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130 Scenic River Cruise Reviews

Having experienced the amazing service of Scenic on an Amsterdam to Budapest cruise we were happy to entrust our next holiday to them. We understood that river cruising in Russia was going to be different from Europe and planned for it. ... Read More
Having experienced the amazing service of Scenic on an Amsterdam to Budapest cruise we were happy to entrust our next holiday to them. We understood that river cruising in Russia was going to be different from Europe and planned for it. We were met at the airport by one of the lovely tour guides who saw us into a lovely BMW that speedily transferred us to the ship. First the Ship - Scenic Tsar is a lovely ship. We had a cabin on the middle deck about half way along the ship. The cabin was not huge but it was very well organised with adequate storage for our gear. The only negative was the tiny shower - fine for us but I imagine it would be a struggle for bigger folk. The private balcony was a bonus as it gave us a place to sit in our cabin that was not our 'bedroom'. It was wide and very spacious - perfect for an afternoon wine or a morning cuppa. It was also big enough to hang out the 'smalls' we hand washed each evening without them intruding on our relaxation space. Meals without exception were excellent. I am coeliac so eating gluten free was essential for me. The staff it the dining room and the lounge knew after the first day and always brought me appropriate substitutes. Even at the self-serve tea/coffee station which had a small selection of sweet treats, I only had to ask and I was brought some gluten free treats. Free flowing wine and beer was served with all on board lunches and dinners. It was of a good quality and we found that we could always leave the dining room with a full glass to relax in the lounge or on the top deck if we so wished. We had $200 on board credit that we thought we'd use easily for extra drinks but found we actually spent the last couple of days working out how we cold use as, whilst the brochures all say drinks with meals only, there were lots of 'special occasions' where drinks were served before dinner. Evening entertainment whilst cruising was limited but enjoyable. In both Moscow and St Petersburg we enjoyed evenings out like Moscow Circus, choir recitals in and art gallery, ballet, evening cruises and on the ship we were entertained by a pianist each night, opera singers another night, a vodka tasting, piano recitals by one of the talented guides, and a few other fun activities that involved both crew and passengers. We found that as we had been so busy during the days, often with early starts that we weren't up for late nights of carousing anyway. We did enjoy warmly rugging up and taking a glass of wine for a stroll on the top deck after diner to watch the sun slowly sink to the horizon. The shore excursions were all amazing - interesting, insightful and some amazing places. Our guides were friendly, knowledgeable and open to absolutely any questions we wanted to ask. We finished our trip in St Petersburg and pretty much had a free day on the last day. We had to be out of our cabins by 9am but were welcome to enjoy explore on our own or relax in the lounge or top deck facilities until our afternoon transfer to the airport - we did a bit of both. Would we do it again? Absolutely. I would love to return to Russia and because the tour was so richly intense, a repeat trip would still be most enjoyable. Would I do it again with Scenic? A resounding yes! We are in fact now planning our next trip with Scenic for 2017. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
First of all I should mention that we had awful weather - cold and wet - and this obviously affected my enjoyment of the cruise. We were new to river cruising and I am glad that we chose a shorter cruise as our intro. There were no onboard ... Read More
First of all I should mention that we had awful weather - cold and wet - and this obviously affected my enjoyment of the cruise. We were new to river cruising and I am glad that we chose a shorter cruise as our intro. There were no onboard activities apart from a quiz one evening. Scenic cater for the more mature traveller and we found that the tours were not active enough. For example the best day weather wise was Salzburg but there were two stops on the way there so having done the walking city tour - one hour - and had lunch, there was only 45 minutes of free time. Regarding the ship itself, the restaurant and bar area were very cold - I was in layers the whole time. If you feel the cold take plenty of sweaters and shawls to put over evening wear. People didn't seem to dress up as much as they do on ocean cruises. There are also 68 locks to navigate if you take the whole trip to Amsterdam so nights are noisy - take earplugs. We dined in Portobello which is just a glassed off area at the front of the bar and also Table la Rive which is just a table for twelve at the far end of the restaurant - both meals were good. The standard of food overall was good with plenty of choice although the buffet dinner on the first night was a bit of a scrum. There were some interesting towns along the way - its worth walking around Regensburg because if you choose the Weltenburg abbey trip you won't see the town at all. I would have liked to explore Passau but as soon as we came back from the tour of Salzburg we sailed off - there did seem to be a rush to get to the next lock - presumably to avoid queueing. The sun deck was closed off most of the trip because the river was high and bridges low. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I'm not a review writer, and this is my first but I feel compelled to do so to share our Scenic experience. As part of a wider European vacation we booked a 14 days Gems of Europe river cruise with Scenic with Prague extension. ... Read More
I'm not a review writer, and this is my first but I feel compelled to do so to share our Scenic experience. As part of a wider European vacation we booked a 14 days Gems of Europe river cruise with Scenic with Prague extension. As it was a joint 60th birthday year holiday, we splashed out on a Royal Suite (cabin 315 for those who are interested). We spent a few days in Amsterdam under our own steam and just happened to stay at the same hotel Scenic used for their pre-cruise extension and departure day room. Hilton Doubletree.This was handy because on checkout we just took our luggage down to the Scenic day room and they took care of everything else in preparation for a 3.00pm boarding. However, we were supposed to join the ship at Amsterdam but due to an issue with a lock the Diamond was stuck in Antwerp. Scenic sorted this by arranging coach transfer to Antwerp. No problem with this, we got to see a bit of Belgium on the short coach ride. The lock issue was solved and the ship sailed overnight to Amsterdam. On arrival at the ship in Antwerp we were greeted with champagne made to feel welcome and then were taken to our cabin, which was beautiful and well worth the additional expense to have the extra room and lounge area. There was plenty of hanging and drawer space in the wardrobe so most of the contents of the bags were unpacked. The suitcases slide under the bed out of the way. To cut a long story short the next two weeks was great. There were no issues. We didn't ask much of anybody but when a request was made for something it just happened. The food was fabulous the whole way. Plenty of alcohol all day if you wanted it. We found eating a light meal in the River Café upstairs at lunch was better option than the buffet in the main dining room. There is only so much you can eat in a day. The staff were all wonderful. From the Cruise Director Gary right down to our cabin attendant Mariya, everybody on board was great. One thing that impressed us was our departure from the hotel in Prague to Prague airport. This was the end of our tour with Scenic and our cabin class came with private car transfer to the airport. The limo driver claimed the luggage wouldn't fit in the boot of the S class Mercedes, so the local Scenic representative arranged for a taxi with more room for the bags. What happened next surprised and impressed us. We were happy to get in the taxi but Scenic insisted we get driven to the airport in the limo with the bags following in the taxi. That action speaks for itself in how Scenic treat their paying customers and fulfil their obligations. We are already thinking of a cruise through Southern France in two years time. It will only be with Scenic. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Being ardent Silversea and Seabourn cruisers we booked with Scenic because they appeared to be the nearest equivalent when it came to river cruising... wrong! Scenic are an old coach tour company (sorry coach holiday fans) with aspirations ... Read More
Being ardent Silversea and Seabourn cruisers we booked with Scenic because they appeared to be the nearest equivalent when it came to river cruising... wrong! Scenic are an old coach tour company (sorry coach holiday fans) with aspirations to be something they don't have the company mentality to be... a class act. We booked quickly when told their latest offer was due to expire that day, only to have an email sent a day or two later that extended their offer for another month... an offer which is still going on in some form or another. Having booked through a travel agent, who were ABTA members imagine my surprise when I discovered after booking that Scenic are not ABTA members... in fact of the top ten river cruise companies they are the only one that I can find who isn't a member. Not mega important you may think but should something go wrong (as in our case) at least with ABTA there is some code of conduct, which all their members must follow. So what went wrong? Well the cruise was the ship's inaugural cruise and so came with all the associated problems that you might expect... the real problem was Scenic didn't tell anyone beforehand that they were on a maiden voyage. So we paid just short of £12,000 to be guinea pigs and fault finders, of which there were many in our Royal Suite. 1. Constant smells from the toilet (ten days to fix) 2. No TV/entertainment/WiFi until we reached Vienna 3. Pictures which fell off the wall and struck my wife as she relaxed on the sofa( it was fastened to the wall with sticky tape!) 4.Noise and heavy vibrations through the night. 5. Shower not working correctly. But the best... sorry worst... was Scenic promise of an experience not to be missed... new for 2015 was their Scenic Sundowner where we were promised ( read the brochure its brilliant) we could watch the sun go down over the Danube whilst sipping cocktails and champagne and listening to the music of the masters... wonderful. WRONG again what we had was a windowless cellar, sat at a picnic table, with a bottle of white wine from a beer bottle listening to some octogenarian play the accordion whilst his equally aged wife sang such classics as 'Roll out the barrel' and 'Its a long way to Tipperary' ! And what was Scenic's response to all this. Well whilst on board they provided us with a plug-in air freshner and a bottle of champagne by way of an apology (yes that's what we thought as well... champagne was already free on board! Post cruise... well and this is something to remember for the future after my first letter of complaint I was called by their Customer Delivery Manager (great title by the way) who told me she would reply to my letter within 3 weeks. Well I did receive a short curt reply but not from her (I guess she was too busy delivering customers that day). When I phoned to speak with her and discuss the reply apart from ignoring my first three calls, eventually she sent a message to the person I was speaking to to say she wouldn't speak to me and if I had a reply to put it in writing. But the worst part of all was the fact that they appear to think that most of what happened ... well it never happened because the cruise director on board didn't put it in her log. This in spite of the fact that the ship's engineer was in our suite almost every day and stopped me in the corridor to tell me he'd be in the cabin and ripped out the toilet whilst we were out for the day and repaired the faulty pipes... but I must have imagined that because Scenic reckoned it never happened! Perhaps I had too had a blow on the head from another picture falling off the wall. So in summary: -Beware of what Scenic promise because in my experience it's all gloss and no substance. --Record everything because they will deny most claims and ALL liability. -They told me that it was MY responsibility to ask questions BEFORE I booked... questions like 'Is this a maiden voyage?' -Don't believe anything you read in the brochure. -Don't believe any of their 'offers must end by' -Don't book the 15 day Jewels of Europe cruise. On the Danube the scenery's better and you can stand/sit outside on the sundeck. - But most of all don't book with Scenic... if something goes wrong they are not ABTA members, they have no published complaints procedure and their customer service is appalling. Final point to be aware of is that Scenic and Emerald Waterways are one and the same company... oh they say they're different but the addresses of the two companies are the same and there one and only customer service person...Darren... works for both companies (he told me so himself when I phoned the Scenic number and he answered the call as Darren from Emerald Waterways! That's despite the same person telling me before we travelled that the two companies were wholly independent.) Mind you, at least it answered my queries... why there is such a long wait for anyone to answer the telephones? and why did Scenic's answering service tell me to visit the Emerald Web site if I needed more help!!! Don't be put off river cruising... it's just that I wouldn't ever book with Scenic again, you're not valued customers just profit. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We have resently arrived home after our europe river cruise aboard the scenic jewel and what a holiday we have nothing but praise ,the cabin (royal suite) was superb ,the butler Voltan was exceptional in every way ,Eugen Anton the ... Read More
