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Aapreciate

Concerns about Scenic from a US person

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Hi, we are currently booked on a two-week Scenic river cruise in the fall.  I've read with some concerns the Scenic reviews posted on this site, particularly with regards to the Danube accommodations that all riverboats had to make due to river levels last year.  Between their apparently not notifying US passengers of the river problems (though they did notify British and Australian), the universal complaints about food quality and temperature, the really midlevel pre- and post-hotels that they are now using (and just check out the complaints at TripAdvisor from Scenic passengers in particular about the Doubletree Amsterdam), and their discontinuing their page discussing river levels at all, I have developed a real concern about taking any trip with them as a US citizen (and I'm going with my 81-year old mom so things need to go as well as possible.  She is fit, it's just that I want her to have a great time).

 

Can anyone offer me any reassurances about Scenic in Europe?  I note that several years ago they announced that they were going "upscale": does that still seem to be true?  I don't want to be on a boat for two weeks where all the corners are being cut, which is my current concern.  (I don't mean to sound pretentious but the trip is costly and I'd rather change now than face two weeks of disappointment.)

 

Thanks in advance and please don't flame me.  We don't get to cruise every year so this trip is a BIG DEAL. I just am trying to avoid disappointment.

 

-Kathy

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In addition to the complaints this year, Scenic had a major customer service failure a few years ago that led to a class action suit in Australia (that Scenic lost). Recently they had another brouhaha when the shipyard that was building their new luxury yacht Eclipse went bankrupt. They couldn’t control that, and even started paying the workers building their ship directly — but the way they handled the customers on the ever-lengthening series of canceled cruises caused an uproar on the Luxury forum here on CC. So I too would be wary of them regarding any far-future booking. 

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Hi, I feel a little the same as you, as we are booked for a one week cruise in October.  I have tossed up cancelling, but don't want to lose the $2000 AUD deposit!

 

I have done a heap of reading on Scenic, both on here, on Tripadvisor and on various Facebook groups.  While they don't seem to have handled the low water (and previous high water) issues well, neither it seems did many of the other companies.

 

It seems that when things go well, which they obviously do most of the time, then the reviews are extremely good.  

 

I booked for us because my parents have done four trips with them.  They totally rave over everything and have assured me that the food is excellent.  I see no reason for them to make that up so I am ignoring the food comments.

 

I am in Australia, and one thing that I have noticed is that most of the poor food comments come from America.  I am not sure that this isn't a cultural issue - I know that when we visit the States I rarely like the food, it just doesn't seem as good as we have here (sorry!).  The only places I have enjoyed most food in the US have been Boston and San Franciso, and they are smaller cities, much more like Melbourne, where I live.

 

It stands to reason that it is possible that Americans and Australians may not have the same food tastes, so maybe that is part of the poor reviews.

 

I am not sure what sort of deposit structure you had, because it seems that each country is treated differently, but if, like us, your deposit was substantial, it becomes very costly to cancel.  My plan is to watch and read very closely and if things with the water levels occur again, I will invoke my plan b which is is already organised.  This means that I will pretty well follow the Rhine but by train.  I already have hotels chosen in the towns that we will stay in so it will be very easy to organise.  I will worry about refunds then once I get home.

 

I do hope that things go well for you, and for us, and feel confident, strangely, that they will next year.

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We have cruised with Senic twice. On both cruises the staff were excellent, probably better in 2018 and the arrangements faultless. The problem last year was the quality of the food and the scrum to get a table in the restaurant especially at dinner. Would we use Scenic again ? More likely Crystal.

 

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10 hours ago, djh1959 said:

Hi, I feel a little the same as you, as we are booked for a one week cruise in October.  I have tossed up cancelling, but don't want to lose the $2000 AUD deposit!

 

I have done a heap of reading on Scenic, both on here, on Tripadvisor and on various Facebook groups.  While they don't seem to have handled the low water (and previous high water) issues well, neither it seems did many of the other companies.

 

It seems that when things go well, which they obviously do most of the time, then the reviews are extremely good.  

 

I booked for us because my parents have done four trips with them.  They totally rave over everything and have assured me that the food is excellent.  I see no reason for them to make that up so I am ignoring the food comments.

