The 15 day Jewels of Europe is one of Scenic’s most popular and best-selling itineraries, spanning the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. In May, Laura from our digital team and three other staff members embarked on the reverse itinerary of this cruise. Here is her account.
Experiencing the Jewels of Europe
Day 1 UK > Budapest
On Monday 9 May, myself and three other members of the Scenic team fly from Manchester to join Scenic Jasper and her guests in Budapest. Upon arrival at the ship, we are welcomed warmly by the Hotel Manager and reception staff, and once checked in, our butler Milos shows us to our suites. Milos introduces himself and explains which services he is there to deliver should we need them, and then gives us a tour of our suite and its features, before leaving us to settle in. As we have arrived rather late, we change and head straight to dinner in Crystal Dining, where we’re given another warm welcome from the waiting staff.
After dinner, we’re invited to the Sun Deck to enjoy an evening cruise around Budapest. Seeing the beautiful architecture of Hungary’s capital lit up against the night sky is a sight that could awe the most seasoned traveller.
Day 2 Budapest
After a luxurious sleep in my Scenic Slumber Bed, I awake early on Tuesday to a slightly rainy Budapest. However, a little weather doesn’t ruin the day’s plans and after a delicious cooked breakfast, everybody parts ways to take part in their chosen Scenic Freechoice excursions. All excursions are included in the price of a Scenic holiday, and each specially selected activity is designed to ensure our guests make the most of each destination.
Today’s Freechoice options include a guided walking tour of Budapest, a trip to the Thermal Baths and Spa, or a visit to the famous Hospital in the Rock, a WWII relic. I choose to visit the Thermal Baths and so at 9am, I board a Scenic coach and head to our destination. On the way our expert local tour guide, Dora, gives us a quick tour of the city and takes us to a surprise stop at Gellért Hill, from where you can see the entire city.
After our quick detour, we arrive at the Thermal Baths and are given instructions on how to use the different features from Hunor, before he leaves us to enjoy ourselves. We have a few hours to completely relax and enjoy the different pools; there are two outdoor baths and a swimming pool, and several indoor baths, with temperatures reaching 38°.
At 12.30, a coach picks us up and takes us back to the ship in time for lunch. There is an excited buzz in the Crystal Dining room as everybody discusses their morning’s adventures. After lunch there are a couple of hours of free time. Many guests take the opportunity to retire to their suites and take advantage of their Scenic Sun-Lounge. Others sit in the lounge, forging friendships with people from all over the world.
In the evening the Cruise Director, Hunor, takes us through a mandatory safety drill before delivering his daily port talk, detailing the plans for the next day. Then it is time for the Captain’s welcome cocktails, in which the captain welcomes everybody on board and introduces us to his crew. Cocktails are followed by the Captain’s gala dinner in Crystal Dining.
Once dinner is over, the lounge fills up as everybody watches a performance from a group of traditional Hungarian dancers. This is a wonderful end to a busy and interesting day, filled with history and culture.
Day 3 Budapest > Vienna
The majority of our third day is spent on board, as Scenic Jasper cruises from Budapest to Vienna. After breakfast, everybody heads up to the Sun Deck to witness the ship sailing past the Slovakian capital of Bratislava.
Once the city is behind us, everybody heads back down to the lounge for a Scenic Freechoice presentation by Hunor. This gives everybody on board the opportunity to find out exactly which excursions are available to choose from and what they can expect for the next few days.
Scenic Jasper arrives in Vienna mid-afternoon, just in time for dinner, which is served early this evening as at 7pm, we head off to the first Scenic Enrich event of the cruise: a private classical concert at Palais Liechtenstein. Scenic Enrich events are designed to take our guests behind the scenes of the destinations they visit and immerse them in the culture. Deeply rooted in Vienna’s history for over 300 years, Palais Liechtenstein is notable for its incredible architecture and stunning interior decor. Vienna is known as the birthplace of Classicism genre of music, and this evening we are honoured to watch an exclusive performance from the Vienna Imperial Orchestra.
