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Positives and negatives. First the good news. All shipboard personnel were terrific...helpful,friendly, eager to please and competent. Great attitudes in spite of grueling work schedules. The cabin, on the diamond deck, was super.....spacious enough, quiet, and kept spotless by our room attendant. Both arrival and departure from the ship were extremely well organized. Daily briefings by the cruise director were clear and informative. Multiple onshore activities from which to choose.....all included in the "all inclusive" price of the cruise. No surprises there. Now the not so great news. First, I should note that this was our first river cruise, so some of these obversations may be applicable to all such trips and not specifically applicable to this one alone. The overall impression is that the business model here involves cramming the maximum number of paying customers onboard while providing the minimum number of staff possible to attend to their needs. The "personal butlers", for instance, were more often serving as waitstaff in the dining room than as butlers. Ours was more than willing to deal with our (infrequent) requests, but was clearly relieved whenever I handled whatever task was at hand rather than intruding on his other duties. Again....this MY impression, and not a reflection on his thoroughly professional demeanor. The brochure gave the inaccurate impression that there are there are three separate "restaurants" on board. NOT true. In reality, there is ONE. The "river cafe" is in fact a small salad and dessert station and two chafing pans setup in a corner of the bar. Tiny selection of pre-cooked and often mediocre fare. The "portobello" venue is actually a few tables set up to the front of the bar and used as seating for the aforementioned "River cafe" during the daytime. In the evening those same tables host a small number of invited guests for a dining event which is indeed superior to the otherwise unremarkable fare served in the ship's only real dining room, the "Crystal". Though there is open seating, meals are actually served at a single seating time, with little leeway given. Indeed, when we entered the dining room 30 minutes into the 90 minute "window" listed as the dinner period we were informed that we must be seated at once, or miss dinner, as the "first course had already been served.". The real problem is that all of the passengers, wherever seated, are eating food prepared in a kitchen woefully too small and understaffed for the job. Having owned several restaurants, my wife and I identified the problem immediately. All staff were doing their level best to deal with unrealistic workloads. With the exception of a few "alternative choices" available at dinner, virtually nothing is cooked to order on the ship. Breakfast and lunch are served as buffets with nearly identical setups daily. Dinner offers a choice of three main courses. In general, this feels like an assembly line operation. Overall, the food on board was uneven in quality and a real disappointment given the cost of the trip. Adding to the feeling of "mass production" is the fact that the dining room is over-crowded with tables sitting much too near each other. The scenery ashore was a major disappointment for much of the trip. Other than a few hours one day in the Rhine Gorge (where all of the brochure pics must come from) we might as well been anywhere in the midwest U.S. The shore excursions often involved coach rides of varying lengths with guides of varying quality. Strasbourg and Heidelberg were lovely. Some of the others not so much. Anyway, Good luck!

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Scenic Jewel Cruise Review by santafegypsy

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Trip Details
Positives and negatives. First the good news. All shipboard personnel were terrific...helpful,friendly, eager to please and competent. Great attitudes in spite of grueling work schedules. The cabin, on the diamond deck, was super.....spacious enough, quiet, and kept spotless by our room attendant. Both arrival and departure from the ship were extremely well organized. Daily briefings by the cruise director were clear and informative. Multiple onshore activities from which to choose.....all included in the "all inclusive" price of the cruise. No surprises there.

Now the not so great news. First, I should note that this was our first river cruise, so some of these obversations may be applicable to all such trips and not specifically applicable to this one alone. The overall impression is that the business model here involves cramming the maximum number of paying customers onboard while providing the minimum number of staff possible to attend to their needs. The "personal butlers", for instance, were more often serving as waitstaff in the dining room than as butlers. Ours was more than willing to deal with our (infrequent) requests, but was clearly relieved whenever I handled whatever task was at hand rather than intruding on his other duties. Again....this MY impression, and not a reflection on his thoroughly professional demeanor.

The brochure gave the inaccurate impression that there are there are three separate "restaurants" on board. NOT true. In reality, there is ONE. The "river cafe" is in fact a small salad and dessert station and two chafing pans setup in a corner of the bar. Tiny selection of pre-cooked and often mediocre fare. The "portobello" venue is actually a few tables set up to the front of the bar and used as seating for the aforementioned "River cafe" during the daytime. In the evening those same tables host a small number of invited guests for a dining event which is indeed superior to the otherwise unremarkable fare served in the ship's only real dining room, the "Crystal".

Though there is open seating, meals are actually served at a single seating time, with little leeway given. Indeed, when we entered the dining room 30 minutes into the 90 minute "window" listed as the dinner period we were informed that we must be seated at once, or miss dinner, as the "first course had already been served.". The real problem is that all of the passengers, wherever seated, are eating food prepared in a kitchen woefully too small and understaffed for the job. Having owned several restaurants, my wife and I identified the problem immediately. All staff were doing their level best to deal with unrealistic workloads. With the exception of a few "alternative choices" available at dinner, virtually nothing is cooked to order on the ship. Breakfast and lunch are served as buffets with nearly identical setups daily. Dinner offers a choice of three main courses. In general, this feels like an assembly line operation. Overall, the food on board was uneven in quality and a real disappointment given the cost of the trip. Adding to the feeling of "mass production" is the fact that the dining room is over-crowded with tables sitting much too near each other.

The scenery ashore was a major disappointment for much of the trip. Other than a few hours one day in the Rhine Gorge (where all of the brochure pics must come from) we might as well been anywhere in the midwest U.S. The shore excursions often involved coach rides of varying lengths with guides of varying quality. Strasbourg and Heidelberg were lovely. Some of the others not so much.

Anyway,

Good luck!
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