10th January 2018: Recently I spent five nights cruising along the River Seine from Paris to Honfleur on board Scenic’s luxurious Scenic Gem. While this was my first experience on board a river cruise, my time on board ensured it definitely won’t be my last. With excellent excursions and impeccable attention-to-detail on board find out exactly what you can expect on board your Scenic river cruise.
After a quick flight to Paris and a short taxi ride through the city we soon arrived at the Scenic Gem, floating on top of the beautiful River Seine. A crew member greeted me and immediately whisked my suitcase away to my cabin where it would be waiting for me after check-in. My first impression of the ship was just, wow! The Scenic Gem is very modern and plush in design and despite being a river cruise ship, it felt very spacious.
I knew straight away that this was the ship for me! After a speedy check-in process, my private butler escorted me to my cabin and explained everything about my time on board including the full range of complimentary facilities and gave me more information about services such as the minibar, room service, laundry and in-room entertainment service.
Once checked-in the remainder of our afternoon allowed for leisurely exploration of both Paris and the Scenic Gem itself. Later that evening, guests were introduced to the on-board guest relations manager who, each evening, would talk us through the itinerary for the following day and answer any questions about life on-board and the amazing excursions offered.
It was then time for our first evening meal on board. The layout in the Scenic Gem's restaurant, Crystal Dining, allows you to be as social as you like and has a good range of differently sized tables. So if you meet someone you enjoy the company of, why not invite them to dine with you?
The menu choices on-board are varied and include everything from meat and fish dishes to vegetarian and gluten free options, better yet, if there is something on the menu you aren't 100% happy with, you’re able to tweak the dish slightly to suit your tastes.
After an evening of delectable cuisine the highlight of this night was setting sail for the first time. As we began to glide along the beautiful Seine, we caught a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower’s glittering light show as we sailed towards our next destination, Poissy.
After breakfast on-board, we were welcomed by our local guide and escorted roughly an hour’s drive away to the stunning Chantilly Castle.
Built for Henri of Orleans, the Duke of Aumale, this beautiful castle is adorned with several rooms full of fine art and the Duke’s passion for the arts can been seen throughout. Henri was the fifth son of Queen Marie-Amelie and King Louis-Phillippe, the last King of France.
His collection includes paintings from artists such as Raphael, Poussin, Watleau and Ingres and is truly a sight to behold. Henri’s passions also extended into literature and is best illustrated in the large reading room here containing thousands of original books and scripts. If you get the chance to visit this castle for yourself I’d highly recommend it, it’s truly charming.
After our guided tour of the castle, we had the opportunity to explore its magnificent gardens. Truly stunning sights are to be had and picture perfect opportunities await you no-matter what the angle.
Soon, it was time to make our way back to our river cruise ship where we spent a lovely afternoon relaxing and sailing along the Seine to our next destination; the beautiful town of Vernon.
Scenic Enrich Evening
After another lovely evening meal, we took part in a Scenic Enrich evening. Scenic Enrich is an opportunity to attend an exclusive local event and ours took place in Vernon.
Our evening involved a visit to the Chateau de La Roche Guyon, a glorious work of architecture which is built into a steep rock-face and overlooks the River Seine and the small village of the same name, La Roche Guyon.
Oozing opulence and grandeur, the chateau provided the perfect setting to enjoy our entertainment for the evening; a classical quartet. Performed by the region’s most reputable musicians, you could feel the emotion of artists as well as the audience, you couldn’t help but be moved by the music.
Giverny – Monet’s House and Gardens
The next morning, we were treated to another fabulous and well-organised excursion, this time, we visited Monet’s House and Gardens, located in the pretty little village of Giverny.
These breath-taking gardens have two parts; Clos Normand, a flower garden and a Japanese water garden. The Clos Normand garden is situated at the front of the house and is symmetrically lined with beautiful, brightly-coloured flowers – a delightful place to take a few hours to relax and reflect.
The Japanese water garden is situated on the opposite side of the road and is accessible through an underground tunnel. Parts of the gardens here feature in many of works of art by Monet and it’s not hard to see why they inspired him. Both gardens are beautiful however my favourite was the Japanese inspired water garden as it was just so tranquil.
The remainder of the day was spent sailing along the Seine enjoying the facilities and the scenery before we set sail for Rouen.
This morning we enjoy walking around the pretty and historical city of Rouen. Rouen is the capital of the Normandy region, medieval in appearance and is home to a beautiful cathedral. Joan-of-Arc was captured and tried here during times of English rule in 1431. Now, there's a museum here dedicated to Joan-of-Arc's honour; just one of the many things you can do here.
Rather than joining the guided walking tour, I decided to try out the 'Scenic Tailormade', a device which you can use to do a self-guided walk around the city.
The Scenic Tailormade has a built-in GPS system to guide you to all the key sites within your chosen area. Better yet, it will also give you a commentary at each point of interest so you learn more about the history and culture of a location.
The Scenic Tailormade is a great option if you would like some time to explore somewhere at your leisure, rather than at the pace of a guided group.
This was such an interesting and poignant day for me, and was the highlight of my cruise. A definite must-do excursion for anyone cruising this itinerary. While a fair drive away from our port of call, Normandy is completely worth it, you can’t help but be moved by this historical region.
Firstly, we visited the quaint seaside town of Arromanches. Arromanches is the site of the D-Day landings and we learned so much by visiting the Landing Museum here where we watched fascinating video footage of the landings.
After lunch, we travelled to Omaha Beach, the site of the US landings during the Second World War before visiting a US Cemetery. It’s hard to describe the emotion I felt upon entering the site. Seeing row upon row of graves, many of which remain nameless, lined perfectly straight is truly moving sight and provided an emotional and poignant part of the day for everyone. During our time here, we witnessed the lowering of the flag, which happens every day to the TAPS bugle call.
What an awe-inspiring an poignant end to this trip.
Summary – Why Scenic?
I had the most amazing five nights on board the Scenic Gem and would recommend river cruising to anyone who likes to relax, socialise and loves to immerse themselves into the local area and culture.
There are so many different cruise operators to choose from each offering their own unique approach to river cruising, so there really is a river cruise for you. Here are my reasons why you should consider a Scenic river cruise.
- Beautiful modern luxurious ships
- Fully all-inclusive
- Suitable for all ages
- Spacious cabins with your own butler
- Excellent service with a real attention to detail
- Very well organised without feeling structured
- A great excursion programme with options for all levels of fitness
- Excellent service
- Fabulous food
- Casual and relaxed