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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We believed the Scenic literature and presentation and signed up. The river was low and so we had a substitute older ship, the Pearl; we were bused from Nuremburg to Passau for the first three days of the cruise. We were berthed in an ... Read More
We believed the Scenic literature and presentation and signed up. The river was low and so we had a substitute older ship, the Pearl; we were bused from Nuremburg to Passau for the first three days of the cruise. We were berthed in an industrial area next to the garbage bins. We had paid for a balcony cabin, but since we were docked next to other ships for most of the trip, this was impossible to use. The drapes remained closed and the balcony was waste space. Only half of the guides were informative, the food was convention quality, the wine was plonk and the service was average relative to the cruise industry. Most of the passengers were over 65 and likely were on statins, but most of the menu was high in cholesterol and waiters could not suggest appropriate dishes. Would it be a real problem to provide skim milk for cereal? Scenic has no control over river depths, but they do have control over other aspects and the quality was limited. Two days out of eight matched expectations. Only redeming quality was the opportunity to interact with terrific fellow passengers who made the journey memorable. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Trip compromised by low water levels. We had to be bused three hours to an alternate older ship. The usual views were of other ships moored against us. Long journeys by coach. Most of the guides gave limited information relative to our ... Read More
Trip compromised by low water levels. We had to be bused three hours to an alternate older ship. The usual views were of other ships moored against us. Long journeys by coach. Most of the guides gave limited information relative to our usual travel experiences. Walking tours did not provide options for people with limited mobility. There were only two days out of the eight that matched expectations. The food compares with adequate convention food; very difficult to select low cholesterol options which was surprizing given the average age: most of us probably were on statins. Cabin was very tight and the private balcony could not be used because of the adjacent ships so the premium was not of any value; we had to keep the drapes closed for privacy otherwise you would be able to see and touch cabins on the next ship. All inclusive did not result in good value for experienced travellers; this is meant for people who prefer to assign details to a "tour operator". Scenic can not control the river levels but could improve some service and excursions. Excellent travel companions helped make the best of the trip. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We are reasonably experienced cruisers (Silversea, Regent, Oceania, Princess) but this was our first river cruise. We chose Scenic based on their all inclusive 5 star claim and the advice of friends who had sailed with Scenic before. The ... Read More
We are reasonably experienced cruisers (Silversea, Regent, Oceania, Princess) but this was our first river cruise. We chose Scenic based on their all inclusive 5 star claim and the advice of friends who had sailed with Scenic before. The Danube itinerary suited our interest in visiting both Budapest and Prague and the Scenic Amber was reported to have the kind of amenities we were looking for. We were quite looking forward to this cruise but unfortunately Scenic seemed intent on failing to meet even the most basic expectations. First the Ship. Sadly we never got to experience the Amber. A couple of days before our departure for Budapest we were advised by Scenic that we would be traveling on the Pearl not the Amber. No explanation or apology offered. Had the Pearl been the same class of ship as the Amber it would have been a non issue but as the Pearl does not have a pool, which my wife was looking forward to using for daily exercise it was a major disappointment. We understand the vagaries of river travel but this switch did not seem to be justified other than as a scheduling error by Scenic as the Amber was in the same stretch of the Danube as we were and indeed we actually met her heading for Budapest on our way to Vienna. As we had no prior experience with Scenic or river cruises we were not aware of some of the other amenity losses; including no separate dining room for the Table Rive and (hearsay) some people were very upset that the class of cabin they had booked on the Amber was not available on the Pearl. The lack of prior notification of the change did not leave them an opportunity to change plans. Cabin: We were booked on the Diamond deck with butler service and while small the room was more or less as expected. The Pearl is designed with a "separate" balcony area with a window that can be lowered if you wish the outdoor experience or raised in inclement weather. It provided me with an opportunity to get out of my wife's way but being separated from the rest of the cabin reduced the flexibility that the additional space could have afforded. We noticed that some of the other lines incorporated the balcony area into the cabin proper allowing some space for sitting. Service; We cannot fault the staff aboard. Hotel staff worked their butts off trying to keep up but the Pearl is