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Camille11

Jewels of Europe with Scenic River Cruises

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We have just booked our 1st river cruise (Budapest to Amsterdam with Scenic) for September 2020.  Looking for some info on how long we might be in each port?  Do you normally arrive in the morning and leave later in the afternoon or late evening?  We have only ever been on Ocean cruises where port call times are pretty much set in stone.  I understand that due to water levels or lock issues that times will vary but can anyone give us a general idea or is Scenic likely to give us a more detailed itinerary closer to cruise departure? 

 

Any input appreciated.  😃

Edited by Camille11

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Just got back from Jewels of Europe with Scenic but starting Ams to Bud.  It was very good, but I have ocean cruised and like that better, more restaurants to pick from, pools and saunas, shows every night, disco, movies, quizes, bars, tennis.........more and more.  Some ports you only have 3-4 hours on, whereas on a ocean cruise you have the whole day (and sometimes part of the night).  

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We came back last month from a Scenic Rhine Highlights cruise.  We never had more than half a day or so in ports, which was a little disappointing.

The excursions generally started far too early for our liking, it all seems aimed at getting the passengers back on board for the "free" lunch.  I would have rather started later and had lunch in the different towns.

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The river cruises are more like bus tours than ocean cruises. It's quite structured. You're in a different town or city every day, you have 1 to 2 hours of guided walking tour followed by 1 to 2 hours on your own, followed by a (usually) strict departure time. You can forego the walking tour and go wherever you want (optionally using the Scenic Tailormade software for guidance), but with Scenic you've already paid for the guided tour so it's up to you whether you find value in that. Only a few times per cruise will you be moored in one place in the evening or overnight to give you an opportunity to explore at your leisure.

 

The main difference from a bus tour, of course, is that your hotel moves with you; no need to pack and unpack every day or two, and you have much nicer amenities and more space to move around while travelling. And butler service, unlimited coffee, alcohol, snacks...

 

River cruising, like bus touring, is not to everyone's taste, but you won't know for sure until you try it. If you want to explore a particular town or area more deeply, you could consider making it part of a pre- or post-cruise vacation stop. We treat it as sort of an "overview" of an area, identifying places we might want to explore more deeply in future years. 

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Scenic (and most river cruise companies) are incredibly bad about providing information about port timing. Many apologists on here say that it's just not possible, because of inherent variability due to river traffic, locks, and port officials. My own research shows, however, that there is far less variability than claimed, and it would be pretty easy for Scenic to provide general information about timing. I've gone to the effort to figure out what the real itinerary is for my upcoming Romantic Rhine & Moselle cruise by looking at how it's happened over the past three years, but I haven't done that for Jewels of Europe. If you're interested, I describe this is more detail in the roll call thread, starting around https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/1567152-all-scenic-river-cruises-roll-call/?do=findComment&comment=57804369

 

 

I really wish Scenic would provide this information, rather than forcing people to do their own research. But it appears that Scenic thinks that their passengers only want to go on their included tours, and don't need any information to make their own plans.

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1 hour ago, DougK said:

Scenic (and most river cruise companies) are incredibly bad about providing information about port timing. Many apologists on here say that it's just not possible, because of inherent variability due to river traffic, locks, and port officials. My own research shows, however, that there is far less variability than claimed, and it would be pretty easy for Scenic to provide general information about timing. I've gone to the effort to figure out what the real itinerary is for my upcoming Romantic Rhine & Moselle cruise by looking at how it's happened over the past three years, but I haven't done that for Jewels of Europe. If you're interested, I describe this is more detail in the roll call thread, starting around https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/1567152-all-scenic-river-cruises-roll-call/?do=findComment&comment=57804369

 

 

I really wish Scenic would provide this information, rather than forcing people to do their own research. But it appears that Scenic thinks that their passengers only want to go on their included tours, and don't need any information to make their own plans.

 

The main problem with informing clients about time in port for any River Cruise is because they can plan on a couple of hours, but given the problems with water levels (high or low), sometimes they have to make changes on the fly.  I have heard of some cruises where a staff member has remained behind for those who were told to be back to the ship at a specific time, only for the ship having to sail early due to the water changing.  Fortunately, on a river, the distance to ports or a pick up spot is only a cab ride.

 

Also, it is quite common for ships to drop off clients off at one spot, and sail on to a pick up location down the river, so booking private tours could run into trouble when your ship is no longer where you left it.  

