Scenic Tsar Cruise Review by RobertCook
- Sail Date: June 2019
- Destination: Europe
We elected to go to Russia more through curiosity. A river cruise seemed the best option and after reviewing the different companies and taking feedback we selected Scenic. We were not disappointed. We arrived a day early and spent the afternoon at our own pace wandering around downtown Moscow but trying to avoid sights we would visit as part of the tour. The ship was much smaller than the competition offerings however this is to your advantage. We had a comfortable 99 passengers on board rather than the 200 plus offered by others. The smaller number gave you a greater advantage to meet most of your fellow travelers and with fewer passengers there is less chance of illnesses being spread. Unlike other Scenic cruises the complimentary mini bar and unlimited alcohol was prohibited under Russian law. As such, the mini bar was empty and complimentary alcohol was only served at lunch and dinner. To me, the mini bar could have been stocked with some soft drinks but this wasn't the case. The dining experience was excellent. If you are considering a river cruise I suggest dieting for several weeks before commencing. The dining room staff were fabulous. Two criticisms here. The first is the lack of a decent coffee. Yes, they had a machine but the coffee was only warm, not hot. For the price of the cruise one would think Scenic would have a barrister on board to make a real coffee for the guests. Most people complained about the coffee. The second is the lack of cakes/slices for morning/afteroon tea. The Europeans make some fabulous slices however our daily servings in this regard were just small shortbread biscuits. I should add though, for Aussies, they do have vegemite on board but no weetbix. The Russian cornflakes are actually very nice - Kelloggs haven't yet arrived. The entertainment was excellent with impromtu guest concerts, vodka tasting, cooking classes, doll painting and ice cream parties. The port calls and shore excursions were well thought out. Service overall was excellent. The Senior Cruise Director was a lovely Russian lady named Svetlana and we were lucky enough to be part of her team on shore excursions. She was fantastic and an absolute asset to Scenic. She had two assistants, Lena and Elena. Lena was also excellent and has the ability to be a Svetlana. Elena not so and lacked communication skills. The main cities visited were Moscow and St. Petersburg. There is lots to do in both cities. If you are considering such a cruise, firstly I recommend starting in Moscow. Secondly, book and extra day in both cities to give yourself some "me" time to wander round at your own leisure, look in the shops and visit other attractions not included in the overall trip.
RobertCook’s Full Rating Summary
The cabin was tight but adequate after all, you are only there to sleep. The balcony was of ample size, fully covered and a great place to string a clothes line. With the benefit of hindsight the balcony could have been a bit smaller and more space added to the room and bathroom. The only other criticism of the room was the hanging space in the wardrobe. It lacked depth and was wide enough only for the coat hanger and clothing was subsequently squeezed in. No tea/coffee making facility.