls and variety of jets -- which include a rather odd one positioned at stomach level -- can take a bit of getting used to, so it's worth asking the butler for instructions. There is ample storage in the bathrooms, and the cabinet over the basin has a sliding door with shelves on one side and a fixed shaving/makeup mirror on the other, plus a good plug-in hair dryer. Towels are super fluffy, and quality robes and slippers are provided. All bathrooms are stocked with L'Occitane soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion.

Extras in Royal Panorama and Royal suites include bath tubs (and separate toilet in the Panorama cabins), larger sizes of L'Occitane products, nifty hydraulic air beds that can help you sit up or put your feet up at the touch of a button and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne on arrival. The minibars are also stocked with miniature bottles of Champagne (although any passenger can get a glass of fizz from 11 a.m. onwards at the bar).

A really useful idea, particularly for anyone not used to butlers or unsure about their duties, is a card in the room setting out butler services. These are on a sliding scale, dependent on cabin category, starting with a shoe shine, concierge service and restocking the minibar in Standard Cabins. In the top suites, extra services include packing and unpacking, arranging in-room cocktail drinks and even running a bath.

For all passengers, a handy touch is the "A to Z of Wonder" box, a sleek container housing a comprehensive ship guide, postcards, pen, notepad and other bits and pieces, keeping everything tidily in one place.

Sun Deck
Diamond Deck
Sapphire Deck
Jewel Deck

Best for...

Mature luxury cruisers.

Not the best for...

Budget cruisers, families and late-night party animals.

Who goes on Scenic cruise ships?

Scenic attracts a well-travelled, somewhat affluent crowd of passengers. The company markets its cruises only in English-speaking countries and about 40 percent of a ship's typical passenger complement is Australian, with the rest predominantly made up of travellers from the U.S., Canada and U.K. Most are 66 or older.

Do I have to dress up on a Scenic cruise?

A little. Scenic ships have a stylish but friendly and relaxed vibe. For dinner, smart-casual attire is recommended. Jeans can be worn in the restaurant, but shorts and flip-flops are not appropriate. Many passengers dress up for the captain's welcome dinner and/or farewell dinner, albeit even this tends to be smarter casual, rather than full-on cocktail dresses and suits.

Is everything free on Scenic cruises?

Just about. Scenic cruises are truly all-inclusive trips, with fares covering all on board meals, a selection of premium beverages, restocked mini-bars in all suites, gratuities, butler service, shore excursions and Wi-Fi. On selected Space-Ships, the use of e-bikes in select ports is also included in the fare.

What are Scenic's most popular activities?

Scenic cruisers want to be ashore as much as possible and the daily excursions are always busy; many enjoy the active options such as a 25-mile bike ride. Evening options are also popular, including the once-per-cruise Scenic Enrich experiences, which offer a cultural experience exclusively for Scenic passengers. More independent-minded cruisers appreciate the line's GPS devices, which offer a variety of suggested walking tours and background info. Onboard, cruisers prefer to relax and chat with new friends.

  • Fine dining
  • Premium drinks
  • Room service to all suites
  • Breath-taking excursions
  • Use of Tailormade app
  • Use of e-bikes (on selected ships)
  • On board Wi-Fi
  • Porterage
  • Port charges
  • Taxes

Inclusions may differ depending on region. Please check with our team.

Prices based on:

Jewel Deck Standard Suite
Jewel Deck Standard Suite

  • Luxury queen size slumber bed with pillow menu
  • Large picture window
  • Marble bathrooms with luxurious bathroom amenities
  • Complimentary mini bar
  • Mac-mini infotainment system with complimentary movies on demand
  • Hairdryer, alarm clock, telephone, In room safe
  • International power sockets
  • Luxury bathrobe and slippers
  • Nordic walking sticks
  • Butler service
  • Early morning tea/coffee service
  • Complimentary laundry concierge
  • Located on the Jewel Deck
  • 160 sq. ft.

Cabin Grade Fly Cruise
E £4,358 pp
D £4,473 pp
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