We have resently arrived home after our europe river cruise aboard the scenic jewel and what a holiday we have nothing but praise ,the cabin (royal suite) was superb ,the butler Voltan was exceptional in every way ,Eugen Anton the resturant manager was by far better than any that I have come across through our travels,Marin the cruise director -well he just speaks for himself a true professional.We where privilaged to be invited to dine with the captain twice a most memorable occasion.The free choice excursions where sometimes required some walking but in all very informative .The food at the crysal and lounge areas was outstanding along with the bar service.All in all from start to finish I would be surprised if I ever heard 1 complaint,this holiday will be the start of some fantastic holidays with scenic tours for us.thankyou Wendy and Glen Tancred Queensland Australia. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We chose Scenic because the itinerary suited us, as did the all-inclusive basis and the upmarket reputation of the line. Have to say that the whole cruise worked like clockwork. Airport pickup ( by car) was there as we emerged from ... Read More
We chose Scenic because the itinerary suited us, as did the all-inclusive basis and the upmarket reputation of the line. Have to say that the whole cruise worked like clockwork. Airport pickup ( by car) was there as we emerged from Arrivals at Munich, straight to the ship where a friendly and efficient embarkation took place. A total contrast to being made to stand around in a dockside warehouse for. Hours, which is the hallmark of saltwater cruises. Staff The Hotel Manager Svetlana runs a tight and very happy ship, and the crew( a mixture of East European and Indonesian) are all genuinely charming, professional friendly and hard-working. They have mastered the art of providing service without being at all servile, and added enormous value to the day. Granted our cruise was towards the end of the season, so they had had a good few months to get used to working together, but the result was extremely good. Food We have cruised and travelled a lot, and we're consistently impressed with the food and the quality of service. Fair to say that in seven days we didn't have a disappointing plate put before us. Scenic include all drinks on board, including wine with meals, and all bar drinks. The range is huge, the servings generous and the bar staff excellent. There are, should you wish it, a few extra premium drinks you can order and pay for should the fancy takes you, but with the range available already included, nobody did (vintage Grappa at 38 euros a glass, anyone? Didn't think so.) Cabins are comfortable and spotless, balconies have glass screens that can be raised to turn the balcony into a weatherproof conservatory on cold days. Excursions are all included and there are a number of days when you can choose from several options. They also add some bonus options, like a concert with ballet and opera in Vienna, and, at the end of the Budapest city tour, an unexpected piano concert by one of Haungary's leading pianists. Tour guides are universally of a high standard. Passengers are a mix of Aussies (about 50 percent, it's an Australian line)' Brits and Canadians, with a sprinkling of Americans. Atmosphere is informal and friendly. Don't expect to dress up. A few people wore jackets on gala nights, but a couple of the Aussies saw actually ironing their rugby shirt as formal dress! Ladies tended to be more formal. A delight.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Like the title says, we really enjoyed ourselves. The 'Scenic Pearl' is an immaculately clean and spacious ship. All of the crew, the cabin maids, butlers, bar staff and the waiters were extremely accommodating and friendly. ... Read More
Like the title says, we really enjoyed ourselves. The 'Scenic Pearl' is an immaculately clean and spacious ship. All of the crew, the cabin maids, butlers, bar staff and the waiters were extremely accommodating and friendly. Eniko, our cheery cabin person kept our cabin spic and span. Ratko, our butler, was available at any time to provide us with whatever we needed. The waiters in the main dining room and the Portobello room were good-humoured, friendly and very, very attentive. I want to name them all as being outstanding all but I'm afraid I'll miss one or two. We were definitely spoiled. For every meal, the food was delicious and fresh. The chef and his crews did a splendid job in preparing our always tasty meals. In the lounge, Antonio, Sandy and Svetla served us quickly and efficiently with our drinks. Their patience and good humour in dealing with a bunch of sometimes half-drunk senior citizens was amazing and appreciated. I have to say a good word about our Cruise Director, Werny Beyer (I hope I got the name right). He has a stern look and piercing eyes. However, his daily updates were very enjoyable and filled with good laughter. His somewhat stern appearance hides a great sense of humour. We took excursions at every port and were provided with knowledgeable and informative guides. The 'tailormade' GPSs were great. We could wander around during the tours and still hear the guide. What a great idea. Finally, what made our cruise so enjoyable was the mix of passengers. More than half were Australian. There were about 20 Canadians, including us. As well, there were about 20 British and 4 Americans. My wife and I tried to mix with as many different people as possible. For most of the time, we fell in and sat with 3 Australian couples and had a truly great time. Who knew that Australians have such great sense of humour?! We laughed long and hard about everything and nothing. Most fun of all was learning new words and phrases from our Aussie friends. To paraphrase Churchill, "Australia and Canada are two English-speaking countries separated by a common language."   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Hello. My husband and I were not “guests” but a paying customers on the Scenic Ruby (8/9/14 - 15/9/14). I was to complete the survey provided and return however putting a cross in a box could not express in detail all that should be ... Read More
Hello. My husband and I were not “guests” but a paying customers on the Scenic Ruby (8/9/14 - 15/9/14). I was to complete the survey provided and return however putting a cross in a box could not express in detail all that should be said. We were on tour Romantic Rhine and Moselle River cruise (code AMBA080914-2) that we booked. After a 8hr flight to Zurich we were transferred to Hotel Movenpick and left for 7 hrs in a room with chairs fit for a classroom with coffee facilitys. Once on the ship, both the room keys issued to us malfunctioned 4 times each. We were accused of keeping them next to a phone - NOT TRUE. Of the passengers that boarded 2 where visibly terribley sick with the flu. There was no attempt by the cruise director to address the prospect of infecting others. Others ships do so and retain those for a period to monitor in an infirmary. We were told after 2 days they were removed to hospital to intensive care and only returned on the last day of the cruise to fly home. It took a few days for 98% of those on board to get extremely ill (us included). When I tried to contact our private butler after being bed ridden for a day/night and explaining we had not eaten in this time, I was told that he was too busy as he was working in the dining room. The entertainment was an organ player suitable for a retirement village. The rooms appeared tidy and the bed comfortable. However the piece of blue material covering the bed foot was stained with what I could only call bodily fluid stains! The room staff where pleasant however some dining staff frowned when a request was made. You just about lost your voice trying to talk over the noise in the dining room. Food not 5 star - the same plain gravy with 3 totally different meats over 3 nights and 1 toaster for one hundred and so passengers. All passengers are invited to dine for an Italian meal at a dining area called Portabellos. I've had better Continental Cup minestrone soup, with more veg in it. The bus trip to Kaju Restaurant where we had a Swiss Cheese Fondue lunch consisted of 2 squares of bread to dip in the fondue and I had to get up to get my own drink of juice as the staff could not cope! - Not hard people. No one saw the 3 guys playing the Alp Horns on arrival as 3 bus loads of people with busting bladders tried to fit in 3 Female/ 3 Male toilets. Our guided tour of Strasburg had actually left 2 of the group there! Of the electric bicycles many did not work, neither did the GPS. We went out then without the GPS and took a map from the boat but the maps did not mark the locations of the sites - as you need the GPS to find them! The tour guides contracted to conduct the tours where blazay a least. The bike tour guides did not wait for the slow AND with no tool kits, they actually stopped at a residents house to ask for a spanner so as to adjust a seat for a rider! We were in Outside Stateroom: Cabin E110. Every time the Ruby entered a lock, it would fill with diesel fumes. An obvious lack of ventilation. Travelling time on board too long. We actually realised that we had turned and back tracked on the river. The last 2 days on board, the entire lower section reeked of raw sewerage (leaking sewerage container?) At this time staff where preparing for the next passengers. Our room was no longer serviced or stocked with toiletries (including toilet paper). Our bath robes were confiscated for cleaning for the next passengers and our tv/internet turned off. This tour is designed for those who wish to sink copious amounts of alcohol, spending time on a boat with 60% of industrial river views. PS take the earplugs if you don't wish to hear any rowdy neighbours. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Just got back from a really wonderful cruise on Scenic Sapphire, Nuremburg to Budapest. First river cruise we've done after several ocean cruises. I think we like river cruising better. Our time on this cruise was really outstanding. ... Read More
Just got back from a really wonderful cruise on Scenic Sapphire, Nuremburg to Budapest. First river cruise we've done after several ocean cruises. I think we like river cruising better. Our time on this cruise was really outstanding. The service, especially by our butler was perfect. Attentive, thoughtful and friendly but not too friendly. Just right. The junior suite we had was perfect: convenient and quiet. The balconies that can be open in nice warm weather or completely (or partially) closed in in cool or rainy weather are a really great feature. It's a small boat - 167 passengers. So entertainment is not going to a cast of thousands. We're not big on shipboard entertainment but the guy on this cruise played piano, keyboard, guitar, sax and who knows what else, accompanied electronically and struck just the right note. He knew the age group he was playing for and matched it perfectly. The fact that the cruise and all shore excursions are all inclusive (and no tipping) is another outstanding feature. For me, it's a game changer. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Just home from a fabulous cruise on Scenic's beautifully appointed Sapphire which included a 3 day land tour in Prague at the beginning of the trip. This enabled us to get ourselves somewhat acclimatized to the 8 hour time difference ... Read More
Just home from a fabulous cruise on Scenic's beautifully appointed Sapphire which included a 3 day land tour in Prague at the beginning of the trip. This enabled us to get ourselves somewhat acclimatized to the 8 hour time difference from our flight from Western Canada. The tour guides were very informative, Scenic buses always at the ready to transport us to and from our land tours. The ship was beautiful with true 5 Star service. Kudos to our Room Steward Dana, Butler Zoltan and Cruise Director Patrik. Food was great & bar service always readily available. My husband & I made many new friends onboard; of the 165 passengers onboard 80% were fellow Canadians with the balance comprising of Brits, Aussies and a few Americans. We'd highly recommend Scenic Tours and would readily take another in the future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
