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The stay in Budapest before we sailed was very good; that Marriott was excellent and very professionally run. Embarkation was smooth. The ship was pretty well all that we expected it to be, except for the so-called library which was a joke. The cabin was all that was required, well designed, fitted and maintained. We do not like buffets for dinner (as distinct from breakfast) but the first night was good for a buffet. All other dinners were good to very good, though the portions were no larger than needed and we thought that the choice of either pudding or cheese rather than pudding and cheese was odd - particularly in Portobello's. The wine was far less good than the food. That on the first night was poor, on other nights it was acceptable - apart from the Friday, when it was undrinkable. Service was generally good - better in the bar than in the restaurant. Of the entertainment, the regional dance troop were very good, the second dance night, which involved audience participation, was off-putting. We declined the other entertainments on offer for classic films that we had somehow never seen. Nicola, the tour manager, was excellent and incredibly helpful; top marks. The following criticism in not of him but of what was not provided. There was no historian/ geographer/ cultural expert to bring the experience of the tour and the relationship between the places that we passed or visited together. This was the significant weakness of the tour. The excursions that we took were of a good standard, and our guide in Belgrade deserves particular mention as outstanding. In our view, the visit to Varna was unbalanced. The Museum is quite simply outstanding and justifies a minimum of an hour for even the most superficial visit. We opted out of the visit to the town centre and spent twice that long in the museum and left much undone. As an aside, the lunch in the fake ship was not that great. The best lunch on a visit was in Bucharest; light, simple and cooked perfectly. The Hilton in Bucharest was not a patch on the Marriott in Budapest. The room was basically very good, but maintenance - especially in the bathroom - was poor. The dinner, an early, very mediocre buffet in a too small, noisy room was a low point. Whoever was responsible had no understanding of the space and layout required for a buffet for the number of people to be fed. The staff were totally untrained and mainly uninterested. Breakfast was OK. We had lunch in the outside restaurant associated with the Hilton and we can report that the serving staff in that restaurant were very professional (we obviously had the C or D team the previous evening), but that the kitchen repeated the mediocre performance of the previous evening. We have organised tours ourselves and know how difficult it is to get good hotels for large parties - so the Hilton may have been the best available - but keep on looking. We are not sure whether we should go again with Scenic. I think that if we took another river cruise we should try another company's offering first. In case you note the apparent inconsistency, our other cruises have been ocean rather than river cruises. Paul and Birte Kelly

Varna Museum was excellent

Scenic Jewel Cruise Review by Fair-minded

Trip Details
The stay in Budapest before we sailed was very good; that Marriott was excellent and very professionally run. Embarkation was smooth.

The ship was pretty well all that we expected it to be, except for the so-called library which was a joke.

The cabin was all that was required, well designed, fitted and maintained.

We do not like buffets for dinner (as distinct from breakfast) but the first night was good for a buffet. All other dinners were good to very good, though the portions were no larger than needed and we thought that the choice of either pudding or cheese rather than pudding and cheese was odd - particularly in Portobello's. The wine was far less good than the food. That on the first night was poor, on other nights it was acceptable - apart from the Friday, when it was undrinkable.

Service was generally good - better in the bar than in the restaurant.

Of the entertainment, the regional dance troop were very good, the second dance night, which involved audience participation, was off-putting. We declined the other entertainments on offer for classic films that we had somehow never seen.

Nicola, the tour manager, was excellent and incredibly helpful; top marks. The following criticism in not of him but of what was not provided. There was no historian/ geographer/ cultural expert to bring the experience of the tour and the relationship between the places that we passed or visited together. This was the significant weakness of the tour.

The excursions that we took were of a good standard, and our guide in Belgrade deserves particular mention as outstanding. In our view, the visit to Varna was unbalanced. The Museum is quite simply outstanding and justifies a minimum of an hour for even the most superficial visit. We opted out of the visit to the town centre and spent twice that long in the museum and left much undone. As an aside, the lunch in the fake ship was not that great. The best lunch on a visit was in Bucharest; light, simple and cooked perfectly.

The Hilton in Bucharest was not a patch on the Marriott in Budapest. The room was basically very good, but maintenance - especially in the bathroom - was poor. The dinner, an early, very mediocre buffet in a too small, noisy room was a low point. Whoever was responsible had no understanding of the space and layout required for a buffet for the number of people to be fed. The staff were totally untrained and mainly uninterested. Breakfast was OK. We had lunch in the outside restaurant associated with the Hilton and we can report that the serving staff in that restaurant were very professional (we obviously had the C or D team the previous evening), but that the kitchen repeated the mediocre performance of the previous evening. We have organised tours ourselves and know how difficult it is to get good hotels for large parties - so the Hilton may have been the best available - but keep on looking.

We are not sure whether we should go again with Scenic. I think that if we took another river cruise we should try another company's offering first.

In case you note the apparent inconsistency, our other cruises have been ocean rather than river cruises.

Paul and Birte Kelly
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Cabin Review

Cabin 225
The cabin was fine and I cannot see why anybody would pay more for the extra few feet of a deluxe. The essential thing is the balcony.

The cleaning/ making-up service in the cabin was excellent; the butler service was OK solar as it went (also far as was needed, which was not a great deal)