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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
Our first Crystal River Cruise aboard the Mahler one of their five river ships gave us many special moments to remember. We just completed the sojourn from Amsterdam to Budapest itinerary. We are savvy cruisers having experienced many ... Read More
Our first Crystal River Cruise aboard the Mahler one of their five river ships gave us many special moments to remember. We just completed the sojourn from Amsterdam to Budapest itinerary. We are savvy cruisers having experienced many ocean itineraries aboard vessels of differing sizes. Instead of detailing the ship itself which was 2 years old, I will tell you the design team knows and understands the elements of how to make the cabins comfortably luxurious and the common areas beautiful letting the natural light and colors blend harmoniously with the water and sky. The cabin size was more then adequate. The bed and bedding, choice of various pillow types covered the bases. The dining with attention to detail, creativity, menu selections were of exceptional quality time after time. Each dinner was a favorite until the next dinner. The meat cooked to the perfection it deserved. The lobster and shellfish, caviar were of excellent quality Vegans, Gluten free, and vegetarians can all expect to be happy. Food allergies are immediately noted and special meals can be created to suit you with a personal discussion of your desires. Shore excursions were well managed with smaller groups organized from the larger group. Mahler has just 106 paying guests with its own new spacious road buses. Never a problem getting on or off. Staff at the ready for any assistance before you went ashore and there to greet you upon your return. For many it was their first Crystal experience and the comments were all positive day after day with guests sharing their own “I cannot believe this person did this for me or that for me.” I loved hearing their stories because I already knew what was in store when we booked, a trip well worth the price paid. The inclusive Crystal pricing is the way to go if you have never done so before. All speakers and entertainment were top notch. Crystal has lifetime customers and we are definitely part of this group. Love this company. Read Less
29 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Our Crystal Mahler Grand Europe cruise in the summer of 2018 was hit with an unprecedented heat wave and drought which made the Rhine and Danube impassable, so our itinerary from Amsterdam to Vienna to Budapest was diverted once we got on ... Read More
Our Crystal Mahler Grand Europe cruise in the summer of 2018 was hit with an unprecedented heat wave and drought which made the Rhine and Danube impassable, so our itinerary from Amsterdam to Vienna to Budapest was diverted once we got on board and we had to return to Amsterdam via Belgium and the Netherlands. This is a risk on any river cruise, with either flooding or low water levels, but it was a big disappointment when it happened. However, Crystal's Plan B turned out to be excellent and we have nothing but high praise for the ship and its staff. If there's ever a problem, you want to be in Crystal's hands. They pulled a rabbit out of a hat and turned lemons into lemonade by diverting us to many charming ports and sites. Their initial offering of a credit for the inconvenience was paltry, but after negotiations with Crystal, they increased the credit to a very generous one for any future cruise, so that helped ameliorate the disappointment and tension on board. The staff and cuisine were simply excellent. I must have had over 100 courses throughout the various meals and each one was divine. They prepared a wide variety of local and traditional dishes, and favorite standards, all delicious. And the desserts were to die for. Everything gourmet and exceptional. Darryl the sommelier was wonderful, and the chefs did a fantastic job. I've read that the Crystal ships' galleys are much larger than the competitors, so you get a much wider variety and higher quality of cuisine on Crystal. A few in our party had food allergies, but the staff handled that with ease and care. Gluten-free and sugar-free dishes were at the ready and very tasty. We loved all the waiters, butlers, staff, maids, crew, everyone to a person was friendly, helpful, and provided world-class service. We were very sad to leave the ship at the end of the cruise, to be sure. Crystal's ships have half the passengers with the same number of crew as competitors, so you really are waited on hand and foot- all included. Tips are included too, but our waiters and staff were so good that I gave out as many gratuities as I could. The ship itself was a comfort and technological marvel. The Mahler is less than a year old and all the state of the art touches in the room and around the ship were very much appreciated, as was the spotless cleanliness and pleasing decor. While we didn't get to go to most of the ports we had planned on, the replacement itinerary excursions were quite nice. At first, there were some average excursions, then they got better and better (perhaps because the heat wave broke- nothing off the ship is air-conditioned in Europe- be forewarned). Crystal has their own buses that follow the ship so you have the same, new, state of the art and super comfortable buses with the same drivers in every city and village. The tour guides ranged from very good to excellent, and Crystal has their own personal radio listening devices, so everyone can always hear the guide- really a nice system that assigns your