Once the concert is over, we head back to the ship for an evening of relaxation in the lounge, accompanied by Nina, the pianist, who continues the classical theme of the evening.
Day 4 Bratislava
It is an early start for everybody on Thursday as we have several Scenic Freechoice options available. After breakfast, people set off for their separate excursions. Some guests head off for the Spanish Riding School and Vienna city tour, others go shopping with the Scenic chef, and I join the remaining guests for a trip to Bratislava.
Bratislava is approximately an hour’s drive from Vienna, and along the way we are given a very interesting lesson in the history of the city and its origins by our tour guide. We learn that Bratislava was orginally the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary whilst under Habsburg reign, and that after Czechoslovakia was created in 1918, Bratislava was instated the capital by the Germans after the war. Later, in 1993, the Republic of Slovakia was formed, and again Bratislava was named as capital of the country.
Once we reach the city, we are taken on a guided walking tour of the Old Town, listening to our tour guide with the use of our Tailormade devices - Scenic's custom GPS technology. Our tour guide gives us even more insight into the history of this small but beautiful city, pointing out important buildings such as the concert hall where Mozart gave one of his first performances at age four.
Once back on the ship, we have an afternoon to do with as we please. Many guests take the opportunity to go into Vienna, either using the shuttle service provided, or the Scenic ebikes available. I join some of the remaining guests in the lounge, and pass an hour or two relaxing with a book and regular refreshments from the tea and coffee making facilities.
We have received an invitation from the Restaurant Manager to dine in Portobellos, so at after the daily port talk from Hunor, we head to dinner. We are greeted and shown to our seats by the Restaurant Manager himself, and introduced to our waiters for the evening. We are shown our menu and asked to choose our main course and dessert, and our waiter Victor then explains our wine choices for the evening; each wine has been chosen to complement the food, and it does so wonderfully.
Once dinner is over, we head into the lounge to watch this evening's performance by a classical dancing duo, who then invite guests up on stage to learn how to waltz, followed by more music from Nina as the ship sets sail for Dürnstein, and we enjoy a few drinks and toast to a fantastic trip.
Day 5 Dürnstein > UK
When I wake on Friday, the ship has already docked in Dürnstein. Though it may be foggy, the weather only adds to the beautiful scenery.
We have time for a hearty breakfast (I sample the pancakes, which are amazing) and a chance to say thank you and goodbye to our new friends and the wonderful crew. Hunor meets us in reception to see us off, and Milos and another butler assist us in transferring our luggage to the car that is waiting to take us to Vienna airport. After a wonderful few days, it is with a heavy heart that I say a final goodbye and wish them a fantastic forward journey to Amsterdam.
There really is no better way to understand what makes Scenic so spectacular than to experience it for yourself. There are currently 14 Scenic Space-Ships on the waterways of Europe, Portugal, and France, in addition to our two new vessels on the Mekong and Irrawaddy in Southeast Asia, and all live up to Scenic's exemplary standards of luxury. No matter which Scenic Space-Ship you travel on, you are guaranteed to experience the holiday of a lifetime. However, don't just take my word for it; here's what some of the guests on board had to say:
"We've been on a few different river cruises and tried different companies, but we always come back to Scenic; there's no beating the quality." - Mr and Mrs Bennet
"We've travelled a long way from Perth, Australia, and it's such a relief to be in one place and not have to lug around all of our baggage from one hotel to the next. It's also true that you can leave your wallet in your cabin; I've been here four days and haven't spent a cent, it's fantastic." - Beryl and Andrew
"The staff are absolutely incredible. They can't do enough for us, and nothing is too much trouble. They're not too serious though, and we can have a good conversation and enjoy a laugh with them, which makes a nice change to other 5 star staff we've encountered." - Jack and Tierny
"We've travelled with Scenic a number of times now and have travelled all over the world. One thing we would recommend is a stopover to break up the journey - if you're travelling a long way, you don't want jetlag to keep you from making the most of it. Stop off somewhere before you get to the ship and enjoy a couple of days to catch up on sleep and reengergise before a fun-filled itinerary." Alan and Sue
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