Jump to content

Scenic -- Rhine with Alpine Highlights and Oberammergau -- Semi-live


loriva
 Share

Recommended Posts

LauraS
This post was recognized by LauraS!

"Thanks for generously sharing your time at sea with everyone at Cruise Critic!"

loriva was awarded the badge '"Live from...."'

After lots of posts in the thread "What's Going on with Scenic," and receiving little information from Scenic prior to starting our cruisetour with them in Vienna on 15 June, this thread will attempt to provide some information on our tour and cruise experiences themselves.

 

We arrived in Vienna after a missed connection due to a delay flight and the driver promised by Scenic was not at the airport to pick us up.  After conversation with Scenic's European office (have their phone number handy and use option #6) we ended up taking a taxi to the hotel used by Scenic--the Hilton Vienna Park--and a promise of reimbursement by Scenic.

 

Since we arrived a day ahead of the official start of our cruisetour and since we had had no information from Scenic, we planned a full day including meeting a relative who owns a craft brewery in Vienna.  When we did receive our final documents--in the "Summary"--we discovered that time conflicted with the meeting with the Tour Director at 1800 hours in the hotel lobby.  The hotel personnel had no information about the TD nor any Scenic meeting.  I called Scenic's European office and asked for them to have the TD call me.  They also provided his name and telephone number.  After a frustrating hour trying to reach him--because Scenic had provided the incorrect telephone number--he texted me when he reached the hotel.  We were able to have a quick meeting and obtain the information needed for the following day.  This consisted of a half-sheet of paper with wake-up call times, what time luggage needed to be out, and what time we needed to meet in the lobby to start the day's activities.

 

Day two started with a tour of either the Imperial Palace or the Natural History Museum.  We had been in Vienna in October on a Crystal river cruise and had visited the palace then so chose the museum.  The guide gave a somewhat strange tour that focused--admittedly--more on the history of the museum than the actual exhibits inside.  Then a short walking tour of Vienna to St. Stephen's square where we then had a couple of hours before we met up with the TD and then walked to where the bus was to be.  (This turned out to the the same place by the canal where we met Crystal's bus.  Lesson learned--ask where the bus will be at the end if you have a little knowledge of the city and let the TD know you'll meet the group there.  We would have spent our time differently if we'd thought to ask.)

 

We then drove to Salzburg.  Two hours into the drive we stopped for a break--at a place that was closing in three minutes.  (They did let us use the restrooms.)  We had to wait there 30 minutes because the bus driver said he had to take a mandated break after working for 3.5 hours.  Since he'd only been driving us the past two hours and this was our designated driver and bus for the duration of our land package with Scenic, this made no sense.  (We later overheard the TD questioning this as well.  Along with the information that Scenic had not arranged for a bus-parking permit in Salzburg and failed to make hotel reservations for the bus driver.)

 

We also made a stop in Mondsee to see St. Michael's Basilica used for the wedding scene in The Sound of Music movie.  We arrived in Salzburg about 1845 to pouring rain.  (The earliest we could have arrived would have been 1800 hours as the hotel Scenic is using--the Goldener Hirsch--is in the Old Town and buses are not allowed between 0800-1800 hours.)  The TD and bus driver--and hotel staff--were great, however, and popped open an umbrella for you as you exited the bus.  Evening and dinner on our own.  (As was lunch--only breakfast included at hotel.)  It is a lovely, historic property--part of the Luxury Collection of Marriott.

 

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll be following you adventures. Hopefully things with start to run more smoothly.

 

BTW, this post and your more detailed post on your flights on the other thread are a perfect example of why I would never travel without a European SIM card.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Day three (17 June).

 

After a wonderful breakfast in the hotel, the group took a walking tour of Salzburg starting at 0900 hours.  We are a group of 19--two Aussies, four Canadians, and 13 USCs.  The youngest in our group is 57 and the oldest is 75 years old, per the TD.  The tour covered Mirabelle Gardens in the new city, then crossing a bridge back to the old city and seeing the Cathedral, Dom Quartier, and back to the hotel on the shopping street.  It was fine, but could have included some inside visits if more time were allotted or fewer breaks were taken.

