Scenic Pearl Cruise Review by Paul F
- Sail Date: July 2018
- Destination: Europe River
As a preamble I should say we are comparing the Scenic offer with Seabourn which is a true 5 Star product. This was our first river cruise and I appreciate that many of the downsides identified are typical of the river cruise experience and not unique to Scenic.
First the good points
1 The staff were excellent and tried very hard. However due to the multi tasking required several promised facilities did not live up to the promise. How can your ‘butler’ be in attendance when she is waiting on tables. If the service cannot be efficiently delivered why offer?
2. The boat was very clean and tidy all the time
3. Our suite was fabulous. However looking in others they seemed small. I appreciate that small cabins are typical of most river cruise boats, not exclusive to Scenic
4. The excursions were very well organised. However on some occasions, such as in Vienna they started at 8.00am when they could very easily have started 1.00-1.50 hours later as we were in port to late evening. Consequently breakfast was served 6.30-8.00 which was not necessarily desired by those guests not participating in the tours.
5. The free laundry service is very useful
6. The unlimited drinks at any time is a generous facility and the quality of wine,spirits and champagne offered was good.
7. Good modern easily useable technology in the cabin and ample power points
8. Relaxed dress code.
9. Due to difficulties with low water levels making parts of the Danube unnavigable the cruise schedule had to be amended on several occasions. This was seamlessly managed by Scenic
1. Some aspects of the service did not live up to promises. For example whilst the mini bar was refreshed daily occasions the replacement champagne was left on the table not placed in the fridge. Dirty glasses were left on the desk for several days and half finished bottles of water were not refreshed. Three empty ice buckets accumulated on the small coffee table before being removed. In view of the excellent and hard working staff is this perhaps a reflection of poor management or being over worked?
2. Due to the size of the public areas at full occupancy they were not capable of accommodating all the passengers
3. The dinner is at a fixed time of 7.00 pm, which personally is to early for us on vacation. Whilst ‘open seating’ is advertised there are very limited tables for two. Whilst we are happy to dine with others we feel this should be at our discretion, not forced upon due to lack of alternative seating
4. Our particular boat (Scenic Pearl) could perhaps benefit from some additional bed chairs and deckchairs on deck. Observing other Scenic boats they appear to have more which are needed during sunny days.
5. Whilst understanding the need to dock boats side by side this is one feature in particular which will deter us from returning to river boats. If your boat is in the middle or your side abuts another boat it makes the cabin and common areas very dark as blinds and curtains are drawn for privacy. Not sure if multiple docking is essential or an economic benefit as I noted that in several locations boats were not multiply docked.
6. Being something of a foodie the food was perhaps the biggest disappointment. The buffet selections at breakfast and lunch were limited and fell well below 5 star standards. In the heart of the summer we would at least expect strawberries, raspberries, blueberries etc. The menu selection for dinner was also limited and only of average standard. Recognising the 5 star boast if a limited selection is offered it has to be of excellent quality which unfortunately it was not. At ‘Late Breakfast’ in Portobello one morning I was served my fruit and yogurt after cold poached eggs. Not acceptable.
7. The restaurant times seemed to be arranged at the convenience of the staff not the guests. In addition if a sitting ended at say 9.00am the food was cleared away by 9.05. Not very client friendly or conducive to guests who arrive at 8.55
Due to the downsides identified above we have concluded that river cruises are not for us. Potentially Scenic has a great product which on our cruise was let down by attention to detail and generally disappointing food.
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