Scenic Pearl Cruise Review by Tridhos
- Sail Date: August 2016
- Destination: Europe River
Monday 15th Joined the cruise in Basel, Scenic provide phone numbers and email addresses of your ship which in our case was the Scenic Pearl launched in 2011 (no swimming pool yet) so the day before you can send them an email and ask where they are berthed. The taxi ride from the central station in Basel to their berthing point cost just under 36 Swiss Francs.
You have barely time to get out of the taxi before the Scenic crew pounce on your luggage and whisk it away to your cabin. No hassle once on board they sit you down in the lounge give you a cool drink and a refreshing towel and after a while ask for your passports which you retrieve the following day. Then you get your room entry cards and are shown to your cabin.
At 19:15 you get the welcome and safety briefing and are introduced to the Captain, Hotel Manager and Cruise Director. The cruise director this time was a young lady from Romania by the name of Andreea. I don’t know where Scenic get their cruise directors from but I suspect they have a secret factory where they cast the moulds and break it after each one. As with the previous three Scenic cruise directors, always available, helpful and popping up even on the excursions to give you some helpful information. Once again full marks to a fantastic cruise director.
The first night is a buffet dinner with the usual free flow wine.
22:00 All aboard and ship departs for Breisach Germany.
Breakfast started at 06:30 and there was even a late riser breakfast up until 10:00. for those not going off the ship on excursions (nobody gets forced to go anywhere). The usual wide and varied choice, a great egg station manned by a young Indonesian who managed to remain cheerful throughout the voyage despite having to get up early every morning and do perfect eggs and omelettes for everyone. In addition there was a menu on the table where additional items could be requested such as Eggs Benedict.
The usual buffet lunch choice in the Crystal dining room consisted of three main courses one of which was always vegetarian but often I skipped the main course as the buffet had such a wide and varied selection. For the next two weeks you can forget your diet and the weighing scales, you are going to put on weight. A light lunch option is also available in the River Café but you can forget about that if you think it’s going to control your weight as it’s far too near the pastry and snacks counter.
Tuesday 16th Scenic Free Choices included the Black Forest and Colmar also a bike tour Breisach to Colmar. We opted for the pretty village of Colmar one of those small attractive French towns with Petra as our guide.
14:00 All aboard and we sail to Kehl
15:00 Mandatory safety drill.
16:30 Daily port talk with Andreea (earlier today) which usually takes place on a daily basis just before you go into dinner around 19:00 and gives you an explanation of the entertainment on board and the upcoming daily excursions.
18:45 Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Reception followed by the Captain’s Welcome Gala dinner
Wednesday 17th Scenic Free Choices: included Mittlelbergheim in the Alsace Wine Region, Strasbourg and shopping with the chef. If you have never been to Strasbourg then that is a must, so picturesque but since we did that last year we opted for the visit to the Alsace Wine region where we had a great introduction to Alsace wine from Pierre Albert of Seltz albert-seltz.com/ who has his own winery and was not only very knowledgeable but also very entertaining, well worth a visit if you are a wine lover.
16:30 All aboard Scenic Pearl sails to Gambsheim arriving 19:00
19:45 Private concert at Rastatt Palce. Reception drinks, Tour of palace followed by a very enjoyable concert.
23:45 All aboard Scenic Pearl sails to Mannheim arrives next morning.
Thursday 18th Scenic Free choices: Heidelberg & Castle Tour, Sweet Tastes of Heidelberg Tour and Hockenheim Formula 1 Tour. Many times you will have difficulty deciding which of these tours to go on as you can only choose one. We choose the Heidelberg and Castle Tour even though we had done it previously and we got the same entertaining guide Klauss who looks a bit like Albert Einstein. Heidelberg is another of those picturesque places which is a must, your camera will be in overdrive so many fantastic views.
14:00 All aboard Scenic Pearl sails to Rudesheim arriving 19:30.
19:30 Barbeque dinner on the sundeck, not something I look forward to, I prefer the more relaxed dining in the Crystal dining room but I gather its popular with the Australians customers. However plenty to eat and drink and as usual very tasty.
