The main public area and gathering point for the cruise director's briefings and port talks is the Panorama Lounge, situated forward on the Diamond Deck. With floor-to-ceiling windows and a mixture of sofas, chairs and stools, and tables of different heights, it's a light, airy room that typifies Scenic's boutique style. Two futuristic coffee machines, with flashing lights and a platform that automatically raises different sized cups up to the nozzle, flank each side of the entrance. Available 24/7, they serve a variety of coffees including cappuccino, latte macchiato and espresso macchiato, plus hot chocolate. There are quality Eilles tea bags and loose teas and -- to cheer the hearts of tea-lovers who often have to contend with warm water for their beloved brew -- a boiling water dispenser and proper tea pots. Furthermore, on-the-go drinkers will like the disposable takeaway cups. Biscuits and sweet treats are available throughout the day.
Modern artworks are dotted around the lounge, which leads to the bar and small dance floor. The bar, with stools and cafe-style tables, incorporates the ship's trademark glass and mirrored surfaces. There is a daily featured cocktail and non-alcoholic mocktail, plus a regular bar menu, and the knowledgeable bartenders also mixed other drinks on request. The bar includes barista-service coffee.
Outside the lounge is the Panorama Terrace, with chairs and tables, which is a delightful spot. Differing from earlier Scenic ships, it can now be fully enclosed with floor-to-ceiling glass so it can be used in all weather. From here, stairs lead up to the Sun Deck.
Organised entertainment is low-key, and Scenic Jasper doesn't have in-depth daytime lectures -- probably because so much is always happening outside with the wide choice of shore excursions. On our cruise, the chef gave a couple of cookery demonstrations. When the riverboat is sailing, talks highlighting passing sights and historic buildings are available through the Tailormade device. It's a very nice feature because passengers who are interested can listen in, while those who want peace and quiet won't be disturbed by live broadcasts through a PA system.
A singer/pianist performs in the lounge before and after dinner (and sometimes during the day). On our cruise, he played an extensive repertoire, invited requests and got people on the dance floor in the evening. Outside entertainers also come onboard, and a highlight was the charming couple who demonstrated the Viennese waltz and gave a lesson for passengers who wanted to have a go -- which was equally entertaining for those watching. There was also a crew show, relatively rare on river ships. The majority of sketches were fun and light-hearted but one, where a crewmember played a sight-impaired person, was in poor taste.
A small library of glossy coffee table books and guidebooks are kept by the coffee machines in the lounge. There are playing cards, board games, crosswords, puzzles and daily 'potted' newspapers with separate editions for U.S., U.K., Canadian and Australian passengers.
The programme director's desk is next to the reception on the middle Sapphire Deck. Next to the reception is a small showcase selling items of jewellery.
Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship, and the signal is generally very good in port, but can be intermittent or non-existent in areas such as locks or when a large number of people log on. Passengers without their own digital devices can request iPads, for short-term use, from reception.
There is a laundry service with clothing returned within 24 hours. This is free for Royal Panorama and Royal passengers. Diamond Deck passengers benefit from a complimentary pressing service for two items per day. There is a charge for passengers in other cabins; for example, it's €7.50 (AU$11.35) to wash and press a pair of trousers or skirt.
A lift midship serves the Sapphire Deck and Diamond Deck, but not the Sun Deck and Jewel Deck.
The Sun Deck provides a perfect vantage point to watch the passing scenery, relax, read, and have a drink or alfresco snack brought up from the River Cafe. The synthetic deck covering resembles grass and teak decking, and six large, comfortable outdoor armchairs with footstools provide a prime spot at the front of the deck. The rest of the deck is equipped with tables and cushioned wicker chairs and sun loungers.
Parasols and canopies are available for passengers who prefer to lie in the shade. There is also a giant chess board.
The Vitality Pool on the Sun Deck is little more than a splash pool, but it's a nice place on warm days. One side contains a tiled seat with underwater jets and opposite there is an underwater recliner for lying back and soaking up the sunshine.
Scenic Jasper has a massage room on the Jewel Deck with one bed. It offers a small menu of facials and massages. These range from a 25-minute foot and leg massage for €34 (AU$51) to a Diamond Signature facial, also including a scalp, hand and foot massage, for €99 (AU$150). Next door is a similar-sized hair salon, suitable for one passenger at a time, offering cutting and styling services for men and women, eyebrow shaping and eyelash tinting. Prices range from €10 (AU$15) for a beard trim to €53 ($80) for a wash, cut and blow dry.
The gym, opposite the massage room and hair salon, is equipped with a TechnoGym treadmill, cross-trainer and cycle with entertainment screens, iPod docks and the option to follow scenic routes on the display. (Of course, you could always run or cycle in port for the same effect!) There are also free weights, a Swiss ball and digital scales. Towels and still and sparkling bottled water are provided. Although small, it's a good facility for a river vessel, but the off-putting thing is the aerobic equipment faces the wall-to-ceiling glass wall, so gym users are in full view of passers-by, goldfish bowl-style. It would have made sense to install the equipment facing the other way, and users would also be able to see the passing riverscape through the window.
The ship carries electrically assisted bicycles, which passengers can use at any time if they are not being used on guided tours, and two pairs of Nordic walking poles are in every cabin.
River cruises are geared towards the adult market, and Scenic Jasper has no facilities for children. That said, youngsters are welcome onboard and the sole 10-year-old on our cruise had a great time. Crewmembers took time to fuss over him and make him feel special.