 

I am in Australia, and one thing that I have noticed is that most of the poor food comments come from America.  I am not sure that this isn't a cultural issue - I know that when we visit the States I rarely like the food, it just doesn't seem as good as we have here (sorry!).  The only places I have enjoyed most food in the US have been Boston and San Franciso, and they are smaller cities, much more like Melbourne, where I live.

 

It stands to reason that it is possible that Americans and Australians may not have the same food tastes, so maybe that is part of the poor reviews.

 

I am not sure what sort of deposit structure you had, because it seems that each country is treated differently, but if, like us, your deposit was substantial, it becomes very costly to cancel.  My plan is to watch and read very closely and if things with the water levels occur again, I will invoke my plan b which is is already organised.  This means that I will pretty well follow the Rhine but by train.  I already have hotels chosen in the towns that we will stay in so it will be very easy to organise.  I will worry about refunds then once I get home.

 

I do hope that things go well for you, and for us, and feel confident, strangely, that they will next year.

Thanks for your response.  Interesting to consider the food complaints as driven by cultural differences.  I'm originally from San Francisco area so maybe I wouldn't be as offended?  Certainly  the poster immediately below you echoed my worries based on their experience.

 

What Facebook groups do you belong to for river cruising?  I would love to read more.

 

We also put down $2500 so it is a huge deal to switch.  Could consider Crystal during September but it's more than $20k MORE which is hard to even believe.  So we're looking at Tauck in October but then there's the worry about the Rhine levels being even more difficult.

 

Moral of the whole story seems to be river cruising has a much bigger delta on satisfaction and river levels, which are responsible for part of that swing, are just not predictable.  Wonder if we would be better to book in April/May in Europe, generally? 

 

Anyway, thanks again.

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We’re booked on Scenic in October Amsterdam to Basel. Our first cruise was Budapest to Nuremberg in August of 2015. We had a great time, enjoying the accommodations, service, food and fellow passengers. Low water forced the cruise to end in Vilshofen but that didn’t bother us much. We just rented a car for our post-cruise travel in Passau instead of Nuremberg. 

 

We we are of course nervous about water levels and how Scenic will handle any disruptions. My impression from reading the forums since 2014 is that Scenic’s handling of water level issues is evolving. In 2013 they were pretty terrible responding to high water. In 2015 they responded well to low water with ship swaps. Last Year they couldn’t always swap because the water was too low in too many places. 

 

Some posters were reasonably satisfied with how Scenic dealt with last year’s low water while others were completely dissatisfied. The question for us is how they apply any lessons learned in 2018 if levels are low again this year. We intend to hope for the best while working on Plan B. 

 

We we live in the US and understand we are dealing with an Australian company. We’ve received good service so far from Scenic through our TA. However as we approach embarkation day we expect poor communication from Scenic and plan to get information about river levels and Scenic’s response from CC. As notamermaid has said, Rhine levels depend on rainfall late in the season. If there is any chance of rain most cruise lines keep mum about the risk. It’s not just a Scenic thing. 

 

I haven’t checked the Scenic Eclipse thread lately but last time I did it appeared that they are handling the cancellations due to construction delays better as time goes by. Many of the early complaints seemed to be based on impatience. 

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I wouldn't fret too much about the reviews you've seen (and I'm from the US). We were on Scenic this past fall, and were impacted by low water--not as much as some, but still a real impact. That said, we have already booked a 2020 cruise, and are greatly looking forward to it. I agree that Scenic was very parsimonious with information regarding water levels and contingency plans, which I found to be extremely frustrating. But reading the boards here, it seems like all of my complaints on that score apply to most/all of the cruise companies--almost nobody got straight answers from a cruise company prior to leaving on their trips. Aside from that, we loved the trip. I had no complaints at all about the food. I know some have talked about a "scrum" to get tables, but that wasn't my experience at all, and my wife and I were always able to get a two-top table, and found the food to be quite good. The staff were absolutely amazing, across the board. My wife developed some medical issues during the cruise, and the staff were all quite solicitous about making sure that accommodations were made. (Admittedly, we're quite self-sufficient, and they mostly didn't need to do much, but there were a few occasions where they went above and beyond to make sure that my wife had an excellent time.) I can't comment on pre- or post- hotels, because we do all our own travel arrangements. But we absolutely loved the ships, the food, the staff, and the Tailormade devices--and the low-key all-inclusiveness. We had no hesitation booking again for 2020, and did it just as soon as the itinerary we wanted became available.

