We sailed on a “Scenic Luxury Rhine Highlights River Tour from Amsterdam to Basel in late September. We are seasoned cruisers and this was our second Scenic River Cruise in three years (Danube in September 2015). We also have enjoyed ... Read More
We sailed on a “Scenic Luxury Rhine Highlights River Tour from Amsterdam to Basel in late September. We are seasoned cruisers and this was our second Scenic River Cruise in three years (Danube in September 2015). We also have enjoyed Mediterranean and Caribbean cruises.
Our experience with Scenic on the Danube in 2015 was indeed 5 star. Our experience this past month on the Rhine was the polar opposite. What a disappointment it was. We were told two days before the cruise that we would be on the Ruby, not the Jasper. The Ruby is 6 years older than the Jasper. We later learned that the Jasper had been on the Danube all summer but no passengers were informed of this. We stayed at Scenic’s designated Doubletree Hotel in Amsterdam the night before embarkation, and learned that the 10th floor was the designated floor for Scenic travellers. The rooms were bare bones to say the least.
Two days into our time on Scenic Ruby, the Cruise Director informed us that ‘she just learned’ that we would have to be transferred to another ship (Scenic Crystal) because of low water levels. We felt like we weren’t treated like intelligent adults, as we now knew that this had happened to every Scenic ship for the entire summer. This deception did not sit well with us.
We will not focus on the effects of the water levels, as we had the same problems in 2015. We will say, however, that the low water levels definitely impacted the quality time we could have spent on the ship (one ship change, two technical stops). The focus of this review is the significant deterioration in service, amount and quality of food and drinks.
The following quotes from Scenic’s website marketing material were definitely not our experience:
"Diverse and delicious food experiences…; ...a gastronomic masterpiece dining experience on our ships…; ...onboard luxury of one of our boutique 5-star state-of-the-art Space-Ships…; …extensive selection of complementary beverages all day…”
FOOD: We dined in the upscale Portobello restaurant one night and it was excellent. Breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Crystal Dining room was far from a 'diverse, delicious, and gastronomic masterpiece’. This was a huge step down from our 2015 experience, which included meal themes according to where we sailed, an abundance of food, and delicious variations (not to mention far superior entertainment on board). The breakfast and lunch buffets in 2018 offered the same items every day with maybe 2 items changed per day to represent regional fare. Long lineups occurred for the hot specialty items as they ran out of food quickly and despite staff saying more would be ‘coming in 5 minutes’ - this rarely happened. There was simply not enough food for the amount of people to feed. Dinner didn’t offer a lot of choice, and portions were generally small, overcooked and underwhelming. For example, the much anticipated Surf-and-turf night consisted of a thin, tough piece of beef with a silver dollar size medallion of tough-as-leather Gulf Coast lobster tail (not a full tail, but merely a cross-section).
BEVERAGES: Scenic cruises are marketed as 5 star, all inclusive with complementary beverages all day, every day. Our experience in 2015 was wonderful, with several varieties of quality wines to choose from; there was a table display of 4 types of red and white wines outside the dining room for guests to preview. This year, there was no display at all on the Scenic Ruby, and a very small one on the Crystal. Each night at dinner the same two (German and Italian) low quality red and white wines were offered. It was abundantly clear that staff were instructed to pour small portions.The staff did the best they could but were clearly understaffed and it seemed to be an imposition when we requested anything other than wine at dinner.
Coffee was never offered following dinner as it was on our 2015 cruise; we had to ask for it.
In summary, the predominant observation was that Scenic has cut back significantly on food, food quality, food selection, and staffing. We suspect management has implemented cost cutting measures as reflected in the decline in on board passenger experience. Our butler introduced herself the first day and from then on was consumed with taking on several other roles. Ship staff were clearly overworked and this was evident in their demeanor. In contrast, the staff in 2015 were friendly, interactive and appeared less stressed.
Entertainment and excursions were below expectations as well. We so enjoyed the group of Bavarian slap dancers in 2015 that came on to the ship, whereas on the 2018 cruise there was only a pianist and violinist on board to entertain.
While our 2015 Scenic experience was 5 star, our 2018 experience was a 2.5 star despite paying a 5 star price. We will not recommend Scenic nor will we ever cruise with this company again. A huge disappointment. Read Less