For years a top choice for luxury ocean sailings, Crystal Cruises branched into river cruising in 2016 with the introduction of the 154-passenger Crystal Mozart. The ship had previously sailed for other brands as the largest riverboat in Europe; when Crystal bought the ship, the company took the vessel down to the steel and then rebuilt it in its own style. With beautiful new interiors and luxurious amenities, Crystal Mozart now sails the Danube on 10-night itineraries roundtrip from Vienna.
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Crystal Mozart will float your boat if you like ...
Crystal Mozart is more like a small cruise ship on a river than a riverboat. It offers multiple dining venues, including a main restaurant that's part buffet/part sit-down, a casual indoor/outdoor lunch joint, a bistro that serves continental breakfast and light fare (including an ice cream bar) by day and sit-down menu at night, a 24/7 snack bar and room service. Its spa and gym are among the largest we've seen on Europe's rivers. There's a salon space for mani-pedis and hair styling, two treatment rooms and an indoor pool area with a small pool, hot tub and padded lounge chairs facing large windows. The two-sided gym has an array of cardio and resistance training machines, plus free weights, and locker rooms house single-sex sauna and steam rooms. Cabin design also resembles cruise ships more than riverboats on other lines.
If you like gadgets, gizmos and the latest digital developments, Crystal Mozart is definitely your ship. All suites include customizable lighting (with multiple options on every light switch); an electronic Toto toilet, with a remote to change settings like heated seats and automatic open/close; an iPad from which to control room settings and order room service, among others; plenty of USB and electric outlets; and even digital "do not disturb" signs. The riverboat also carries two Wider speedboats and electric bicycles for shore excursion needs not met by its upgraded motor coaches (which offer free Wi-Fi, a restroom and a Nespresso machine).
Speaking of bikes, Crystal offers active tours in nearly every port. Options include cycling, hiking and rafting, and at least one active tour is complimentary in every port with tour choice. Or, you can take the e-bikes out on your own for independent exploration.
If you adore fine dining, Crystal will make sure you have at least one drool-worthy meal off the ship. Every passenger is entitled to lunch or dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant as a complimentary culinary excursion offered by the company. Choose from a list of four restaurants in Vienna and four in Budapest, and Crystal provides the transportation and takes care of the cost of the meal, drinks and gratuities. (If wine is your thing, Mozart also offers several wine tasting tours, including complimentary and extra-fee options.)
Attention to detail
Crystal Mozart isn't much to look at from the outside, but its interiors wow. The designers thought about every space, from the faux fireplace in the seating area outside The Bistro to metallic wall and ceiling decorations in several public areas, including Palm Court and the Waterside Restaurant. We loved the pops of color sprinkled among modern neutrals. Even the rocking chairs by the pool look like design-school award-winners.
If the weather's nice, Crystal Mozart makes it easy to enjoy fresh air and river views. Its aft restaurant, the casual Blue, has alfresco seating for enjoying a burger or some flatbread out of doors. One deck up, the Vista Deck is more tricked out than most riverboat sun decks. It's got a fitness area for outdoor yoga, and a "living roof" where you can stroll or chat among beds of live plants. In the middle, it has a hip hangout, complete with a hydraulic bar (it sinks down when Mozart needs to pass under low bridges), flat-screen TV for sporting event and movie viewing and colorful cozy chairs for chilling day or night.
Crystal Mozart probably isn't the riverboat for you if you like ...
Crystal packs a lot into its standard riverview and French balcony suites -- king-sized beds, love seats, desks and coffee tables. What it doesn't give you is much room to walk around. You're constantly squeezing past various pieces of furniture to get in and out of the room, and the bed can get in the way of the closet doors opening fully. Fit two people in one of these cabins at the same time, and you better know some acrobatic moves. You'll need one of the 12 Penthouse or two Crystal suites if you want more maneuverability.
While other luxury river cruise lines offer all passengers free, unlimited Wi-Fi, Crystal gives most passengers just 60 minutes per person, per day. (Penthouse passengers get 90 minutes, and only Crystal Suite residents get unlimited access.) Use it all, and you'll have to pay for more. While the complimentary Wi-Fi on Crystal's motor coaches helps some, the limits can be frustrating if you're trying to do work, get stuck with a slow connection or prefer to check your devices as frequently on vacation as you do at home.
Set-time group dining
Crystal Mozart features open-seating dining; passengers can arrive anytime during open hours at the Waterside Restaurant, and typically sit with members of their party, rather than at group tables. If you like meeting new people over dinner on other river cruise lines, or like the bustling atmosphere of everyone onboard dining at once, this is not the river ship for you.