 

The group then had about two hours on their own, including getting lunch if desired.  At 1315 they were supposed to take a 15- to 20-minute walk to wherever the driver finally found a parking place for the bus--we heard him tell the TD the ones he usually used were all booked up.  And, again, the bus cannot enter the Old Town during the day.  The tour was to a salt mine--which, of course, was the source of Salzburg's wealth back in the day and the derivation of its name.  We chose not to go on the tour, however, as we wanted to visit the fortress and see more of the town.  (The fortress and Hellbrun Palace were Freechoice options in the original material from Scenic.  But they were dropped leaving only the salt mine option.  The TD has never been and had limited information about it.  He has been an independent contractor of Scenic's since 2013.  He told us that in former seasons, Scenic always held a conference with the ICs at the beginning of the season to explain changes and get them up to speed.  They would hold another one at the end of the season to discuss what went well and what did not.  Scenic did not do this in 2022 and it is apparent the travel industry is just getting back up to speed.  We're all learning to be flexible as we go along, he said.)

 

Tonight we are having a group dinner at Sternbrau.  Will report on that and how people liked the salt mine tour later.  Tomorrow we have an early start and will have a long day at the Passion Play in Oberammergau.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 minutes ago, Fouremco said:

I'll be following you adventures. Hopefully things with start to run more smoothly.

 

BTW, this post and your more detailed post on your flights on the other thread are a perfect example of why I would never travel without a European SIM card.

 

I had no trouble connecting with my AT&T service.  It costs $10 day for phone, texting, and data.

 

But I am going to look into a SIM card for Germany as we'll be back for a Christmas markets trip in December.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, loriva said:

 

I had no trouble connecting with my AT&T service.  It costs $10 day for phone, texting, and data.

 

But I am going to look into a SIM card for Germany as we'll be back for a Christmas markets trip in December.

With Canadian service providers, daily roaming costs for Europe are 50% higher than AT&T's. I can get a 14-day SIM for $50 versus $210 + taxes for my service provider's roaming.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, loriva said:

 

I had no trouble connecting with my AT&T service.  It costs $10 day for phone, texting, and data.

 

But I am going to look into a SIM card for Germany as we'll be back for a Christmas markets trip in December.

Verizon is similar.  But with T-Mobile you get European coverage included.  They also have discount plans for seniors (55+), and as a new customer you can trade in your old phones for huge rebates that cover all the cost of new iPhones (or almost all if you want upgraded models).  We switched just before our April-May trip to Amsterdam and Paris, and T-Mobile worked great everywhere.  [Just make sure you have good coverage where you live in the US, as that's where you'll be using it most of the time!]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

Verizon is similar.  But with T-Mobile you get European coverage included.  They also have discount plans for seniors (55+), and as a new customer you can trade in your old phones for huge rebates that cover all the cost of new iPhones (or almost all if you want upgraded models).  We switched just before our April-May trip to Amsterdam and Paris, and T-Mobile worked great everywhere.  [Just make sure you have good coverage where you live in the US, as that's where you'll be using it most of the time!]

Oh sure, rub it in! 😇

 

Canada continues to lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to cell service at reasonable rates. We can't even get free US coverage, let alone European! And don't ask about the number of times I've been dinged with roaming charges when boating on the St. Lawrence in Canadian waters but connecting with a US cell tower. :classic_sad:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

49 minutes ago, Fouremco said:

Oh sure, rub it in! 😇

 

Canada continues to lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to cell service at reasonable rates. We can't even get free US coverage, let alone European! And don't ask about the number of times I've been dinged with roaming charges when boating on the St. Lawrence in Canadian waters but connecting with a US cell tower. :classic_sad:

We gave you several chances to join us – we even invaded you to deliver the invitation in person! – but you refused  🤣🤣🤣

Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 minutes ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

We gave you several chances to join us – we even invaded you to deliver the invitation in person! – but you refused  🤣🤣🤣

Well, had you mentioned that you intended to offer such inexpensive cell service, we obviously wouldn't have resisted your kind invitation! 🙃

  • Haha 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a couple of comments as a recent convert to T-Mobile related to US cell carriers and service in Europe.

Data and text are free, but voice is not. However at $0.25 per minute voice is quite affordable.

T-Mobile has military plans which are also available to veterans. Only the account holder needs to qualify as military or veteran. They are more cost effective than the 55+ plan if you have more than two lines. 
You can totally avoid the per minute charges by using WhatsApp to make free calls and texts. All you need is a data connection (cellular or WiFi) to call another WhatsApp user, so it’s worthwhile downloading. I’ll pass along a statement made by the trip leader of our most recent trip (April/May), “Everyone in tourism in Europe has WhatsApp.” I was unable to disprove this.

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

52 minutes ago, CPT Trips said:

Just a couple of comments as a recent convert to T-Mobile related to US cell carriers and service in Europe.

Data and text are free, but voice is not. However at $0.25 per minute voice is quite affordable.