My wife and I recently took a European River Cruise on the Scenic Jewel from September 15 through 29, 2014. This cruise started in Budapest, Hungary, followed the Danube through Austria and southern Germany, then took the Danube-Main Canal ... Read More
My wife and I recently took a European River Cruise on the Scenic Jewel from September 15 through 29, 2014. This cruise started in Budapest, Hungary, followed the Danube through Austria and southern Germany, then took the Danube-Main Canal to the Main River, and finally ended up on the Rhine, with the cruise ending in Amsterdam, a total distance of about 1800 km. Through good fortune, there was hardly any rain for the duration of our trip, with temperatures above 20 Celsius nearly every day. We are experienced ocean cruisers, but this is the first time we have taken a river cruise. We also arranged air transportation through Scenic, and the transfers between the airport and the ship were quick and flawless. The Jewel is a new ship, completed last year expressly for these waterways. It holds about 160 passengers on three decks, the top two having balconies with sliding windows that can be opened or closed depending on the weather. The cabins are spacious with every amenity and we found the beds very comfortable. All rooms featured an entertainment system with which you could access television, music, shipboard information and the Internet though we found with all the activities we hardly used that. The ship features the ‘Crystal’ dining room which featured buffets at lunch and usually sitdown dinners. The food was uniformly good and they were very careful to point out dishes that might trigger my nut allergy. There is also an Italian restaurant called the Portobello that all passengers can try. The ship has a lounge which also functions as an entertainment venue and bar/café. The entertainment was low key, consisting of folk artists, lectures and demonstrations. For those used to the splashy shows on ocean cruises, it will seem pretty small scale. Finally there is a sun deck where you can watch the world go by, for every day on a river cruise there is something to see. On the Danube Main canal, access to the sundeck was restricted because of low bridges. All excursions were included in the price we paid. The biggest problem we had was trying to choose one of the two or three options sometimes on offer. Scenic attempts to create experiences for their passengers so that in addition to the usual city tours, you can also do things like attend musical performances, wine tastings, “medieval feasts” and so on. There are power assisted bikes for those that like to explore on their own, and audio players that may be used for self tours. We were kept very busy with all the activities. The local guides were uniformly superior and in keeping with the all inclusive nature of the trip would not accept tips. In every respect, this cruise exceeded our expectations. The service from the 50 staff members was uniformly friendly and attentive, and when this cruise company says that their cruise was “all inclusive” they really meant it, right down to the mini bar in the room and the free Wi-Fi. The only extra cost we incurred was laundry. There’s no doubt that all inclusive river cruising in Europe is expensive, but in this case you get what you pay for. Another good thing about river cruising is that with only 160 passengers you soon get to know your fellow travellers, unlike a large cruise ship where you hardly ever see the same person twice. We would unreservedly recommend Scenic to anyone considering a European river cruise and will use them again ourselves.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
My wife and I are experienced travelers and have been on several Ocean Cruises ranging from midrange to luxury. We had decided to try a river cruise, taking a 15 night cruise from Basil to Amsterdam Pre-cruise didn’t get off to a great ... Read More
My wife and I are experienced travelers and have been on several Ocean Cruises ranging from midrange to luxury. We had decided to try a river cruise, taking a 15 night cruise from Basil to Amsterdam Pre-cruise didn’t get off to a great start as little information is provided on ship port timings or schedules for tours nor how long they lasted, which if we would have known that information we have never booked this particular cruise Romantic Rhine and Moselle. This ended up being mostly time spent on the boat or motor coaches with only 3 days where the boat stayed more than 5 hrs in port. We’re very active and having limited port time was a big disappointment. This cruise doubles back on itself 3 times during the day.. boring. The Transfer from Zurich to Basil included a 6 hr wait in a hotel meeting room with just snacks. You would think a lunch of some type would have been brought in. Particularly since most of the passengers had been traveling for over 24 hrs from Australia. In general the ship was more spacious that we had expected, the staff was very helpful, friendly but you could tell they are overworked. The on-shore tours were just OK. If you got a good guide we stayed with them if not we just went on our own. The average age on this trip was well over 70 and mostly “gentle walkers” so tours were very slow. The GPS/touring devices provided were good when you had a guide since you could hear everything but other than that a total waste of time. They don’t direct you but just “go off” when you get near a point of interest, if you can find the point of interest, a challenge with the maps supplied. Better maps with the tour route may have made the GPS devices more useful. The Cruise Director was approachable we found out later he was about the only employee on board that was paid by Scenic everyone else was contract labor through agencies. On board entertainment was definitely designed for the age group on board which we understand. The local entertainment was very Lawrence Welk. The nightly meeting about the next day was a hassle you’re almost had to attend to find out what was happening- it was supposed to be broadcasted in the room but it never had any sound. Can’t figure out why the disembarkment meeting was 3 days before we were to leave the boat. Bringing us back to reality long before it needed to be, made us feel like it’s time for you to leave long before it needed to be. After the nightly what’s happening tomorrow it was straight to dinner. There really wasn’t open setting since everyone went into dinner at the same time. If you came in even 20 minutes later than the foors opened and sat at a table for two you could tell dining room management was not happy based on the dirty looks we were given one time we did that. Dinners were always a big disappointment we both ended up eating the steak option all but 2 nights. The seafood night which my wife ate steak anyway and the special dining room night. Don’t bother with the special dining room it was really bad and really slow over 2 hrs. Dinner was also very long while it’s free choice seating everything is served in courses so that even if sit choose a table for 2 and only order the main course you sit and wait while all the other courses are served for the whole dining room before you get food. The only option to complete a dinner in less than 90 minutes was room service which we did three times- steak again. The breakfast buffet was fine. Lunch buffet was OK but we also had to order hamburgers several times to find a suitable protein. There were 3 meals off the boat the fondue lunch was unacceptable plus the wait staff was so angry if anyone tried to get their own coffee/tea it was a running joke at our table. The dinner at the palace and the dinner at the local restaurant were just OK. The bar/lounge is the main sitting/meeting/entertaining area and when busy seating was at a premium including and we found ourselves standing at most events since we’re in our late 50’s and most others were at least in their mid-70’s and several folks in their late 80’s we didn’t feel right sitting and making these folks stand. The plus points of the cruise was its all-inclusive but to have it be a reasonable value you needed to drink and I mean a lot to make it compare to the other boats in this market. We did tip individually the cabin steward and waite/bar staff. Wi-Fi is free and the TV channels are OK but need more movie choice when you’re cruising for sometimes 36 hrs in a row. Plus the movies sometimes had a new version listed and when it started it was the original version from 30 years ago. We did not enjoy our cruise due to the itinerary and the food options. Plus we didn’t anticipate the average age to be well into the 70’s. This is certainly not 5 stars like Seabourn or Crystal . They need to improve the food a lot. Once again if they were upfront about itinerary time in the brochure/web site we never would have booked this itinerary. We would not recommend this particular itinerary to anyone active. We would not recommend Scenic to anyone that thinks food is a major focus when cruising. Do you like to drink, relax and do nothing for 14 or 15 days but sit and talk to folks in their 70’s this is the itinerary for you.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
This was our second Scenic River cruise, last time we did Amsterdam to Budapest in 2009 I enjoyed it then but Scenic have really raised the bar. This time we sailed from Budapest to Amsterdam and because of the different timings and ... Read More
This was our second Scenic River cruise, last time we did Amsterdam to Budapest in 2009 I enjoyed it then but Scenic have really raised the bar. This time we sailed from Budapest to Amsterdam and because of the different timings and direction we actually saw many new sights. unfortunately the weather wasn't the best so we only spent a couple of days on the sun deck. for quite a few days , this deck was closed anyway due to the numerous small bridges the ship,goes under. Since 2009, the ships have been improved in decor, full balconies where you can have the window closed or open ( a great feature) TV/ videos and free wifi in the rooms. We found occasionally you lost reception but that is to be expected with a moving boat. the cabin we had was on the second floor 223 - which we had last time and we had no problems with noise.However, our friends had a room on the top floor over the engines and found it excessively noisy and a lot of movement. I loved the L'Occitane bathroom products which were replenished frequently, as was the bar fridge. When Scenic say 'all inclusive' they mean it apart from laundry. In 2009 we had a rather excessive drinks bill so it was fabulous this time that we didn't have to worry - cocktails, wines,champagne etc all inclusive. nothing like starting the day with a champagne and orange for breakfast! the meals were pretty good, not 5 star as you would get in a fine dining restaurant but when you see the size of the galley, compared to a sea cruise ship, the chef does a great job. Breakfast was a buffet with everything you could want but you could also order off the menu. lunch was either in the dining room ( different courses) or as we preferred a lighter lunch of open sandwiches or soup and beautiful cakes. Dinner was in the dining room and was 4 or 5 courses with choices. You could also choose to have other options if you preferred. Each passenger can have a booking for a special evening in Portobellos restaurant with silver service , again very nice and much quieter than the restaurant as it only seats 24. Table Rive was for guests on the top deck. There was entertainment most nights usually relating to the various ports of call, and the crew put on 2 concerts which were fabulous. Excursions were good and we found all the guides easy to understand unlike last time. The use of the new GPS system and information was easy to use and useful whilst on the top deck to listen to what you were seeing. Possibly there were too many excursions and not enough down time but no one needs to do anything , you can stay on board. Our cruise director did have a briefing every night to go over what was happening the next day but if you didn't wish to attend or have another cocktail before dinner, the daily news sheet gave you all the details. In fact it would have been better if some guests hadn't attended as they were constantly talking as the director was trying to give out his information. I found the staff to be exceptional, courteous, very hard working and always with a smile. However, as for the guests- being an Australian ( at least an ex pom) I think people from England, the USA and Canada need to fully research as the whether this cruise with mostly Australian guests is the one for them. Several English guests were extremely objectionable in their attitude towards Australians who were having a great time and were discourteous to the staff who were doing their best to please. One gentleman , I say that loosely, from Canada, blamed the Australians for causing a cold virus to go through the boat- apparently we bring diseases with us because we travel further! All in all we had a lovely time but I probably enjoyed going from Amsterdam to Budapest as I felt that scenery wise it was better.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
