This was our 2nd river cruise.
I chose Scenic because I wanted to sit out on the balcony & the staterooms were spacious at 205 sq ft.
They describe themselves as All-Inclusive 5* Luxury cruising.
We flew from Vancouver to Amsterdam direct on KLM. The plane configuration was 2,4,2. They have seatback entertainment. Meals are good. They offer water and juice frequently. KLM is an innovative airline. Read all about it on their website or their in-flight magazine.
We stayed 1 nt PRE at the Radisson Amsterdam which is a 10 mins walk from Centraal Station. Other hotels nearby are the Victoria Hotel, Bellvue Hotel and the Ibis Amsterdam. Hotels near the cruise terminal are the Doubletree (formerly the Mint ) and the Movenpick.
We got to the hotel about 2 pm, our room was ready, we dropped our bags & explored Amsterdam. We bought 1 one day transit ticket for about 7 euros. We visited Oosterpark ( lots of birds here ), Vondelpark, visited several street markets, had dinner in Chinatown. When looking for a restaurant, choose the one that's busy. That means the food is good. The local supermarket AlbertHein is also good for snacks etc. When you use transit, you have to scan the chipcard both when you enter & exit the vehicle.
We saw more bicycles in Amsterdam than when we were in China.
It was quite cold in Amsterdam, only 8-9*C and the tulips were only 30% bloomed at Keukenhof. Maybe mid-April would've been better.
The cruise terminal is a very long 20 mins walk from Centraal Station. Better to take a taxi. We boarded the ship the next day at 5 pm. Embarkation dinner was a buffet from 5 to 7 pm. All aboard at 10 pm. The ship is modern looking. They also have a self-serve coffee/tea station in the lounge where you can dispense your own latte, espressos etc. However, the beverage is already at drinkable temperature. I thought it could be hotter.
I was disappointed in the Scenic product. Other than the L'Occitane toiletries, it didn't feel luxurious. We didn't dine on fine china, meals were not attractively presented, the stateroom steward neither introduced himself nor greeted us by name.
When booking a balcony on a river cruise, don't choose the lowest deck, otherwise you'll be watching garbage floating by.
Don't book staterooms ending in 20 or higher. There is a lot of vibration and noise in the aft of the ship.
When I returned home, I researched 4 other river cruise lines: AMA, Avalon, Viking and Uniworld. These companies offered 2 or more tours in each port, easy or energetic tours and the pictures of the meals were way more gorgeous than ours. I met one man who had cruised with Uniworld. He said the meals were superlative.
The tours by Scenic were mostly walking tours to free attractions.
The only paid attractions that were included were the Keukenhof Gardens and the Amsterdam scenic boat tour.
The passengers were mostly Brits, Aussies, Canadians and a small number of Americans.
Many were 1st time river cruisers.
I met one couple from Australia that only travel with Scenic Tours because the gratuities are included.
On the return flight, you go through security screening at the gate. First they call families with children and all the Elite members. Then they call all economy passengers. They board the plane 45 mins prior to departure. This time the seat configuration was 3,3,3. The flight attendants were more friendly and meals were even better. Strange thing was that the plane started taxiing before the flight attendants told people to sit down & buckle up.
They even served ice-cream as a snack !