Crystal River Cruises adds luxury to the river cruise experience. Its first ship, the Crystal Mozart, plies the Danube, offering great food, well-appointed cabins and immersive shore excursions. Crystal River Cruises is scheduled to offer a few new river lines in the comping months, including the Crystal Mahler in September and the Crystal Debussy in 2018.
Crystal River Cruises, in July 2016, launched the Crystal Mozart, the first ship in Crystal River Cruises’ fleet. Like its upmarket, ocean-going, sister company Crystal Cruises, Crystal River Cruises provides a luxurious experience, one that comes with excellent food, first-rate cabins, and interesting shore tours.Crystal purchased an older ship and completely renovated it to accommodate 154-passengers in 77 cabins. Because of the Crystal Mozart’s width, the ship plies the Danube River between Passau, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary, and not rivers with narrow locks. This year, the company will launch two smaller new-builds, designed to navigate additional European rivers: Crystal Bach, scheduled to debut August 13, 2017; and the Crystal Mahler, scheduled to debut Sept. 30, 2017. The Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel will debut in 2018.
Crystal Mozart’s Special Features
· Wide vessel: At 75 feet wide, the Crystal Mozart is almost twice as wide as the standard river vessel, something that enhances the onboard experience. Forget about feeling enclosed, a common sensation on smaller river boats sized to fit through Europe’s narrow canals. Large windows flood public spaces with light and the ship contains several lounges.
· More dining options: The extra space enables the vessel to offer guests several dining options, rare on smaller riverboats. Along with waterside, the main dining area, the Crystal Mozart offers Blue, a hamburger-and-salad informal eatery, and the Bistro, a coffee and snack area serving an ample array of pastries, cheese, and deli meats depending on the hour. Room service is also available. We found the food, especially dinner, to be among the best we’ve ever had on a ship.
· Comfortable cabins: The line labels all cabins “suites,” although the smaller cabins at 204 square feet or even 219 square feet don’t feel like suites. Nonetheless, the cabins’ sophisticated décor and upmarket amenities — Nespresso machine, iPad, king-size bed, larger than typical bathroom with Toto toilets (the lid lifts as you approach) and butler service — add to the comfort. We felt as if we were staying in a wealthy friend’s well-appointed, if small, guestroom. The Mozart offers 12 good-sized penthouses, each 330 square feet, plus the ship has a pair of two-bedroom suites, each a spacious 883 square feet.
· Enhanced shore excursions: Most shore excursions are included in the voyage’s fare. Crystal, as part of its stated commitment to providing luxury river journeys that showcase a destination’s culture, adds special outings at certain ports. In Vienna, a city associated with music, several river cruise lines offer concerts. Crystal River Cruises, however, held their concert afterhours in the iconic Belvedere Palace. Along with a 10-piece orchestra, performances in the elaborate Marble Hall featured ballet dancers and opera singers. It proved to be a memorable evening.