First ever river cruise with Scenic Jade from Amsterdam to Budapest and will not be my last. In fact I have already booked a week long cruise next year from Basel to Amsterdam intending to tour Switzerland prior to joining the Scenic ... Read More
First ever river cruise with Scenic Jade from Amsterdam to Budapest and will not be my last. In fact I have already booked a week long cruise next year from Basel to Amsterdam intending to tour Switzerland prior to joining the Scenic cruise but after this year's experience I have already inquired about an additional longer cruise. We joined in Amsterdam at the Hilton Double Tree hotel. Arrived at the hotel at around mid-day where Scenic tours were well signposted the Scenic representative took our luggage and we next saw it in our room on the Scenic Jade. Refreshments were available at the meeting point until we left there at 3 p.m for the Scenic Jade so we were able to explore Amsterdam until we departed for the ship. The same procedure in Budapest, luggage transferred to the Marriot Budapest and refreshment available there until 3 p.m. or until you removed your luggage if you were staying at another hotel which we were. I could go through every day but that would be far too long just to say that every day there was some excursion arranged usually two or 3 choices in addition to the ones you opt for when you do the booking. The guides are all very good and do their best throughout. After each tour there is usually some free time for you to do your own thing before getting back on the bus and returning to the ship for lunch or dinner. Some of the excursions involved lunch or dinner and when we left the ship at Dusseldorf for that excursion we were meant to rejoin the ship at Cologne for lunch but the Jade developed a fault in one engine so it was late arriving in Cologne. Full marks to Scenic they arranged we go on anther large cruise boat for lunch and cruise along the river at Cologne while we were dining. Not long after lunch our temporary boat pulled in and we rejoined the Jade. If you wanted to give the excursions a miss then you were free to lounge about all day on the Jade. You are usually greeted back on the Jade with hand towels and a welcoming drink after a day's excursion. I would also have preferred to have sailed to Bratislava rather than travel by coach as you do pass it on the way from Vienna to Budapest but I guess there is some reason for not doing that. Also the tour of Salzburg which for me is Mozart but included the Sound of Music. Perhaps other people liked that but not my cup of tea and then the free time only would have allowed a quick visit to the castle from which there is a stunning view and also no time for a tour of the Mozart museum. I should mention that if you go on the Salzburg tour try to get the Scenic guide Eva a lady who dresses in Austrian national dress. She is by far the best tour guide I have ever come across and a bundle of laughs throughout the tour. Often there are various lectures or entertainment on board. I particularly liked the one about the Rhine Main Danube river. I had bought the book they sell on board so it was a pleasant surprise that the gentleman giving the lecture was the author and he signed the book. There was also an entertaining demo on glass blowing. The entertainment at Schlossburg castle was very good with a Shakespearian Anglo German gentleman making it a memorable night. I choose the visit to Bratislava as I had already seen the Schoenberg Palace in Vienna but if you haven't seen it then that is a must see along with Melk Abbey. Vienna and Budapest the two most scenic cities in Europe well worth staying on in Budapest for a few days and getting to see more of the city. I booked a Deluxe Balcony cabin on the Rhine deck the Danube is the next one up. I found the cabin to be excellent never had any problem sleeping although I did hear others complain that they could hear the engine especially going through the locks and they were on the Danube deck. The cabin was cleaned etc twice a day and the mini bar which we hardly used was restocked. I found that I had eaten and drunk enough in the restaurant or cafe that I rarely needed to use the mini bar in the cabin. The bathroom is small but I found it was always clean with excellent towels and toiletries and the shower was roomy as far as I was concerned but then I am not overly large. I tend to agree with those who say they may as well have incorporated the balcony into the room rather than separate it. It isn't large enough for two people to use without having to push past each other if one is already sitting there. The staff throughout were fantastic, we never used the butler service as it was just as easy to use the cafes etc and choose what you wanted. Our cabin steward Agus was simply great nothing too much trouble and once when my cabin electronic door lock failed he spotted me struggling and had the maintenance man there within 10 minutes and the batteries were replaced. Dining was a bit of a mixed bag. First breakfast, excellent choices eggs cooked any way you liked and always a very good selection I don't see how you could improve on this. Fresh tea and coffee always available from the waiters who were constantly checking. Lunch was a buffet again very good selection but usually too many people at the same time so that it was difficult to know where to join the queue at the central buffet. Wine was always available but I don't think the wine available in the dining room was all that good. I generally like full bodied wines but often it was Italian wines and once a Chianti which I found undrinkable. There were better wines available but they were not the ones being offered at lunch or dinner. Dinner was more of a disappointment although with some exceptions. Here I think they tried to be too fancy with far too many courses and often you are left wondering what it is meant to be. Given that everyone arrived for dinner at the same time the staff were literally run off their feet trying to serve everyone with drinks and their food. If you wanted to skip the lunch buffet then a light lunch was available in the cafe with additional snacks and desserts along with drinks. There was also a coffee machine available 24 hours with an excellent selection of coffees and some cookies along with a range of teas. The bar staff were excellent and drinks were freely available but I did find that if my favoured prosecco was not available they would pass you off with some other sparkling wine thinking that you would not notice the difference. Portobello Italian restaurant again a very good experience but again just a bit too fancy. Just as an example the minestrone soup which is a very basic soup just like most good Italian soups but if someone hadn't told you it was a minestrone soup you would need to be told. The food was good but I think it goes over the top and Italian food which is amongst my favourites could be improved by being a bit more basic and more Italian. Dress code, most people made an effort but there were some who just wore shorts and even T shirts for dinner. The captains dinner at the beginning and end, usually most people tended to dress smart casual some with ties but open necked long sleeved shirts, casual jacket smart trousers but as I say there were others who just turned up, dressed as if they were going to MacDonalds. The ladies tended to be the smarter. I have probably missed a lot out so if you have any questions please feel free to post them and I will do my best. Did I have some minor quibbles, yes of course as I have listed above. However the overall experience was very good and as I have already stated I have booked my next cruise with Scenic. I like that everything is already paid for and I found that apart from the excursions where you might have a coffee or ice cream during your free time after the tour then everything was taken care of. Full marks to Scenic for an excellent river cruise, I am hooked. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
I cannot fault the service and presentation of Scenic Crystal. The staff were excellent and our tour director Szilvia was outstanding. Everything was 5 star except the food. Most vegetables were frozen or commercially prepared and I found ... Read More
I cannot fault the service and presentation of Scenic Crystal. The staff were excellent and our tour director Szilvia was outstanding. Everything was 5 star except the food. Most vegetables were frozen or commercially prepared and I found all the European fish awful, and they managed to overcook it. They did a seafood night and it was a joke. Imagine trying to give Aussies seafood when it is not sourced locally and is mostly frozen. Breakfast was the best meal of the day. The cabins and public areas were always clean and well maintained. Staff very obliging. Unfortunately there was an issue with a broken lock near Budapest so on day 12 we had to pack and transfer to another boat......the Sapphire. This was not only very inconvenient and disruptive but the rooms/bathrooms were smaller and the best staff had obviously been allocated to the Crystal. I understand this was out of Scenic,s control however river cruising always has the risk of high water (which stops all cruising) or lock issues. All the excursions were well managed however the trip to Bratislava was a total waste of time. After a 3 hour round bus trip the town offered nothing but cracked and crumbling buildings, weeds growing in the tram lines and cobblestones falling apart. If you took all the available tours I found it very tiring and quite a few passengers elected to stay on board. Personal choice but you are paying for this as ypou are for the drinks (which I do not). All I all, a great company who delivers everything they promise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We were promised exceptional service and food, but believe me, what we got was not even average! The menu was never explained, so many people never knew you could order special items for breakfast. Food was cold, and looked pre-cooked. ... Read More
We were promised exceptional service and food, but believe me, what we got was not even average! The menu was never explained, so many people never knew you could order special items for breakfast. Food was cold, and looked pre-cooked. There was not enough help, so we had to get our own pre-paid for drinks, and we were told to get our own ice water at dinner! One night they never served an entrée, and I ended up eating dinner from my mini bar. The crew had a party, below our room, until 1 am and we could not sleep. We have traveled on Grand Circle, Vantage and Uniworld, for much less money and had way better food and service. The crew on Scenic were from former Soviet Union countries, and that is exactly what the service was like....HORRIBLE. Many of our fellow passengers have traveled with Scenic before and they could not believe how bad this trip was. A travel agent who booked 12 rooms was outraged at the poor service. I complained to the head office and they blew me off, after we spent $20,000 on this trip. DO NOT go on Scenic. Nest year we will do Tauck.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We joined the Crystal in Budapest for the first seven days of the cruise. The ship was excellent, the crew pleasant, and the captain appeared to run a tight but happy ship. Our cruise director Marin who was with us the whole journey on ... Read More
We joined the Crystal in Budapest for the first seven days of the cruise. The ship was excellent, the crew pleasant, and the captain appeared to run a tight but happy ship. Our cruise director Marin who was with us the whole journey on both ships was well informed, efficient, and dealt with everyone with courtesy and never lost his sense of humour. The transfer to the Jewel at Nuremburg was done well, they even arranged for rooms to be cleaned first for a couple of passengers who were ill. The side trips were well organised and there was plenty of choice. There was no need to spend anything once onboard unless you required laundry. We did not feel that the crew on the Jewel were as happy, the Captain did not appear very much at all and the Hotel Manager seemed to run the ship. Some of the Crew were very surly and did not engage with the passengers much. Our room was spacious and clean. The coffee/chocolate machine in the lounge was excellent. So far all good. However, and this was a big disappointment for us, the food! Too many buffet's with hot food being served on cold plates..even at breakfast, eggs and bacon on cold plates. Often the food in the evening was also served lukewarm. The menu was pretentious and you needed an interpreter. Many evenings we resorted to the everyday available chicken breast or steak, and we requested steamed vegetables as there was not much in the way of vegetables. We were even served tinned carrots and soup with globules of fat floating on top. Don't expect fine china either.....   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We have just returned from a wonderful trip aboard the Scenic Diamond. We have travelled a fair bit and felt that this trip was one of the best so far. Scenic offered us the ability to enjoy travelling to different ports while comfortable ... Read More
