Adrian Bridge, The Daily Telegraph, April 27, 2012
The river cruise specialist Scenic Tours has announced that from next year it will be introducing unlimited complimentary drinks for passengers - and the provision of a private butler to serve them.
The new policy was revealed during the current maiden voyage of the luxury liner’s latest vessel, Scenic Crystal, at a christening ceremony in the German Rhine town of Rüdesheim.
Glen Moroney, Scenic Tours’ managing director, said the decision to offer guests free drinks at all times - as opposed to just at mealtimes - and the services of a private butler was part of the company’s drive to provide a genuinely all-inclusive river cruising experience – with no charges for meals, onshore excursions, Wi-Fi access or gratuities.
“From next year we will be providing our guests with a range of free drinks including spirits and wines at any time of day,” said Mr Moroney. “There will of course be some restrictions. Guests shouldn’t be expecting free bottles of Dom Perignon.”
The Scenic Tours move follows the introduction of a complimentary drinks policy on a number of ocean-going cruise lines - including Seabourn, SeaDream Yacht Club, Silversea, Hebridean Island Cruises and Regent Seven Seas.
Penny Guy, a spokeswoman for the Passenger Shipping Association, said the provision of free drinks illustrated the increasing choices being offered to people wanting to cruise - in terms of the style of ship, formality and the extent to which they need to pay for extras.
It also comes at a time of significant expansion for the river cruising market. Recent figures show that last year some 80,000 Britons took a river cruise in Europe: a year-on-year increase of seven per cent. Scenic Crystal is one of 12 new river cruise vessels being introduced this year in response to the growing demand.