Friday 19th Scenic Free choices on the Guided Tour of Siegfried’s Musikkabinett and a cable car ride across the vineyards to up to the Germania monument. Some give this a miss as they are afraid of heights and so am I but this is no great deal the cable cars are not that far above ground level and if you miss this you will miss some of the most spectacular views on this tour. I have been there three times and never tire of seeing these views. Rudesheim is another charming little town which you will love, loads of bars, restaurants, souvenir shops and the ship within easy within easy walking distance although Scenic does have a mini train transfer both ways
14:00 All aboard Scenic Pearl sails to Koblenz through the Rhine Gorge. Book your place early on the sun deck for this journey though some of the most stunning scenery on this trip as the Scenic staff makes sure you enjoy it along with your favourite drinks.
18:00 Scenic Pearl arrives in Koblenz this is just a brief stop before you enter the Moselle River so you have just enough time after dinner to walk around before the ships departs for Cochem at 23:00 but on your return from the Moselle there is a longer stop and tour of Koblenz.
Saturday 20th 07:00 Scenic Pearl arrives in Cochem. Scenic Free choices on the 20th Guided walking tour of Cochem and visit to the Reichsburg Castle. There will be mini buses to take you up to the castle where you get another informative and entertaining tour of the castle conducted by the curator who was a Dutchman. Cochem is another of those places you will want to return to, whichever way you turn all you can say is wow like so many other places on this cruise. Plenty of free time in Cochem as The Pearl sails for Bernkastel at 09:00 the following day.
Sunday 21st Time to relax today with the Scenic Pearl sailing the beautiful Moselle Valley. This was the part I enjoyed the most I just wish we did not have to sail so much during the night but to cover the distance and the 48 locks apparently that is a must.
15:30 Scenic Pearl makes a technical stop to allow all bike riders to disembark and pedal the 25km from Traben Trabach to Bernkastel while us less active ones enjoyed the views from the sun deck with a nice glass of wine as we covered the same distance.
18:30 Scenic Pearl Arrives in Bernkastel.
Monday 22nd Scenic Free choices, Luxembourg City tour, Bernkastel Walking Tour and Trier City Tour, I wish I could have done all three but ended up in Luxemburg where we had an interesting tour of the old city and a bus drive through their financial centre where they seem to have banks as far as the eye can see, thankfully outside the old part of the city which has been preserved.
21:00 All aboard as we sail back along the Moselle River to our next stop at Koblenz. I personally could have spent the whole two weeks just sailing along the Moselle and it’s a shame that we spent so little time there and did a lot of the sailing at night. I hope one day Scenic just has a Moselle river cruise I gather the ship can travel as far as France along the Moselle but the guide in Koblenz said that after Luxemburg it gets a bit industrial and is not very scenic.
Monday 23rd 12:00 Scenic Pearl arrives in Koblenz
Walking Tour of Koblenz second time for us and we choose the same guide Elmar who was just as entertaining and interesting as last time. Then it was the cable car ride to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress probably not something for those who don’t like heights which I don’t but having done it once before it was worth it, not just to see this magnificent fortress but also for the view over Koblenz and the confluence of the Moselle River as it flows into the Rhine. Here we also had the Scenic Sundowners drinks and snacks. I have to say here that this time the catering was not as good as last years and at one stage they even suggested we pay for a second drink until the ever present cruise director Andreea stepped in.
22:00 All aboard Scenic Pearl sails for Duisburg.
Wednesday 24th 08:00 Scenic Pearl arrives in Duisburg.
Scenic Free Choices included a visit to the Zollverein Coal Mines Site tour, a former coal mine which has now been turned into a museum and is an UNESCO World Heritage site.
Most people choose a walking tour of the charming village of Xanten followed by a Duisburg Brewery visit I guess that says a lot about all of us that we were more interested in the brewery than the industrial past of the Rhur area of Germany.
13:00 Scenic Pearl sails for Maastricht (Netherlands)
Thursday 25th 10:00 Scenic Pearl arrives in Maastricht.
Maastricht walking tour another picturesque small town this time in the Netherlands and of course Scenic provide another informative and entertaining guide for the walk.
22:00 All aboard Scenic Pearl sails to Nijmegen.
