SCENIC TOURS EUROPEAN RIVER CRUISING - THE GOOD AND BAD FEATURES
My wife Dianne and I had always cherished a desire to visit Europe. In 2009, it became possible for us to think seriously about the long deferred trip to Europe. Dianne was especially keen to visit the famous cathedrals, such as Notre Dame de Paris, and the great art galleries and museums, such as the Louvre and Musee d'Orsay in Paris. I was especially keen to see the Rhine castles and visit famous German palaces such as Nymphenburg at Munich. We had travelled with the Australian company Scenic Tours to Canada in 2008, and we had been very satisfied with that trip and the quality of the service provided. Encouraged by the high quality touring and splendid hotel accommodation provided by Scenic Tours on our visit to Canada, we elected to choose Scenic for our trip to Europe. To see as much of Europe as possible, and without continual unpacking and packing at hotels in each city, we chose to book with Scenic Tours for three nights at the Westin hotel in Paris followed by a river cruise on one of Scenic's four new boats, the Scenic Ruby, from Amsterdam to Budapest in Hungary. Knowing that August can be very hot in Paris and southern Germany, and that August is a traditional holiday time for the French and Germans, we wanted to begin our European tour in mid to late September but Scenic Tours could only offer us a tour beginning in Paris on 21 August 2009. We would have two full days in Paris but one day would be Sunday, and most shops in Paris are closed on a Sunday. We knew that Scenic Tours were travel agents as well as tour providers, so we asked the company to book an extra two nights for us at the Westin on 19 and 20 August. We thought that we had no choice regarding our hotel in Paris because the Westin is a hotel used by Scenic Tours to accommodate patrons who use their touring services. We were taken aback at the cost of Aus$750 for each of the two extra nights in a Standard Room but were assured by a Scenic staff member that the Westin was a 5-star hotel in a prime central location of Paris. Our surprise was nothing compared to the shock that we would experience when we saw the small, dark, and dingy room at the Westin that Scenic Tours had provided for us at a cost of Aus$750 for each night!
AUTHOR'S NOTE: PEOPLE CONSIDERING A RIVER CRUISE IN EUROPE NEED TO BE AWARE THAT "SCENIC TOURS" AND "EVERGREEN TOURS" APPEAR TO BE RELATED COMPANIES
When my wife and I were considering a river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest in 2009 we had never heard of "Evergreen Tours". When we were considering another river cruise in Europe in mid-2013, we had seen no advertisements for river cruises by a travel company with the name "Evergreen Tours". In mid-2013 our weekly "Escape" magazine offered Europe river cruises with Scenic Tours, APT, and Avalon but we saw no mention of Evergreen Tours. For reasons mentioned here, and those mentioned on Tripadvisor, we have no interest in ever travelling again with Scenic Tours. The Evergreen Tours river cruise company appeared to us to appear from nowhere following the river flooding in Europe in 2013 that affected adversely so many river cruise holidays for Australian travellers and produced a good deal of criticism of Scenic Tours on Tripadvisor. It appears from what we have read on the internet that Evergreen Tours is managed by the same Glen Moroney who owns and manages Scenic Tours. Prospective travellers who are put off Scenic Tours by criticism that they have read on Tripadvisor and in the pages of this critique need to know whether Evergreen Tours is being promoted to evade possible doubts about services provided by Scenic Tours and whether Evergreen Tours, being under the same management as Scenic Tours, will be subject to the same problems mentioned in Tripadvisor and this critique.
Your Scenic Tours river boat will pass this magnificent castle on the Rhine opposite the town of Assmannshausen, but you will not be able to visit and inspect this restored medieval castle that welcomes visitors. Instead, you will visit Rüdesheim on the other side of the river and inspect Siegfried's mechanical musical instrument museum before taking a cable car up to see the grotesque Germania statue.
AIR TRAVEL TO EUROPE BY EMIRATES
It was necessary for Dianne and I to travel by business class from Melbourne to Paris because I have a permanent disability that does not permit me to bend my left leg beyond 65 degrees. Business Class meets my need for greater leg space, and we chose to travel with Emirates because of that airline's excellent reputation. The service and comfort provided by Emirates lived up to our expectations, and I have no hesitation in recommending Emirates business class to air travellers. Courtesy of Emirates, we were driven from our home to Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport in a chaffeur-driven vehicle. On arrival in Paris, and again courtesy of Emirates, we were met by a chauffeur-driven Mercedes at Charles de Gaule airport and conveyed in comfort to our Westin Hotel in central Paris. Unfortunately, our Paris hotel provided by Scenic Tours did not match the superb standards set by Emirates.*
We flew again with Emirates to New Zealand in 2011, and will fly again to Europe with Emirates in 2014.
My rating for Emirates:
* This is not a paid advertisement for Emirates.
Our European Tour then fell into three distinctive phases that deserve separate treatments:
TRIPADVISOR REVIEWS OF SCENIC TOURS CRUISING BETWEEN AMSTERDAM AND BUDAPEST
Tripadvisor is a highly respected international travel advice company and it provides over 70 reviews by travellers who have cruised from Amsterdam to Budapest with Scenic Tours. See the reviews.
View a recent critical review of Scenic Tours Europe river cruising by a traveller from Sydney, Australia.