We have just returned from a wonderful trip aboard the Scenic Diamond. We have travelled a fair bit and felt that this trip was one of the best so far. Scenic offered us the ability to enjoy travelling to different ports while comfortable aboard the ship every night. The amenities of fine linen, delicious food and drinks served by a staff that was intent on making your trip as enjoyable as possible, made this trip outstanding for us. We loved the all inclusive feature that allowed us to never have to reach for our wallets. As promised by Scenic, every tour, admission, drink, meal, transfers and gratuity was included. At the end of our stay the bill was a big fat 0. Much different than when we were on other cruises where every time you did anything they were charging you. We felt we had excellent value for money spent and the added bonus of not worrying about the cost provided us a stress free vacation. At the end of our stay we had absolutely NOTHING we would have changed. Katharina our cruise director worked day and night to organize everyone and meticulously planned each day. We were well informed about each port and watched her scramble to make amends when issues out of her control demanded changes. She was outstanding. The staff always greeted everyone with smile and were always willing to make our stay as pleasant as possible. We found the wait staff offered us superb service, always remembering our order and drinks and often anticipating our needs before we even asked. We enjoyed every meal and found there was adequate variety. The portions were small at times but our waiter was quick to provide us with a double order if requested. Personally I loved the small portions as it allowed me to taste a variety of different courses without becoming to full. There were only 25 staff on board so everyone was always seen doing many different tasks. They appeared to work well as a team and everyone was willing to jump in and fill whatever role was needed. Our personal butler was always seen in the main bar area. While he always had a smile on his face and asked if he could help you, we were hesitant to ask him for anything as he was obviously already so overworked. In no way did this affect our cruise as all as we were quite able to walk the few steps to the lobby to pick up our newspaper or get a plate of munchies from La Rive Cafe. The port excursions were all fabulous and we really liked using the Scenic taylor made devices. The choices of excursions as well as the GPS system on the devices allowed us to design whatever kind of tour we wanted to take. The earplugs on these devices allowed us to hear our guide while walking through the towns. BTW the guides were all very knowledgeable, delivered their tour in clear English in an informal relaxed way. We found they expertly provided us with all the history, statistics and details in each port. The tours are all done aboard Scenic's own busses which are clean, modern and comfortable. The same drivers followed us along the river so we were familiar with them. This was far superior than boarding different busses rented in every port, never knowing if the driver was any good or the conditions of the bus. Again, a plus for Scenic because they ran bus tours before they ran river cruise tours. Before booking our cruise we did extensive research and comparisons with other river cruise companies. They were all very similar. What stood out to us was the Scenic Sun lounge on our balcony and the all inclusive feature. We feel we made a very good choice with Scenic and we would recommend this cruise to everyone and hope to be able to travel with them again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
As a preface, we are a couple of active, still working adults somewhat on the low end of the age range of typical river cruisers. I cancelled a back to back Celebrity cruise touring Iceland and the Baltic after reading about river ... Read More
As a preface, we are a couple of active, still working adults somewhat on the low end of the age range of typical river cruisers. I cancelled a back to back Celebrity cruise touring Iceland and the Baltic after reading about river cruising. Our experience has been mostly with the Royal Caribbean/Celebrity product. I considered Tauck, Uniworld and a few other lines when booking this trip last October. I chose Scenic based on the inclusions(tips, alcohol, all excursions, butler, internet), greater population of Australians, and appeared to have more "active" inclusions such as a gym and use of bicycles as well as "tailor made" self touring. As many of CC members, I researched and read reviews and had a good idea of what river cruising was about -- or so I thought. We booked the Jewel - the newest ship of the Scenic fleet-- based upon itinerary, and the fact that it included a gym (we love to eat). We arranged our own air/hotel stays which included 10 days in Europe prior to our July 1st Scenic cruise. Budapest is just as wonderful as all of the reviews. We stayed in a lovely B&B (Kapital Inn) for 3 nights. Our first disappointment came 2 days prior to the cruise in a forwarded email from our TA. We would not be cruising on the Jewel in Budapest, but instead would be on the Diamond for 3 nights, then we would be bussed to the Jewel which was upriver and unable to make it to Budapest due to a lock being closed up the Danube. We took a taxi to the Marriott to drop our luggage and take transportation to the ship. Quite a few people had not received word that we would not be on the Jewel. Most of us had been aware of the flooding, and although there was a little grumbling about not being told in advance, it wasn't a huge problem. Our cruise director Marin was the only staff that stayed with our group during our very challenging cruise. He did an amazing job considering the problems he faced. I'd like to mention the other ships we stayed on, as we found huge differences that impacted our trip. We ended up having to change ships again due to lock strikes in Germany after being docked in a commercial area in Bamburg for 3 nights and long bus trips for excursions. We started on the Diamond, moved to the Jewel and ended up on the Pearl. Our vision of unpacking once and enjoying the river from our balcony ended up being not so ideal. We spent much more time being on big bus tours than we thought. Did the interruptions impact our cruise enjoyment? Probably. We never did experience the "afternoons enjoying the villages on our own" The only village we stayed at required a 10 Euro one way taxi ride. I thought there would be smaller than the 40-50 groups were regularly on and the long bus rides to our destinations.Diamond: Some wear and tear obvious on the ship. It didn't matter to most of us, as we knew we would be meeting the Jewel in a few days. Some negative comments "we didn't get what we paid for", some people ended up in different cabins due to the ships not being identical. The staff however was lovely. We were greeted with cool towels, glass of champagne and a rose for the ladies. Passengers waited in the lounge. We were escorted to our standard balcony cabin after a very brief and orderly check in process. The room was explained by the very friendly stewardess. The balcony was a great feature, space for two chairs and a small table. It was somewhat annoying that the railing was just at eye level when sitting. The ability to move the window up and down was what i guess is Scenic's "signature" feature. To get the A/C to work, the sliding door to the balcony needed to be closed. Our butler "Zoltan" came to introduce himself. He was a favorite on the ship. Most wished we could take him with us. The bed was two two twins (full size twins) pushed together to make a king. L'Occitane bath products, and shower had a complicated spray system, gave it a somewhat higher end feeling. There was a "meet and greet" before dinner, where officers made some comments and the CD explained the river situation, assuring all that we wouldn't notice the ship change, that all would be seamless. Buffet first dinner, somewhat chaotic. The dining room was noisy, most were tables of 6 with a table for 2 right next to it. We found fun tablemates the first night and ate with them frequently during our trip. The wait staff was friendly and seemed very busy and hardworking. We were treated to a night sailing on the Danube to see the lights of BUdapest. We enjoyed the Diamond. DIdn't enjoy packing up three days into our trip. The plan was to take the scheduled tours with being bussed to the ship which was ahead of us. Jewel: We were to have a BBQ lunch on the top deck. Kinda sounds like fun, but it wasn't. The lines were long around the buffet, there weren't too many near tables. Drink service was odd, with waiters asking what we wanted, then never bringing it. No reception when entering the new ship. Not much in the way of greeting. Given our room keys. We find the new cabin to be much nicer -- a better use of space, no sliding door to the balcony, but a nifty folding door that we just left open. The bathroom had a huge shower!! no more complicated shower system. The public rooms were somewhat the same, it was just obvious that overall the physical layout of the Jewel was much better. You would think that this would make happy campers, right? Well, there was a HUGE difference in staff across the board on the Jewel. The ship captain was a substitute and the hotel director appeared to be on vacation. I wish this was an exaggeration. While we saw the hotel director working alongside his people, and checking on dining room status, the hotel director was never seen. People were scratching their heads, how can waiters and bar staff seem to look so "busy" all the time, but people couldn't get any service. Overall, it impacted our experience. We heard there were many verbal and written complaints. We didn't put ours in writing, because at the time I wasn't sure what was going on. THe wait staff didn't appear to be trained on how to do their job, so rather than say it was the problem with the staff, I place the blame on the uninterested hotel director. I did notice that we seemed to "warm" up the staff, mainly because I think we had a very tolerant, fun loving group of passengers. Pearl: like the DIamond, great, hardworking staff. It's hard to believe the difference. I had low expectations for food quality, and high expectations of service, but the reverse actually happened. For example, there were only two menus placed on each table of 6-8. Never did a waiter point out there were alternate selections each night. We were offered a "red" or "white" wine, and it took a few days to figure out they stock more than one choice. You had to be on guard as the waiters often would just pour what was in hand, not noticing you perhaps were drinking a Chianti that night. There was no coffee served dinner. Dining choices on the menu were limited, the food was well presented. I was pleased with my meals. Dining by buffet is difficult when all passengers eat at the same time. I never stayed in the long line for the carved meat or breakfast selections.Scenic promises much more than they are able to deliver. If you enjoy large organized bus tours, or walking tours where you are herded from one location to another Scenic can give you that experience. Our best days happened to be those which we decided to take a pass on the bus tour, and stayed on the boat while it was moving to the next port. The best experience was meeting new friends. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We were due to leave Australia after the floods in Europe were well publicised. We continually rang Scenic Tours only to be told that there was no problem as far as they were concerned. The waters were receding and we would be boarding our ... Read More
