We joined Scenic’s Scenic Jade at Amsterdam along with one hundred and nineteen other passengers for a fifteen day cruise on the Rhine and the Moselle, back to the Rhine and up to Basel in Switzerland. It’s seven hundred and forty-two kilometres as the crow flies, but the rivers wind around a bit. Most of the passengers were Australian, but there were a few Americans, Canadians, Brits, and a couple from New Zealand. The crew was mainly Eastern European. I don’t think anybody lives in Romania anymore. The captain, the cruise director, and half the hotel staff were Romanian.
You might recall we did a European river trip last year, on APT’s Amavenita. You’ll find the blog posts here. Given that, it’s pretty obvious we’ll be comparing ships ‘n trips. So let’s look at the ships. Here’s Scenic’s explanation of their ships and here’s APT’s. As I explained last trip, the size of the river boats is dictated by the locks, so Scenic Jade is the same size as Amavenita, and the two ships are set up in a similar way – three decks, most passengers on deck two and three, sundeck above with collapsible fittings for getting under low bridges, restaurants and bar up the front. We’d made a last minute change to our booking, moving from the second deck up to the third, because we’d get a better laundry service. I can see you rolling your eyes. Laundry is just about the only extra you have to pay for on the ships. And it costs. Washing a t-shirt will set you back €4.20. That’s around AU$6.30. You can hand wash your smalls of course, but drying them is not always easy. We had a special deal last year, where we could have two items each washed and pressed each day for free, which was great. We expected to get a similar deal from Scenic, but we misread the T&Cs. There are some advantages to being on deck three, but not all cabins get free laundry.
Anyhow, we ended up in the last cabin before the really posh suites on deck three, above the engines. We figured that if the really posh suites were directly above the engines it couldn’t be too much of an issue.
Not much room between bed and chair
However, we did have a little less room than in the normal balcony suite. If I sat at the desk posting pictures to FB on my laptop, it was a very tight squeeze to get between the chair back and the bed.
A very fancy shower
Apart from that, the room was perfectly adequate, with a great shower where you could wash under coloured lights, using a variety of nozzles. I suspect we might have appreciated it more when we were younger. 🙂 Certainly the location forced a bit of exercise. It wasn’t too much short of a hundred metres from our room to the public lounges, a trip done around six times a day.
Scenic Jade’s lounge
We both preferred Scenic Jade’s dining room, set up with tables and chairs, whereas Amavenita had cubicles with couches around tables. It looks nice, but it’s not so practical for older folks and buffet meals. All food and drinks are included in the price of the cruise, the only exceptions being a few special beverages like Johnny Walker blue label. We had to settle for JW black, or Chivas, or a single malt. Breakfast and dinner are served as a buffet spread, supplemented with specials if required. Dinner was ala carte. Not that anyone went hungry on either trip, but for us APT offered more variety, and the food was better quality. APT’s chefs matched menus and wines to the region in which we were travelling, and the ‘light lunch’ options (soup and sandwiches sort of thing) were more to our taste.
The trip to Europe from Australia is no picnic, so it’s a good idea to break the journey, or to arrive early to acclimatise to the change in time zones and seasons. We arrived early, and took the opportunity of seeing a little more of the Netherlands than just Amsterdam. I tell you a little about our trip to Leiden.
So – on to the journey. Next time.