 

Because most cruising is done at night, you are usually guaranteed a couple of hours in port in the morning (most tours leave around 8:00 or so, and back to the boat by 11:30ish), in order for those who are taking optional tours (usually held during the afternoon) to have lunch etc before heading out again.  Some days you can have a whole day in port, or even up until the later times in the evening, depending on the cruise.

 

The rivers are controlled by locks, and the port authorities do have the control over docking.  If there is a broken lock, it's not always first come first through, the rivers are used commercially, and sometimes the fuel barges or other barges do take priority.

 

It's not for everyone, and not always a "relaxing" holiday (we packed so much into ours, we needed a break when we got home, but loved it anyway), but those who enjoy it usually go back for more.

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As a side note: German companies have often more information online. It is am or pm, or occasionally can be as specific as saying approximate arrival 5am or leaving at 6pm - as an example. Always the caveat is that this is the plan not something you should rely on. For the reasons DougK has so well explained.

 

notamermaid

 

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We did the 11 day Seine on Scenic and had 2 days in Rouen and Honfleur which was fantastic.  We had full days or early forming to mid to late afternoon in the majority of others.  After many ocean cruises we just loved the river cruising experience.  If you are comfortable with a small boutique hotel then you will be comfortable on a river boat.

 

i can’t speak for your itinerary but can say you will get choices of excursions through your online cruise personalizer which will give you a clearer vision of your itinerary.

 

enjoy the anticipation! 

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If the German companies can list approximate times, so could Scenic. With caveats, of course, recognizing that conditions may vary. But, as a river cruise, *everything* about the schedule comes with caveats. For example, Scenic has no trouble listing which ports are supposed to be visited on which days--but that all goes out the window in times of high or low water, or lock damage, or .... Why can't they similarly provide their best guess of port times?

 

This basic information would be useful for passengers planning their trip, even if they're not booking private excursions. I'll give you one concrete example. On my upcoming Romantic Rhine & Moselle cruise, the Scenic itinerary has exactly the same type of information about each port, simply saying the day they're visited. My wife and I really want to see the Kroller-Muller museum, so my initial plan was for us to go to that museum on our own during the Arnhem stop, which is fairly close by. It wasn't until I did my own historic research that I learned that while such a plan would be fine if the museum were near almost any other port on the journey, where the ship typically spends 6 or more hours in port, there's absolutely no way to do it from Arnhem, where the ship typically spends less than 3 hours. As a result, we've ended up booking a couple of days pre-cruise in the area of the museum--but I only knew to do that because I figured out the schedule on my own.

 

The fact is that there is far less variability between trips than one would get the impression from reading these boards. For example, over the past three years on this trip, the ship always arrived in Cochem between 5:30 and 7:30, and always left between 6:30 and 8:00 the next day. That's an extreme example,  but most ports have low variability, allowing one to approximate arrival and departure points within a few hours. I just wish Scenic would share that information with their passengers...

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It may be relevant that Scenic has been sued twice now for failing to deliver the cruise as promised.  I'm not making any judgement about the merits of those lawsuits – just suggesting that the more detail you provide, the more fodder for future lawsuits.

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15 hours ago, sbjornda said:

The river cruises are more like bus tours than ocean cruises. It's quite structured. You're in a different town or city every day, you have 1 to 2 hours of guided walking tour followed by 1 to 2 hours on your own, followed by a (usually) strict departure time. You can forego the walking tour and go wherever you want (optionally using the Scenic Tailormade software for guidance), but with Scenic you've already paid for the guided tour so it's up to you whether you find value in that. Only a few times per cruise will you be moored in one place in the evening or overnight to give you an opportunity to explore at your leisure.

 

The main difference from a bus tour, of course, is that your hotel moves with you; no need to pack and unpack every day or two, and you have much nicer amenities and more space to move around while travelling. And butler service, unlimited coffee, alcohol, snacks...

 

River cruising, like bus touring, is not to everyone's taste, but you won't know for sure until you try it. If you want to explore a particular town or area more deeply, you could consider making it part of a pre- or post-cruise vacation stop. We treat it as sort of an "overview" of an area, identifying places we might want to explore more deeply in future years. 

As I said, we just did our first river cruise with Scenic in October, and I totally agree, it was very much what I imagine a bus trip would be like, and I have to say that we didn't particularly enjoy that aspect of it.

