The Royal Crown was built in the Netherlands in 1996 and originally launched as the River Cloud. After a full refurbishment in 2009, she returned to the waters under the name Royal Crown, looking better than ever. Built in the style of a glamorous, 1930s yacht, the 360-ft (110-metre) Royal Crown carries just 90 passengers (and 30 crew), making it one of the smallest river cruise ships in Europe. Teak decks, arched picture windows and art deco-style rosewood and mahogany furniture give the ship an extremely elegant, classic feel –- prepare to have your photograph taken multiple times when sailing aboard her, as she really turns heads.
Royal Crown is chartered by various companies (including Hebridean Island Cruises, Voyages of Discovery and Noble Caledonia) to sail the key European rivers (Danube, Rhine and Main) and thus operates in a slightly different way for each company as far as pricing, excursions, meals etc. are concerned. Generally-speaking, however, the experience of the Royal Crown is intended to compare with that of a private yacht, with passengers luxuriating in their sumptuous surroundings and enjoying cosseting service and genteel cruising.
In reality, the cabins are rather small, particularly when compared with modern river cruise ships; the ship occasionally shows her age by running out of hot water at peak times and providing erratic air-conditioning; and the service, while friendly, is not always as efficient or slick as it could be. However, the overall experience is idyllic, and the classic beauty and comfort of the Royal Crown are undeniable.