Cruise: Out-of-the-ordinary onshore experiences set to transform future cruises

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Traditionally cruise excursions mean stopping off at a port city and taking a guided tour of the local surroundings. However, in recent years the cruise industry has been working to capture the attention of a new audience of travellers.

Cruises have been growing in popularity in recent years thanks to an ever-expanding array of new experiences, and now cruise line Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours have plans to bolster that offering even further.

The luxury cruise line, which has an array of river cruises included in its holiday offering, promises adventure beyond the standard guided tour.

Janelle Maher is one of the driving forces behind the transformative onshore activities.

She revealed to Express.co.uk that it’s about more than taking tourists to the typical spots, it’s about immersing them in new cultures.

“Some of Scenic’s most unique excursions involve a deep insight into local life and introducing our guests to friendly locals in the areas we’re sailing through,” she explained.

“On our cruises in the South of France and Bordeaux region, our guests have the opportunity to visit a local market accompanied by our onboard chef.

“They will wander the stalls while learning all about the local produce, before picking up fresh ingredients they’ll use in a cooking demonstration in our onboard cooking school, ‘Scenic Culinaire’.

“In Miltenberg, Germany, guests on our Jewels of Europe river cruise have several options to mingle with friendly locals, they can choose to meet a local monk in one of the oldest monastic breweries in the world, or even meet with an aristocratic family for a guided tour through their family castle.”

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Though guided tours are the more style traditional excursion, Scenic also take into consideration unique passenger needs.

“Our itineraries at Scenic can be completely tailored to suit each individuals interests, hobbies and fitness levels,” she said.

“While guided tours are great, they’re not for everyone – so we include ample free time on all of our itineraries for guests to explore at their own pace.

“To make the most of their free time, we provide guests with our ‘Scenic Tailormade’ app, which has multiple functions including the ability to do a self-guided exploration of the many towns and villages that we visit along Europe’s rivers.

“Guests are able to head off and discover the destination on their own using the app, or can use the app to follow suggested cycling tours using the complimentary onboard e-bikes – this is a particularly popular activity among our guests.”

Regardless of which option cruisers choose, Ms Maher encourages travellers to get off the boat and explore.

“The best way to make the most of a river cruise and its excursions is to include a range of different activities and to make the most of your free time,” she said.

“Excursions are what makes the river cruise so memorable for many of our guests. There is no better way to visit a region than with a local, which is why we use local expert guides on all of our Scenic river cruises.

“They offer the perfect balance of interesting and informative tales about the places being visited, as well as insider knowledge that can’t be found in any guide books.”

Of course, in order to satisfy all wants and needs, it takes some planning.

That is where Ms Maher and her team come in, however they couldn’t do it without the insight of previous guests.

“We rely heavily on the feedback from our previous guests when it comes to crafting each itinerary,” she explained.

“With this information, our team are constantly on the lookout searching for new and exciting experiences that we can bring to our programmes. We love to bring our guests exclusive excursions that are only available to guests travelling with Scenic as part of our Scenic Enrich programme.

“We love to be able to provide our guests with an experience purely for their own enjoyment.”

For Ms Maher, one of the best combines exercise with exploration.

“Our complimentary e-bikes are my favourite excursion on offer with Scenic – they provide so much variety for our guests and are a great way to immerse yourself in a destination. For example, on our Jewels of Europe and Gems of the Danube itineraries, our guests can ride the 32 kilometres along the banks of the Danube between Dürnstein and Melk. The route passes vine-covered slopes, charming small villages and numerous picturesque locations along the river.

“Guests travelling through Bordeaux can cycle through historical estates soaking in centuries-old vineyards and amazing architecture – a truly memorable experience for many of our guests.”

To top things off, Scenic doesn’t ask for any additional payment from passengers who want to disembark for an onshore adventure.

“All of Scenic’s river cruises are truly all-inclusive, meaning guests can leave their wallet at home when they embark on their luxury adventure,” she said.

Yet, it seems cruise passengers aren’t the only one’s who are benefiting from these special excursions.

According to the cruise line, their vast array of options has helped boost sales for the day when cruises are welcomed back to the water.

“At Scenic, France is leading the charge and is in high demand among our guests for both 2021 and 2022 – mostly due to our new culinary itineraries that will set sail for the first time next year,” said Sarah Lancashire, brand and marketing manager for Scenic UK.

“Our guests are looking for holidays close to home that will still give them an immersive cultural experience – and what better way to enjoy a destination than through its food.”

Indeed, whether you’re an active explorer or prefer to relax with a beautiful view and a glass of wine in hand, Scenic’s insiders are confident they can provide something for everyone.

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