Having said that, the ship was totally luxurious, we had a junior suite with plenty of space, the food was generally very good, particularly at breakfast and lunch, slightly less so at dinner.  The service couldn't be faulted and most wines were delicious and all inclusive.  The actual sailing was lovely and relaxing, there just wasn't a huge amount of it.

We just really didn't enjoy the rushing, early starts etc. it wasn't for us and wasn't what we expected, at least not every day.  We did end up doing our own thing and skipping the included tours, but in reality that means wasting a lot of money.

I would certainly try another cruise, as there was so much we did like, but I would try and find a line that doesn't build excursions into their costs, so we could just wander and holiday the way that we like to.

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Having done a bus tour of 4 countries in Europe,  I can assure you it's nothing like a river cruise.  That said, river cruises aren't everyone's cup of tea. 

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Just to show you what I mean with info, here is a link to an itinerary of nickocruises, note the times after "Anlegen" and "Ablegen": https://www.nicko-cruises.de/expose/deutschlands-schoenste-fluesse-4/

Click on the map icon, it displays details of the itinerary.

 

notamermaid

 

Edited by notamermaid
Clarification

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An interesting take on Scenic cruises for a person taking one cruise and our moderator once again remarking on law actions. If your going to do this then remark on the almost all river cruise companies who for various different reasons have had similar problems. It takes a bit of finding but it’s there, good hunting.

If you don’t like a company don’t use it or by the sounds of things don’t go river cruising find another way to see the world, spend your money etc.

We have used Scenic 8 times, yes a very few niggles but all have been resolved with the company and to our benefit, as yet we have not run out of options with them so will continue with them until we have exhausted all available options.

i will certainly let everyone know if we are let down in any way with no redress. CA

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3 hours ago, Canal archive said:

An interesting take on Scenic cruises for a person taking one cruise and our moderator once again remarking on law actions. If your going to do this then remark on the almost all river cruise companies who for various different reasons have had similar problems. It takes a bit of finding but it’s there, good hunting.

 

If this is meant as an attack on my post [which is how I read it], you need to provide some details about how 'almost all river cruise companies' have had class action lawsuits that they have lost.  I'm not aware of any.

 

But if you re-read my post, you will see that I wasn't raising this as an attack on Scenic [I specifically said "I'm not making any judgement about the merits of those lawsuits"] – but rather as a legitimate reason why Scenic would be charry about providing details about anticipated docking times.

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Defiantly not an attack on you and I will not continue with anything about law suites, class action or otherwise. What I also meant to say is that there are various cruises from several companies where you only cruise during the night, gives you plenty of time to explore during the day. CA

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21 hours ago, notamermaid said:

Just to show you what I mean with info, here is a link to an itinerary of nickocruises, note the times after "Anlegen" and "Ablegen": https://www.nicko-cruises.de/expose/deutschlands-schoenste-fluesse-4/

Click on the map icon, it displays details of the itinerary.

 

notamermaid

 

 

I heartily applaud this, and just wish it were the standard for all river cruise companies, rather than the exception. It puts the lie to the claim that times can't be listed due to variability of river traffic, locks, etc.

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I think it is more a question "we prefer not to list the info". There is so much repetition as regards the standard itineraries and long-term contracts and planning, that they could easily give more info on cruises in - let us say - most of 2020.

 

@Camille11

I do not wish to further go into comparison with German companies - in the end that does not help you, but I tend to find that more info is generally available and they are more specific on what is going to happen during a cruise, often, not always. After last year's disastrous drought, it has got a bit better with the Anglophone river cruise lines on that subject.

 

It should be standard info in my opinion to give indication of times in port like "wake up to the Cologne skyline" or "leave after an early breakfast for Heidelberg, you will return to your ship late afternoon". Does Scenic do that? That is what I would want to read before booking if they do not want to be any more specific.

 

Long-term planning, right? The cruise lines know at least what the harbour masters know and as some of those are willing to share that info with the public, I can also tell you exactly when the Tauck Inspire docks in Koblenz in September 2020 (!). And I know when the Scenic Opal docks in Rüdesheim next week.  Rüdesheim docking plan you can look up here under Schiffsanlegungen: https://www.ruedesheim.de/ruedesheimundassmannshausenamrhein/service/tourist-information/

 

It is updated regularly and gives you an idea of port times for many cruise lines. Other towns have them published as well but you are unlikely to be able to cover your ship's route that way. You would need a past cruiser, with detailed info. You could always join a roll call...

 

Have a great cruise.

 

notamermaid

 

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