T-Mobile has military plans which are also available to veterans. Only the account holder needs to qualify as military or veteran. They are more cost effective than the 55+ plan if you have more than two lines. 
You can totally avoid the per minute charges by using WhatsApp to make free calls and texts. All you need is a data connection (cellular or WiFi) to call another WhatsApp user, so it’s worthwhile downloading. I’ll pass along a statement made by the trip leader of our most recent trip (April/May), “Everyone in tourism in Europe has WhatsApp.” I was unable to disprove this.

 

 

Actually you don't even need WhatsApp if you have wifi calling on your phone.  As long as the phone is using wifi rather than the cell network for the call, then there is no charge.  In my case my phone says "T-Mobile wifi calling" right at the top.  I've even made calls from cruise ships without charge that way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Back to the trip…

 

17 June, continued:

 

—Passengers who went on the salt mine tour in Salzburg found it interesting.  They descended using a “slide” as the miners used in the former times and took a small train back.  They shared the tour with a group of schoolchildren, so the had to wait while the guide have descriptions in German and then in English.  (We’re still happy we chose to skip it and visited some more of Salzburg, instead.)

 

—Dinner that night was at the Sternbrau, across the street from the Goldener Hirsch.  We had selected our entrees (Weiner schnitzel or fish) on the first day plus soup and dessert.  Two drinks were also included—beer, wine, soda, and/or coffee or tea.  We had a semi-private room upstairs.  Food average (a subjective opinion, I know) but was served quickly and was at the correct temperature.  Strangely, the beer on offer for our package was a large brand (Gosser) not the house-brewed beer, but we could order one and pay for it separately.

 

Then back to the hotel.  It really is a luxury hotel with lots of in-room amenities.  Being a historic property, it was confusing getting from point A to B, but there always seemed to be a staff member in the hallways to direct you.

 Light switches were also different from any place we’d been, but ended up having multiple dimmer settings.  Also motion-sensitive lights under the nightstands, the full-length mirror, and the bathroom vanity for those late-night trips.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Saturday, 18 June (Happy 80th birthday Sir Paul!)

 

After a lovely, but quick breakfast in the hotel (no time for a mimosa today!), we were on the bus and rolling out of Salzburg by 0800 due to regulations about the Old Town.  We drove about 2.5 hours to the Parkhotel am Soiersee, where we offloaded the luggage and the Tour Director picked up the tickets for the Passion Play.  Then about a 15-minute drive to our assigned bus parking area (there are at least four as we were in Parking 4.). The TD walked us to the theater and told us to be back at 1330 hours to pass through security for the first part of the play starting at 1430 hours.  We then had about 50 minutes to walk around or get lunch.  Restaurants near the theater are obviously used to short windows for playgoers, so service was quick.  We stopped at the Hundesporthotel Wolf restaurant just down the street for some typical Bavarian fare, but they also had enormous hamburgers.  Portions overall huge and prices not bad—around 10 euros for dishes.

 

Security took about 10-15 minutes (check the website for what you can carry—a small bag and a small plastic (not metal or glass) bottle of water).  Also lines for the restrooms (free but boxes out for donations for the attendants).  Seats are narrow, with not a lot of leg room.  They are normal theater seats, but only a thin pad on the seat and only wood for the back—we saw people bringing in an extra cushion.  There is an open-air portion between the first row of seats and the stage, but no real issue for sun or rain for seating.  Scenic did very well by us for seats—we were mostly together in the center in the 8th row, with a couple in the 6th and 7th rows.  List price of the tickets was 201.60 euros.  They were very good seats—good on Scenic.

 

The Passion Play in Oberammergau is a phenomenal thing to see.  (That is from the perspective of one who is not particularly religious.  Of course, it has a whole other meaning to faithful Christians.)  Lots you can read about on line.

 

The first part ended at 1700 hours and the TD had told us to meet outside our entry gate and we walked as a group back to the Parkhotel Oberammergau for dinner.  Other groups in the dining room there between acts, including another Scenic group. Menu was soup, salad, choice of beef, fish, or vegetarian entree, and fruit or dessert.  It also included unlimited beer, wine, and nonalcoholic drinks—but who wants to fall asleep during the second act (and if you leave to go to the restroom you cannot return to the seating area.)

 

Dinner service wrapped up by 1830, so we made the 15-minute walk back to the theater with a short shopping stop en route.  Security and restroom stop again.  The play resumed at exactly 2000 hours and let out at about 2230.  By the time we asked back to the bus and drove to the hotel it was 2340 hours.