We were due to leave Australia after the floods in Europe were well publicised. We continually rang Scenic Tours only to be told that there was no problem as far as they were concerned. The waters were receding and we would be boarding our scheduled cruise (Scenic Crystal) as organised. The Mayor of Prague has requested that tourists not visit his City due to the risk of disease. We informed Scenic of this, but they still said that no cancellation was going to happen and should we cancel no refund would be granted. On our arrival in Prague (we had 3 nights there), we were informed that the Scenic Crystal would not be available in Budapest, but we would be boarding the same in Vienna. This was not accepted terribly well, but we had no choice. We then coached around and were accommodated in hotels with no choice for dinners but buffets. On two separate occasions our lunch was at a roadside dinner, once again many complaints were made to no avail. On our arrival in Vienna the Scenic Crystal was not not moored and we were told we would be boarding in Linz. Our hotel in Linz was at best a 3 star and the food was not acceptable to us and others,but again hard luck. Some passengers were accommodated in smoking rooms. We eventually boarded the Scenic Ruby after 6 nights being accommodated in hotels. The Scenic Crystal was still in the Black Sea. Our accommodation was still not available as we had booked a Deluxe Cabin on the Danube deck. The difference has since been credited. I have written four letters to Scenic with my complaints regarding the standard of hotel accommodation and the quality of food provided. Scenic would have made money out of lack of suitable accommodation, but we have only been offered $500.00 p.p. The hotel in Linz for example could be organised for just over 110 Euros per night (we paid over $1000.00 per night for the River Cruise). Be aware that if anything goes wrong with any of the Scenic itineraries you will not be compensated with anywhere near the amount that you have paid. The same thing happened to us in Canada a couple of years ago and on that occasion instead of our luxury 5 star accommodation we were billeted in a motel on the main highway. Scenic appear to be quite happy to spend millions of dollars on advertising their product, but beware often things go wrong and it is no good complaining via numerous letters. One is continually told that you signed the Terms and Conditions, so hard luck. Be very aware of Scenic Tours   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We commenced our Gems of the Danube package with a 3 day extension in Prague. We were met by Cruise Director Martina and then transported to the Marriott Hotel to begin our stay. A short overview of the surrounds was provided by Martina on ... Read More
We commenced our Gems of the Danube package with a 3 day extension in Prague. We were met by Cruise Director Martina and then transported to the Marriott Hotel to begin our stay. A short overview of the surrounds was provided by Martina on our first evening and we walked the short distance to the Old Town Prague Square. The following morning we were taken by coach to Prague Castle and then walked down with Martina through the gardens and town areas over the Charles Bridge and back to Old Town Square. The following day we spent exploring on our own. Day 4 we boarded the bus to Nuremberg to join the Scenic Diamond. Some were a little disappointed as we had been booked on the Scenic Jewel a newer spaceship but due to the recent flooding the Jewel was not in the area. We had wondered how the rivers would be and whether we would make it all the way. Fortunately we were the first boat to do so. We were made very welcome by Marin and the rest of the crew. We overnight-ed in Nuremberg and the following morning took the Tastes Of Nuremberg tour which we enjoyed. The next day we arrived in Regensburg a lovely medieval town and enjoyed a tour of the township and an organ recital at the Cathedral. We ere entertained that evening by the Ommpah Band while we sailed on toward Passau. The township of Passau had been badly ravaged by the 500 year flood and we could see the watermarks on buildings near the river banks. I took the tour to Chesky Krumlov which was wonderful and my husband went to Slazburg and the Salt mines. The next day we berthed in Melk and toured the beautiful Benedictine Abbey. On through the beautiful Wachau Valley and the next stop Durstein a pretty little river town. The next morning we woke in Vienna and having previously seen Vienna we took the day tour to Bratislava. In the evening we were all bussed to the beautiful Palais Liechtenstein for a wonderful Mozart and Strauss concert which include opera and ballet. We did feel privileged. Budapest was our final destination on the cruise and we arrived early afternoon and were taken on a tour of Buda and Pest. This was a beautiful city and we were treated by the Captain to an evening cruise of the river at night with all the beautiful lights. The following morning we sadly disembarked our spaceship and bussed to the Marriott Hotel to be fare welled. We loved our cruise and the crew were all so friendly and obliging always with a smile they couldn't do enough for us. Everything was so well organized and we thoroughly recommend Scenic Tours. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
This was to be a luxurious celebration, 14 days and nights cruising the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers with excellent facilities, food and service, a tour planned over a year and anticipated fondly. That is not what happened. Heavy winter ... Read More
This was to be a luxurious celebration, 14 days and nights cruising the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers with excellent facilities, food and service, a tour planned over a year and anticipated fondly. That is not what happened. Heavy winter snow melted late and heavy spring rains fell. The rivers rose, flooded and then were closed to boat traffic. However, with knowledge of the flooding and the possibility of impassable rivers, Scenic Tours embarked our cruise. We were not offered a cancellation. We cruised for 2.5 days. After that we were moored in Mains for 5 days, then transferred by bus in an appalling comedy of errors lasting near 18 hours to Vienna and the Scenic Pearl. We swapped ships and were moored there for another 5 days. The last transfer was a long bus day to Budapest and a hotel. We did not get near most of the destinations and tours. We did not cruise. We sat on the river. Avalon Cruise passengers affected in the same way were given a 50% refund on their fares and a 50% discount on future bookings. Scenic have provided 5%. Yes, 5% on a 10,000 ticket. The ships are nice, the food is good, the staff excellent but Scenic must be avoided because of their policy of not informing passengers and their practice of starting a cruise that cannot be delivered as advertised. Their refund of 5% is offensive. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
I had researched long and hard for a couple of years, since our last ocean cruise in 2008 (Cherry Blossom Cruise) about European river cruises. Considering lines, ships, itineraries, inclusions and extensions that we wanted to make. Taking ... Read More
I had researched long and hard for a couple of years, since our last ocean cruise in 2008 (Cherry Blossom Cruise) about European river cruises. Considering lines, ships, itineraries, inclusions and extensions that we wanted to make. Taking into account all of the above decided on booking Scenic Tours Amsterdam to Bucharest, Black Sea and Turkey. 38 days in total, 21 days on board the Scenic Crystal. We booked through my travel agent and then Scenic tours, both our airline tickets with Singapore Airlines ( entitled to only pay taxes with early bird offer and free stop over in Singapore on our return) and our accommodation at Amsterdam at the Doubletree. My husband and I are in our late 40's, and traveled with my parents (mid 70's). We booked the Royal Panoramic Suite on the Danube deck (had paid a $500 fee to be informed when bookings opened to secure this cabin as there are only 2 of them, 20 months in advance of cruise date). Because this was our first time in Europe, I was happy to have transfers, etc all taken care of by Scenic. We arrived 7.20am on Saturday and had a private car meet us and transfer us to the Doubletree with a little orientation tour on the way into town from the airport. Arrived at Doubletree and we were able to check into our room before 8am, at no extra charge (we did not book it for the night before, as is sometimes suggested), so was very happy with the efficient check in service and the staff were all very courteous during our stay. We had upgraded at the Doubletree, to a King City suite, so had a room on the highest floor looking out over the city and Centraal station. The room was very clean, plenty of room and stocked with plenty of towels and toiletries. The hotel is ideally suited to exploring the city as all the trams run from Centraal Station, and the canal bus has a stop at the station, although it is only a 5-10 minute walk to Dam Square on the flat. The hotel also has bike available for hire (16 euros daily). Would stay here again. On the day of checkout from the hotel, Scenic had an information desk, luggage store and refreshments available on the first floor of the hotel. The Scenic Crystal docked the day before and there were passengers arriving from the ship waiting for transfers to airport etc, as they finished their cruises, so it was all happening. My husband and I had more exploring of Amsterdam planned, so left our luggage here to be transferred to the ship. We could have been back at 3pm for a bus transfer to the Crystal, or make our own way to the ship. After a full day in Amsterdam we arrived at the ship at about 6.30pm. We were welcomed on board by staff, checked in with our passports and given a welcome rose and escorted to our cabin. As the evening meal was being served in the restaurant, we dumped our coats & shopping and headed to the dining room and met up with our other family members. All the ship's staff was very welcoming and friendly, and there was lots of chatter amongst the passengers of where we had been, where we come from, etc. The ship was clean, with plenty of room for everyone and lots of areas for people to gather in small groups. The staff were helpful in guiding us with directions, until we all got familiar with the ship and routines. All the staff wore their name tags with their nationality, and there were a lot of introductions all round. Nothing was too much trouble, and it wasn't long before staff were anticipating what you wanted. There is always someone at the reception desk 24 hours (except when doing security rounds overnight for about 10 minutes at a time). Our cabin was at the rear of the ship, the panoramic suite, and we had no problems with noise, vibrations and/or fumes. In fact on some occasions we were docked when we went to sleep and woke to find that we were either in a different port or underway, and we hadn't heard a thing. The toiletries were fine and plentiful, as was the supply of towels and the linen changes. The linen and towels were of high quality and very luxurious. The panoramic lounge has many different seats available from couches to lounge chairs, bar stools & seats at tables. There is a library at the rear of the lounge that has many books about ports of call, it also has the coffee& tea making facilities. We always picked up a pot of tea or a hot chocolate here to take to our cabin when going to bed. The bar is toward the front of the lounge and there is a piano, where Josef our musician played during our cruise. THe river cafe is in the lounge and provided early risers breakfast, and light snacks/treats options during the day. Portabellos is an intimate Italian dining experience that is to the fore of the bar area on this level, and it a very pleasant dining experience. The Crystal dining room is a level down and has plenty of tables of all varying configurations, although pretty close together. Some meals here are table service meals and others are a buffet. There is always some meals you can order from your waiter and they are very happy to accommodate all requests. Drinks are served freely in the dining room and always plenty of cold water available. The food was exceptional, although if you like your meat well done, make sure you tell your waiter this, as they tend to serve their meat on the rarer side of the ledger. The food was always hot and if you want more bread rolls, again just ask. We dined at the La Rive table and this was a fun night of food and wine, the waiters, Adam & Stan, were so knowledgeable about the wines and the chef came out at the end of the meal as well. Because we were in a royal suite we dined on the Captain's table on the farewell night. The Captain was a very funny guy from Bulgaria and was more than happy to talk anywhere, anytime. When you are up on deck, you are always welcomed to go into the wheelhouse and ask questions, and even steer the ship. I had a small turn going through the Iron Gates, but got so nervous I was going to stuff up, handed the controls back. The gym was limited, with a treadmill, bike, cross trainer, and is used mostly by the Captain!! There are towels, water and apples in the gym. The electric bikes are available for use whenever in port and they are great. So easy to use, just make sure you turn the assist off when negotiating tight corners!! The wellness centre has and area for hair dressing and then an inner room for beauty and massage. Both the stylist and therapist here were excellent. I recommend a massage, and their rates are very reasonable compared to some ships. The platinum facial was pure heaven and