Q – We are scheduled to join friends on our first river cruise with Scenic. We are scheduled to sail out of Passau and “float” down to Budapest. We found that all of the river cruise lines smelled like cinnamon until we came to your site. You have some very nice things to say about Scenic but they are ranked below several other lines. We’re committed to this cruise and if we have to “sail along” on a 40-passenger bus I am sure it will be an adventure and we’re up for it. (we live in Northern California and we tend to roll with the punches) But just wondering what we’ve stepped into as river levels decrease and we’re booked on a river line you identify as having customer service issues?
A – Good to hear from you and congratulations on your low unemployment and a record-breaking budget surplus. You’ve asked a fairly complex question. Here are one or two observations we hope will be useful:
Scenic is based in Australia. It has, in the past, taken a fair amount of time to make decisions regarding water levels so guests can “be in the know”. Everything had to go through the home office.
The Scenic product is currently under review and we believe they will be rising in the ratings. They have beautiful ships, a rare contemporary feel, and some of the best cuisine on the rivers. They also hire and train their own crews.
It is true that Scenic has enjoyed a reputation for screwing up last-minute bus touring when water levels prevented sailing. We do not, at this time, feel that they handle last-minute planning any worse than anyone else and they may have one advantage. You see they recently lost a class action suit brought by a large number of Aussies who felt that their bus touring was not at all what they had paid for. The court in Australia agreed. Now, Scenic has that legacy to live down so we believe they may strive a bit harder than the next bloke to make things right when the rivers go amiss.
You should also be aware that Scenic has been more proactive than its competitors in canceling cruises on the Rhine when the river became clearly unnavigable.
Stay chill and keep the attitude.