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5 Budapest to Europe - River Cruise Scenic Jewel Cruise Reviews

The stay in Budapest before we sailed was very good; that Marriott was excellent and very professionally run. Embarkation was smooth. The ship was pretty well all that we expected it to be, except for the so-called library which was a ... Read More
The stay in Budapest before we sailed was very good; that Marriott was excellent and very professionally run. Embarkation was smooth. The ship was pretty well all that we expected it to be, except for the so-called library which was a joke. The cabin was all that was required, well designed, fitted and maintained. We do not like buffets for dinner (as distinct from breakfast) but the first night was good for a buffet. All other dinners were good to very good, though the portions were no larger than needed and we thought that the choice of either pudding or cheese rather than pudding and cheese was odd - particularly in Portobello's. The wine was far less good than the food. That on the first night was poor, on other nights it was acceptable - apart from the Friday, when it was undrinkable. Service was generally good - better in the bar than in the restaurant. Of the entertainment, the regional dance troop were very good, the second dance night, which involved audience participation, was off-putting. We declined the other entertainments on offer for classic films that we had somehow never seen. Nicola, the tour manager, was excellent and incredibly helpful; top marks. The following criticism in not of him but of what was not provided. There was no historian/ geographer/ cultural expert to bring the experience of the tour and the relationship between the places that we passed or visited together. This was the significant weakness of the tour. The excursions that we took were of a good standard, and our guide in Belgrade deserves particular mention as outstanding. In our view, the visit to Varna was unbalanced. The Museum is quite simply outstanding and justifies a minimum of an hour for even the most superficial visit. We opted out of the visit to the town centre and spent twice that long in the museum and left much undone. As an aside, the lunch in the fake ship was not that great. The best lunch on a visit was in Bucharest; light, simple and cooked perfectly. The Hilton in Bucharest was not a patch on the Marriott in Budapest. The room was basically very good, but maintenance - especially in the bathroom - was poor. The dinner, an early, very mediocre buffet in a too small, noisy room was a low point. Whoever was responsible had no understanding of the space and layout required for a buffet for the number of people to be fed. The staff were totally untrained and mainly uninterested. Breakfast was OK. We had lunch in the outside restaurant associated with the Hilton and we can report that the serving staff in that restaurant were very professional (we obviously had the C or D team the previous evening), but that the kitchen repeated the mediocre performance of the previous evening. We have organised tours ourselves and know how difficult it is to get good hotels for large parties - so the Hilton may have been the best available - but keep on looking. We are not sure whether we should go again with Scenic. I think that if we took another river cruise we should try another company's offering first. In case you note the apparent inconsistency, our other cruises have been ocean rather than river cruises. Paul and Birte Kelly Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
This was our first River Cruise. We enjoyed the size of the ship and that there were only 168 guests, which made getting to know people very easy. The cruise director, Andreea, was exceptional - she managed all aspects of our itinerary ... Read More
This was our first River Cruise. We enjoyed the size of the ship and that there were only 168 guests, which made getting to know people very easy. The cruise director, Andreea, was exceptional - she managed all aspects of our itinerary seamlessly. The food was very good, with a varied selection of appetizers, soups, mains, and desserts. The wait staff were friendly and professional. Our cabin was very well designed so we had plenty of space to put everything. Our cabin was also spotless. I would say that I found the itinerary a bit rushed - that being said however, I also chose to not stay on the boat, which I could have. Perhaps the same itinerary could be completed in ten days, allowing a bit more time in some cities. Unfortunately on our second last day we ended being off the ship for almost 11 hours. Our tour of Regensburg was to last 4 hours. There was a problem with water levels being too low and the boat being unable to make it to our next destination. That is understandable - cannot control Mother Nature! I'm not totally convinced that there was not a way to get us on the boat earlier. So, the memory of my last excursion was a long, wet, cold day in a small city with nothing to do. When we boarded the boat everything was rushed. The next morning we had to wake up very early to be bussed to our last port of call. Unfortunately these events coloured my overall experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Chose this trip on the basis of recommendation from a friend and through the travel agent. The company had a good rating and no major complaints from anyone that the travel agent had booked on a cruise with them. Liked the all-inclusive ... Read More