so grossly understaffed (Pax/crew ratio 3.3) that is impossible for the staff to meet the advertised 5 star standard. Our butler was doing double duty as a dining room waiter (on call it would seem). It may seem like a small thing to some but the bean counters at Scenic seem to require the servers to limit a pour of wine to no more than 3 ounces (champagne 1 oz). This would be ok if you could find a waiter to top up your glass but they were usually too busy. At a table of four where we were all drinking the same wine they refused to leave the bottle implying this was against policy. Food: It is hard to find words. First impressions are important and for our first dinner I ordered the Sea Bass. When it arrived, it looked like a sardine on the plate. I have never seen such a small portion. I'm not a big eater and don't tell me I could have ordered more, I know! But as this is a five star ship I shouldn’t have to order two meals to get one! The quality of food was poor to average. Anyone who wishes a balanced meal is out of luck. I ordered extra vegetables every meal. My specific request resulted in a second broccoli floret being added to my dinner. Given the huge amount of wonderful vegetables available in the local markets the lack of vegetables was very disappointing. My wife has an allergy to asparagus and this was made known to the manager. In one instance she wished to order a wrap and asked if there was any asparagus in it. The waiter acknowledged the request but brought the wrap anyway without comment. a close call! Interestingly the quality of the food improved a bit a few days into the cruise after a re-provisioning. Makes one wonder why they didn't start that way. Again, the staffing issue was a problem. Dinners were rushed events, more typical of chain restaurants than a five star dining experience. Due to river level issues were not able to sail to Nuremberg as planned but had to turn around at Regensburg and return to Passau. The extension visit to Prague was a highlight. Great hotel, tour director that was the best ever. All in all we were quite disappointed both with Scenic, the Pearl and river cruising in general. River cruising has too many uncertainties if our experience is typical. I've seen it written that river cruising is like a package bus tour without the unpacking. this is certainly true so if that style of travel is not your preference stay away. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
This has been the most disappointing holiday that we have participated in. This was our first river cruise where we travelled from Amsterdam to Budapest. We wanted to try something different. Despite that we got to briefly visit some ... Read More
This has been the most disappointing holiday that we have participated in. This was our first river cruise where we travelled from Amsterdam to Budapest. We wanted to try something different. Despite that we got to briefly visit some incredible places however the longer the cruise went on the more disappointed we became with the overall process. I guess most of the disappointment results from the perception created by marketing versus the reality that is delivered. River cruising is as close as you get to a coach tour through Europe. To that end have chosen to write a list of what they don’t tell you in the brochure/online’: 1. The cruise company claims to offer a ‘choice of airlines’. Our experience was that our first leg of our trip was on the airline of our choice and then the second and third on Swiss Airlines. The explanation was that Scenic has a relationship with Swiss Air. Swiss Air are not as bad as American Airlines but they are not to the standard that we enjoy in our part of the world. While our trip up was fine, our trip home was nothing short of traumatising on Swiss Air instead of our chosen airline (see below) 2. The entire travel experience is a cookie cutter, pressure cooker, production line trip which means if you move outside the programme the production line stops working. We opted to spend two extra nights up front in Amsterdam and two after in Budapest. Because of this, Scenic were not interested in airport transfers or transfers to/from the boat despite using their recommended hotels and despite what they say in their advertising. 3. Our welcome aboard was easy, fast and professional. All the staff onboard are exceptional, second to none and the service is a lot more personal than on large ships. Marina, our butler was awesome. 4. First impressions are the ship is smart, clean and slick and as the trip progressed and as we passed a huge number of other riverboats, I felt we were on one of the best ones on the river. Our cabin was everything we expected and more with both a balcony and slide down window in the lounge part. It became a haven to escape to away from the one public lounge/bar onboard. Probably the only slightly weak point on our ship when compared to others passing was that the top deck is a bit spartan however it could not be used a large part of the trip as it was closed and folded down so we could fit under low bridges. 