Scenic Amber Review - June 2019
GoCruise – 24th June 2019
Scenic Amber Review
Back in 2015 I was lucky enough to spend a few nights onboard sister ship Scenic Jasper, with a large group of travel agents, before she went into service. Ever since then I have wanted to experience life onboard as a general passenger, so my wife Ellena and I spent a week onboard recently on holiday. We chose the ‘Gems of the Danube’ itinerary, as neither of us had been to many of the ports, and we wanted to experience the Danube in the summer.
I have given brief details below of the itinerary we followed, and some of the experiences we enjoyed. You can also watch a video I made of the ship and look at my photos of Scenic Amber on Facebook. Then further down the page I have given a lot more information about all the amazing things which are included on a Scenic European river cruise, and some brief details of other holiday options they offer. For more information on anything Scenic, call GoCruise with Ian on 01455821770 or 0800292250.
Thursday – we arrived mid-afternoon and settled in to our suite. We then had a lovely cold drink in the lounge, before looking around the ship. Early in the evening there was a welcome and safety briefing, and we found the mix of passengers was good with people from the UK, USA, Canada and Australia, as well as a few other countries. We then enjoyed a lovely dinner in the Crystal Dining Room, after which a Hungarian Folklore group came onboard and entertained us in the lounge, followed by live music with Mark.
Friday – after breakfast everyone went off on their chosen tour, and we had chosen the Budapest in depth city tour, to see some of the city, and it also included a private piano recital. Back onboard for lunch and a relaxing afternoon. We were due to set sail at 4.30pm, but a delay on the river meant we never left until well into the evening. After dinner we had drinks in the lounge, with music from Mark.
Saturday – we were cruising until the afternoon, so took things easy after a late breakfast. There was a cookery demonstration during the morning, followed by J.J. our cruise director giving an overview of the cruise and what to expect. After lunch it was a relaxing afternoon, followed by an early dinner. This was because we were all going out for the evening, to see a classical concert at Palais Liechtenstein. We were taken by coach to the grand building, where we had a drinks reception before the concert, which was exclusively for Scenic guests. There was a 10-piece orchestra, singers and ballet dancers, and they received a standing ovation at the end. Back to the ship for late night snacks, with music from Mark.
Sunday – after breakfast we went on the coach tour to Bratislava, which was our choice of the four tours available. After lunch it was another relaxing afternoon for us, although there was a shuttle bus service into Vienna for those that wanted it. Early evening there was a Viennese waltz dance course in the lounge, followed by dinner. We had been invited to dine in Portobello’s tonight, where they were serving an Italian menu. We enjoyed the meal but, if I am being honest, I preferred the cuisine in the main dining room. However, this is just a personal preference. We finished the day in the lounge for drinks and music.
Monday – we arrived early in Durnstein and, after breakfast, we went for a walk around this small hillside town. Some eager people had booked the guided bike tour from Durnstein to Melk, and they set off by road, as we cruised the Danube to Melk, with an enjoyable lunch on the way. After lunch we went on our chosen excursion, which was to Loisium Winery. It wasn’t really enjoyable, and not something I would recommend. Before dinner we had Sundowner drinks in the lounge, and a duo had come onboard to sing and play the guitar. After dinner we had more entertainment, with a Traditional Schuhplattler Dance (a group of men in lederhosen with a lot of thigh slapping). It was enjoyable and went down well with everyone.
Tuesday – after an early breakfast the ship stopped to let passengers off for their choice of full day excursions, to either Salzburg or Cesky Krumlov. We had originally decided to go to Salzburg but decided the day before not to go. We decided that the 3-hour drive in each direction, with 4 hours in Salzburg (including lunch in a local restaurant) wasn’t for us. A total of just 16 people stayed on board, as we spent the day sailing past some amazing scenery along the Danube. A lovely lunch was provided in Portobellos, then we made a brief stop early evening for everyone to get back on from their day out. It was the Gala Dinner in the evening, followed by music from Mark in the lounge.
Wednesday – we should have been in Regensburg today, before sailing to arrive in Nuremburg for disembarkation on Thursday. However, there was a problem with one of the locks, which meant a change of plan and we stayed at Passau. After lunch anyone who still wanted to do the original walking tour of Regensburg, or the trip to Weltenburg Abbey, were able to do so, and were taken by coach. Many people, us included, decided to take the tour of Passau which was an extra excursion that had been added. Before dinner we went to the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail party, and we had also been invited to dine at Table La Rive. We were served 7 taster courses, with specially paired wines to accompany them, and it was a great experience. After dinner it was final drinks in the lounge, before heading off to our suite to pack.