Chose this trip on the basis of recommendation from a friend and through the travel agent. The company had a good rating and no major complaints from anyone that the travel agent had booked on a cruise with them. Liked the all-inclusive package. And the fact that excursionsfterand no extra charges. Dining seemed to be varied and options to dine without a crowd of 160 around is a benefit. Scenic does a strong marketing job in Canada and there were many Canadians on board--in fact the largest group. The Aussies were the next highest representation so that made for a relaxed and fun atmosphere. The cruise director, Alex, had the organization down pat and a terrific personality to be in this position. Bar staff and room staff were exceptional. Rooms were kept neat and tidy and the rooms are spacious (we had opted for the Junior Balcony Suite which is perfect location on Sapphire deck--right at the end opening up to central foyer so getting to dining, lounge or upstairs sun deck was easy). One man was in a wheelchair and he was accommodated on most tours without any fuss. This was not easy for bus driver or tour guide. All drivers and guides were fantastic and knowledgeable. Great ambassadors for their country! Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We joined the Crystal in Budapest for the first seven days of the cruise. The ship was excellent, the crew pleasant, and the captain appeared to run a tight but happy ship. Our cruise director Marin who was with us the whole journey on ... Read More
We joined the Crystal in Budapest for the first seven days of the cruise. The ship was excellent, the crew pleasant, and the captain appeared to run a tight but happy ship. Our cruise director Marin who was with us the whole journey on both ships was well informed, efficient, and dealt with everyone with courtesy and never lost his sense of humour. The transfer to the Jewel at Nuremburg was done well, they even arranged for rooms to be cleaned first for a couple of passengers who were ill. The side trips were well organised and there was plenty of choice. There was no need to spend anything once onboard unless you required laundry. We did not feel that the crew on the Jewel were as happy, the Captain did not appear very much at all and the Hotel Manager seemed to run the ship. Some of the Crew were very surly and did not engage with the passengers much. Our room was spacious and clean. The coffee/chocolate machine in the lounge was excellent. So far all good. However, and this was a big disappointment for us, the food! Too many buffet's with hot food being served on cold plates..even at breakfast, eggs and bacon on cold plates. Often the food in the evening was also served lukewarm. The menu was pretentious and you needed an interpreter. Many evenings we resorted to the everyday available chicken breast or steak, and we requested steamed vegetables as there was not much in the way of vegetables. We were even served tinned carrots and soup with globules of fat floating on top. Don't expect fine china either.....   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
This will be a mixed review of our experience with Scenic Tours and the new Spaceship -Jewel, starting from when we first booked about 18 months ago. Booking: We chose Scenic Tours because we were told it was an Australian company and ... Read More
This will be a mixed review of our experience with Scenic Tours and the new Spaceship -Jewel, starting from when we first booked about 18 months ago. Booking: We chose Scenic Tours because we were told it was an Australian company and really didn’t look too closely into the alternatives. We chose the tour “Prague to Amsterdam”, which had a land-based component before boarding one of the new Scenic ships which was to be the Crystal or the newly launched Jewel. We took advantage of the early bird special of cheap airfares to Europe, but some months after booking Scenic canceled the land based, pre cruise part of the trip so we decided to do Prague on our own and meet the ship in Budapest. Then we are in formed by Scenic that because we still wanted to fly into Prague we now had to pay extra for our flights. We never understood there reasoning but we sucked it up and moved on. With our so call early bird special came a free stop over and we decided to have a night in Singapore on the way over. We were given a selection on 4 hotels to choose in order of preference, which we did after researching the locations of each. Two weeks before we leave we get our paperwork and listed for Singapore is a hotel we had never heard of and was very disappointing in every way, being very much a businessman’s hotel, far away for all Singapore attractions – a complete waist of time, in our opinion. Also we have no choice of airline and found that we had a luggage restriction of 20kg which proved a challenge seeing we would be away a month. The lesson we learned is not to be enticed by early bird specials – they are not all they make them out to be. Scenic Jewel: We did thoroughly enjoyed or self organized time in the in Prague, trained to Budapest