Cabin 236, the last room at the end of the hallway on Jasper’s second floor, was not to our liking on our Amsterdam to Budapest cruise due to the continual sound of the engine at the end of the ship. The noise was slightly ... Read More
Cabin 236, the last room at the end of the hallway on Jasper’s second floor, was not to our liking on our Amsterdam to Budapest cruise due to the continual sound of the engine at the end of the ship. The noise was slightly abated by keeping the folding glass balcony doors shut as well as the retractable window. The ship sails at nighttime so when the canal locks are encountered these noises seemed to be louder than when the ship was just cruising on the river. Needless to say our sleep was not restful nor sound. The ship was fully booked so while staff were apologetic little could be done for us until the ship reached Budapest when a cabin 4 doors down the hallway became available for our cruise from Budapest to Bucharest. What a difference! We were very appreciative of this cabin change and based on that cabin, 231, I would give the Scenic Jasper top marks for Balcony category cabins.
On future river cruises with Scenic we would re-book a Balcony cabin. These cabins offer sufficient room for storage and moving about, have a feeling of spaciousness given by the use of mirrors and full length window, and a good shower space in the bathroom with rain shower head and many water jets. We loved the extra sitting space the enclosed balcony gave us where we could see the riverside while we were in the cabin. The retractable window also provided access to fresh air, an option to room controlled air conditioning. This enclosed balcony was one of the reasons for us choosing Scenic. The padded wicker chairs in this area looked great and were comfortable, but when I sat in them, my view was blocked by the wood railing. The beds were very comfortable with choices of pillows if the 2 on the bed weren’t suitable. The white duvet and sheets gave the room a cozy modern look. I was glad the bed was higher up so that I could store my suitcase under it. The closet was divided into 2 sections with sliding doors that overlap – a nuisance at times when both occupants want to use the closet. The closet had space for hanging clothes on wooden hangers and open shelves for further storage. The night stand beside the bed also had drawers for additional storage and the bathroom had shelves for toiletry bags. In addition, glass shelves over the console ledge were also available for the tourist guide book, the river map, and room guide that were included in the room. The wall mounted TV/computer was such a nice inclusion with its free access to the internet, limited number of movies, music, the daily program, weather, and webcam view of the river from the bridge. We didn’t have to bring our own computer along. The Tailormade audio guides had a docking station in the room and these devices were loaded with sightseeing information for each port and sights along the river. These devices were also used by the local guides to communicate to us while doing the walking tours. The free in-room internet use on the computer and the tailormade devices, available in all cabin categories, were another reason why we chose Scenic. The room included an easy to use safe and always fully stocked minibar. Also free, was 1kg bag of laundry done once during the 2 week cruise. In case you haven’t packed an umbrella, there will be a large one available in the room along with 2 Nordic walking sticks. We both, however, made good use of the heavy terry robes and slippers so nice to slip into after a shower. The room had everything we wanted to make our stay comfortable.
Time spent in the cabins varies with passengers. We liked to get out of the cabin to enjoy the ship’s public areas – the Lounge, and sundeck. The Lounge area at the front of the ship offered comfortable tub chairs from which we could see both sides of the river while enjoying early morning coffee from the self-serve coffee machine or afternoon cocktails/drinks. Drinks were included in the inclusive offer so no extra charges were encountered for these refreshments. The padded tub chairs in the Lounge were my seating preference to the hard seated couches. Several abbreviated newspapers for different nationalities along with crossword puzzles were provided daily. The very small library offered some mysteries and travel information, but we didn’t have time for reading on this trip. The top sundeck was useful when in port with its small tepid water pool, loungers, and wicker chairs. Sun umbrellas provided shade. Some passengers opted to walk around this top deck while others preferred to use several exercise machines in the fitness room on the first floor. We didn’t try out the ebikes although the straight and long paths on the riverside looked inviting for such activity.