5. The cross section of people in marketing photos does not really reflect the people who actually river cruise. The process is more geared to older travellers, inexperienced travellers and people who seem obsessed with meeting new friends. Everything onboard has been designed exclusively for these groups. There were a few couples onboard, including ourselves who were obviously uncomfortable or disappointed with this Hi de Hi, over familiar ‘get to know you’ type vibe. 6. There are sing-a-longs to old songs I did not know the words to. 7. It is not possible to get to breakfast without at least 30 fellow passengers and staff saying Good Morning along with more at the breakfast buffet. The surrounding chatter at breakfast consists of, have you cruised before, how did you sleep, health issues and on two mornings, an in-depth discussion about bowel movements. 8. There is a ‘Port Talk’ every night in the main lounge 15 minutes before dinner which outlines the upcoming day. They cover docking times, what excursions take which bus at what times, an overview of each excursion happening the next day, how many steps are involved in an excursion or if there is an elevator alternative, if there is any uneven surfaces or inclines involved, how far you will be from a souvenir shop, times between food. They finish with waiters bringing mock-ups of the main courses through the room so that there are no surprises with what their dinner option is going to look like that they order 30 minutes later in the main dining room. During dinner a brief summary of Port Talk is left in your room. 9. Disappointingly there are some excursions where photography is not allowed. You are not told until you disembark the bus to begin you excursion where you will be offered an apology and thanked for your understanding. In my world that does not cut it. It is not like anything there was up to Versailles or The Louvre standard where you are allowed to take photographs. 10. Unlike musical entertainment in the Crystal Lounge, Port Talk in the same Lounge is not broadcast on the television in your cabin to ensure that if you want any information about the following day you are forced to sit and mix with fellow passengers. 11. Dinner takes two hours every night regardless of how fast you eat or if you are first or last into the dining room. There are four tables for two people that are close to the next table to ensure you cannot be left alone if you chose a table for two. 12. There are a lot of busses involved. The format of the fortnight makes it feel like bus touring without the need to unpack and pack everyday as your floating hotel room moves with you however like a bus tour you need to be up early each morning for breakfast (with the exception of two) and then ready to set off on a bus for your chosen excursion. 13. The excursion guides are very knowledgeable and excellent without exception. 14. The first thing after arriving at any excursion is a protracted group toilet break. At times the excursions move at snail’s pace, particularly around shops and souvenir shops, stopping every 40 or fifty steps for a story while people catch their breath while at some attractions, neck snapping speed with barely enough time to take photographs where allowed, ensuring little time for any free time in any of the towns. Free-choice are marketing buzzwords as the excursions are anything but. They are hightly structured with little or no opportunity to explore by yourself. 15. Everybody on the boat gossips. Something said at dinner is back to you at breakfast from a complete stranger. Twice. 16. There are a lot of Australians onboard who are not backward in coming forward on their feelings about gay people. This is not really a holiday or environment that works well for gay couples. 17. Despite the perception created prior to the trip, there is no local cuisine. The food onboard is stunning but mainstream and non-offensive. 18. I had imagined from reading the marketing collateral that when the boat docked you could simply disembark and stroll a short distance into town. River cruising has become so crowded that in most cases the boat docks along with a multitudes of others in custom built docks which are a bus ride from town. The crew became quite ‘excited’ when we docked 2 hours early and we suggested we would walk the 3.5 kms into town. 19. There is little or no time to wander off. The ship docks, everyone piles onto their buses for their excursion and upon their return the boat sails again. There is little time for your own exploring. 20. Very few onboard care about maximising their time in each port and are happy to achieve one attraction per stop or alternatively settle for a drive around the town that takes in most highlights as viewed through a tour bus window before returning to the ship. We quickly learned to avoid these rest-home styled outings. 21. There is WIFI onboard which works some of the time but slowly. Any travel sites that would be helpful to plan your own excursion the following day when the schedule is suddenly changed are blocked. 22. By and large the excursions and port stops are in heavily touristed towns and villages full of other tour groups, tourists, souvenir shops and tourist traps. 23. Marketing warns you that from time to time you will be docked alongside another boat which you will walk over or through to get to the dock. I didn’t stop to think that this would also mean we could not use our balcony and had to close our curtains for long periods of time as our room looked directly into another a metre away on the next boat and theirs into ours. 24. The limited numbers, behind the scenes excursion to The Vienna Riding School turned out to be a tour bus full of fellow travellers who were given the same tour that the public could buy. We were the first to register our interest in tickets to a performance at the school and purchased the premium tickets that resulted in probably the worst seats in the theatre where you could not see much of the show. Given this was the main reason for choosing this itinerary and company, I was gutted. 