device to the correct group. Crystal also put together a private symphony concert in an ancient chapel with world-renown opera soloist Hanne Roos who brought tears to our eyes with her talent. Very special. The on-board entertainer, Neal Fullerton, was a hoot, and an excellent pianist and singer in his own right. There were special local entertainers planned for the original itinerary, but due to the change, Neal had to improvise a bit and some other last minute entertainers were brought on board. So not nearly as many options as a sea-going ship, of course, but we had a great time and Neal was delightful. The gym and spa are necessarily small, but the massage therapist Sally was wonderful and the workout room had everything I needed to lift weights & stretch, albeit just a rudimentary rack. We walked so much in each town that the cardio machines on board weren't necessary. There's also a small pool on board which was lovely on a hot day. All in all, I would highly recommend Crystal Cruises (we've done one ocean cruise with them before, this was our first river one), and certainly the Crystal Mahler. I would suggest for any river-cruiser to avoid June and August as there is a chance of flooding or low water levels. I heard that Viking has so many ships that they had boats on both sides of the breaches, so they bused passengers around to their original ports and swapped them with ships on the other side of the low water. That's OK, I guess, but it sounds like a lot of rigamarole and I ended up really liking the Crystal pampering and luxury in the new itinerary, and will gladly cash in the credit for a replacement cruise. The crowd is mostly older. There were some families like ours. Our 16 and 21 year old weren't as thrilled with the trip as we parents were due to the more relaxed pace, but they still really enjoyed everything. A sea-going ship would have more on-ship options for teens, but the excursions and food on the river cruise were appreciated by ours. they especially enjoyed the 24 included room service. Our 79 year old mother in law had the time of her life too, and was able to do all the excursions and walking and climbing. The only slight negative was the internet. It's all included for free 24/7, but despite being brand new and state of the art, it's still satellite-based and therefore, rather slow and sometimes spotty. We were told ahead of time that the system wouldn't work in the locks, but when we were in the steep Moselle Valley, the satellite signal was also blocked for a long time, I think. It worked well enough most of the time to post pictures and do email, but some of us tried to do some work on line and could not download larger files or apps we needed. Not a problem for most, but could be for some. Most of the time we were within cellular range, so we were sometimes able to use our free international data plans on T-Mobile and get a signal then. The internet was much better than our last ocean cruise, however, but I wish it could still be improved more. The Crystal Mahler and its people are truly exceptional and they are the benchmark for service, comfort, cuisine, excursions, and quality. Kudos to Crystal and the Mahler. Crystal is the pinnacle. We will be back! Read Less
26 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
the really no downsides to anything on this cruise. Food, service and planning were first rate. This is a serious contender for a Rhine river cruise- I would certainly take a hard look at Crystal vs Viking et al. embarcation was 5 ... Read More
the really no downsides to anything on this cruise. Food, service and planning were first rate. This is a serious contender for a Rhine river cruise- I would certainly take a hard look at Crystal vs Viking et al. embarcation was 5 minutes with the iPads that they use and we were in the room in 10 minutes Food was outstanding in every way. There was a set menu with 2 or 3 choices along with suggested regional favorites. One poster said that they didn't follow dietary requests. The ship could probably do a few things but hard core gluten free, reduced salt etc users should look elsewhere - the same as any cruise ship (or restaurant) It isn't a personal chef. Breakfast was good with enough choices as well as lunch. There was a Bistro setup throughout the day for snacks. This isn't a ocean cruise ship with 15 stations set up with every conceivable meal all day - Indian, chinese, sandwiches etc. wine and liquor are included all day and it was top shelf with plenty of choices. Rhine cruises have mostly German and Austrian wines, although there are some French and Italian - mostly for sales as "upgrades". Most would be fine with the wine selections included service around the ship was excellent including the restaurant. The butler is "a butler". he isn't serving food in the off hours. when we had some requests he easily got them for us. Housekeeping was first rate martin kaye was the performer on board and he made the cruise. Piano, singing dancing - he did it all. excursions were good and well planned. The guides included University students who were passionate about telling a story. Take the e bike tour in amsterdam - it was fun. On the top deck it was a collection of couches (under an awning) chaos and padded deck loungers. It doesn't appear that other lines have that. These were comfortable and allowed plenty of space to relax The Petit Suite was big enough for us. Great layout Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
After 15 cruises and over 300 days on Seabourn we decided to try a river cruise, so to be fair my opinion of this cruise is colored by my Seabourn ocean cruise experiences. A river cruise was something we had thought about for the past ... Read More
