Enticed by the images of castles, green pastures, churches and villages of Europe, it was time to book a comfortable more leisurely exploration of this part of the world. Scenic's blitz of advertising in print and TV was timely, the ... Read More
Enticed by the images of castles, green pastures, churches and villages of Europe, it was time to book a comfortable more leisurely exploration of this part of the world. Scenic's blitz of advertising in print and TV was timely, the information day at Sofitel, Melbourne helped consolidate my decision being an Australian organisation.
Budapest to Amsterdam - Jewels of Europe River Cruise
Not having to embark till mid afternoon meant there was enough time to explore Budapest for a few hours. We were offered afternoon tea and cakes at Budapest Marriott with the opportunity to meet fellow travellers. On boarding Scenic Jewel we were greeted by crew and Captain with flowers, drinks and a refreshing face towel, much appreciated as it's summer. By the time we found our 'home' for the next fortnight, our luggage was awaiting to be unpacked!!
Not being an ocean liner I prefer the cosier feel of a smaller vessel, yet large enough for smooth and stable travel. Our cabin was compact, with more than adequate storage, mini bar (fully stocked) and security safe. Ensuite was well stocked with French toiletries and diligently restocked daily and cleaned/tidied twice/day.
Buffet breakfast (with option for continental breakfast for early risers) and lunch with dinner being a la carte there's an Italian Dining Option as well in the Reserved Restaurant area. It was near impossible to not overeat and portioned sized evening meals was most welcomed.
Given the vessel has a small kitchen it was amazing the range and variation of mainly European delectables that were consistently created, the meals would arrive hot and freshly cooked. The fresh fruit sorbets were out of this world!! Difficult diners (with multiple allergies) were not a problem and nothing was an issue. As it was an open bar offering; including cocktails and wines from local regions were the norm. Being an almost non drinker - an odd sip is all I can tolerate - I enjoyed the occasional mocktail. It is my understanding many other shipping companies offer only beers and wines!! (shared by fellow travellers).
Entertainment at the end of each evening was well sourced, varied and interesting - allowed us a further appreciation of the region's culture.
Because we had to traverse through 69 locks with each one taking on average 30 mins the sundeck was invariable quarantined from being used as deck equipment and canopies had to be constantly flattened then re-erected - this meant less space for those of us trying to burn off the calories - thank goodness for the small gym, but there's nothing like fresh air, majestic views and vit D. Take drip dry clothing - a complimentary 1kg laundry/cabin was most appreciated otherwise laundry service can add up.
It is obvious the crew enjoy working on smaller vessels and with Scenic, as many have worked on ocean liners (small cities) previously. As each day passed we were like one big extended family of 140+ plus crew. Small surprises like venturing back to our cabins to find a different towel sculpture awaiting our return........this is not a dream!!
Service overall was consistent, professional, obliging and "can do attitude" is commendable.
Understandably some ports were not worth viewing as nothing was opened (on weekends), whereas other ports needed further exploration but there was not enough time although too small to make another trip to see these little gems. Not sure what's the best solution as I understand we have a schedule to keep to arrive at our final destination. Some places warranted at least 1 - 2 nights like Vienna, that is why these cruises are viewed as teasers or samplers of a region for further exploration without constant packing and unpacking one's luggage. The Shore excursions were well planned with supporting transport for those unable to walk steep inclines, though would have appreciated viewing some artisans, craftworks (like in Amsterdam), cottage industry rather than just more eating and drinking (a thought), although half a day excursions restricts how much one can achieve. Very impressed with Scenic buses along the way.
Overall, really had a memorable magical 15 days with Scenic, enjoyed travelling with largely Australian travellers, felt very at home, so glad gratuities were included and it was up to us if we wanted to reward individually. Will share this experience with my travel agent, will continue to explore future regions with Scenic, although unsure how to balance travelling and spending say 1 - 2 days in some larger city locations without having to come back to that region with another travel organisational group. Thank you Scenic for some lovely memories. Read Less