You can really judge a company by the way they handle a difficult situation. My experience, and others, on this trip was that Scenic handled this absolutely terribly and conducted the tour at the most cheapest cost possible to themselves. They didn’t deliver a luxury experience, even though they still had the opportunity and facilities to do so, instead they provided terrible service with really cheap food (often buffets) and really cheap wine. I thought after their 16 million dollar class action case they lost last year that they would have improved their service, but they have obviously learnt nothing from past mistakes.
We were advised by email on 19th October (5 days before our cruise, and we were already in Europe) that we would have to do land arrangements for four nights before joining the Scenic Jewel (instead of Scenic Opal) in Regensburg on 28th October. We were not advised of an option to cancel the tour.
We were then emailed on 22nd October advising which hotels we would be staying at. Still no option to cancel.
On the 24th October in Budapest we met our Tour Director, and was given an update on the trip. At that stage we found out that there were 109 people booked for this cruise but only 65 showed up in Budapest and 44 people cancelled and didn’t travel. After speaking with people on the tour we found out that scenic contacted some people before they left Australia and gave them an option to cancel, and didn’t bother to contact other passengers at all (including us, except for an email advising a change to the itinerary, but not advising any option to cancel). We were informed that the river was the lowest in over 100 years by the tour director, so obviously scenic knew well in advance that this trip was going to be affected and yet we were not advised. Looking at reviews of previous scenic passengers that cruised this itinerary this year, there were many disruptions, so scenic should have advised us well before we left Australia and given us an option to cancel like they did for only select passengers.
We totally understand that scenic can not help the water levels being so low that they can’t operate the cruise at certain sections of the river, however, they knew the river conditions well in advance of the cruise as they’d had problems all summer. They should have given everyone, not just a select few, the option the cancel before leaving Australia. I wonder if they went ahead with this cruise because they had a travel agent famil group booked on this cruise?
I telephoned and emailed Scenic in Australia from Budapest, after our tour briefing, however they were not of any help at all and just gave a generic reply to claim for compensation when we return home.
Rather than going into a long letter, I’ve itemised below the terrible experience that we had from Scenic considering that Scenic has advertised this “Luxury River Cruise” as an all inclusive (spirits, wines, soft drinks, tea, coffee and mini bar), with anytime dining.
- we were advised in writing by the tour director that we were allowed up to two glasses of wine, beer or soft drink with dinner and one glass with lunch during the first four days of our trip which was conducted by land (hotels and buses)
- Even though scenic had the access to provide spirits, wine, coffee, tea, afternoon tea...etc at the hotels we were staying at, scenic would not include this for us and we were told we would have to pay for these ourselves.
- The quality of the buffet food and wine we received at the hotels was of a very poor quality. The food was like something you’d get at an RSL club and the wines were really cheap and nasty. We stayed at very nice hotels, but received the cheapest quality of food and wine.
- We finally boarded the scenic jewel in Regensburg, on 28th October.
- We were onboard the ship for 10 nights. During this time, there was no anytime dining in the crystal dining room (as advertised by scenic) instead we were restricted to sometimes late dining times and the waiters were always in a hurry to get us fed and out of the restaurant.
- Portobellos was only open 2 nights out of the 10! Why??
- For 8 out of 10 nights on the cruise there was only one dining option, and that was a fixed time, which is totally opposite to what scenic advertise.
- There was absolutely no drinks or food service on the top deck during the entire cruise, which is completely the opposite experience of friends who have done this cruise before. I know there was part of the cruise when the top deck was closed when going under bridges, but we received no service there at all the entire cruise. Even when we docked in Amsterdam, we saw Viking and Avalon ships beside us serving their passengers drinks and food on their top decks.....our ship was completely dead in atmosphere and service.
- The food quality on the ship was very “hit and miss”. Sometimes the food was very nice, other days they food was just terrible and quite often cold.
- The cakes in the river cafe were a generic shop bought cake that was often stale by being cut and left in the display cabinet.
- We were never offered a packed picnic lunch, as advertised by scenic, if we didn’t want to do an organised tour and just do our own sightseeing.
- The entertainment onboard the ship was really amateur and something you’d expect on a budget cruise, not a luxury cruise.
Well appointed cabin with a great en-suite bathroom.
Good selection of movies
Good size cabin with balcony that can either be open or enclosed.
Mini bar with snacks (unfortunately the wine is really cheap and nasty)
Comfy slippers and robe