 

The Parkhotel am Soiersee was not the same level as the previous two hotels used by Scenic.  Call it quaint and traditional.  Very small bathroom—although the room itself was of good size.  But no air conditioning—during a heat wave.  Opening the windows helped a little but no screens on the windows and there were flying insects.  Also, mattress very soft.  Most reported not having a very restful night.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sunday, 19 June — Oberammergau to Munich

 

Breakfast at the Parkhotel am Soiersee was very good, but a bit chaotic.  Viking also uses this hotel and they had an earlier walk-up call so there were no clean tables available.  But breakfast of the usual fine European variety and they made espresso drinks at the bar.

 

Scenic made today a little relaxed after the long day before.  Luggage call was not until 0900 and we left at 1000 hours for Neuschwanstein castle, about an hour away.  Scenic’s reservations for the castle

tour were not until 1305 hours, so we walked round the lake a little while others went to the museum (an extra charge) or otherwise killed time.  You have to use local buses for the trip up to the castle, so we gathered at 1215 and got a bus about 1230 hours.  There is quite a

lot of walking to get from the bus stop to the castle and lots of steps inside.  (We’ve had no problem getting our 10k steps per day—yay!)

 

The tour was underwhelming and there was a problem getting the horse carriage down, so some of us had to walk back down.  (Not Scenic’s fault, but reflects the ongoing problems of resuming travel. This is the Tour Director’s first time on this itinerary since the shutdown.)

 

Back on bus by 1500 for the 1.5 hour-ish drive to Le Meridien hotel in Munich for a two-night stay.  Will post on it tomorrow or so.

 

Since I’m doing this on the bus, a couple of words on the bus.  Scenic does not have their own fleet—like Viking does or Crystal did—but leases them along with a driver.  They are nice buses—for us, very comfortable as we’re only 19 passengers.  Scenic provides water from a

built-in cooler (and beer!). And there’s Wi-Fi.

 

Arriving at hotel!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Le Meridien is a good hotel, again part of the Marriott chain (albeit not the Luxury Collection.). It is across the street from the main train station, which has some fast-food eateries and a small convenience store.  It’s a short walk to the Augustiner beer garden with a range of drinks and food.

 

Off for breakfast and then city tour.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

loriva excellent details in your review.  

Land tours/pre/post cruise can be convenient and easy if not familiar with the areas visited.

Will be interested to hear how the rest of the trip flows. Thank you. 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Although I would be happy to take the Oberammergau part I’m pretty sure regardless who was doing it I wouldn’t enjoy the rest of a land tour to used to sorting ourselves out around the world I suppose. Although thank you loriva for your wonderful insight, really really interesting and informative.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My husband and I are doing s similar trip starting on Friday.  We opted to do it independently.  Belgium, Amsterdam, Uniworld river cruise to Basel, Lucerne, Oberammergau (Passion Play) and Munich. We shall see how it goes.  The only headache so far is packing everything for three weeks in a carry on.  As we are taking trains often, I did not want to schlep a big suitcase. 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, Fouremco said:

Many of the daily event reminders refer to "(Whispers)". I'm curious as to the meaning.

I think that is Viking's version of the VoiceBox system for hearing the tour guide. It is a reminder that you need your receiver.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whispers is the QuietVox system.  Scenic uses them for their land tours.  We’ll turn them into the Tour Director tonight after our walking tour in Zurich.  We’ll switch to the Scenic Tailormade app on the ship.

 

Speaking of which, two days ago the TD told us we would not be boarding the Jade, but he didn’t know which ship Scenic would be using instead—he thought the Amber.  But CruiseMapper shows that ship in Vienna today,  so don’t think so.  The Jade and the Pearl are both in Strasbourg, and I received an email today from the CD of the Jade, so think we will be boarding it.  (So, don’t take lack of communication or miscommunication from Scenic personally—they seem to do the same with their own personnel (independent contractors, in the case of the TDs.)

 

The TD did notify us yesterday we would NOT be boarding in Basel.  He said it was due to a strike yesterday (20 June) in Strasbourg.  As I noted, the CD for the Jade sent me an email this morning asking if we’d been advised of the change of boarding port due to a strike by lock workers in Basel (not sure if they are Swiss, German, or French workers or a combination.). 
 

So, we’ll miss Basel tomorrow and will drive instead from Zurich to Breisach am Rhein.  We’ll be sharing a bus for the transfer with a group also joining the Jade.  We’ll lose our bus, driver, and TD tomorrow morning In Zurich—which explains why our documents from Scenic included a separate transfer.

 

To close out a previous topic, the TD did reimburse us in cash (euros) for the transfer from the airport to the hotel Scenic.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Welcome to Cruise Critic
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Cruise Critic News & Features
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...