After 15 cruises and over 300 days on Seabourn we decided to try a river cruise, so to be fair my opinion of this cruise is colored by my Seabourn ocean cruise experiences. A river cruise was something we had thought about for the past several years, and had enticed friends who never did any type of cruise to join us. After evaluating the various lines for a river cruise, Crystal seemed to have the best offerings in a lot of ways. The original itinerary was very interesting Budapest to Amsterdam, but due to low water levels it was changed to round trip Amsterdam, less than 2 weeks prior to the cruise - or at least that was when Crystal let us know. To their credit you could either cancel - as our friends did - and get a credit equal to what you paid or go on the changed itinerary and get a substantial future credit, which we took as the changed ports were not places we had been to. If you took the cruise, they would also cover up to $1000 of airfare per person, which worked out well since we had flights booked to Budapest. We took advantage of the Crystal - included - airport to/from ship transfers on a comfortable coach. Once we got to the ship, the service from start to finish was top notch. But I need to qualify this, the ship can hold 106 pax, we only had 44 due to the changed itinerary. We had a butler who basically was useless, canapes delivered to the room each afternoon, 1/2 the time after we had left to go to the bar for pre-dinner cocktails. Never offered to pack or unpack for us. Nice guy, but one less crew they need to pay, IMO. There is only 1 bar on the ship, excluding the pop-up on the open deck where only one day was anyone actually working there (the hard-working bar waiters always went down one level to the main bar and back up). Given the less than 1/2 occupancy the bar area was nice but if at full capacity not sure how easy it would be to get a seat if one arrived late. The entertainment was varied, when we had over nights in port they brought on some very talented local singers / musicians. When sailing (is that the right term on the river??) we had the on-board entertainer, who was interesting and quite a character but more than a few nights we had karaoke with a few drunk pax and the problem is, this is the only bar on the ship so deal with it or go to your room, or to the top deck depending on the weather. On the ship there are different categories of rooms, unlike on Seabourn that all are basically alike just the deck level determines the category (and deck 5 veranda differences). So I can only speak to what we had, deck 2 not the most expensive. The room was about 200 sq, feet. No walk-in closet, a single sink, but shower was bigger than on Seabourn, but no tub. WiFi is free for all, as are the tours at each port, some worthwhile, others Mhh. No veranda. Window comes 1/2 way down and a screen goes up. Not that useful unless you need some fresh air, IMO. The top deck is spacious with a lot of comfortable seating and not on top of each other. They have a unique popup bar - although it was rarely used, that can go down to deck level when the ship passes under low bridges. All the deck rails on the top deck can also be taken down - as happened one day when we passed under a very low bridge. The crew who run the ship details really work hard, especially when things like having to take down all the rails, which was not expected and then put them back up after we cleared the bridge. Interestingly their title is "Sailor". As far as river ships go, we thought the Mahler was the best looking one we saw - and we saw quite a few at different ports - especially how the top deck was laid out. The ship is relatively new and we did not notice any maintenance issues. Service everwhere was exceptional, but again it is hard to objectively judge since there were only 44 of us. I never waited more than 2 minutes at the one and only bar to have someone appear to take my order, if we were on the open deck someone usually appeared within 5 minutes of us being situated. At all the restaurants we had good service - and friendly, sometimes too friendly, OK I'd like to eat my food now please while it is hot as much as I enjoy hearing your life story - and what we liked was each night the chef prepared a local dish to coincide with the port de jour. We thought the included wines were pretty good. They brought on more wines as the cruise went along. I do have to call out the great people at the reception desk - we had an issue the entire cruise with a bag being lost in airline baggage purgatory and every day they called multiple times for us trying to get the issue resolved. The gym was very small, laundry room (something I missed being able to avoid as a Diamond on Seabourn) was often very busy. Getting on and off the ship at every port was easy, although they hire local people instead of having their own security people. In summary, we very much enjoyed our time on the Mahler and it opened us open to trying a Crystal ocean cruise, and if we ever do another river cruise it will be on Crystal. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
This cruise was amazing. We had a two bedroom suite + another room for our parents. Both were fully appointed. The butler, and service on the room fantastic...particularly found the daily personal laundry helpful. In our group of 5, ... Read More