included everything except a back massage! There was a shop on board that had branded clothing of Scenic, and some jewelry & watches for purchase. Room service was available in our suite and we had breakfast in the room a few times when we had to be up to buses early. The food was hot and huge serves, and always at the time requested. You could also order and early morning tea/coffee and this too was a little indulgent. Service was always with a smile and a little chat, with small touches like having bottled water at reception as you leave for excursions and having warm face washers and refreshing drinks to welcome you back on board. After one very wet excursion we were met with umbrellas to protect us up the gangway and warm face washers & towels after a very wet bike ride. The port excursions were well organised and there was a talk the day previous to explain everyone's options, and lay out the schedules for buses etc. Our cruise director, Marin, was always available and easy going, and made every attempt to meet your requests. Along the cruise there were entertainers that came on board, usually traditional dancers & musicians of the relevant country. Otherwise the ship's musician, Josef, provided the musical entertainment. On the day of disembarkation, we were given tags for our luggage and had to have them out the front of our cabins by 8am. It is all hands on deck, as everyone assists with the unloading of luggage. Some of the excursions we went on: Zaanse Schans It was wet, so a little restricted, but thoroughly enjoyed the windmills and the reserve in general. Tip: stop at the shops along the way, have much more variety than those at the main entrance. Photo revenue goes to continue the preservation of the buildings in the reserve. Cologne Guide was very poor. We ended up leaving him and joining another of our groups once we found out where to board our boat. Went back to the cathedral in our free time and climbed the 509 stairs to the top, the only ones on board to do so. Such a lovely city. Walked along the Hohenzollernbrucke rail bridge that is covered in masses of padlocks of couples declaring their love for each other and then casting the keys to their locks into the river Rhine. Loved it. Passau We headed from Passau to Cesky Krumlov for the day. Others went to Salzburg, and some others went to the salt mines. My mother stayed in Passau and went on a walking tour of the city (it was flooded 4 days later). Cesky Krumlov took about 1 1/2 hours via bus, travelling through Czech countryside, to a very impressive town with a very impressive castle. We spent the day exploring and had lunch, returning via bus to Linz, where we re-boarded the Crystal. Had tea and then some exploring of the city centre of Linz before setting off at about 11.30pm. Budapest What a thoroughly delightful city. We arrived on the Scenic Crystal at about 10.30pm and cruised up and down the river so we could all take photos of all these incredible sights lit up at night. It really was very magical. We docked opposite parliament house. This city has many places to visit. We went on a city tour with the Cave Hospital, that was very interesting, and saw many beautiful buildings and had more opportunities outside as it wasn't raining!! We could see the water levels rising whilst docked here. This was where all but 30 of us left the cruise and headed off in many directions, and a bunch of newbies arrived for the next 7 days into Eastern Europe. We walked to the Fisherman's Bastion, parliament, Shoes by the Danube, St Stephan's Bascilica, the Hungarian markets, the Gellert Baths, the Church in the Cave, and many other places along the river. The lighting engineer of Budapest has the most important job, as this city is so wonderfully lit at night. Need more time here. Bucharest Bucharest was the beginning of our land component of our Black Sea - Turkey extension. It was a relative unknown city, compared to the other cities we had visited. Communist architecture evident everywhere, but many gems to be found. The people's parliament is almost hideous in it's over sized grandeur, very similar to the Nazi architectural style of intimidation by size. There is some humour in Bucharest. A base of an old monument to Lenin (knocked down during the overthrow of the communist government) now has students place another monument there from time to time. It was a worm whilst we were there. We stayed at the JW Marriott, that was very nice and comfortable, although a little way out of town (a good 20-30 minute walk). Here is where the service industry is trying hard, but tourists, especially Western tourists are all very new to them. Not many smiles, no eye contact, although not that they weren't doing their job, it's just that they were often having loud discussions/disagreements with other staff in front of guests, and that sort of thing. I'm sure after a few more years they will have it all down pat. I recommend that you research what you want to see before you get here, as there is so much to see. We took an excursion to see the Snagov Lake and Monastery, which is about 90 minutes from Bucharest. It was lovely and similar to the Bulgarian style of church, with al frescoes painted all over the interior. There is only one toilet on the monastery island. It was a lovely preserved part of Romanian life. The shopping in Bucharest is good, with prices being the cheapest in Europe I had seen so far, with the quality not being compromised. I did enjoy our visit. Istanbul The Dolmabahce palace was beautiful, although Scenic used their own guides for the tour it was difficult to hear what they were saying with a larger group of 63 people. (the headsets are only used whilst on the spaceships). You are not allowed to take photos, the architecture inside is very impressive and beautiful. The site is perfect right beside the Bosphorous, and the gardens are equally magnificent. The mosque, underground cistern, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi palace were all very impressive. The Bosphorous cruise was a standout, as Scenic book the whole ship out so there is plenty of room to roam around and see everything in the 1 and a half hours spent on the water. The guides did a great job as we were there at the same time that Taksim Square was the centre of some riots, and they managed to show us everything around these disputes, and keep us out of harm's way. Underground Cistern Such an incredible feat of engineering from so long ago. Fascinating. Blue Mosque Enjoyed the knowledge of the guides and the beauty and scale of the mosque. Grand Bazaar This was a little dull, found the sales people a little rude, for the first time on my trip. Not many people around, maybe due to the Taksim Square riots. Hagia Sofia So much history. Love Ataturks' vision in making this a museum. Again knowledgeable guides. Bosphorous Cruise The Bosphorous cruise was a standout, as Scenic booked the whole ship out so there is plenty of room to roam around and see everything in the 1 and a half hours spent on the water, with all areas of interest pointed out to you by the guides. Topkapi Needed a little more time here, but that was not to be helped as our hotel was within the area locked down at 4pm around Taksim Square so we had to be back within a time frame that was not the usual. Spice Market Loved the presentation and the smells, although they sell a bit more than spices here. In conclusion, we had a great trip, in some difficult circumstances, although the staff never let on to the guests the extra work this caused them all. The ship was perfect, such a lovely indulgence. I did enjoy the direction we went (Amsterdam to Bucharest) but would have loved to have had the land content first and then lived it up in the boat not needing to go back to living out of a suitcase. But this is nit picking. The staff are the Crystal's best asset, and I felt privileged to have been part of their family for 21 days. Would recommend Scenic Tours to everyone, they were very helpful and all went very smoothly, and would definitely tour with them again. Karyn   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
During this review I will try to clarify some of the questions that have been asked on several Cruise Critic sites. On April 3rd we left England from a regional airport flying KLM to Amsterdam, we were met by a Scenic representative and ... Read More
During this review I will try to clarify some of the questions that have been asked on several Cruise Critic sites. On April 3rd we left England from a regional airport flying KLM to Amsterdam, we were met by a Scenic representative and waited a short time for another couple flying from another UK regional airport and we traveled to our ship in a very smart people carrier arriving in time for a warm welcome and time to meet our butler and room steward, we unpacked, changed and went to the welcome reception and an excellent glass of champagne. When traveling before with Scenic we had a Danube deck (top deck) cabin mid-ship this time we opted for a Rhine ( middle deck) deck cabin again mid-ship. Now the ship has been upgraded and the changes are all to the good, still clean uncluttered decor and furnishings plus the raise and lower screen on the balcony plus all ship butler service, the Scenic brochure is very clear on what is included and what is not, the people at the Scenic office are usually pretty good at answering your questions. We arrived in what has proved to be about the coldest spring on record. Our fellow passengers are mostly Australian. A few Canadians and British (last time it was equal numbers of Australians and Canadians then us Brits). Next day we opted for the Amsterdam canal trip with a short walking tour of Amsterdam which included tasting herring and a visit to a cheese shop to taste their on site made cheese. All walking tours were split into groups of which one was always for gentle walkers, our guide was excellent I don't think we had a duff one during the entire cruise some put more into their job than others for instance one distributed liquor chocolates on our way back to the ship. Thinking about it the whole trip kept coming up with little extras which were a surprise and unexpected, in fact by the end of the cruise at the port briefing each evening it became a standing joke ( these were carried out by our excellent cruise director Evonne and were not obligatory ) The food was excellent and we have eaten in some of the best restaurants in the country, the choice is very varied, we had a visit to the galley, how do they do it? Our chef was a young man from the former East Germany, nothing was to much effort he was very visible and always ready to talk I asked for and got the recipe for an excellent soup. In fact the food service was always of the best from breakfast in your cabin (Danube deck ) or early or late (River Cafe starboard of the lounge) or normal in the Crystal dinning room through lunch, what a choice! To dinner with the choice of eating in Portobello's, Italian you book this with the restaurant manager available depending on length of cruise once or twice, start with a glass of top class bubbly and continue with fine Italian wines. It is true that all but the very top of the range drinks are free that is all soft drinks, a good range of teas and coffees, all cabin mini bar drinks and bottles of water to good single malts, good gin and vodka labels plus very good wines at lunch and dinner and from the bar. The bar staff were very good and I mean very good they mixed their drinks well they cleared tables and took orders through the lounge and up on the to deck. Every day there was a different cocktail special plus a special martini on offer, my husband does enjoy a dry martini and the young man behind the bar got to know that he liked a very dry martini, it was almost waiting when he went to the bar, now that's service, my husband is sure it is the best martini he has ever had seeing as he has had them all over the globe that's saying something. The entire crew are so good it is difficult to know where to start, when required they all pitch in we were on Diamond we were supposed to have been on Pearl but her refit was not completed on time well obviously there was still some tweaking needed on Diamond (not that any of the passengers noticed) at one port while we were on a tour ashore, according to a few passengers who did not join the tour (you can do that) they changed all the beds and the cabin chairs plus other bits and pieces with all the crew even the hairdressers joining in. Wifi is free not easy to get on line sometimes one of the reasons evidently is so many passengers skipping etc. There are nifty little gadgets that are GPS enabled use them on your shore excursions or on board for info about the area you are traveling through we had a few hiccups but we got over them. Everyday there are maps and information sheets on the reception desk for the port and area you are visiting as well as the daily port briefing. Excursions there are so many to choose from sometimes it is difficult to decide all that we went on were very good. Bruges was so cold I was there as a