The Jewel Lounge, just forward of reception on the Danube Deck, is the only entertainment venue onboard. A singer/pianist performs there in the evenings and occasionally on afternoons spent sailing. His rendition of Elvis' "Love Me Tender" had us running for our earplugs, but he did manage to get people dancing every evening. The crew show and the occasional folkloric show also take place on the dance floor in this venue.
The lounge has an uncluttered, modern look with floor-to-ceiling windows, black-and-white carpeting, and blue, gray, brown and orange couches and chairs. In the center of the room is a rectangular bar where passengers can order complimentary cocktails, fancy coffee drinks and other beverages, including a changing roster of cocktails, mocktails and martinis of the day. Bartenders have an Enomatic wine dispenser and a state-of-the-art espresso machine to assist them. Order at the bar, or wait for the circulating bar staff to come to you. The bar staff were very attentive and even came around to the Sun Deck on a warm day, so we didn't have to leave our loungers to get drinks.
Unlike ocean cruises, river sailings don't offer a full roster of scheduled fun. Onboard time is usually spent watching the scenery or relaxing in your cabin, on the sun deck or in the lounge with a book or drink. Every so often, the cruise director will schedule an activity like a galley tour or cooking demo by the pastry chef. But the itineraries are so port intensive, the staff doesn't want to overprogram passengers' time off. There is neither enrichment programming nor in-depth lectures on the destinations, though the cruise director does give a brief overview of each port the night before.
The main focus of a cruise on Jewel is the ports. All excursions are included in the fares, and Scenic is big on choice and possibilities for independent exploration. In each destination, passengers can choose from a few ScenicFreeChoice excursions. These will typically be a walking tour, a biking tour or a transfer to a museum or a nearby city for a tour. We found guides were generally good, but the walking tours often seemed rushed in an attempt to give an overview of the town, allow for free time and not tire out everyone with excessive ambling. All passengers receive a special GPS system called a ScenicTailorMade device. They are the next generation of the QuietVox systems many other river lines use. The devices function in three ways. First, they work like a QuietVox in that you can turn yours to your guide's channel so you can hear her explanations through your headset and don't need to stand directly next to her (great when you're walking down crowded streets in Europe and your group spreads out). Second, they contain walking tours for select cities, with maps that indicate key attractions and show your position; when you reach the highlighted places, prerecorded commentary begins to play, often with photos of that attraction. Finally, the devices serve as commentary during scenic cruising; as you sail by places of interest, the commentary will come on, explaining what you're looking at. This frees the cruise director from having to narrate and allows people who wish to snooze or read during sailing times to not be bothered by constant explanations on the PA system. The devices can be a bit finicky (mine constantly reset itself to Mannheim, despite our not cruising to Mannheim at all), but if you take a quick look at the card that explains the symbols, you will figure them out soon enough.