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This was our first river cruise, and we had great expectations. We had read reviews, talked to neighbors, and got mostly positive feedback. We pictured ourselves riding along the Rhine, Main and Danube, sitting on the sundeck and watching the castles go by. There were a few days where that actually happened. But far more often, we were going through locks looking at the concrete walls (too many to count), sitting at a dock double parked (so you view is a suite on the other ship), or taking long bus rides (way too many). Our understanding was that in some cases when the rivers are high, the ships might have a problem getting under bridges, but they just closed the upper deck and folded down the railings, etc. Well, the other problem is when the rivers are low. Then there is no solution except to pack up and ride a bus down the river to another boat, or finish your trip with a bus tour. Scenic usually has ships going in the opposite direction, but it was a 3 hour bus ride to the other ship, and then the next day we had to ride the buses back 2.5 hours each way to do the scheduled tours. Compared to ocean cruise ships, everything on these ships is cramped - the size of the rooms, the ceiling heights, the dining room, etc. The main dining room was used for all the meals. Breakfast and lunch were always buffet style. Dinner was usually sit-down, but there were two or three nights when that was also buffet. The buffet is a large oval in the center of the dining room, with serving stations spread all around. At the beginning of a meal you would have 100 plus people trying to get to the buffet. There was room around the oval for maybe 50 or 60 people, and no room to stand behind them. There was also no organization as to what was where and no lines established. You just needed to elbow your way in wherever you could. Scenic does a good job with what they have to deal with. The service was outstanding (except at dinner), and the food was excellent. They provide some cultural events that are superb. A lot of my comments are an issue with all river cruises. The rivers are getting way overcrowded, and there are just too many boats on the rivers and too many tourists at all the attractions.

Reality Check

Scenic Pearl Cruise Review by Traveler1300

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was our first river cruise, and we had great expectations. We had read reviews, talked to neighbors, and got mostly positive feedback. We pictured ourselves riding along the Rhine, Main and Danube, sitting on the sundeck and watching the castles go by.

There were a few days where that actually happened. But far more often, we were going through locks looking at the concrete walls (too many to count), sitting at a dock double parked (so you view is a suite on the other ship), or taking long bus rides (way too many).

Our understanding was that in some cases when the rivers are high, the ships might have a problem getting under bridges, but they just closed the upper deck and folded down the railings, etc. Well, the other problem is when the rivers are low. Then there is no solution except to pack up and ride a bus down the river to another boat, or finish your trip with a bus tour. Scenic usually has ships going in the opposite direction, but it was a 3 hour bus ride to the other ship, and then the next day we had to ride the buses back 2.5 hours each way to do the scheduled tours.

Compared to ocean cruise ships, everything on these ships is cramped - the size of the rooms, the ceiling heights, the dining room, etc. The main dining room was used for all the meals. Breakfast and lunch were always buffet style. Dinner was usually sit-down, but there were two or three nights when that was also buffet. The buffet is a large oval in the center of the dining room, with serving stations spread all around. At the beginning of a meal you would have 100 plus people trying to get to the buffet. There was room around the oval for maybe 50 or 60 people, and no room to stand behind them. There was also no organization as to what was where and no lines established. You just needed to elbow your way in wherever you could.

Scenic does a good job with what they have to deal with. The service was outstanding (except at dinner), and the food was excellent. They provide some cultural events that are superb. A lot of my comments are an issue with all river cruises. The rivers are getting way overcrowded, and there are just too many boats on the rivers and too many tourists at all the attractions.
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