We, of course, spent a lot of our time in the elegant dining room set with tables covered with white table cloths and sparkling stemware for 4-6 people. Wait staff, dressed in black and white, offered drinks, took our orders, and provided efficient friendly service despite the fact that seating was tight. Breakfast and lunch were buffets while dinner was ordered from a menu. Hamburgers, chicken, steak, Caesar salad, and salmon were always alternatives to the buffet and dinner options. Although dining hours were set, enough time was given to accommodate dining preferences for either an early or later meal. Dinner, however, started at 7 with appetizers finally being served 45 minutes later and dessert was served 2 hours later so dinner was finished around 9pm. Food was delicious, varied, and attractively plated. If sitting with interesting passengers, this time passed quickly; otherwise, the time in the dining room dragged on. After dinner, we usually headed to our room rather than sit in the lounge where the pianist entertained and more drinks were served while guests chatted with fellow passengers. A limited menu was available for room service ranging from a continental breakfast to soups, sandwiches, cheese trays usually delivered by the butler assigned to the room – useful if just a light meal was wanted. Additionally, pizza, salads, paninis, cakes, and ice cream were available all the time up to late afternoon in the café in the Lounge area. Meals in the Portobello Restaurant were over-rated, IMO; we preferred the meals in the dining room.
Another reason for buying a Scenic cruise was their wonderful all-inclusive sightseeing program with daily excursions accompanied by local guides and their evening enrichment events. The local guides, speaking good English and often university students, gave a 1 ½ hour orientation walking tour of the old medieval city/town pointing out the important attractions and history, but offering no inside visits, even to free entrances like churches. Following the walking tour, usually an hour or so was given for free time, enough for a rushed visit to one art gallery, museum, or church. Tours were well organized and described the previous evening by the cruise director. When the ship was at a dock a good distance from the city (Nuremburg and Vienna), a free shuttle bus was offered in the afternoon for those wishing to return for additional sightseeing on their own. Tours ranged from part to full days with lunch included on full day trips; passengers could opt to stay on board and not go out too. The top notch enrichment events ranged from an evening Medieval dinner at Marksburg castle, music concert in a Viennese palace, lunch while being entertained by professional singers singing Sound of Music songs in Saltzburg, to a local sausage lunch, Biergarten style, in a small Bavarian town where huge heart-shaped lebkuchen cookies were given as a parting gift. In Serbia, we had a group lunch in the home of a retired Serbian couple where we shared life stories through an English speaking Serbian university student. These activities were described in Scenic’s brochures and itinerary booklets so the sightseeing program was well laid out. Unlike ocean going travel where the times of port arrival and leaving are posted prior to sailing, with river cruising the times of arrival and leaving the dock where only made available a day prior to arrival due to the vagaries of water levels and busy canals. Thus, while planning at home the sights I wanted to see at the various ports, I never knew exactly how much time would be spent in a town/city nor how much free time would be available for visiting their attractions on my own. The 2 day stays in Vienna and Budapest offered guests the opportunity to see several attractions on their own compared to the short visiting hours allowed at small town stops along the Rhine and Danube rivers. In Budapest the ship docks on the Buda side, a good 20 minute walk over the Chain Bridge to the Pest side, but also close to a major transportation hub where optional bus/tram/metro rides would eliminate so much walking to get to the Pest side attractions. In this city, you need the local currency (Hungarian forinth) so it is convenient to buy some while at home. Know that on Mondays art galleries and museums are closed In Europe, leaving churches, parks, shopping, and city walks as activities to pursue.
GETTING ON AND OFF THE SHIP:
Embarkation and disembarkation, both with transfers provided, went smoothly. The Doubletree Hilton in Amsterdam offered a brightly lit conference room as a daytime gathering point until we could board the Jasper, four hours later after our arrival. While this hotel offers a good location for sightseeing, I found its contemporary décor a nuisance as there were no comfortable tub chairs to sit in after a long overnight flight.
WORTH TO ADVERTISE:
Scenic delivered on all points of their cruise as described in the brochure, local information session, and website. It was the detailed local information session that got us interested in booking a river cruise with Scenic. The video presentation which showed the cabins, the Lounge, sundeck and dining areas, and the excursions including the special enrichment activities gave us a good idea as to what to expect. Although this was our first European river cruise, it was such a worthwhile experience that we would not hesitate to book additional river cruises with Scenic. Their friendly, “can’t do enough for you” staff, added to the enjoyment of our trip. Read Less