I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Europe this spring and experience the beautiful Kempinski hotel in Budapest, as well as enjoy my first river cruising experience with Scenic aboard the Opal.
The Kempinski hotel in Budapest was absolutely wonderful – in an excellent location. Located 2 blocks from the river, and right across the street was the Sziget Eye, on the west side where there is a large market. We arrived at the hotel at noon and were pleasantly surprised that the room was available and that we had also been upgraded to a deluxe corner room, which had a lovely Nespresso machine. The hotel has a spa and swimming pool as well as a Nobu restaurant. There is also the Bistro cafe where the breakfast buffet is served. There is a lounge called the Livingroom which is very new and looks just like someone's living room, they serve coffee as well as have a fully stocked bar.
Breakfast was included in the room which was fantastic. The buffet was very extensive and delicious, with both hot and cold items – and one area also had honeycomb – which was amazing. There was a hot paprika spread we really enjoyed so asked if it was available for purchase which it was for E10.
Scenic Opal – Budapest – Passau
We found out where the Scenic Opal was docked and took a cab there around 12:30pm. We were graciously welcomed onboard and invited for a drink. A few glasses of wine later we were told the cabins were ready and that we could go and check in.
The ships decor is very modern, clean lines and hues of grey. This is the main lounge where the bar is - it is located at the front of the ship with the Crystal dining room just below. All activities take place in the lounge.
Entertainment consisted of folk singers as well as dancers, and a sand artist who came onboard who put on a wonderful show!
The closets are designed to be space mindful but you can only open one side at a time and there really is not a huge amount of room. The mini fridge and safe take up quite a bit of the space. The mini fridge is fully stocked with wine and beer as well as mini bottles of spirits, juice, coke and tonic water.The water in the room is filtered but you only get one bottle so it is best to ask the butler to stop your fridge with extras of what you like. They also put in a mini bottle of Pringles potato chips and a chocolate wafer – which is nice to have a snack.
We also saw the deluxe balcony cabins; they are in a more forward location on the ship. The junior suite was quite large but unless you are planning on entertaining there or are claustrophobic then it is really just a personal home to spend the extra money.
There is one single cabin. It was a decent size with only one single bed but it did have the French balcony. The was a crew staircase just outside of the room - so you would need to advise your clients - as the wine is free flowing onboard and if you get a bit tipsy you may take a tumble down those stairs.
Our cabin had the French Balcony cabin - it is not a true balcony - it is a seating area where the top half of the window comes down to the bottom giving you the illusion of being outdoors. There are two small chairs and a table plus if you want to shut the door there is a glass partition that can be closed.
The main dinning room serves breakfast - either buffet or a la carte but lunch is buffet only. Dinner has the choice of three entries along with appetizers and a soup or salad. You can always have a steak, chicken or salmon if you don't want what is being served on the main menu. Caesar salad and baked potatoes are also always available.
There was always a red or a white wine served and if you prefer a different drink they are happy to accommodate you.
Breakfast always had a bottle of Moët along with a number of different juices – there was also an egg and omelette station – the fish / herring area as well as the cheese plates and lovely bread. They have a toaster set up so you can toast your own bagels or bread if you like. The selection was very good.
We did order off of the breakfast menu one morning – I had eggs benedict – it comes as a single – and Kevin had the benedict with a minute steak – which was more like a filet mignon – but excellent.
The bar staff were excellent always offering a beverage and it was never too much to ask. There was also a lovely coffee machine where you could make espressos, cappuccino or Americano or other types of offer.
The tours were excellent and one of the highlights was the concert in Vienna - really amazing – it was an evening tour – so everyone had to dine at 5:00PM that night – which made things a bit rushed. This was the night we were invited to Portobello’s – which is the alternative restaurant that everyone gets to dine at once per cruise.
Being so early and quite rushed – the food was okay – but definitely not excellent. They start out with a number of appetizers – then move on to the main course – followed by dessert.
We did attend a couple of Agent presentations and were advised that this was not the normal level that is normally produced – but that they were trying to have all the agents onboard try out the various dining venues and it was really too many people and too rushed to really highlight this restaurant.
Overall – Scenic was excellent – they have wonderful staff and although I did not find the food to be to the level of Crystal or Regent – it was still very good.
The tours were well planned and executed and the entire experience was fantastic.
I would not hesitate to sell Scenic – I would recommend at least the French Balcony –as the windowed cabins are a bit on the small side.
Once nice thing is they did have a small display case in the foyer that they sold watches as well as other jewelry – they also had some logo wear that was available for purchase.
They do have a lovely little gym onboard – as well as the pool on the top deck which has the Jacuzzi jets – and people were actually using both.
The ship never felt crowded – mind you we only had 109 people onboard and they can normally accommodate 150.