This cruise was amazing. We had a two bedroom suite + another room for our parents. Both were fully appointed. The butler, and service on the room fantastic...particularly found the daily personal laundry helpful. In our group of 5, there were 3 gluten-free vegans. The chef went out of his way to prepare excellent meals daily with freshly made gluten-free bread! We usually have low expectations with our limited dietary choices, but in this case, the ship exceeded what we expected. The daily lunch buffet was amazing and fresh. Outstanding! The crew and service fantastic. Really, nothing to complain about at all. The ship manager appropriately handled a concern we had about an eBike tour. Very professional and extraordinary personnel on this ship. We had a handful of nights with entertainment (although we realized we were not on a "big" ocean ship). Wow, we were surprised, all were outstanding! Loved the bartending course..big plus. This ship is very clean, precisely managed, and has great service and food. Loved all of the tours and the lap pool in the back of ship. Relaxation areas are fantastic. From one picky person to another...you cannot go wrong on this one! Read Less
34 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We just returned from our first river cruise, a tulip time sailing in Holland and Belgium on Crystal Bach. After 50+ ocean cruises, we boarded Bach with some apprehension, not quite sure if river cruising would be for us. We had barged ... Read More
We just returned from our first river cruise, a tulip time sailing in Holland and Belgium on Crystal Bach. After 50+ ocean cruises, we boarded Bach with some apprehension, not quite sure if river cruising would be for us. We had barged in France and taken an expedition cruise on the Amazon, but traditional river cruising was new to us. We disembarked 12 nites later fully convinced that we had found our sweet spot. For us, river cruising represents the best of luxury land travel combined with the joyful relaxation of ocean cruising. We loved it. As with most river cruise lines, Crystal includes arrival and departure transfers. Upon arrival at AMS Schiphol, we were greeted by cheery ground staff, offered coffee and pastries and then transported to Bach on a Crystal-branded coach. We were the only guests arriving at that time and we had the huge bus all to ourselves! Check-in was handled via iPad in Palm Court. Quick and easy. Lunch was being served in Waterside but we chose to graze in the Bistro. The selection wasn't as extensive as on Crystal ocean ships (no Portuguese tarts) but was just fine for a quick bite and a glass of bubbly. Within a half hour, we were escorted to our suite where our luggage had already arrived. Our butler gave us a walk-through of various features, including how to operate the huge panoramic balcony window. The room itself was gorgeous. Bright, well appointed and functional. Nespresso machine and a well-stocked fridge at the ready. Decent sized walk-in closet with lots of hangers and drawers. The bathroom had double sinks and a fabulous rain head shower. Only downside was Etro toiletries, which looked great in their brightly colored containers, but performed miserably. We settled in and then roamed around to orient ourselves. Bach is just lovely. It has the feel of a contemporary boutique hotel with a casual yet sophisticated onboard ambiance. The boat is compact yet doesn't feel cramped. Corridors and public spaces are bright with pops of art for visual interest. There are not many public areas inside the vessel apart from Palm Court, Waterside and the Bistro, but the entire outside top deck with chaise lounges, comfy deck chairs and a pop-up bar, just begs to be discovered. Dining on Bach was a delight and exceeded expectations. Breakfast and lunch in Waterside was buffet, with self-serve stations complimented by fully staffed cook-to-order stations. Dinner in Waterside featured a 4-course Chef Selection each night, as well as optional classic items. The cheese selection changed daily and offered some interesting local choices, all served at the proper temperature. Daily wine pairings were suggested but all complimentary wines were available for the asking. Crystal advertises Michelin-inspired menus with locally-sourced fresh ingredients and they really deliver. While menu selections were not as extensive as on the ocean ships, execution and presentation was superior. The Bistro was also open for breakfast and lunch with a small self-serve buffet and a limited menu. The daily pastas and soup were excellent. On selected nights (3 during our cruise) the Bistro was open for dinner with a tapas menu. Unfortunately, we didn't get the opportunity to try the Bistro at night, but reports were that it was a hit. It would be great if Crystal opened the Bistro every evening as a casual alternative to Waterside. A feature of river cruising is included excursions, which didn't particularly appeal to us since we like to travel independently and usually avoid ship-sponsored tours. Nonetheless, we pre-booked a whopping 18 tours via PCPC, representing a good mix of cultural discovery, active adventures and culinary experiences. In reality, we had no need to worry about included tours. There was an amazing selection in every port and we managed to get all our top choices. Every single Crystal excursion was exceptional. Interesting itineraries, excellent guides, small groups, whisper listening devices and fabulous (yes fabulous) Setra coaches and friendly drivers. Those coaches were amazing. Purpose-built for Crystal, they have very comfortable seats with generous pitch, which not only recline but move sideways! Super smooth ride, tons of navigational aides, powerful AC, free wifi. On several excursions, so-called Crystal Moments added a special surprising touch. The