ABOARD THE SCENIC JADE – A day and a half have passed and this is the first chance I have had to write.
Yesterday was consumed with full day tours and this morning with a half day tour. All tours are included on Scenic Cruises so participation is high. First we docked in Passau, Germany, where passengers were offloaded for their tours and at the end of the day we returned to the ship in Linz, Austria.
Over half of the group opted for the day tour to Salzburg, Austria (think “Sound of Music”) and most of the rest of us went to the village of Cesky Krumlov (pronounced Chesky Kroom-lof) in the Czech Republic. A few folks spent the day with the ship. We selected Cesky on the recommendation of my colleague Bob Jenkins, who said it was one of the prettiest little villages he had ever visited.
We had an excellent guide, Sabine, and really did enjoy our day in this medieval village that is so well preserved because its buildings have never been damaged by war. I was surprised to learn that it is the second most popular tourist site in the Czech Republic, after Prague. Our experience was highlighted by the opening of a weekend event – The Festival of the Five-Petaled Rose – that began with a parade of local dignitaries all dressed in renaissance attire.
Cesky Krumlov is picture-perfect: Its skyline is dominated by an impressive castle and church spire. It has narrow, winding lanes lined with hotels, restaurants and shops. A small river filled with kayakers and holiday-makers in inflatable small boats encircles the town center. For the festival, the main square of the village was lined with food booths selling Czech specialties – sausages, cheeses, drinks, fresh cherries and a pastry called trdelnik. We sampled several.
We were fortunate that although rain threatened all day, it never materialized. Our friends who went to Salzburg endured a two-hour walking tour during a downpour. Dinner last night was a bit later and we stayed up to watch the fireworks in Linz that were in honor of June 21, the summer solstice.
This morning we docked in Melk, Austria, where almost everyone on board visited the Stift Melk, the fabulous baroque Benedictine Abbey. This monastery has been operating for over 900 years. This afternoon we are now sailing through the famous Wachau Valley wine region toward the town of Durnstein. From there we head into Vienna – certainly one of the highlights of this itinerary.
Today there was a BBQ lunch on deck and I have to say it was a bit of a miss. We intentionally went near the end to avoid the heavy crowd that jams the lunch buffet at its beginning each day. That proved to be a mistake – our hot food was lukewarm, most of the salads dishes were empty, and no one directed us to pick up our own cutlery. By the time we finally found a table at the far end of the sun deck, our waiter informed us we would have to go back for the silverware…so Chet did, but was most unhappy about it. His lukewarm food was now cold.
This highlights some of the service issues on Scenic. On most luxury lines, the waitstaff go out of their way to anticipate your needs…in this case, the waiters should have had some extra cutlery at their work station for folks like us, and/or they should have gone back and gotten the cutlery.
Needless to say, we never found dessert.
Likewise, the butler service in our 300-level cabin has been sketchy. Supposedly, laundry out by 9 a.m. is returned by end of day. As of now, the laundry sent out yesterday morning is not back to us. We asked the butler for ice in our cabin every day, but it has never been delivered. Chet has to go to the bar for it. These are little things, perhaps, but need attention.
June 21, 2014
Photos by Cynthia Boal Janssens