Thursday – after breakfast we put our cases out, and went to the lounge for coffee, while we waited for our coach to Munich airport. As we were berthed in Passau instead of Nuremburg, the journey took nearly an hour longer than it would have done. however, this is one of the benefits of river cruising, as whatever happens nothing is too far away to be still achievable.
Summary – we had a thoroughly enjoyable week onboard the Scenic Amber and would have no hesitation in recommending it. The Scenic Sun Lounge, which is in nearly all suites, is excellent, as is the electrically operated balcony window. I have to say that it is nice having the drinks topped up each day in the suite mini-bar, meaning you can relax on the balcony with a drink, or have one while getting ready for the evening. All the crew members were amazing, and nothing was too much trouble for them. This didn’t just apply to our suite steward, or the waiter who happened to be serving us at any time, but every person we encountered was friendly and helpful. I must say that J.J. the cruise director was simply first class at his job and did everything with just the right mix of humour, knowledge and authority, and people really did listen to everything he said. I have been on many cruises, both ocean and river, and I must say that J.J. is one of the best cruise directors I have encountered.
General Information about the Scenic Amber (and her sister ships Scenic Jasper and Scenic Opal)
At 135 metres long, and 2,721 gross tons, she carries 165 passengers in 83 suites, with a crew of 55.
There are 17 grades of suites and suites, with 84 doubles and 1 single, ranging in size from a D grade standard suite at 160 sq ft (15 sq m) up to the Royal Owner’s Suite at 520 sq ft (48 sq m), including Royal Panorama Suites, Royal Balcony Suites, Junior Balcony Suites, Deluxe Balcony Suites and Balcony Suites.
All grades include the following as a minimum – Marble bathrooms, L’Occitane toiletries, hair dryer, bathrobes, slippers, complimentary mini-bar (re-stocked daily with drinks and snacks), still and sparkling water, complimentary Wi-Fi, Scenic ‘Slumber Bed’, Egyptian cotton sheets and pillow menu, telephone, safe, individual climate control, Samsung HDTV linked to Mac mini system with complimentary movies on demand, and butler service. There are even Nordic walking sticks in the suites for your use while on holiday.
The D and E grade Standard Suites have a high-level window, ensuring that you have natural light and a view of the river. All other suite grades benefit from a Scenic Sun Lounge, so you can relax and watch the world go by. These give you the option for a sit out balcony or open it all out to make an even larger suite.
The level of service which is provided by your butler varies depending on the grade of accommodation you have booked, which is shown by the deck you book on.
- All Suites receive – shoeshine and valet service, early morning tea/coffee service, and complimentary laundry concierge service once per suite
- Sapphire Deck Suites also receive beverage service in your suite
- Diamond Deck Balcony Suites also receive complimentary daily pressing of two pieces of clothing, in-suite breakfast service, beverage service in your suite, exclusive invitation to Table La Rive, an invitation to a private cocktail party with the Captain, and priority dining reservations
- Junior Suites receive the Diamond Deck Balcony Suite benefits, plus a daily delivery of personalised savoury and suite canapes or fruit
- Royal Suites receive the Diamond Deck Balcony Suite benefits, plus a daily delivery of personalised savoury and suite canapes or fruit, morning delivery of newspapers, packing and unpacking of your luggage, upgrades bathroom amenities, in-suite Nespresso machine, complimentary welcome bottle of Drappier Champagne, and 200 Euros per suite on board credit for the Wellness Centre
Food and Drink
Unlike many river cruise ships, you have a choice of dining venues with Scenic.
- Crystal Dining Restaurant – this is the main restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, with A la carte menus available daily. It offers open seating, with tables for 2 to 8 guests, so you can eat when and with whom you want
- River Café – offering casual and flexible dining to suit your schedule. There is a gelato bar, light snacks, tasty treats and healthy options available.
