We’ve taken eight or nine ocean cruises but because this would be our first river cruise I spent quite a bit of time researching cruise lines to find what I thought would be our best choice. I looked at six or seven companies and ... Read More
We’ve taken eight or nine ocean cruises but because this would be our first river cruise I spent quite a bit of time researching cruise lines to find what I thought would be our best choice. I looked at six or seven companies and compared prices & inclusions and decided that while Scenic certainly wasn’t the least expensive it looked like it offered the best value. I checked on their ships as well and decided I liked their newer ships better so I targeted the Opel or the Jasper. In the end I kept asking myself will this trip really be worth the money we’re spending? Yes indeed!
We spent two days in Budapest before boarding and enjoyed the services of a wonderful private guide. After that kind of pampering I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about sharing space and services with 160 other guests. Again my worries were unfounded. From the time we boarded the ship until we disembarked in Amsterdam, the entire staff went out of their way to pamper us and fulfill any request we had. I can’t say enough about the great people who took such good care of us. The cabin attendant, our butler, the wait staff, the bartenders, everyone was just wonderful.
We had a standard balcony cabin on the middle deck. While not spacious it had more than enough space for us. Storage was ample and the bathroom was very modern and spotless. We knew we would enjoy the Sun Lounge balcony but we discovered many little touches that we hadn’t imagined. Our cabin attendant was never underfoot yet she had everything in order every time we returned.
Food on board was very good. Breakfast and lunch buffets offered lots of variety and there were always a few different options from the galley if you wanted something extra. I came to look forward to the wonderful variety of salads on the lunch buffet and rarely ordered anything extra from the galley. In the evening there was a selection of appetizers, salads/soups, entrees and desserts to choose from. Of course there was always an assortment of nice wines at lunch and dinner as well. We especially enjoyed our night at Portobello’s. Be sure you don’t miss that.
We were ‘regulars’ at the bar in the lounge and it only took a day or two for the staff to know what we were probably going to order. Scenic’s all included policy was greatly appreciated, especially on those beautiful sailing days when we perched on the top deck with a nice glass of wine in hand and a waiter checking on us. It didn’t take long to know that our decision to sail with Scenic was the right choice.
The on-board entertainment was another nice surprise. I wasn’t so sure about a few of the entertainers but they proved me wrong. The dancers, the polka band, the sand artist and the string quartet were probably my favorites but all of the performers were very good. There were lots of entertainment options on the TV/Internet set-up in the cabin too but we never had time for any of that other than a quick look at the CNN each morning before breakfast. Having the Internet connection in the cabin made checking e-mail quick and easy.
Shore excursions were another highlight. Prior to departure we selected the ‘Hospital in the Rock’ tour in Budapest. In Vienna we visited Schonbrunn Palace and in Cologne, the walking tour. All the other selections were made once on board after the cruise director explained the various options. We loved the big cities but I think the smaller towns and villages were better. Coming from the US we just don’t have the same sense of history that Europe enjoys. Those little medieval towns really spoke to us. Another fun outing was the bike ride between Durnstein and Melk. It’s about an 18 or 19 mile ride but if you’re not sure about your stamina, the electric assist bikes will do most of the work for you. Along the way here were a few stops including one halfway to Melk for a cold beer or an ice cream. We managed to pedal the entire way while many others reported they used the assist much of the time. Looking at the whole trip we felt there was a good mix of time spent on excursions and time spent on board sailing and sight-seeing on the rivers.
Everything considered, we felt Scenic provided an excellent experience. The Jasper is a beautiful ship that feels very luxurious and spacious. The staff on board went out of their way at every turn to provide the best service possible and always with a smile. We could find nothing to complain about and every detail was handled to perfection. I feel you can expect the best if you plan a river cruise with Scenic aboard the Jasper. Read Less