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2 Options to see Europe


Scenic Tours' brand new vessels, the ms Scenic Sapphire and ms Scenic Emerald, will debut on Europe’s Rhine and Danube rivers early this summer. 


Recently I was trying to come up with something other than the standard “pitch” for these great new ships - I thought about all of the great things that they offer their guests, but, honestly, I just didn’t think you would find it fascinating enough to share with your readers unless there was another option for comparison.   I put myself in a different pair of shoes, those of my semi-retired parents, who along with most Americans heading to Europe in 2008, are very aware of planning around a much weaker dollar than they’ve had to be during their previous trips.  As savvy travelers they know that the best deals and fewest crowds are found certain times of the year, so mom and dad are planning to depart in October.  After a bit of research the cities that are at the top of their list include Amsterdam, Cologne, Rudesheim, Miltenberg, Würzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Linz, Dürnstein, Vienna, Bratislava and  Budapest.


Keeping my parents need for comfort and planning in mind, I’ve come up with a few ways to spend the 2 weeks they’ve set aside to tour this part of Europe.  Below are two of the options I’ve researched (attached document has actual price and information breakdowns) and will be suggesting:


Option 1 – researched through,, and

$5,725.77 per person (estimate cost based on double occupancy, including hotels, meals, taxis/transfers, admission to sites and entertainment - 4 or 5-star when possible, sometimes 2 or 3-star lodging is the only available option)


Arrive in Amsterdam and after going through customs and immigration track down a taxi to the 5-star Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky hotel for the night.  The next morning quickly see the sites before taking a train to Cologne.  Arriving in the scenic city, once again hop into a taxi and pack in a few must-sees before finding a restaurant and heading to the Dom Hotel for the next two nights.  Trains are available daily to the areas on the itinerary and hotel reservations have been made in advance for each night.  The flexibility in this options allows travelers to pick and choose sites, activities, entertainment and restaurants as they continue the journey through Rudesheim, Miltenberg, Würzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Linz, Dürnstein, Vienna and Bratislava, eventually reaching Budapest for the final night and following day’s flight home.  This type of itinerary means that travelers need to be physically capable of moving almost every night, have a good understanding of how train timetables work, remember to double check that nothing has been forgotten before checking out of each hotel, be ready to stay on top of all hotel reservations by reconfirming the day before and, most importantly, this is a self-guided trip so they must be comfortable with the idea of finding their own way around the various cities.  It is an adventurous way to spend a two week European vacation, packing in as many sites and cities as time allows while picking and choosing activities, entertainment and restaurants daily.



Option 2 – researched through

$4,295 per person (based on double occupancy)

5-Star all the way – all meals, sites, transfers and lodging included


Upon arriving in Amsterdam travelers will clear immigration and customs, exiting to a warm reception by a shuttle that takes them directly to you the 5-star ms Scenic Sapphire.  Upon check-in onboard the vessel there is plenty of time to completely unpack and settle in before relaxing over an intimate dinner with a nice glass of wine and enjoying a peaceful night of sleep.  In the morning guests wake up to fresh coffee and a well laid out breakfast before stepping off the ship to explore Amsterdam's maze of quaint canals or taking a tour of the Van Gogh Museum.  Mid-day everyone re-boards the spacious vessel, after lunch voyagers can choose to sit on their large private balconies or join other passengers on the top deck, as the Scenic Sapphire cruises the scenic Rhine towards Cologne.  Each day of the two week trip along the Rhine and Danube offers Scenic Free-Choice, which provides various options that allow guests to choose what suits them best as they amble through picturesque villages, perhaps visiting some well-known sites or going off the beaten path to discover the region’s hidden gems.  For travelers who do not want to worry about following a train schedule, checking into and out of different hotels nightly, unpacking and repacking, the possibility of communicating in another language or, simply, just finding their way around without guidance.  On a Scenic Tours Jewels of Europe Luxury River Cruise everything is completely taken care of and guests don’t need to think about finding meals, tours, transfers and entertainment, among other things – as they make their way through all of the cities that they had hoped to visit between Amsterdam and Budapest



Since launching in 1987, Scenic Tours has become a well-respected leader in the international luxury leisure tour market.  The Australian-based company entered the European river cruising market in 2005 and has invested $78 million to introduce a revolutionary fleet of new ships in 2008 that will provide guests with the highest level of luxury accommodations, dynamic itineraries and unique dining experiences.  The Scenic Sapphire and the Scenic Emerald will sail the Rhine and Danube Rivers offering 20 percent more space than traditional river cruise ships.  Most cabins are designed with private balconies and all upper-deck accommodations feature a private butler service. All cabins and suites have roomy bathrooms, flat-screen televisions, mini-bars and internet accessibility.  Fares include gourmet meals, guided shore tours and sightseeing opportunities.  


Another interesting point is that even though Scenic Tours ships are brand new and launching for the first time this spring they have already filled the majority of space available for the 2008 season.  This shows the continued growing popularity of river cruises, undoubtedly for the value and convenience that they provide.  Travelers considering a river cruise as an option for a Eur
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