Scenic Jasper, Day 4, Durnstein To Melk By Bike

durnstein to melk
Map of our ride today from Durnstein to Melk.

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.

Durnstein © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Scenic Jasper arriving this morning in Durnstein © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

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.

Bikes ashore. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Preparing Scenic’s electric-assist bikes for a ride from Durnstein to Melk, a distance of about 20 miles along the river. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Biking © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Leaving Dunstein (Scenic Jasper is ahead of us on the left). © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Biking © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Cycling through the Wachau Valley, wine-producing country.  © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Scenic Jasper © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
At times, we caught up with and rode alongside Scenic Jasper © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Bike group © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Our group of cyclists. The April weather was chilly but not cold. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
bike © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Having a wonderful day cycling. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Scenic Jasper © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
We pedaled through charming villages along the way. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

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).

Scenic Jasper © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Scenic Jasper rounds the bend. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

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.

Scenic Jasper © 2015 Ralph Grizzle
Melk Abbey in the distance. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

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.

"Ruine Aggstein 02" by Uoaei1 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 at via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ruine_Aggstein_02.JPG#/media/File:Ruine_Aggstein_02.JPG
Ruine Aggstein 02” by Uoaei1 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 at via Wikimedia Commons.

Read more about our day on the Danube and see more photos on River Cruise Advisor.

Antarctica Cruises: 2019 Per Diems

 Hapag-LloydHurtigrutenLindbladOceanwidePonantQuarkScenicSilversea
ItineraryExpedition AntarcticaAntarctica-HighlightsJourney to AntarcticaClassic AntarticaEmblematic AntarcticaAntarctic ExplorerAntarctica in DepthUshuaia to Ushuaia
Sailing DateDecember 4, 2019November 10, 2019January 4, 2019January 3, 2019January 5, 2019January 8, 2019November 26, 2019January 16, 2019
FromUshuaia-UshuauiaUshuaia-UshuaiaUshuaia-UshuaiaUshuaia -UshuaiaUshuaia-UshuaiaUshuaia-UshuaiaUshuaia-UshuaiaUshuaia-Ushuaia
Nights1112131010101110
Rate per person$15,730$7,765$13,890$9,850$13,870$11,095$18,095$14,600
ShipHanseatic InspirationMidnatsolNational Geographic OrionM/V OrteliusLe SolealOcean EndeavorScenic EclipseSilver Cloud Expedition
Ice class RatingPC61XE31A1C1B1A Super1C
Built/Refurbished2017200320032012-20172013201820182017
Passenger Capacity199970*102123264*189200240*
Restaurants32222294
Cabin CategoryCat 7, Balcony CabinPolarside-MiddleCat. 1/ Main DeckTwin-porthole Deck 4Deluxe StateroomUpper Deck DoubleDeluxe Verandah DBVista Suite
Square Footage22697180145180155366240
Room With A View?BalconyNonePorthole2 PortholesBalconyObstructed WindowBalconyWindow
Butlern/an/an/an/an/a**n/acheckmarkcheckmark
Room Servicecheckmarkn/an/an/acheckmarkn/acheckmarkcheckmark
Port Chargescheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmark
Per diem$1,450$677$1,068$1,020$1,387$1,122$1,645$1,460
Balcony Upgrade ***$2,720$4,826$6,100n/asold outn/aall-balcony ship$2,900
Balcony Per Diem$1,677$1,049$1,415n/asold outn/a$1,645$1,750
Note that in the charts we use nights as opposed to days to derive per diems. Our rationale is that you disembark the ship early on the final day of your cruise, so counting disembarkation day as a full day doesn’t adequately reflect the per diem. So a 12-day cruise actually means that you’ll spend almost 11 full days on the ship, almost because you typically embark in the afternoons.

* 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

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