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Maybe this will get deleted but River Cruise Adviser did a comparison on how companies coped with the water levels and if my memory is correct Scenic scored extremely well. We will be travelling with Scenic for the eighth time this year yes they are not the best with the communication side of things but if you contact them you invariably get an answer really quickly. Enjoy your cruising CA

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I went on Scenic 2 times.  First was Aug of 2017 Amsterdam to Budapest and the 2nd I took my folks (85 and 91) Bucharest to Budapest.  I can not rave enough about the service food ship EVERYTHING.  We had an amazing trip with them and we are happy we did not go with Viking.  Heard alot of people with complaints and the "extra charges" they all incurred.   We would not hesitate to travel with them again.  Nice age mix and we loved the bikes :)

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Just took Scenic’s Mekong River cruise from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City in January.  Extremely satisfied with the ship, crew, service, itinerary, and everything else.  Looking to book an expedition cruise with Scenic when the new schedule comes out in a few months.

We are from US, and have no issues regarding booking and communication.  No need to anticipate/worry possible problems and stress out ourselves.

We have done ocean and river with Viking.  Like both operators.  We choose based on itinerary.

Viking’s ability to swap ships in the Budapest to Amsterdam route is a plus.

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Traveled with Scenic August 2016, Budapest to Nuremberg. No problems with pre-cruise hotel, we were booked into Budapest Marriott and were fortunate enough to be there on St Steven's holiday.  Fireworks, street vendors, over 1 million people outside. Cruise went without a hitch, food was fantastic, service was terrific. Bus drivers were friendly and attentive. Luggage got wet before boarding, Scenic dried everything in the suitcase at no charge. Asked to have some clothing laundered as we neared end of cruise and had a total bill of 26.00 Euro when we disembarked. I would travel with them again any day.

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Wanted to come back and say that while we had a wonderful time with our family, I will not choose Scenic again. 

 

The crew was amazing and fun, but beyond that I found the food and alcohol to be sub-standard.  The itinerary often minimized port time (to be fair, it was a scrum getting down the rivers, waaaaay too many ships these days.  The experience has certainly changed) and while some of the guides were good, many were not.

 

We really ended up disliking the food and ate offship as much as we could.

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Could not disagree more. Food was local or you could opt for standard meals. Alcohol had a menu to choose from at no additional cost. There was no steak house on board so I am not sure what you opted for off ship

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2 hours ago, Aapreciate said:

Wanted to come back and say that while we had a wonderful time with our family, I will not choose Scenic again. 

 

The crew was amazing and fun, but beyond that I found the food and alcohol to be sub-standard.  The itinerary often minimized port time (to be fair, it was a scrum getting down the rivers, waaaaay too many ships these days.  The experience has certainly changed) and while some of the guides were good, many were not.

 

We really ended up disliking the food and ate offship as much as we could.

Can I ask what Scenic ship you were on and where you went?

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Hi aapreciate Kathy.

 

i have just completed my 2nd Buda to Amsterdam cruise with scenic. They were exactly 5 years apart. Hand on heart I could not say that the service levels or food had deteriorated in that time. The older ships had been upgraded to a comparable level to the really new ships. Obviously cabin sizes can’t be increased but they did a good job.

 

food is subjective on any cruise and from person to person. But in my experience on the current cruise, we met couples from Dallas, New York, Vancouver, Toronto and we did not hear one word of complaint against  the food. The quandary was which main meal to have. In a few occasions we had an additional main to share with the table to try.  That request was met with of course you can.

 

we had to do a ship swap due to water levels, clearly not Scenic’s fault. It was handled extremely well and seamlessly. Both ships swap relevant information about the passengers, dietary requirement, spa bookings etc so it was just like nothing had changed, except the staffs faces. Lol. The cruise director will always stay with the original passengers to keep a familiar face on board.

 

If any corners were being cut, I did not see it. And I am the type to discuss concerns with the hotel manager.

 

I read on this thread that someone said alcohol was sub standard. Can’t work that statement out or why it was. There was virtually every type of booze on board. - not scenic home brand. Lol.  Wines from many countries available. Moët available during breakfast if you wish.


 Btw, we just booked scenic again for a Mekong river cruise.

 

relax, you will have a great time. Happy to answers and questions you may have.

 

cheers mark.