- Portobello’s Restaurant – serving authentic Italian, French or Portuguese cuisine, to a maximum of 32 invited guests (all guests will dine here at least once during the cruise)
- Table La Rive – this small exclusive venue is for those guests in the Royal and Junior Suites, and all guests on Diamond Deck, where a six-course degustation menu, with sommelier paired wines, is served
Your drinks are all complimentary while you are on board the ship, not just at the bar or in the restaurant, but also in your suite, where a minibar is replenished daily. Whether you want a glass of champagne with breakfast, wine with lunch or dinner, a beer on deck, a cocktail before dinner, or a nightcap, there is no charge. The only exception to this is for a very small number of rare, fine and vintage wines, champagnes and spirits.
Exceptional Experiences Ashore
With Scenic there are several options to choose between for your shore excursions, all of which are all included in the price of your holiday.
- Scenic Enrich – exclusive to Scenic, and often once-in-a-lifetime experiences, such as a classical concert in a grand palace, a magical dinner in a historic castle, or perhaps even an invitation into the home of a local family
- Scenic Sundowners – on each cruise you will get the opportunity to enjoy an exclusive cocktail reception, hosted at one of Europe’s most majestic locations, as the sun goes down. Examples of possible locations include enjoying the view over the beautiful Wachau Valley, on the terrace of Tournon Castle in the Rhone region of France, or at the estate of Chateau de la Riviere.
- Scenic FreeChoice – in each destination you can choose your preferred excursion, from two or three on offer, rather than being told which one is available for that day. Some examples are shown below: –
- Regensburg – either a guided walking tour of Regensburg, or take a trip to visit Weltenburg Abbey
- Strasbourg – a guided tour of the French vineyards and villages of the Alsace region, or take a guided walking tour of Strasbourg
- Bernkastel – travel to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg for a guided tour or take a walking tour of Bernkastel
- Passau – visit Salzburg, birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or take a full day excursion to Cesky Krumlov
- Vienna – take a guided tour of Bratislava, or visit Schonbrunn Palace
- Scenic Tailormade – if you want to just get off and explore on your own, Scenic will provide you with a GPS touring device, complete with an interactive map and commentary. You can also download an App to your mobile phone and use that. There are over 240 tour options available, in over 140 European locations. You can also make use of one of Scenic’s electrically-assisted bicycles if you wish to go a bit further
Travelling to Join Your Ship
- By Air – you can choose to fly from up to 16 airports in the UK, all for no extra charge. On some departures there are direct flights from London Gatwick and London Heathrow, with indirect flights from some of or all the other 14 airports.
- By Rail – there is the option to take a ‘no fly’ return journey by Eurostar from London St Pancras or Ebbsfleet, in Eurostar’s Standard Premier Class on many of the itineraries
General Information about Scenic European River Cruises
Scenic have a fleet of modern Space-Ships on the rivers of Europe, and the current fleet is as follows.
- Scenic Gem – 128 passengers in 64 suites
- Scenic Sapphire, Scenic Diamond – 151 passengers in 76 suites
- Scenic Ruby & Scenic Pearl – 161 passengers in 81 suites
- Scenic Crystal, Scenic Jewel & Scenic Jade – 165 passengers in 83 suites
- Scenic Jasper, Scenic Opal and Scenic Amber – 165 passengers in 83 suites
- Scenic Azure – 96 passengers in 48 suites
Scenic offers itineraries on the Danube, Rhine, Seine, Main Danube Canal, Moselle, Dordogne, Gironde, Garonne, Douro, Soane and Rhone in Europe.
Travelling Further Afield
You do have other options with Scenic, and I give brief details below. Please contact me for further information.
- Russia – Volga river cruises are available on the Scenic Tsar, which can be combined with hotels as well.
- Southeast Asia – Mekong, Irrawaddy and Yangtze river cruises are available on the Scenic Spirit, Scenic Aura and Yangzi Explorer. These can all be combined with land tours as well.
- Scenic Eclipse is the world’s first Discovery Yacht and has her own helicopter and a 7-seat submarine. She offers exploration cruising to many parts of the world, including Antarctica and the Arctic.
- Scenic also offers 5-Star Fully-Inclusive Escorted Touring, to world-wide destinations. These include Asia & the Far East, Australasia, the Americas, and Africa and the Middle East.
Scenic Tours has a sister company called Emerald Waterways, which also operates a fleet of modern cruise ships on the waterways of Europe. If you would like any further information on any Scenic Tours or Emerald Waterways river cruises, call GoCruise with Ian on 01455821770 or 08002922850