and taxied to the Scenic Meeting point at the Marriot Hotel. Scenic had a lovely meeting area set up in the foyer from early morning with coffee, tea juices and biscuits, cakes and pastries which was fabulous as people were arriving at all different times had a great base to wait and meet fellow passengers. Embarkation was easy and efficient and our luggage was waiting for us in our cabins The jewel is a very comfortable vessel. It's decor, being unpretentious compared to others, it is modern, contemporary style which we found very pleasing and well suited to smart, casual lifestyle on board. Our PP cabin 318 was surprisingly very adequate. The all weather balcony was fantastic and we used it daily - mostly with the balcony up so we could enjoy the suns warmth and the view with out the chilly wind. The bathroom worked well and the shower was a lot bigger than expected. People on the lower deck did complain about the size of their showers and described them as being a lot smaller than ours so it does pay to do your research. We were please with the sound proofing of the ship. We never heard any noise from the sun deck above us or from adjacent rooms. There was not creaking or noises you might expect when under sail. Food: The main Dining room served "nice" food but I wouldn’t call it 5 star. Breakfast being a basic buffet of mostly the same variety each day. Lunch and dinner was varied daily with something to please every one but it always fell well short of the "Wow" factor. e.g..I loved the fillet steak, cooked to your choice of perfection - but was never offered any sauce you night expect in most restaurants. I was hoping for a béarnaise, mushroom of pepper sauce at best - even mustard and when asked they could only offer a rather flavorless brown sauce. We enjoyed the cafe for light meals and snacks and looked forward to their filled pretzels, which were delicious. We had one booking in Portobello's and that was lovely and met our expectations in every way. Entertainment: Martin - out entertainer was OK and suited the age group on board. The guest entertainers were very average if you like audience participation. Tours These were of a very high standard - in my opinion. We also used to carry our Scenic head sets which gave us an interesting commentary when ever we past a point of interest - be it land or water. With the weather and high water against us we found ourselves stuck in Bamberg 3 nights and had to bus long distances to meet our tour itinerary. Scenic did an amazing job in dealing with this dilemma but it was not the easy boat cruise we had hoped for and long bus tours were not what we were looking for when choosing a river cruise. But I again emphasize that Scenic made every effort and can not praise them enough for that. Staff: We found the most staff to be pleasant and accommodating. Our cruise director, Patrick and Hotel Manage, Egor, were lots of fun, informative and always helpful. The lounge area at peak times felt understaffed and it would take a long time to get our drink orders. We found out very quickly that approaching the bar was a no-no and even though there were barstools up against it we were always instructed to sit in the lounge area and wait for the stewardess – a little frustrating sometimes. I challenged myself to make a barman (we nicknamed smilie) smile by the end of the trip - but failed. Unfortunately, being stuck due to high water and eventually having to pack up and change ships to the Ruby further down stream does change the vibe on board. Some people where very upset and it was evident they had not done their research and were not aware that this can happen even though is clearly stated in the terms and conditions on cruise forums. Moving to the Ruby: First impressions were – it is almost the same as the Jewel because it had just been refurbished. We had the same cabin number but it was not the same and because we had the Jewel to compare with the little things became very annoying for the 3 days we were onboard – like the loud creaking in our cabin that forced us to wear ear plugs to sleep, - the slight smell of waste from time to time and the very much smaller shower that often flooded into the small bathroom area. We were unfortunate with the weather and the floods but we believe Scenic did all they could to keep our itinerary on track and they did a great job under the circumstances. In conclusion: I have to agree with another Scenic reviewer – in my experience this is not the 5 star product it proclaims itself to be. Scenic does a great job in looking after its passengers but it does fall short of the mark in most areas. This trip had highs and lows and we didn’t return home thinking, “Wow – we must do another river cruise”, but we haven’t completely ruled it out sometime in the distant future and if we do, we will be looking at all options.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Scenic Jewel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.6
Dining 5.0 4.3
Entertainment 2.0 3.9
Public Rooms 5.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.6
Family 1.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.3
Enrichment 3.0 4.3
Service 4.0 4.6
Value For Money 5.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 3.3

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