Scenic River Cruises – Scenic Jade Review
River Cruising is becoming really popular as we experienced on our Scenic cruise. This ship was full, with guests travelling from far and wide to join the ship. We have found that river cruising is part of a demographic that’s getting younger, more active, more adventurous – and more demanding.
With such a choice of great River Cruise companies, it is sometimes difficult to determine which is the most suitable choice for you. There are so many things to consider, but we are here to help.
This post is our Scenic Jade Review on the five-star All-Inclusive Spaceship on a 14-night voyage from Budapest to Amsterdam. A great itinerary taking in the Danube, Danube- Main- Canal, River Main and the mighty Rhine River.
Table of Contents
We have always wanted to visit the city of Prague, which is the capital of the Czech Republic, so when the opportunity came up to experience this wonderful city plus take a River Cruise on the River Danube, River Main and Rhine, we jumped at the chance. Of the cruise lines offering a 3-day pre-cruise tour in Prague we chose to journey with Scenic River Cruises on one of their so called “Space Ships”. Originally this was to be Scenic Jewel but due to restrictions on the rivers due to high/low water levels we were switched to Senic Jade, an identical sister ship.
Just as a heads up, we have found the Berlitz Cruise guides a real boon for facts and figures about cruising and would highly recommend the River Cruising in Europe and the US if you are serious about River Cruising.
|QUICK FACTS: Scenic Jade|
|Registry:||Malta||Passenger Space Ratio:|
|Builder:||Scenic - Custom Build||Crew to Passenger Ratio:||1 Crew to 3 Passengers|
|Class:||Spaceship||Decks:||3 Passenger Decks|
|Gross Tonnage:||2,721 GRT||Length:||443 ft|
|Berlitz Rating:||5 Stars||Beam:||1.75m|
|Christened by:||Jonette Shepherd|
Our Voyage Itinerary
We flew from London Heathrow to Prague in the Czech Republic, where we enjoyed a three-day pre-cruise extension organised by Scenic. This extension in Prague was well organised and well worth the extra to explore this beautiful city. The downside was a 7.5-hour bus journey to join the Scenic Jade in Budapest.
Our cruise journey started on the River Danube on this Scenic River Cruise during which we would navigate through 65 locks on the rivers of Europe,
The full voyage itinerary included Budapest overnight, Vienna overnight, Durnstein and Melk, Salzburg, Regensburg, Nurenburg, Bamberg, Wurtzburg, Rudesheim >Rhine George, Cologne, Amsterdam Overnight. Please enjoy our Scenic Jade Review.
Pre Cruise Experience
We booked through a travel agent specialising in River Cruises as we found that booking directly with Scenic was difficult and offered none of the savings provided by the travel agent. We also used an agent who would take credit cards.
The other big attraction for us was the complimentary Luxury Door-to-Door chauffeur service which was provided by Addison Lee. The service was excellent all drivers arriving on time and with pristine vehicles.
Scenic Jade River “Spaceship”
Just us enjoying the good weather along the way
Scenic Jade Suites / Staterooms
Typical of the Scenic fleet, the one single and 84 double-occupancy cabins (all called “suites” by the Scenic, although none are two rooms) are somewhat larger than normal river ship standards. They range in size from 160 square feet to 325 square feet. The 160-square-foot “standard stateroom” is the only one in all six cabin categories that doesn’t have a balcony. We were booked in a Deluxe Balcony stateroom 203.
Our stateroom had 2 single beds pushed together as a double bed and single duvets on each. The amenities are standard throughout all cabins and include electronic safes, a minibar which is restocked daily with preferred beverages. Every cabin has a stubby tub chair in front of a small writing desk, but only the two largest cabin categories have any other seating.
The cabin’s decor is contemporary with a sand-coloured light wood-patterned veneer and white/cream wallpaper. The closet features 2 large sliding doors that can be tricky to operate but are a great space-saving idea. Behind the beds are varying styles of coloured or gold and black patterned cushioned headboards. Carpeting in the cabin was a check of black, sand and beige.
There is a Samsung flat-screen TV in each cabin that offers a good selection of free TV channels, movies, music and much more. You can also monitor your onboard account and view the daily cruise program. Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship and was adequate for most of the time and oftentimes very slow.
