Q – My wife and I, and my semi-annoying brother-in-law (he actually plays polo – what a toff) are looking at a Scenic Waterways cruise on one of their new ships, something called the Awful, oops, sorry, its the “Opal”. Haven’t heard much about this boat and my wife points out that you guys don’t even review it. Love to have the good, the bad, and the ugly. Enjoy your approach.

A-   We will be adding Scenic to our reviews the next update. The fact is that Scenic Cruises is one of the world’s top three luxury river boat lines. You don’t hear much bout them because they are an Australian company marketing primarily to upscale travelers from down under interested in assisting the EU economies.

You will get better pricing on the “Awful” but let’s look at the Opal. She will carry 169 guests and all cabins, even the standards at 160 square feet on the bottom deck, will come with “butler” service. The majority of staterooms fit into the “Private Categories” and they are 205 square feet and come with an innovation unique to Scenic; cabins that feature Scenic Sun Lounges, a design that allows each balcony to become a private solarium.

Virtually all cabins on the so-called Scenic “Space ships” are larger than competitors categories. While Tauck’s impressive 300 square foot Category 7 Staterooms seem to sell out faster than any other category on any other line, Scenic’s Space Ships, the Opal and the Jasper, will feature Royal Panoramic Suites that are 325 square feet.

There is a great deal of river boat “buzz” about the split pool on Sun Deck. Half of it is a heated pool and the other half features a unique swim-against-the-tide pool experience. One of the features that we really like aboard this new concept design are the restaurant windows that can actually be opened in nice weather. This will make it easier for Aussies at window tables to toss their empty Foster’s overboard.

If you want the downside we would say that Scenic does not really cater to American guests and that is unsettling to some folks. You are more likely to chat up someone from Brisbane than Boston. A healthy way to look at it is that your vacation in Europe will have a down under feel to it and that might be a good thing. Scenic is a bit harder to book than the major lines that cater to the US market. We would highly recommend Scenic for those who have traveled to Australia and New Zealand and found the people friendly and engaging. That, by the way, is just about everyone.