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.