teenager and I still recognised it its a timeless city, wonderful hot chocolate, we needed it, in the evening a display of Flemish dancing, straight out of an old master. The amazing Delta works what a fantastic example of modern engineering. Arnhem and the airborne museum followed by a visit to the airborne cemetery very moving. This evening a demonstration of Apple Strudel making. Tour of Venlo plus a towel folding demonstration it became quite interesting to return to our cabin to discover what towel animal or flower awaited us, tonight a disco with our ever present music man (who also joined the crew when required) some people let their hair down but it was not intrusive. Cruise down the Moselle, guided tour of Cochem and Reichsburg Castle then on to Bernkastel our tour choice was to travel to Luxembourg that was a bit of an eye opener. Cruise through the Rhine gorge to Rudesheim, onto a land train to the very interesting mechanical music museum. Next day Heidelberg we went to Hockenheim it was a Saturday and it was a motor bike day slight drizzle so interesting, to the museum up in the main stand on to the pits stand on the winners podium wave a pretend chequered flag finished off with watching the drift racing altogether a really good day ending with dinner, guided tour and concert at the Rastatt Palace, the dinner was a little long winded but the tour and especially the concert were very good. Our next choice was to the Alsace wine region I have never met such an enthusiastic wine grower and the wines we tasted were very nice indeed. Next stop the Black Forest the open air museum (a bit like Singleton in the UK) very interesting, lunch there and a demonstration of Black Forest cake making, the worlds largest cuckoo clock and the best water fall in Germany, busy day. Basel guided tour and Captains farewell dinner. Altogether a very good cruise of course there were one or two and I mean that few who were a bit annoying but the joy of cruising with Australians is that they don't hold back when people go beyond the pale it is also very interesting cruising with our commonwealth friends. We had several themed dinners, a couple of local music evenings plus a couple who played cow bells absolutely amazing and a zither player. We even met a couple who we met on our previous Scenic Cruise. All of this and more that I am sure I have left out without spending an extra penny, unless you want any laundry done. We will be cruising with Scenic again.Don't forget on our return from every excursion we were welcomed back on board by the Captain and Hotel Manager and offered a hot or cold drink and hot towel if the weather was warm, there was also hand sanitizer at strategic places around the ship. Happy cruising all. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
My wife and I had the pleasure of cruising for 15 days (10-24 Sep 2012), on the relatively new (at the time), MPS "Scenic Crystal" (owned/operated by Scenic Tours), from Budapest in Hungary, to Amsterdam in Holland. Since ... Read More
My wife and I had the pleasure of cruising for 15 days (10-24 Sep 2012), on the relatively new (at the time), MPS "Scenic Crystal" (owned/operated by Scenic Tours), from Budapest in Hungary, to Amsterdam in Holland. Since disembarking, I have been very keen to write a review on this magnificent vessel (to share some of our excitement with you); but before I could do so, we had another cruise on a completely different new ship, the Celebrity Reflection. It is very hard to compare "apples with oranges" on ships that are like "cheese and chalk", but I will try my best to do so. There's probably little point in preaching to the converted (those who love river cruising), so I shall write this article primarily for ocean cruisers who might be thinking about river cruising, and in doing so, I will compare each ship against the other. At sea, when the weather turns bad and the seas get rougher, you leave your balcony and go into your cabin and close the balcony door, and possibly even the curtains. On the Crystal, where the river never gets rough, if the weather turns bad, you just press a button and close the outer glass window (which lifts up to the roof) while you can remain on your balcony. If you want fresh air, the outer window can be opened or adjusted to any height. As far as I know, this is an Australian innovation which has never been implemented on any other ship, anywhere (as yet anyway). On Celebrity's Reflection, the "fun police" (as some CCers call them) x-ray your bags and carry-ons, and can even open your toothpaste, in a determined effort to prove that you are indeed a dangerous criminal trying to smuggle alcohol on board. On Scenic Crystal, you are most welcome to bring on your own drinks and store them in your own fridge. There is no x-ray machine, sniffer dog or armed guard and there is certainly no "naughty room" for you or your confiscated alcohol. Such is the mentality of the Australian cruise line, Scenic Tours, and the reason behind this is that alcohol is FREE on board (it's included in your cruise fare), so if you drink your own alcohol, then you are in fact doing them a service! This also makes for much happier passengers, as I heard so many complaints on Reflection about this. With only 171 passengers, the Crystal's crew gets to know everyone's name by Day 2, and the service is much more personal; while on cruise liners with approximately 3,000 passengers, you seldom see a crew member more than twice (except for your cabin attendant), let alone expect them to remember your name. The same applies to passengers. The down side to that, is that if you have a really annoying passenger on a river ship (which we did), it can be quite difficult to avoid them! On Celebrity Reflection, on Day 2 of our cruise, we waited in a line/queue for two (2) hours to embark at Venice, while at other ports, the wait was at least 15 minutes (to get on, be x-rayed & frisked, etc.); however on Scenic Crystal, it never took more than 2 minutes to get back on board (with no frisking or body searches) and another 2 minutes to get back into my cabin. Getting off at ports was also a very quick process, unlike on Reflection, where we had to wait in the Reflection Theatre for up to 1 hour to go ashore for tours. Regarding ports and shore excursions, both ships provided excellent shore excursions and we were very happy with them all. Scenic provides their own buses which actually follow the ship, so you get used to seeing the same drivers, although you have different local guides at each port. We were very happy with all of our tours, except two (one tour on each of the two ships, at Nuremberg and Dubrovnik) when we were left with no time to shop for souvenirs. Shore excursions from Crystal were "free" (well, actually included in your cruise fare - and with no tipping), while some of the Reflection's excellent shore excursions seemed a bit expensive to me. Both ships visited amazing ports; however, only Crystal provided free e-bikes to use ashore, and VOX headsets to allow you to conduct your own self-guided tours. Scenic Tours also provided terrific backpacks to all passengers (prior to boarding), along with a large travel wallet, both proving to be perfect and which we used on Reflection, in the absence of anything at all - not even a travel wallet - being provided by Celebrity Cruises. By pure coincidence, our cabin (BA223, a Balcony cabin) on Scenic Crystal was exactly the same one that was reviewed by Noreen (Love2Travelalso), whom we've never met (be sure to read her excellent review too). The cabin is approximately mid ship, on the starboard side, of the middle (Rhine) deck - there are 3 decks - and it was extremely well appointed, with everything that we had on the ocean cruise line, plus quite a bit more. Something that I really enjoyed (maybe because I'm a male, or maybe because I'm young at heart) was the disco shower. As we showered, we could have a spectacular light show which changed colours and patterns, as we wished. Apart from the lights, this shower was much better than the one on Reflection, as it had 3 separate shower heads: lower, middle (on a cable), and high; as well as being much more variable in pressure, water direction, etc. (My wife was happy with the magnification mirror that was provided in the bathroom. To be honest, I couldn't tolerate the smell of the L'Occitane toiletries (I won't say here what it smells like to me), but the products did work very well, especially the conditioner and the body lotion. I know that they are well-known products, however the Hydro-Minerale bathroom products supplied on Reflection also worked very well, but they smelt much nicer (to me anyway)! On board Reflection, we paid a lot of money to dine in the specialty restaurants; while on Crystal, the one specialty restaurant (it is a much smaller ship) was included in the fare - albeit on a rotational basis. However the service was exemplary and the standard of food was extremely high, as was the ambience of that smaller dining space. On the subject of decor, Scenic doesn't go "over the top" with fancy decorations and expensive artwork/sculptures. The ship looks very smart, clean and fancy enough; while on Reflection, no expense was spared. There is no comparison in this matter. However we did walk through several other river ships, many of which were very ornate, and in my opinion, "over the top" to the point of being ridiculous. Being slightly critical, I could say that Scenic Crystal appeared to have mismatched furniture, from a colour/color perspective, but it was certainly very comfortable to sit in. The food on Scenic Crystal was superb, with plenty of variety and options/alternatives, and several courses. Our wine or beer glasses were never empty. In addition to the MDR (main dining room) there was also the River Cafe, which served delicious ice creams, cakes, sandwiches & snacks - all at no additional cost. Similar cafes on the Reflection (except for the Ocean View Cafe) charged extra for their snacks, coffees & ice creams. I found the wait staff in the MDR on Crystal to be friendlier and more caring than those in the MDR on Reflection (not that there was anything wrong with Reflection's wait staff; this is more to do with ship size). Of the two ships, on board WiFi was much cheaper (50 Euros for 14 days' access) and it was much more frequently available on Scenic Crystal than on Celebrity Reflection (USD 400 for only 27 hours' access; however it took 40 minutes to send one (1) email!). Mind you at home in Australia I get one month's unlimited, broadband access for AUD 50. Someone is making some money here, don't you think? In my opinion, Reflection isn't really a child-friendly ship, but (sadly) there were some kids on board; while Scenic has a no-children policy. This was a welcome relief to us, as our adult children have long since left the nest & we now much prefer a peaceful, relaxing holiday (without any kids). The Crystal has no pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room or relaxation beds (like the Reflection), but she does have a small, but quite well-equipped gym and beauty treatments/ massage/ hairdresser. I could continue with many more comparisons, but I won't at the risk of boring you. I must say that my wife and I really enjoy both types of cruising and despite some of the above comments, we really enjoyed being on both ships. Hopefully, you'll now see that river cruising is equal to, and perhaps even slightly better than, ocean cruising. It could be that we had the right ship, with the right crew, at the right time, and that others might not be so lucky; but we really loved the Scenic Crystal and would highly recommend the ship to anyone. Although more expensive upfront, the two cruises worked out to be about the same cost in the end (after all the add-ons that we incurred on Reflection, like drinks, spa, excursions, haircut, specialty dining, tips, etc.). Sadly, we were not happy with our (incompetent) local travel agent (for several reasons) and we'd prefer to be able to book this ship/cruise via the Internet, which is currently not an option, as far as I know. You might want to check this for yourself. I hope I've covered all the required points, but to summarise, Scenic Crystal is a beautiful, modern river ship and we loved everything about her. The entire crew was really terrific, the ports and shore excursions were exceptional, the food was delicious and varied, our cabin was fantastic (especially the shower!), and the on-board activities were more than adequate for our needs, noting that the size of the ship prohibits any large, Broadway or West End productions. Embarkation and disembarkation was quick, easy and painless. Finally (to reiterate), my wife and I would gladly recommend this ship and the cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam; and would remind you that although quite a bit more expensive up-front, almost EVERYTHING is included in that price, which results in terrific value for money. Cheers & Bon Voyage, Chris (GreyFunnel) Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
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