My wife and I booked an 11-day Scenic Gems of the Danube cruise as a 20th anniversary present to ourselves. It was recommended by my travel agent. This was also a trip that was on our bucket list. Just a few days before leaving for our ... Read More
My wife and I booked an 11-day Scenic Gems of the Danube cruise as a 20th anniversary present to ourselves. It was recommended by my travel agent. This was also a trip that was on our bucket list. Just a few days before leaving for our trip, I was advised by my travel agent that the rivers in Europe were experiencing low water levels due to the hot, dry summer. We were scheduled to be on the Scenic Amber; however, we were told we would likely have to "swap" ships. After arriving in Prague, we were told that we would be on the Scenic Jasper as the Amber was stuck down river due to the low water levels. The ship was to travel down the Danube and stop along the way at cities such as Regensburg, Passau, Melk, Vienna and Budapest. Unfortunately, the low water levels prevented the ship from progressing past Regensburg. None of the river tour companies can control Mother Nature, but how they respond is key. There should have been a contingency plan to swap ships as standard operating procedure, and this did not happen. As a result of the ship remaining in Regensburg, the stops in Passau (including Salzburg), Melk, and Vienna were cancelled and even after the water level rose again, the ship only arrived in Budapest on the very last day when all passengers had to disembark. The company did offer coach rides to Salzburg or Cesky Krumlov. Since we originally had planned to visit Salzburg, we chose the coach ride there, which took hours to get to. As a result, the tour was rushed as we had to be back on the coach for the ride back. The coach rides to Vienna and Budapest were also very long and resulted in tours in which we felt very rushed. We were not able to visit Schonbrunn Palace as we had planned, and the tour guide in Budapest remarked that our tour was the fastest she had ever given. Some passengers were so disappointed at not having had a river cruise that they left the ship early and went home. We decided to stay on the ship and visit as many cities as possible, but it still wasn't the cruise we had hoped for. Each day, the cruise director called us into the lounge to announce the latest decision on what they would offer. This constant state of not knowing added to the stress of our vacation. As the cruise director stated, it was no longer a cruise, but an adventure.
The ship itself was fine, although I don't think calling their ships "Spaceships" is justified as our cabin was much smaller than expected, based on the company's description. The service on the ship was fine, although one drink server was very unfriendly from the first day. The food was good, although the breakfast buffet didn't change. All beverages were included, which is nice as this is not the case on most ocean cruises. Read Less