Friday 26th 13:00 Scenic Pearl arrives in Nijmegen
Scenic Free Choices included a Guided biking Tour of Nijmegen. A Guided Walking tour of Nijmegen or a visit to the Arnhem Airborne Museum. We opted for the walking tour, I didn’t think that Nijmegen was as interesting or as picturesque as Maastricht.
19:00 All aboard Scenic Pearl sails to Veere.
Saturday 27th 12:00 Scenic Pearl arrives in Veere.
13:00 Scenic Free Choices included a Delta works visit a Guided biking Tour of Veere a Guided walking Tour of Veere. We choose the Delta works which is the Dutch flood defences on the North Sea another must see, an engineering marvel. This was followed later that evening by a choice of dining out at one of three restaurants. Our choice was the Westkaap built on a dyke overlooking the North Sea. The food was average but the restaurant given that it was already a hot day was like a sauna.
21:30 All aboard Scenic Pearl departs for Antwerp.
Sunday 28th 09:00 Scenic Pearl departs arrives in Antwerp.
09:00 Scenic Free Choices included Bruges Excursion or a Guided walking tour of Antwerp. Bruges is the Dutch equivalent of Heidelberg or Strasbourg your camera will have a busy time in Bruges. Your free time is spent visiting the chocolate shops recommended by your tour guide who steers you away from the mass produced stuff to the genuine Belgium chocolate. Don’t miss a visit to Bruges.
16:00 All aboard Scenic Pearl departs for Amsterdam.
18:45 Captain’s Farewell Cocktail Reception.
19:00 Captain’s Farewell Gala dinner
Monday 29th When you wake up the Scenic Pearl will already be docked in Amsterdam, disembarkation.
Please note the arrival times are approximate but it seemed to be the case we were always ahead of time arriving.
Once again a superb crew, the hotel manager Miguel remarked at the farewell dinner it consisted of over 20 nationalities who all managed to work together with no problems. Nothing was too much trouble and while you were getting this service you were usually sailing along often trying to eat the next meal or enjoying drinks, snacks etc and the most wonderful sights slipping past the windows.
Portobello restaurant is of course wonderful not only for the food and wine but for the people you sit alongside and meet a wonderful experience every time.
A similar experience with Table La Rive although more for the variety of wine with that particular dinner.
I haven’t said that much about the evening’s entertainment as usually after dinner all I wanted to do was retire to my cabin and relax. However each evening and sometimes during the day there was something going on in the River Café with an entertainment group or a demonstration or quiz and of course late night snacks and free flow drinks.
Each day chocolates and small snacks are left in your cabin often untouched along with the mini bar, I think at most we used less than a handful of bottles having had sufficient to drink during with the meals or even the occasional afternoon drink in the river café. However I do miss the bar of chocolate which they used to have in the fridge but perhaps it’s just as well they took it away and provided something lighter with not so much chocolate.
The cabin slippers you are allowed to take with you but this year they have replaced the white slippers with black ones and for some reason these do nothing but leave a trail of black fluff so I hope they go back to the white slippers. Also the soap seemed to be in short supply we were given one small bar for the whole cruise and also had to request extra shower gel. However the bathroom which for a junior suite also includes a bath is well equipped with an excellent shower, hairdryer and toiletries.
The cabin gets cleaned and made up twice a day and with an allowance of 4 garments a day for ironing and a kg of free laundry per cruise (this for the junior suite). When I left anything for ironing it was usually back by 5 p.m. the same day.
My favourite meals: the buffet breakfast and lunch where the choice was wide and varied along with a wonderful young man who did the best omelettes and eggs you could wish for.
For me the highlight of the tour was the Moselle if only that could be a lot longer I think that journey along with the Rhine Gorge must be the most wonderful in all of Europe.
We took our first river cruise in 2014 Amsterdam to Budapest with Scenic who were more an accidental choice given that the previous couple of river cruise companies I tried were full. This cruise was our fourth with Scenic and before even setting foot on board for this one I had already booked my Douro river cruise with Scenic for 2017 and I am currently working on plans for Bordeaux in 2018 but cannot book that until next March.
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