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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.  

From Budapest to Amsterdam in Comfort and Style

Scenic Jewel Cruise Review by Hunt1530

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
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.
 
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