Gems of the Danube – Scenic River Cruise

If you haven’t been bitten by the River Cruise bug yet, your time is nigh! Joanne recently enjoyed a taste of Scenic’s Gems of the Danube itinerary and thought it was the perfect choice for first-time river cruisers. This seven-night voyage winds its way along the famous Blue Danube from Budapest to Nuremberg, allowing guests to enjoy beautiful scenery as they voyage between some of Europe’s most iconic cities. Joanne was lucky enough to join the cruise at its start point in the impressive Hungarian capital but left the ship at Vienna after three nights. While Joanne only spent a short time on board, it was more than enough for her to experience the delights of a luxury river cruise with Scenic.

Things got off to a suitably sleek start when Joanne was met at the airport by her driver and whisked off to the riverboat in easy comfort. The boat itself, Scenic Amber, is one of Scenic’s newer vessels which, along with Jasper and Opal, was built in 2016 and includes the added feature of a pool on the sun deck. Joanne’s first glimpse of this chic ship was an impressive one as it was moored in a stunning location overlooking Budapest’s famously magnificent Parliament building. This privileged docking location, it turns out, is exclusively reserved for Scenic and sister company Emerald Waterways.

They say first impressions count for a lot and if that’s true then Scenic have got it down to a fine art. Joanne was immediately impressed by how light the ship was on boarding; the lobby is all glass windows, allowing the light to flood in and guests to look out at the beautiful parliament buildings opposite. What’s more, the captain and chief officers were there to greet every guest, setting the tone for the friendly and intimate atmosphere on board. Joanne’s bags were taken to her cabin for her and she headed to the lounge where drinks were being served for the cruise director’s talk.

Ahead of arriving in each port of call, the cruise director gives an informative (and entertaining!) talk about the destination and what the available tours entail. Scenic encourages their guests to download their app, through which they can download the listen-along guides to each of the included excursions. As well as introductions from the captain and first officers, this first talk also included an introduction to head chef, Istvan, who talked about food and wine pairings as well as cookery demonstrations during sailing time.

Due to the size of river cruise ships, most only have one restaurant but one of the highlights of cruising with Scenic is the option of a second dining experience. Slightly smaller than the main restaurant, Crystal, Portabellos serves delicious Italian-inspired cuisine. Head chef Istvan was on hand at all times throughout the cruise, coming out of the kitchen to chat to guests about their meals and Joanne enjoyed getting to know this enthusiastic professional who showed so much passion in his work.

Joanne took some time to explore the ship and visit her balcony cabin. The compact cabin is perfectly designed, with excellent storage space and a lovely sitting area where the window opens electronically to convert into a small balcony. Up on the sundeck there are plenty of shaded sitting areas as well as the swimming pool and river view terrace, where you can enjoy a drink and watch the world drift by.

That evening Joanne enjoyed a delicious meal with lovely wine at Crystal, looking out onto the Budapest Parliament. After dinner guests repaired to the lounge where there is a resident pianist and were even entertained by local artists performing traditional Hungarian dances! A wonderful night to round off a lovely first day and a propitious beginning to Joanne’s journey along the Danube.

Each morning you’ll find a daily programme in your cabin after breakfast, which details what’s going on board and the Free Choice excursions available that day. Joanne chose to join the in-depth tour of Budapest with a guide, which was partly by coach and partly on foot. Joanne learned so much about the city on this excellent tour and, in fact, loved spending time in Budapest so much that she would highly recommend a pre-cruise stay to fully experience all there is to see and do here.

Back on the boat in time for lunch, the buffet offers a fantastic choice of food including fresh fish and lots of delicious salads and vegetables. Those with a sweet tooth will love the puddings and handmade ice creams. As ever, the suggested wines were fantastic! After lunch Amber departed for Vienna so Joanne spent the afternoon on the sundeck enjoying the beautiful scenery and sunshine. Reading a book and watching the world go by, Joanne relished the peaceful surroundings and found it the perfect place to relax. As it was warm, she even enjoyed a dip in the pool, making use of the beach towels provided. With waiters on hand to make sure guests have everything they need, the refreshing cocktail was just the cherry on top of an idyllic afternoon!

On her second evening Joanne was delighted to dine in Portobellos. Once again, the chef made an appearance to talk about the menu, adding even more enjoyment to the experience of eating delicious food while meandering down the river during a beautiful sunset. After more lovely live music in the lounge, Joanne retired to her cosy cabin for a restful night’s sleep before her last day on board.

What more relaxing way to start your day than with an early morning yoga session on deck, followed by a leisurely lunch. After this blissful beginning, Joanne also took part in one of the ship’s cooker demonstrations while still en route to Vienna. That evening guests would be heading to Palais Lichtenstein for a concert of classical music, part of Scenic’s Enrich programme, and some guests visited the ship’s hair and beauty salon to prepare for the big event. As well as the salon, there is also a small gym and salt relaxation room on board.

The exciting evening got off to a wonderful start with everyone dressing up in their finest attire for a Viennese-style dinner, complete with delicious Austrian wine. Joanne opted for the traditional schnitzel and famous apple strudel with no regrets! It was just a 15-minute journey by coach from where the ship was docked to the centre of Vienna and on entering the Palace, Joanne was thrilled to be met with a glass of champagne. Both the setting and the performance were spectacular! Joanne couldn’t have wished for a better end to her Scenic river cruise and was undeniably envious of the guests continuing on down the Danube.

If you think you’d enjoy a river cruise or you’d like to learn more about Joanne’s experience, please give us a call on 0191 285 9321 or send an email to


We have an exciting offer from Scenic’s sister company Emerald Waterways with an amazing price that’s exclusive to Travel Bureau! Save £600 per person PLUS enjoy FREE unlimited drinks during this 7-night Danube Delights cruise from just £2,149pp for a Vista Balcony Suite! Find out more or get in touch to book today!

Call an expert 0191 285 9321
Request an appointment Meet us at a time that suits you.
Send an enquiry Tell us your travel plans.