I’ve heard it said that true luxury is about choice. Whether or not that’s true, I do know that as a traveler, I appreciate choice. One of the arguments against cruising, in fact, is that it can be too confining, too restrictive, too few choices, especially when it comes to river cruises. The herd is forced to follow the lollipop (the signage that the tour guide holds up to keep the group together), and the pace of the tour becomes as fast (or more often, as slow) as its lowest common denominator. I’m an active 57-year-old, and the pace of such tours often is too slow for me.
Today, our 20-mile bike ride from Durnstein to Melk was anything but slow. We weren’t breaking records, but for the 20-plus of us who pedaled, the ride was exhilarating and fun. Along the way, we stopped several times for photographs, bathroom breaks and to check out noteworthy sites. Scenic’s electric-assist bicycles made the going easy as we pedaled along mostly dedicated bike roads through the beautiful Wachau Valley, a wine-producing region in Austria.
During our ride, Scenic Jasper sailed toward Melk. We pedaled alongside her at times and at other times would lose her as we veered away from the river toward charming villages that looked as though they may have been movie sets for the “Sound of Music” (tomorrow, in fact, one Scenic tour takes guests to locations where the classic film was produced).
We reached Melk in a little less than three hours after we had left Durnstein. I would highly recommend this tour for anyone who is moderately active and comfortable on a bicycle. Our guides were excellent, a father-daughter pair from the Wachau region, with the daughter leading the way and the father following up at the rear to make sure that no one took an unintended detour.
The guided bike tour was one of three tours that Scenic Jasper guests could experience today. The other tours were a visit to the Melk Abbey and afterward a Scenic Sundowner, a new program for 2015 that takes guests to a special location to toast the end of the day. Our Scenic Sundowner took us to Burgruine Aggstein, 12th-century castle ruins that sit high above the right bank of the Danube and is one of lower Austria’s most popular attractions. By coincidence, a Medieval festival was taking place at the castle on the evening we were there.
Antarctica Cruises: 2019 Per Diems
|Itinerary||Expedition Antarctica||Antarctica-Highlights||Journey to Antarctica||Classic Antartica||Emblematic Antarctica||Antarctic Explorer||Antarctica in Depth||Ushuaia to Ushuaia|
|Sailing Date||December 4, 2019||November 10, 2019||January 4, 2019||January 3, 2019||January 5, 2019||January 8, 2019||November 26, 2019||January 16, 2019|
|Rate per person||$15,730||$7,765||$13,890||$9,850||$13,870||$11,095||$18,095||$14,600|
|Ship||Hanseatic Inspiration||Midnatsol||National Geographic Orion||M/V Ortelius||Le Soleal||Ocean Endeavor||Scenic Eclipse||Silver Cloud Expedition|
|Ice class Rating||PC6||1X||E3||1A||1C||1B||1A Super||1C|
|Cabin Category||Cat 7, Balcony Cabin||Polarside-Middle||Cat. 1/ Main Deck||Twin-porthole Deck 4||Deluxe Stateroom||Upper Deck Double||Deluxe Verandah DB||Vista Suite|
|Room With A View?||Balcony||None||Porthole||2 Portholes||Balcony||Obstructed Window||Balcony||Window|
|Balcony Upgrade ***||$2,720||$4,826||$6,100||n/a||sold out||n/a||all-balcony ship||$2,900|
|Balcony Per Diem||$1,677||$1,049||$1,415||n/a||sold out||n/a||$1,645||$1,750|
* Though it has a passenger capacity of 970, Hurtigruten's Midnatsol Antarctica voyages carry only 500 guests in order to comply with the IAATO regulations. Similarly, Ponant's Le Soleal has a capacity of 264 but carries only 200 in Antarctica. Scenic Eclipse carries 228 guests but only 200 in Antarctica. Silver Cloud has a capacity of 254 but operates in Antarctica with 240 guests.
** Ponant has butlers for some staterooms but not for the lead-in accommodations in our chart.
**** Pricing for Ponant's balconies were unavailable because the voyages were sold out
Chart compiled by Tamera Trexler