Tales from a

Well-Travelled River Cruise Guest

It’s fair to say David Whitehill is a river cruise expert. Over the last 10 years, the travel presenter has been on 15 Scenic river cruises in Europe and Asia, including several with his mum. We asked him about some of the highlights plus his top tips for travelling on a Scenic five-star luxury river cruise. Story by Rob McFarland.

Variety and Convenience

“The element I really like is that every day the ship delivers you to a new destination,” says David. “You wake up in the heart of an incredible new city or right on the doorstep of a local village or temple.”

Of course, there’s another big benefit to having a luxury floating home that moves.

“Unpacking once for your entire trip is also something that is highly underestimated”

ABOVE: David Whitehill, Bordeaux; RIGHT: David Whitehill and mum, Bordeaux markets

The Scenic Difference

Having travelled on so many different Scenic river cruises, one thing that consistently impresses David is the staff.

“They’re just phenomenal,” he says. “I'm always amazed at how caring and attentive they are. Whenever I return, it's great to see that they still love being part of the travel experience.”

During his European journeys, he has experienced the full spectrum of Scenic’s luxury Space-Ships, which have been custom-built to navigate Europe’s rivers carrying only up to 163 guests.

“The ships are also a highlight and have been designed so there’s plenty of room to mingle with other travellers but also space to get away and have your own time on board,” he says.

Making Memories

While every cruise has had its highlights, one that stands out for him is the 15-Day Jewels of Europe trip from Amsterdam to Budapest.

“You travel through five countries and what you get to see is quite extraordinary,” he says. “The highlights for me were Hungary, Germany and the Netherlands, just because of the amazing history and cultural difference to Australia.”

He’s also explored the Mekong River in Southeast Asia on board Scenic Spirit.

“My favourite experience on the Mekong cruise was visiting Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples,” he recalls. “Just to be able to stand amongst these living museums and imagine when they were so instrumental is fantastic. It's an experience I found really connected me to the people and culture of Cambodia.”

LEFT: David Whitehill and mum, Rastatt Palace, Germany; RIGHT: David Whitehill and crew, Vietnam

“Just to be able to stand amongst these living museums and imagine when they were so instrumental is fantastic. It's an experience I found really connected me to the people and culture of Cambodia.

Food, Fabulous Food

Having trained in some of the world's top restaurants, Scenic’s Executive Chefs bring international flair to the onboard fine-dining experience. One trip that David particularly remembers for its culinary excellence was the journey along the Mekong River.

“The food on Scenic Spirit was some of the best I’ve experienced on any of my travels around the world,” he says. “It was an amazing fusion of Asian chefs trained in Europe working with the flavours and textures of Cambodia and Vietnam. I was really impressed and no matter what you felt like, from homestyle burgers to the full Asian fare, it was all 5-star quality.”

RIGHT: David Whitehill and mum with crew, Bordeaux

A Family Affair

Given the ease and variety of river cruising, it’s the perfect trip for an intergenerational family holiday. David has been on several Scenic river cruises with his mum, including the 15-day Romantic Rhine & Moselle and the 11-Day Beautiful Bordeaux.

“Initially, I was a bit apprehensive about travelling with my mum,” he admits, “but it was an absolute blessing. It was really nice to share a part of the world with her we would never usually get to experience and it's a trip I will always treasure because we had so much fun.”

As a frequent river cruiser, David has noticed that inter-generational travel is becoming increasingly popular.

“Over the years I’ve seen many younger people travelling with their parents,” he says. “The youngest was a 15-year-old history buff on a trip with her grandparents. It was really cool to see and they had a great time. I've also met lots of people who just want to spend time with their parents in an easy travelling scenario to destinations that have something for everyone.”

Tips and Future Travels

Given David’s experience on a variety of Scenic luxury river cruises, what’s his top tip for river cruising newbies?

“Choose a wide range of Scenic Freechoice activities so you have a really diverse experience,” he recommends. “Sample everything and anything once, and if you feel you want to slow down, don't be afraid to stay on board and enjoy the ship for the day. You get it, and the staff, all to yourself!” And finally, the question we’ve all been pondering after an extended period of time at home, where to next?

“I’d love to do the Douro cruise in Portugal,” says David. “I adore the history and wine culture through Portugal and it's a really relaxing part of the world. I’m one of those travellers who loves new experiences so give me a ship and I’m happy wherever it's going.”

LEFT: David Whitehill and guests, Vietnam, Paris,France; LEFT: Scenic Azure, Douro Valley, Portugal

“Over the years I’ve seen many younger people travelling with their parents,” he says. “The youngest was a 15-year-old history buff on a trip with her grandparents. It was really cool to see and they had a great time.”

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15 Days | Zurich > Amsterdam

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11 Days | Bordeaux > Bordeaux

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