Our second river cruise and also with Scenic. This time on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel rather that the Danube. We have also done river cruises on the Mississippi, the Amazon and the St Lawrence as well as 20 ocean cruises
However although we enjoyed our cruise overall I am not convinced that river cruising in Europe is about style over substance and because of that it was over 6 years since our cruise on the Danube.
To start the pre-cruise administration lacks a lot of detail such as when you are going to be in a port/location and how long you will be there which means you can't really organise your visits particularly if there are things you want to see or do in a particular town or stop. Also information on all tours is not available until aboard ship. Yes tours may be included and a highlight of your itinerary but I like to plan my shore time.
On board service is mixed with some very helpful and efficient staff with others just doing a job albeit diligently. It was most annoying to find that on our last full day the complimentary ironing service was not available and that bath robes had been removed - presumably to prepare for the next cruise - and without any notice. After all we had paid for the full cruise!
The Jasper has three restaurants/cafes and a fourth if you count Table la Rive (only available by invitation) but the food is of variable quality and quantity. The evening a la carte menu had some of the smallest plate portions I have ever seen - mushroom tempura being one small mushroom on a bed of puree!? The food could also be warmer and there are no choices of side vegetables although there are some standard off-menu items available. Portobellos is an Italian restaurant available to all but is more theatre than culinary with the waiters all claiming to be from Italy and the food being pretty standard Italian fayre. White and Rose wines in the restaurants are not always cold enough. As wine is served throughout the restaurant by the glass the bottles are not returned to the fridge/ice bucket while waiting for someone else to request that wine.
Breakfast and lunch are buffet style and here again the food could be warmer. Until I complained the plates were also cold although plate warmers were available but not switched on. At breakfast there was only one egg/omelette station sometimes resulting in long queues although the chef was very efficient and kept calm under pressure.
Entertainment on board is low key with a permanent singer/keyboard player most nights supplemented by guest performers, sometimes if cruising during the afternoon. Unfortunately our musician, Enzo, was very poor. The guest Irish folk singer(Norman?) was very good and the crew band were also good.
Tours were reasonable with app hearing devices which were good but sometime the guides were not very informative other than of what they wished to talk about e.g. no mention of free town tour trains or other city highlights. Also we visited Strasbourg on a Sunday when just about everything was closed yet we were taken ashore at 8.30am. The actual guided tour lasted just over 1 hour and we were then left 2 hours free time in a deserted Strasbourg.
To be balanced there are however a number of good aspects: spacious (unlike standard suites) Junior Suites with Scenic Sun Lounge, free mini-bar, butler service, leisurely cruising, ship berthing close to most city centres. Also the tours app could be used along the river to point out and narrate points of interest. Darinka our Cruise Director was always available and tried to be helpful but she did seem to treat us as schoolchildren and tended to use 10 words when one would do.
The cruise along the Rhine was interesting but apart from the section of the gorge where all the castles are it is not overall as scenic as the Danube.
In conclusion although Scenic and other river cruise lines claim to provide 5* luxury and gourmet dining with flexible itineraries that give you the freedom to pick and choose how you spend your time ashore I remain unconvinced and don't think they live up to those claims.
The cabin was quite spacious with a separate sitting area and the Scenic Sun Lounge which adds to the overall room space and can beciome on open-air balcony at the flick of a switch. There was also a generous shower room/toilet and sufficient cupboard space albeit with a strange over-lapping wardrobe door arrangement.
The bed was comfortable and the room kept clean with Butler service available if needed.
The mini-bar was regularly stocked as were the 'nibbles' available and canapes were also available on order.
My wife and I were the only ones who turned-up so we had in fact a private guided tour with a very knowledgeable guide.
Not alot to see and the roman baths are most underwhelming. This is a gruitous town for being seen in and to people watch.
Very good young and funny guide taking in the impressive castle and the lovely old town.
Disappointing tour that walked us to Le Petite France pointing out interesting sights on route but then after an hour or so left us in Le Petite France with 2 hours free time - too much! Also it was a Sunday so most shops and attractions were closed and little information from guide on alternative things to do/see.