25. You are on your own. Heading home, our evening flight to Zurich was cancelled three hours after we were due to depart. Scenic advised us to deal directly with Swiss Air who gave us a bottle of water and a bed directly on the marble floor of the Budapest Airport departure hall where there are no shops or vending machines to buy food and drinks In summary, the boat is better than most we saw on the river and there are masses of them. The staff are fabulous, fun, and professional. However, river cruising in Europe has become crowded and become a formula type holiday, one step up from a bus tour. It certainly delivered a different reality that the perception created by marketing. I don’t think I am old enough to appreciate the style of travel that European River cruising offers and need a lot more from my vacations and I certainly do not expect to be sleeping on old marble airport floors. Won’t be trying river cruising again anytime soon. Hugely disappointing with a traumatising finale. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2017
The advertising was very appealing, but what a disappointment. We have been on two ocean cruises and thought that a smaller number of guests (160 v 2,800 or so) on a river cruise would mean smaller crowds on board. A poor start when ... Read More
The advertising was very appealing, but what a disappointment. We have been on two ocean cruises and thought that a smaller number of guests (160 v 2,800 or so) on a river cruise would mean smaller crowds on board. A poor start when we were not met at the airport by the Scenic person. There were large signs for Avalon and Viking, but not for Scenic. Eventually, a lady turned up, after a wait and some worrying on our behalf. The opposite occurred regarding our crowding expectation. With only one bar/ lounge and two dining rooms (Scenic claims a third, but its a table in the main dining room) and a rooftop area that is off limits a lot of the time due to bridges, we found we were always in a crowd. The other travellers were very nice. The food was fine, the drinks plentiful. The scenery was great, as were the locations from Budapest to Amsterdam. The cycling was a personal highlight! Most of our time was on a tight schedule, which was not relaxing. The excursions left little time for our own exploring. There was an evening update of the activities for the following day - the Tour Director's routine/ patter became tiresome - following this we were off to dinner, where you could not book a table in advance. Much better on the big ships! The entertainment, such as it was, was OK, but not a patch on the big ocean going ships. Again, the small bar/lounge area meant it was a big crowd when most people turned up for a show. Our room , on the Diamond Deck, was very small and the balcony was not private; we could hear what our neighbours were saying or doing. The shower controller fell off and the window could only be closed if I physically assisted by pushing it up as well as using the control. The maintenance man fixed it once but it quickly failed again. He fixed the shower and it was OK for the rest of the trip. On balance, we would not recommend a river cruise with Scenic. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Scenic was highly recommended by our travel agent. We found it less than remarkable. Misrepresentations included the role of the so called "butler" - we never saw or heard from him, and nightly local entertainment on board - ... Read More
Scenic was highly recommended by our travel agent. We found it less than remarkable. Misrepresentations included the role of the so called "butler" - we never saw or heard from him, and nightly local entertainment on board - there were two such events, including the "Crew Show". The on-board entertainment that was provided (piano player/singer) was stale and off-key. It is difficult to say which was worse, the food or the on-board dining room service. Both were bad. Our best meal was a dinner at a hotel in Budapest before we joined the cruise. We have better coffee at home. The ship was comfortable. However, the shower in our room was uncomfortably small. The view from our balcony was awesome when we were able to use it, which was not often as the ship was bolted to another ship virtually every afternoon, night and morning. Excursions were rushed and schedules inflexible. Scenic is not responsible for rising water on the river and the subsequent inability to reach intended ports.(We reached our day #6 port on Day #8 and disembarked from there). However, Scenic could have done a MUCH better job adjusting land trips so that guests were not on a coach for 7 hours for a 1 hour city tour. Find a closer venue. Leave earlier so that there is more time at the venue. I would not sail on Scenic again, certainly not before trying some of the others out there. We could have done better on our own, spending a handful of days in Budapest, Vienna and Prague. Our next trip will be un-escorted. Read Less
Scenic Pearl Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 2.0 0.0
Public Rooms 5.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 0.0
Family 1.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 2.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 5.0 N/A

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