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7 Scenic Jewel Cruise Reviews for River Cruises to Europe - River Cruise from Budapest

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
We liked that the cruise was all inclusive - no extra charges for excursions, tips, drinks. There was an ample number of choices for the excursions, or you could stay on the ship, or take an e-bike out and tour the town at your leisure. ... Read More
We liked that the cruise was all inclusive - no extra charges for excursions, tips, drinks. There was an ample number of choices for the excursions, or you could stay on the ship, or take an e-bike out and tour the town at your leisure. They'd even pack a lunch for you if you were going to be gone through the lunch hour. The service on board was excellent, the staff friendly and well informed about all aspects of the trip. The cabin was very well maintained, exceptionally clean as were all the public areas. The food was out of this world, and the presentation was creative. The portions were appropriate. Scenic had explored various entertainment options, offering us everything from an exquisite concert in a formal atmosphere to an Oktoberfest party, as well as some performers and speakers brought on board to entertain, amuse and educate us. It was all great. At the end of the tour, we had no outstanding expenses with the tour company. Our only out-of -pocket costs were for souvenirs for those we left behind at home. Embarkation and disembarkation went without a hiccup. Their systems have been well tested by time and experience. Things could not have gone more smoothly. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Paid for ultra luxury, got a nice 3 star experience. On the plus side, clean ship, pleasant hardworking staff, plenty to eat and drink. On the negative side, not enough staff to offer a 5 star cruise, food tried to present as ... Read More
Paid for ultra luxury, got a nice 3 star experience. On the plus side, clean ship, pleasant hardworking staff, plenty to eat and drink. On the negative side, not enough staff to offer a 5 star cruise, food tried to present as ostentatious but failed, wines local and uninspiring. Enhanced experiences very nice, but other trips disappointing. Onboard entertainment less than one would expect for the price and claimed luxury standards. Cruise Director comes in for critism as a poor communicator, inefficient and with a sense of humour that could be interpreted as irritating by many. Showed no interest or follow up in those who had been taken unwell. My wife was taken unwell on an outing and he just pointed us to get ourselves back to the ship, with no follow up her wellbeing. We do not feel that we got the ultra luxury experience that we paid for. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
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
Sail Date June 2016
My wife and I recently took a European River Cruise on the Scenic Jewel from September 15 through 29, 2014. This cruise started in Budapest, Hungary, followed the Danube through Austria and southern Germany, then took the Danube-Main Canal ... Read More
My wife and I recently took a European River Cruise on the Scenic Jewel from September 15 through 29, 2014. This cruise started in Budapest, Hungary, followed the Danube through Austria and southern Germany, then took the Danube-Main Canal to the Main River, and finally ended up on the Rhine, with the cruise ending in Amsterdam, a total distance of about 1800 km. Through good fortune, there was hardly any rain for the duration of our trip, with temperatures above 20 Celsius nearly every day. We are experienced ocean cruisers, but this is the first time we have taken a river cruise. We also arranged air transportation through Scenic, and the transfers between the airport and the ship were quick and flawless. The Jewel is a new ship, completed last year expressly for these waterways. It holds about 160 passengers on three decks, the top two having balconies with sliding windows that can be opened or closed depending on the weather. The cabins are spacious with every amenity and we found the beds very comfortable. All rooms featured an entertainment system with which you could access television, music, shipboard information and the Internet though we found with all the activities we hardly used that. The ship features the ‘Crystal’ dining room which featured buffets at lunch and usually sitdown dinners. The food was uniformly good and they were very careful to point out dishes that might trigger my nut allergy. There is also an Italian restaurant called the Portobello that all passengers can try. The ship has a lounge which also functions as an entertainment venue and bar/café. The entertainment was low key, consisting of folk artists, lectures and demonstrations. For those used to the splashy shows on ocean cruises, it will seem pretty small scale. Finally there is a sun deck where you can watch the world go by, for every day on a river cruise there is something to see. On the Danube Main canal, access to the sundeck was restricted because of low bridges. All excursions were included in the price we paid. The biggest problem we had was trying to choose one of the two or three options sometimes on offer. Scenic attempts to create experiences for their passengers so that in addition to the usual city tours, you can also do things like attend musical performances, wine tastings, “medieval feasts” and so on. There are power assisted bikes for those that like to explore on their own, and audio players that may be used for self tours. We were kept very busy with all the activities. The local guides were uniformly superior and in keeping with the all inclusive nature of the trip would not accept tips. In every respect, this cruise exceeded our expectations. The service from the 50 staff members was uniformly friendly and attentive, and when this cruise company says that their cruise was “all inclusive” they really meant it, right down to the mini bar in the room and the free Wi-Fi. The only extra cost we incurred was laundry. There’s no doubt that all inclusive river cruising in Europe is expensive, but in this case you get what you pay for. Another good thing about river cruising is that with only 160 passengers you soon get to know your fellow travellers, unlike a large cruise ship where you hardly ever see the same person twice. We would unreservedly recommend Scenic to anyone considering a European river cruise and will use them again ourselves.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
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
As a preface, we are a couple of active, still working adults somewhat on the low end of the age range of typical river cruisers. I cancelled a back to back Celebrity cruise touring Iceland and the Baltic after reading about river ... Read More