 

 

 

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We were on the Jewel from Amsterdam to Budapest. We had booked on the Jade but the water levels were so tight that only the Jewel could get through. 

 

We are American. The ship was full, with 166 guests of whom 110 were Australian. Most were nice but we did get the comment that it was too bad Scenic had started advertising in the US as there was now an onslaught of Americans. Did not make us feel very welcome. But that’s not Scenic’s fault. 

 

My other major complaint is the lack of hand sanitizer protection and the resulting consequence that EVERYONE got sick. There were four sanitizer stations on board and no one used them. Buffet implements were therefore major germ vectors. Ugh. 

 

Kris was the best Butler I have ever had and the crew overall was great. But never again Scenic for me. 

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4 minutes ago, markperth said:

Hi aapreciate Kathy.

 

i have just completed my 2nd Buda to Amsterdam cruise with scenic. They were exactly 5 years apart. Hand on heart I could not say that the service levels or food had deteriorated in that time. The older ships had been upgraded to a comparable level to the really new ships. Obviously cabin sizes can’t be increased but they did a good job.

 

food is subjective on any cruise and from person to person. But in my experience on the current cruise, we met couples from Dallas, New York, Vancouver, Toronto and we did not hear one word of complaint against  the food. The quandary was which main meal to have. In a few occasions we had an additional main to share with the table to try.  That request was met with of course you can.

 

we had to do a ship swap due to water levels, clearly not Scenic’s fault. It was handled extremely well and seamlessly. Both ships swap relevant information about the passengers, dietary requirement, spa bookings etc so it was just like nothing had changed, except the staffs faces. Lol. The cruise director will always stay with the original passengers to keep a familiar face on board.

 

If any corners were being cut, I did not see it. And I am the type to discuss concerns with the hotel manager.

 

I read on this thread that someone said alcohol was sub standard. Can’t work that statement out or why it was. There was virtually every type of booze on board. - not scenic home brand. Lol.  Wines from many countries available. Moët available during breakfast if you wish.


 Btw, we just booked scenic again for a Mekong river cruise.

 

relax, you will have a great time. Happy to answers and questions you may have.

 

cheers mark.

 

 

 

I found the alcohol extremely sub standard. We were in the Royal suite so we got the fancy red wine. We looked it up - $11.99 a bottle. The whiskey selection was ridiculous. Jim Beam?  Really?  Yes they serve Moët but ONLY at breakfast because no one drinks it then. You can’t get it any other time, I asked. And all the mixers were Schweppes. Nothing nicer.

 

The food quality was equally mid-market. All the salmon was farmed. Limited fresh fruits and veggies with nothing ever light ot organic. And much of the food was cold, it was a consistent pattern. Room service food was even less warm. Just not a luxury experience at all. 

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As I said food is subjective so I make no direct comment on that. https://www.scenic.com.au/-/media/scenic/australia-old/content-pages/river-cruises/dining/jasper-opal-amber-bar-menu-2017.pdf
 

I can say you are being unkind about drinks selections on offer, I have attached a link

but if this link opens it shows the booze available,  but if not then it is available on the scenic website.

 

we also cruised both times in a royal balcony suite. FYI.jasper-opal-amber-bar-menu-2017.pdf

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 Hi aapreciate, Just realised this is your original  from January 🤦‍♂️ 😂 and you are giving feedback 6 months later. Could not work out. Now it makes sense. 😁

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Aapreciate in eight Scenic cruises we have never had the experiences that you seem to have had. I may seem a little rude here but have you traveled extensively? Have you traveled in company with other nationalities before? I’m sorry you seem to have had a less than happy experience. We as a family are off to California next year basically from Disney to the big trees to Monterey to San Fransisco I most certainly hope the Americans we meet are as friendly as those we have met in the past  and bot a jaded as you seem to be. CA

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3 hours ago, Aapreciate said:

I found the alcohol extremely sub standard. We were in the Royal suite so we got the fancy red wine. We looked it up - $11.99 a bottle. The whiskey selection was ridiculous. Jim Beam?  Really?  Yes they serve Moët but ONLY at breakfast because no one drinks it then. You can’t get it any other time, I asked. And all the mixers were Schweppes. Nothing nicer.

 

The food quality was equally mid-market. All the salmon was farmed. Limited fresh fruits and veggies with nothing ever light ot organic. And much of the food was cold, it was a consistent pattern. Room service food was even less warm. Just not a luxury experience at all. 

