Nice ship but problems
Scenic Jasper - Jewels of Europe cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest 30/9 We chose Scenic as they are supposed to be one of the best and this bucket list trip was a treat for my husband who had just celebrated his 70th birthday. First of all, let me say that it is a very nice-looking ship and obviously quite new with nice décor and furnishings. WE had a balcony cabin which was very nice and comfortable with everything you need. The bathrooms are quite spacious and well designed. The majority of the staff are very good and helpful. The fact that it is all inclusive is good especially for those who want everything organised for them and who like to drink. We found our cruise director to be great at the port talks but not very helpful if you have an issue with something. He was quite dismissive and made light of anything. The selection of excursions was very good on the whole and the guides were very nice, well organised and informative. The locations of most of the tours were very good. However, some were not so good and were very drawn out spending too much time in limited locations within a town and wasted time just waiting to be picked up. We also missed some of the lovely river scenery as we were taken by coach to some destinations. We, and others, had issues with the so called “butler” service. Most people never encountered one. Scenic make a big deal about having a butler at your service. There were 2 for the whole ship for most of the cruise. They advertise “each ship is appointed a team of expert butlers, your private butler is there to make your time with Scenic truly wonderful“. A team of 2 for 160+ passengers?! The majority of their time they act as waiters, albeit in a different uniform Most of the so called “butler duties” are undertaken by the (very good) cabin attendants. The on-board entertainment was very limited and nothing special. There was some good entertainment provided by local artists but timings were not always ideal. You should have been able to see the entertainment on the TV in your cabin but it was rarely working. The food was one of the biggest issues we had. It was certainly not 5* luxury food. It was sometimes very nice, sometimes not good and most of the time, distinctly average. The descriptions were often inaccurate and what was served bore no relation to them. Invariably it was not hot enough and the vegetables were usually undercooked. Breakfast was probably the best meal but even this was generally luke warm. Meal timings are restrictive and inflexible. “Open” seating from 7pm -9pm means that you find your own table but if there are more than 2 of you and you go in after 7pm you probably can’t sit together. We were also told that if we went in after 7pm we may not be able to have a starter or soup!! Scenic advertise 4 dining options whereas in reality there is only 1. Table La Rive is only for those in a superior cabin. Portobellos is by invitation, only once, and by all accounts not as good as hyped. We missed our slot owing to ill health and were not invited again. The River Cafe (“you'll find an array of options”) is, in effect a glass cabinet in the bar where they have a very limited choice of couple of dried up sandwiches and some cakes. No Gelato as advertised. The “vast room service menu“ was very limited unless you were in a superior cabin. I ordered a light breakfast twice and it was wrong both times. The wine was average and they seem to push the ones they want you to have and are sometimes reluctant to give you what you want. This is the “luxury dining experience” you pay for. A lot of people on our ship were ill during the cruise. It was a very nasty cold/flu/cough virus that most people seemed to have. Everywhere you went people were coughing. My husband and I both got it after a week and were unwell for the rest of the time and for 3 weeks after. I understand that if someone gets on board with a virus it is difficult and we were reminded to use the anti-bac but there were no other measures taken, no signs of extra cleaning/disinfecting. No-one admitted to there being a virus and a disembarking guest from the previous cruise said that it was the same on that one. Clearly no thorough cleaning in between cruises either. At the end of the cruise you are given a limited opportunity to complete an online survey on board but only on the last day of your cruise. Ours was “unavailable“ whenever I tried. I wrote a letter to Scenic UK on our return and received a response eventually that did not address many of my points outlined above for which I gave comprehensive details and examples. They initially ignored the fact that there was a virus was on board but finally admitted that some people did “have a cough”. They completely refuted that the food was substandard even giving me some percentages from the “unavailable” survey. When I disputed this, the figure quoted was different on the next email. They have also refused to give me the questions asked on the survey. The answers I did get are dismissive, evasive and very unsatisfactory. It is clear that Scenic do not like being criticised at all and will not accept any negative feedback. When we booked, we thought it would be a real treat to have a bit of luxury with our hard earned pensions as a special treat. Alas, this did not turn out to be the case and we are bitterly disappointed with them as a company. I would do another river cruise but not with Scenic. I agree with other reviews I have read that they are perhaps ‘style over substance ’,overpriced and do not live up to their claims. .