The Scenic Family of Brands. That’s how Joni L. Rein, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours’ v.p. of sales and marketing, USA, and Lisa Norton, Emerald Waterways’ v.p. of brand management, N.A., want you, the travel advisor community, to see the various river cruise brands that make up the Scenic family. “Scenic is expanding and growing in the U.S. market,” says Rein. “We’ve been here for three years as our own entity, but we are now going to be growing substantially in the U.S. market and will be known as the Scenic Family of Brands, rather than being siloed with the two river cruise companies. We’ll be selling Scenic Luxury Cruises, Emerald Waterways, Scenic Eclipse (ocean)—debuting in August 2018—and Scenic Tours, thus offering a family of brands and a portfolio.” Scenic Tours, which is sold in Canada, is expected to launch in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2017. “This makes it more compelling for our U.S. travel partners,” Rein says. “They can stay within the family.”
Additionally, the company will be adding a Scenic hub—yes, it will include all of the aforementioned brands—a place for Scenic travel agents to go and create their own marketing collateral; it’s set to be more of a user-friendly access to all of the content. They’ll be launching that in the third or fourth quarter of 2017, pending, points out Rein, any “technical difficulties.” Part of the launch will include a travel agent reward program, and “there’ll be far more engagement with the travel agent partners via webinars, etc.” Rein notes.
Many of the travel agents in the U.S., say both Rein and Norton, perceive Scenic and Emerald as two completely different brands, but with the debut of the brands under one recognizable umbrella, “it gives us the opportunity to talk about what the difference is between Scenic, and which guests do you put on Emerald. I think you’ll see a lot more of that in the year to come,” Rein says.
As part of the growth and making themselves more visible to the U.S. market, Scenic will be launching the Scenic Eclipse next year—the 228-passenger discovery yacht (200 when traveling in Polar regions) will be, as Rein notes, “for extreme travel, with helicopters, submarine. Lots of choices.” The maiden season for Eclipse, which will be Scenic’s first ocean cruise ship, will see her sailing the world: the Americas; Antarctica; Europe and the Mediterranean; and the Arctic and Fjords.
Putting the focus on what’s new in 2017, Emerald Waterways debuted three ships: 186-passenger Emerald Destiny, which begins sailing the Rhine and Danube rivers next month; the 138-passenger Emerald Liberte, starting her sailings next month on the Rhone and Saone rivers in France; and the 112-passenger Emerald Radiance, sailing the Douro River in Portugal starting in May.
The newly built Emerald Liberte will be sailing the Sensations of Southern France itinerary, taking passengers from Lyon to Arles, and passing through Chalon-Sur-Saone, Tournon and Avignon. “We are really excited,” says Norton, “because we will have a Top Chef France finalist on board, mingling with the guests, and cooking an onboard dinner for guests.”
And with culinary such a big component of a river cruise vacation, Norton points to the addition of dedicated grilling stations on each of the Emerald ships. “When it’s summertime, everyone likes a BBQ, and it’s been something we’ve been trying to do for some time now. I think guests are going to love it; I think anytime they have the option to sit and eat outside, it’s a bonus.”
A focus on culinary is also part of Scenic’s delivery, with Rein noting that the line is introducing a culinary program in which passengers go out with the chef during the day “into the village and they shop for everything they are going to use while cooking, and they come back to a dedicated onboard space [private cooking emporium] and take part in a hands-on cooking class.”
The private cooking emporium, or the Scenic Culinaire, is an onboard cooking school using a dedicated space that features cooking stations, and a cheese and wine cellar, as well as real-time cameras and screens to ensure each participant can see every cooking move in detail.
Scenic’s 12-day Breathtaking Bordeaux itinerary on board the 155-passenger Scenic Diamond—featuring the cooking emporium—takes passengers along the French countryside to enjoy numerous wineries, a cycling tour, a hike to Loupiac, plus chocolate and wine pairing, among a long list of other activities.