There was an alcohol MENU in the lounge.  Our first night onboard I asked for a flight of the different Scotchs offered, there were 7 if I remember correctly. I settled on Glenmorangie and asked for a full glass each time I ordered, the staff came through and would hand me a full glass as I entered the lounge.  I think you might have shortchanged yourself.

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We are leaving this evening for Amsterdam, and boarding Scenic Pearl on Monday for the Rhine Highlights cruise.  I am very interested in how the food and booze will be, but I am pretty confident.  From reading many posts here, on other forums and on Facebook, most people rate it very highly but there are odd people who don't, as someone else said food is very subjective.

 

I have read the drinks menu and it is extremely comprehensive.  I really only drink wine with an occasional cocktail, so I will report back on the quality of the red wines - we are very fussy about them.  As for champagne, I did notice that it was only available at breakfast, but other sparklings are available in the evening.  I will just make a point of having one for breakfast each day - I am on holidays and certainly not driving lol.

 

One of the above posts commented on being in a Royal Suite so therefore getting better wine.  We are only in a Junior Suite on the top deck, not a Royal, but nothing I have been told or read says that the wine is any different.

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Hi djh,

 

the royal suites get a bit extra in the bar fridge. French champagne and French wine.

 

i don’t think the junior suites get that. But all wine on board is available to all cabin classes whenever you want one. Except the above. 
 

you will be impressed from the moment you board. So jealous could do it again in a heart beat.

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Hi All, don’t forget whatever cabin or deck Scenic says you can ask for your mini bar to be stocked with your choice of beverages, they try their hardest within the constraints of the smaller sizes available. You can also ask your butler to serve the drink you prefer in your cabin. At lunch or dinner if your not sure of the wines selected to go with that meal ask to look at the wine list and dare I say it work your way through it. One thing to note although Scenic is an Australian company you rarely get new world wines. Most of the wine tasting we have been on have been excellent and surprisingly some of the French included a few exceedingly good or potentially good vintages. On our memorable Boudreaux cruise our group consisting of Australians, Canadians, New Zealander’s and Brits drunk the bar dry of Laguvulin now there’s a nice whisky. ( no Americans on that cruise). On our south of France cruise this year the chef and restaurant manager did a double act before dinner with explanation of the menus and wine recommendations, interesting. Enjoy cruising. CA

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On 10/9/2019 at 10:42 AM, Aapreciate said:

I found the alcohol extremely sub standard. We were in the Royal suite so we got the fancy red wine. We looked it up - $11.99 a bottle. The whiskey selection was ridiculous. Jim Beam?  Really?  Yes they serve Moët but ONLY at breakfast because no one drinks it then. You can’t get it any other time, I asked. And all the mixers were Schweppes. Nothing nicer.

 

The food quality was equally mid-market. All the salmon was farmed. Limited fresh fruits and veggies with nothing ever light ot organic. And much of the food was cold, it was a consistent pattern. Room service food was even less warm. Just not a luxury experience at all. 

This is an Australian cruise company sailing in European waters, your comments show me you have not travelled extensively. Looking at the drinks menu, the selection of Whiskies  was excellent, 11 Scotch  (including Glenmorangie Single Malt and Macallan 10y Single Malt), 5 North American and an Irish. Very good beer selection. Moet is available for a fee anytime.

 

Quote: "And all the mixers were Schweppes. Nothing nicer."

Schepps is a very good brand of Mixers both in Europe and Australia, with a very long tradtion .

 

Quote: "All the salmon was farmed"

Did you ask the salmon where they came from? Good for Scenic, for supplying sustainable food on their menus.

 

I would have loved to be on a ship withn 110 Aussies (they are one of the most friendliest people I have ever met. The only thing is never to mention "The Ashes".

 

The following is not intended at American bashing, its just observations that I have seen occassionally.These posts remind me of situations I have seen that I call the "American Bubble". On European cruises I have been on I have seen American passengers at Guest Relation saying "We get that on American cruise lines" , "Where's the Lobster", "Why so much pasta - it's an Italian Ship", "That's not done on an Amerian cruise ship".

 

These passengers, want to grab a couple of hours of European culture and then go back onboard to their "American Bubble".

 

I have the 🍻🍻 ready to douse any flames.

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