Having done two previous cruises with Scenic and a Christmas market cruise with their sister company Emerald, I was really looking forward to this cruise. What a disappointment!!
While I would consider another cruise with Scenic, I do not recommend their Rhine Christmas Market cruise.
1. No on-board Christmas/holiday ambiance. Meager decorations that included a couple of decorated trees and a few snowflake cutouts on the windows. No lights, no special food, no holiday music, special afternoon Christmas tea.
2. Poor entertainment. During the entire cruise during the day there were only two poorly presented talks by the cruise director. After the first long afternoon onboard with no activities or entertainment, I asked the cruise director about this lack. She seemed baffled by the question. I listed the daytimes activities on the Emerald Christmas Market cruise and she informed me that Scenic is a higher end cruise and they don't have activities or entertainment during the day so that "guests can enjoy the ship". There is a small gym and a salt room with three loungers. Other than that I guess you entertain yourself with chatting with other guests, looking out the window, napping, reading, using the internet or taking advantage of the open bar.
Quoting the Daily Program, the evening entertainment consisted of:
Two nights there was only "Live music with our on-board musician Enzo" (keyboard);
Three nights of classical music
One night "Norman and his guitar"; and a "Disco night".
3. Poor docking locations. While the docking locations may be determined by the harbor master, the locations can negatively impact the trip.
Docking for Basel, Strasbourg and Heidelberg was in industrial areas where it was impossible to get off the ship to do anything on your own.
Docking for Baden Baden was in a rural area with only a few houses nearby.
Docking for Rudesheim was about 3/4 of mile from the town in a more rural area
and we docked after dark. We walked past a couple of empty berths on our way into
town where we made a loop through the small town. My Fitbit showed that the walk from the ship and back was 5,500 steps.
Depending on your tour choice, there are bus rides of over an hour each way to get to the sights and Christmas markets.
4. There seemed to be a quite a few people on the cruise with mobility issues, and, at times, some people had difficulty with the amount of walking on the tours. For example, in Strasbourg, the walk back to the buses after the tour and free time, was about 1/2 mile. By the time the ship arrived in Heidelberg, better descriptions were given of the amount of walking required and the terrain. A "gentle walkers" group was added.
5. More time could have been spent in some towns. For morning visits, we were taken back to the ship by 13:00. In some places, it would have been nice to have the option for a later bus back to the ship even if we did miss lunch onboard.
On the positive side:
1. Our lower level cabin was fine with comfortable beds, robes, nice toiletries, a stocked mini bar, nightly turn down with chocolates. Our cabin attendant was friendly and kept the cabin spotless. We made requests to the butler for the complimentary laundry service and to get a pair of shoes cleaned. These requests were promptly taken care of.
2. The food was good.
3. The local guides in the towns and cities we visited were all good.
The ship docked in a rural area and the bus ride into Baden Baden was about 45-60 minutes each way. The bus dropped us off and picked us up in a central area. The guide led us along the river, through the Christmas market area for a view of the bathhouse and onto the Roman ruins. There was free time to look around and we bought a number of things in the local shops and enjoyed a sausage roll in the Christmas market area.
The ship docked in an industrial area and the bus ride to Heidelburg was about an hour each way. The ship offered several tours including one for gentle walkers. Having been to Heidelberg before, I opted to take the funicular from the center of town up past the castle to the top of the mountain. Great views.
Back in town, the local shops in the pedestrian area offer a lot of variety. I enjoyed a cappucino and a piece of cake in a local cafe and found the service to be good and the price reasonable.
The ship docked in an industrial area and a bus took us into Strasbourg. The trip was about 30 minutes long. To get into the historic area you have to go through a security checkpoint. Our guide was excellent. We walked through the lovely Petit France area with its half timbered buildings. A guided tour of the Cathredral was included. The town is beautifully decorated for Christmas.There was free time and we took the optional later bus back to the ship.
However, from the meeting point in the historic area to the bus was about a 1/2 mile walk. We were there after dark and were able to enjoy the wonderful holiday lights.View All 79 Le Petite France Reviews
The ship docked in a nice area in Koblenz. The coach ride to Cochem was about an hour each way but the scenery was very nice. The guide took us through the town pointing out the local sights. The town is hilly with lots of steps and half timbered buildings. We visited the interior of St. Martin Church. We were there on a Sunday but many of the shops were open. The Christmas market itself seems to mainly offer food.