Also available in the closet for all passengers are Nordic walking sticks, large umbrellas and earplugs, though we found the ship’s construction largely negated the common cabin-next-door sounds and hallway noises. All was very quiet apart from the sound of the suite above us opening and closing the feature electric-powered balcony window about 5 times every hour – even at 5:30am. Very noisy.
The bathrooms are perfectly adequate, and the shower cubical has three spray heads, including an overhead “rain sprinkler.” The shower stall also has an overhead spotlight that changes colours at the touch of a button. All cabins come with hair dryers, bathrobes and slippers. The slippers always seem to be for folks with “petit” feet but large ones are available. Bathrooms each feature an illuminated makeup mirror and ESPA pump action toiletries.
Closet space for a 14-night sailing is tight, but as the ship dress code is casual there’s no need for Jackets, Tuxedos or cocktail dresses. There are long and short shelves within the closets and two drawers in one of the two nightstands. Shelf space in the bathroom is at a minimum, but there’s shelf real estate above the mini-desk counter in the main cabin. The bed is raised high enough to allow storage of several suitcases beneath it.
The ship’s electricity is 220V, necessitating European (two-pin) socket adaptors and perhaps a power converter. The ship doesn’t supply either. There are more than a half-dozen European sockets and one Australian socket in each cabin, plus a combo 120-220 socket in each bathroom. Our article about cruise gadgets includes examples of power adaptors for use on cruise ships.
Related: Power Strips on Crise Ships
Our Bathroom on Scenic Jade
Storage and Mini- Mini-bar
The cabin lighting is good — six recessed spotslights overhead, a small lamp and reading spotlights on each side of the bed. In the bathroom, the large mirror is bordered with lights, and there are overhead spots. The makeup and shaving mirror is also illuminated.
There are minor differences between various suite categories. The Junior (250 square feet) and Royal (315 square feet) categories (totaling eight cabins) have full-size bath tubs, plus shower stalls. The largest staterooms, the two Royal Panorama suites (325 square feet), do not have tubs. The Royal and Royal Panorama suites also have seating areas that include loveseats and occasional chairs. These suites also have larger TVs and true desks, rather than a counter that sticks out about 10 inches.
Balconies feature a floor-to-ceiling glass door and three glass panels that separate the cabin from the balcony. After opening the door, you can slide the three sections in and then fold outward, opening the entire cabin to the balcony. Additionally, the balcony has a floor-to-ceiling, lightly tinted window. The push of a button lowers the top half of this window, providing a refreshing breeze, even if the ship is docked.
All balconies have room for two rattan padded chairs each and a tiny plastic table (but no loungers). The Royal Panorama suites do have somewhat larger balconies than the ship’s standard 11 by 2.75 feet (about 30 square feet).
All cabins have butler service, with minor variations based on the type of suite you book. Our butler served breakfast in our room one morning which was on time and perfectly adequet.
Additionally, the three largest cabin categories — Junior, Royal and Royal Panorama suites — get daily delivery of skewers of fruit, pre-dinner canapes and post-dinner petit fours. In the Royal and Royal Panorama suites, butler service includes Champagne on arrival, unpacking and packing of luggage, unlimited free laundry and pressing, and delivery of the newspaper digest. Occupants in these highest cabin categories also get a 100-euro (about $136) credit in the “wellness” area, which seems like it was a total afterthought. There’s a masseuse onboard.
Every cabin has a temperature-control air conditioning which we found to be quite dry. Paralleling the sheer curtain across the glass wall to the balcony, there is an efficient blackout curtain.
There is a single accessible cabin on each spaceship, and the ship has a small elevator that travels between the two higher passenger decks and the deck featuring the Crystal Dining Room and Panorama Lounge and Bar. It does not reach the top deck.
Our Deluxe Balcony Suite
The Balcony of our Suite
Public Spaces and Bars
The Panorama Lounge and Bar is the ship’s social hub, where you can enjoy a drink, read a book, or participate in daily lectures and briefings from the ship’s Cruise Director and enjoy a programme of entertainment from local musicians, dancers and performers.
The Sun Deck is ideal for those sunny days on the river, the Sun Deck is a designated open-air space equipped with deck chairs and loungers. Disappointly there is no Bar or Pool, but it does feature an area for smokers which on this voyage was important as there were many takers!