As a preface, we are a couple of active, still working adults somewhat on the low end of the age range of typical river cruisers. I cancelled a back to back Celebrity cruise touring Iceland and the Baltic after reading about river cruising. Our experience has been mostly with the Royal Caribbean/Celebrity product. I considered Tauck, Uniworld and a few other lines when booking this trip last October. I chose Scenic based on the inclusions(tips, alcohol, all excursions, butler, internet), greater population of Australians, and appeared to have more "active" inclusions such as a gym and use of bicycles as well as "tailor made" self touring. As many of CC members, I researched and read reviews and had a good idea of what river cruising was about -- or so I thought. We booked the Jewel - the newest ship of the Scenic fleet-- based upon itinerary, and the fact that it included a gym (we love to eat). We arranged our own air/hotel stays which included 10 days in Europe prior to our July 1st Scenic cruise. Budapest is just as wonderful as all of the reviews. We stayed in a lovely B&B (Kapital Inn) for 3 nights. Our first disappointment came 2 days prior to the cruise in a forwarded email from our TA. We would not be cruising on the Jewel in Budapest, but instead would be on the Diamond for 3 nights, then we would be bussed to the Jewel which was upriver and unable to make it to Budapest due to a lock being closed up the Danube. We took a taxi to the Marriott to drop our luggage and take transportation to the ship. Quite a few people had not received word that we would not be on the Jewel. Most of us had been aware of the flooding, and although there was a little grumbling about not being told in advance, it wasn't a huge problem. Our cruise director Marin was the only staff that stayed with our group during our very challenging cruise. He did an amazing job considering the problems he faced. I'd like to mention the other ships we stayed on, as we found huge differences that impacted our trip. We ended up having to change ships again due to lock strikes in Germany after being docked in a commercial area in Bamburg for 3 nights and long bus trips for excursions. We started on the Diamond, moved to the Jewel and ended up on the Pearl. Our vision of unpacking once and enjoying the river from our balcony ended up being not so ideal. We spent much more time being on big bus tours than we thought. Did the interruptions impact our cruise enjoyment? Probably. We never did experience the "afternoons enjoying the villages on our own" The only village we stayed at required a 10 Euro one way taxi ride. I thought there would be smaller than the 40-50 groups were regularly on and the long bus rides to our destinations.Diamond: Some wear and tear obvious on the ship. It didn't matter to most of us, as we knew we would be meeting the Jewel in a few days. Some negative comments "we didn't get what we paid for", some people ended up in different cabins due to the ships not being identical. The staff however was lovely. We were greeted with cool towels, glass of champagne and a rose for the ladies. Passengers waited in the lounge. We were escorted to our standard balcony cabin after a very brief and orderly check in process. The room was explained by the very friendly stewardess. The balcony was a great feature, space for two chairs and a small table. It was somewhat annoying that the railing was just at eye level when sitting. The ability to move the window up and down was what i guess is Scenic's "signature" feature. To get the A/C to work, the sliding door to the balcony needed to be closed. Our butler "Zoltan" came to introduce himself. He was a favorite on the ship. Most wished we could take him with us. The bed was two two twins (full size twins) pushed together to make a king. L'Occitane bath products, and shower had a complicated spray system, gave it a somewhat higher end feeling. There was a "meet and greet" before dinner, where officers made some comments and the CD explained the river situation, assuring all that we wouldn't notice the ship change, that all would be seamless. Buffet first dinner, somewhat chaotic. The dining room was noisy, most were tables of 6 with a table for 2 right next to it. We found fun tablemates the first night and ate with them frequently during our trip. The wait staff was friendly and seemed very busy and hardworking. We were treated to a night sailing on the Danube to see the lights of BUdapest. We enjoyed the Diamond. DIdn't enjoy packing up three days into our trip. The plan was to take the scheduled tours with being bussed to the ship which was ahead of us. Jewel: We were to have a BBQ lunch on the top deck. Kinda sounds like fun, but it wasn't. The lines were long around the buffet, there weren't too many near tables. Drink service was odd, with waiters asking what we wanted, then never bringing it. No reception when entering the new ship. Not much in the way of greeting. Given our room keys. We find the new cabin to be much nicer -- a better use of space, no sliding door to the balcony, but a nifty folding door that we just left open. The bathroom had a huge shower!! no more complicated shower system. The public rooms were somewhat the same, it was just obvious that overall the physical layout of the Jewel was much better. You would think that this would make happy campers, right? Well, there was a HUGE difference in staff across the board on the Jewel. The ship captain was a substitute and the hotel director appeared to be on vacation. I wish this was an exaggeration. While we saw the hotel director working alongside his people, and checking on dining room status, the hotel director was never seen. People were scratching their heads, how can waiters and bar staff seem to look so "busy" all the time, but people couldn't get any service. Overall, it impacted our experience. We heard there were many verbal and written complaints. We didn't put ours in writing, because at the time I wasn't sure what was going on. THe wait staff didn't appear to be trained on how to do their job, so rather than say it was the problem with the staff, I place the blame on the uninterested hotel director. I did notice that we seemed to "warm" up the staff, mainly because I think we had a very tolerant, fun loving group of passengers. Pearl: like the DIamond, great, hardworking staff. It's hard to believe the difference. I had low expectations for food quality, and high expectations of service, but the reverse actually happened. For example, there were only two menus placed on each table of 6-8. Never did a waiter point out there were alternate selections each night. We were offered a "red" or "white" wine, and it took a few days to figure out they stock more than one choice. You had to be on guard as the waiters often would just pour what was in hand, not noticing you perhaps were drinking a Chianti that night. There was no coffee served dinner. Dining choices on the menu were limited, the food was well presented. I was pleased with my meals. Dining by buffet is difficult when all passengers eat at the same time. I never stayed in the long line for the carved meat or breakfast selections.Scenic promises much more than they are able to deliver. If you enjoy large organized bus tours, or walking tours where you are herded from one location to another Scenic can give you that experience. Our best days happened to be those which we decided to take a pass on the bus tour, and stayed on the boat while it was moving to the next port. The best experience was meeting new friends. Read Less
Sail Date July 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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