The Main Bar in the Panorama Lounge
While Scenic suggests that Scenic Jade it has “up to five/six dining venues,” we feel that is stretching it somewhat as one option, Table La Rive is reserved for guests on deck 3 i.e. the superior suites. We were told in no uncertain terms that even though we were in a premium Deluxe Balacony Suite, as we were not on deck 3 we wouldn’t get an invite. All a bit divisive really. We were travelling with friends on deck 3 and we were on deck 2 – and so were excluded!
For a 14-night cruise, we felt the dining options were quite limited although those that were available were included in the cruise fare.
Crystal Dining Room
There is a single main restaurant, the Crystal Dining Room, on the Sapphire deck which seats 164. All three meals are available there, with breakfast and lunch served primarily as a buffet, offering a few available-to-order menu items. There’s no assigned seating for the tables, which seat two, four, six and eight. A scrummage at the buffet is quite normal.
Breakfast begins generally at 7 a.m., sometimes earlier depending on the schedule for the day. There’s an egg station and menu items that include Vital Eggs, Eggs Benedict, pancakes, waffles, a full English breakfast, minute steak and lamb chops.
The buffet includes the usual range of breakfast items: hot and cold cereals, muesli, yoghurts, Kirfir, eggs, fresh and canned fruits, hot and cold meats, pastries, cheeses, smoked salmon and bread, rolls and muffins.
Lunch always offered a good choice of meats, hot and cold pasta, salads, hot and cold vegetables and greens, luncheon meats, sliced cheeses, pastries and ice cream, with bowls of serve-yourself syrups and toppings.
Some regional dishes were served but these were not of a high standard.
Dinner generally began at 7 p.m., with minor variations again depending on activities onshore. A typical menu includes appetizers, Entrees, desserts and/or cheese. There was also a “classic menu” featuring steaks, pasta, and salmon for those days when there was nothing on the menu that took your fancy. There was a good selection of vegetation options on all menus. With dinner, you have a choice of red or white wine, usually regional. But we found you could request other wines and Champagne. Again, alcoholic beverages were included in the fare, and Champagne was even placed in ice buckets by the breakfast and lunch buffet line.
Early, late and light breakfasts, as well as light lunches, are served in the River Cafe, which is a small section of the Panorama Lounge and Bar on the deck above the Crystal Dining Room. The River Cafe also has chilled items available after lunch, though there is no dinner service. Scenic Jade has a coffee machine with six varieties of coffee and two of hot chocolate. This was out of order on the last 2 days of the cruise and could not be repaired. It also includes a hot water machine for those who prefer tea, with a good selection of flavours. Cookies and biscuits are generally available at the coffee station.
Another dinner option is Portobello’s, located forward of the River Cafe and separated from it by glass walls. It seats about 30 and has one service per night with a limited Italian menu. This dinner begins at the same time as that in the Crystal Dining Room (7 p.m.). There’s no added fee to dine there but it is by invitation only and only one visit per voyage. Exclusive and intimate, Portobellos boasts the best vantage point at the front of the ship and featured an authentic Italian Five-course menu featuring paired with local wines from the region’s best wineries
Table La Rive
Scenic Jade serves an elegant six-course wine-pairing dinner with a fixed menu in what it calls Table La Rive. This actually is a table for 10, located at the far-forward end of the Crystal Dining Room. The Table La Rive dinner — again, no added cost, is by invitation only for the top suites and features a six-course tasting affair with wine pairing. Our friends who did get invited thought it was ok.
Just in front of the River Cafe there is a compact outside area where you can enjoy a refreshing afternoon aperitif or pick-me-up light bite. Not really a dining venue but it is somehwere else to savour the views of the stunning scenery.
Scenic Jade also offers 24-hour room service, with a limited selection of options. The room service breakfast was fine boasting both hot and cold items, breads and pastries, juices and cereals.
While the cruise’s food overall usually tasted good, too many times cooked items had either cooled or dried out in the chafing dishes. That was true for the wiener schnitzel served at one lunch. The veal had been pounded thin, but the batter and meat were too dry. The food on our cruise was not of high quality and we would rate the overall food experience at 3-4 star.
The Crystal Dining Room – The Main Restaurant
Service & Butlers
Many of the crew were from Eastern Europe, Belarus and Russia, and all were very friendly and willing to please. Their friendly nature bolsters the relaxed ambience onboard, and the welcoming smiles instantly put you at ease with the crew. Service in the bars and restaurants was slow at times.
Included in the cruise fare is a butler which we like and has always worked well for us on Ocean cruises; we enjoy the pampering and being spoilt. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen for us on this Scenic cruise, and our Bultler didn’t really do anything for us.
Others in our party had excellent butlers, so as we reflected afterwards – the butlers on Scenic are still a bit of a lottery.
The dress code across all Scenic cruise and tour itineraries is casual and comfortable. Dinner attire is smart casual — open-neck shirts, trousers and dresses; you may wear a jacket or blazer with a tie but it is not required. The onboard language is English. As our cruise was mainly Autrialian guests, the dress code seemed very casual with shorts being worn in the evening.
The average age of passengers was 60+ years old. Most were couples, mainly from Australia and Australian-owned Scenic gives them a stylish yet easy-going way to explore across Europe and beyond. Our fellow guests were maily from Down Under, interspersed with other English speakers including Americans, Brits and Canadians.
Scenic has 2 programs that are included in your cruise fare. There are Scenic Enrich and Scenic Freestyle
Enjoy wondrous moments exclusively created by Scenic and these events can include private concerts, banquets plus much more. On our trip to Salzburg, we enjoyed a delicious Austrian lunch, and then a typical Austrian show featuring the ‘Best of The Sound of Music and Salzburg Show’. We also had a private classical concert at the majestic Palais Liechtenstein, presented by the Salzburg Philharmonic Orchestra. These events are where Scenic really shines – very special events creating memories that last a lifetime.
Enjoy the freedom of customising your holiday your way with Scenic Freechoice excursions. Choose from a wide range of truly all-inclusive experiences classified into ‘Active’, ‘Moderate’, and ‘Relaxed’ grades, and find the ones to match your pace each day. On our trip there were about 40 options to choose from. Some were brilliant others could have been improved.
Scenic Jade has a number of E-Bikes available for use when in port or for some of the cycle rides organised as part of Scenic Freechoice. These power-assisted bicycles are perfect for seeing the sights at a pace that suits you.
Scenic Jade also has a small Fitness Center and Wellness Area and a Reception Lobby, which can handle any questions about your voyage.
There is also a small selection of items for sale including Jewelery, Watches and Scenic Branded Clothing, which are on display on the Sapphire deck. These can be purchased from reception.
There was no self Serveice laundry onboard.
What’s Included in Your Cruise Fare
- Meals at restaurants onboard
- All beverages and Beers Wines & Spirits from the complimentary list
- Shore excursion per port
- Scenic Enrich Expereince
- Evening Cruise Update
- Most daily activities, unless otherwise noted
- Use of the fitness centre
- Butler service
- Wetbar and minibar setup
- 1KG Bag of laundry voyage
- Transfer service
- International roundtrip flights, with business class upgrades, in selected destinations
- In-country flights (when required by the itinerary)
What’s Not Included in Your Cruise Fare
- Premium Wines and Spirits not on the complimentary list
- Spa treatments
- Laundry Once your 1KG allowance is used
Who Is This Cruise For?
As an Australian company, Scenic attracts a lot of Australian passengers along with Americans, British, Canadians and New Zealanders. Many are retired couples in their 60s or 70s.
Scenic Jade would suit couples, especially those enjoying retirement, who enjoy discovering new countries and a relaxing pace. This is not a ship for families, as no kids programs or facilities exist.
River Cruising is a totally different experience when compared to Ocean cruising. We often have to remind ourselves that the onboard facilities and facilities are limited due to the small size of the River Ships. We have completed several River Cruises and this was our second with Scenic we had hoped this experience would be better than the last.
The reality was that this was an alright cruise, but we were disappointed with the food at times. The staff were good and were certainly happy to help. Where Scenic excels is with its tours and enrichment programs.
Would we travel with Scenic River Cruises again? Not sure about this, until we are convinced the onboard food and wine experience has improved.
You might also like: Scenic Azure Expert Review
Last update on 2023-10-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API