Crystal Signature Evening Event was exceptional and will be a lasting memory. Looking back, we now think the included excursions contributed greatly to our overall enjoyment of our cruise. We sailed at night and were docked in port every day, conveniently located in the centre of town. Almost always, we were docked alongside the pier with other riverboats docked (barged) right next to us. Only once did we need to enter Bach through another vessel and it was Crystal Debussy, an identical twin to Bach! Unlike ocean cruising, there were few planned activities on board, especially during the daytime. In the evenings, an entertainer played piano in Palm Court both before and after dinner. Trivia, Liars Club and a Guest Lecturer each made an appearance and local entertainment was brought onboard a few times when we overnighted in port. There was a Crystal Society Reception to which all guests were invited. Lovely spread including very generous servings of caviar. We were surprised to be recognized among the top loyalty cruisers, given we have only 63 days sailing with Crystal. Yet another benefit of river cruising! We were crystallized after our first cruise on Serenity almost 2 years ago. We never dreamed we'd love river cruising as much as we did but Bach won us over. We've been recrystallized. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We booked the river cruise through Road Scholars who had charted the boat for the Tulip Time in the Netherlands and Belgium. We spent three nights in Amsterdam before boarding the boat. The boat is new and lovely. The service is ... Read More
We booked the river cruise through Road Scholars who had charted the boat for the Tulip Time in the Netherlands and Belgium. We spent three nights in Amsterdam before boarding the boat. The boat is new and lovely. The service is excellent and the food very good. We were quite impressed with this new to river cruising line. Because this was the first cruise of the season, there were a few minor glitches, but easily dealt with. The boat was not nearly full which was nice. At maximum capacity it is only about 106 people. It is the same size of the other river boats, but accommodates fewer guests making it seem less crowded. For the most part, all of the excursions were excellent. It was cold and the tulips were just barely blooming while we were there, but that is based upon the weather and no fault of Crystal River Cruises. Embarkation was so easy. We actually were able to get into our rooms much sooner than the time quoted earlier. Debarkation was very smooth as well with no issues regarding the transfer to the airport. I would definitely go on this line again without hesitation. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
For a number of years, we have wanted to experience the Christmas Markets of Germany. We had also wanted to give Crystal Cruise lines a try. When the Crystal Bach was announced, we made our booking immediately and waited nearly two years ... Read More
For a number of years, we have wanted to experience the Christmas Markets of Germany. We had also wanted to give Crystal Cruise lines a try. When the Crystal Bach was announced, we made our booking immediately and waited nearly two years for the ship to be built in anticipation off a once in a lifetime experience. It was worth the wait! From the time that we were greeted at the airport in Amsterdam until we were dropped off at the airport in Basel, the service and the warm hospitality that we received from the Crystal Bach team was exemplary. The ship was immaculate, the cabin spacious for a river cruise, and everything was immaculately kept. While breakfast and lunch were served buffet style, it was not a typical buffet. The buffet simply allowed us to select what we preferred and in the quantity that we liked, It also afforded us to interact with the friendly team that was more than happy to prepare something special to our liking. Every evening the dinner was top shelf. The Chef frequently incorporated local ingredients in the dishes of the region and the staff in the dining room was very attentive Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
This river cruise was a first for both the Crystal Mahler, my wife and me. Both my Wife and I are experienced ocean cruises and this was our first River cruise. The cruise was not supposed to be the the first one for the Mahler but due to ... Read More
This river cruise was a first for both the Crystal Mahler, my wife and me. Both my Wife and I are experienced ocean cruises and this was our first River cruise. The cruise was not supposed to be the the first one for the Mahler but due to construction delays, This became the inaugural cruise. When we booked it it was supposed to be from Budapest to Amsterdam for 16 days but due to construction delays, they were unable to get the boat down to Budapest to start the cruise as planned but instead created a new itinerary Round trip Amsterdam down the Rhine to Basel, Crystal offered a generous compensation for those of us that decided to take the new route. Air arrangements had to be changed, which Crystal helped with and transportation was provided between the airport and ship. The Mahler is a beautiful new ship! We were in Stateroom 209 (S2 category suite), it was nice sized with comfortable beds and pillows, the bathroom was nice with a great shower. One nice surprise was the endless swimming pool that worked great. Food was the best yet on any ship we had been before,( Crystal, Seaborn, Celebrity, Princess, etc) Service was always with a smile and excellent. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style, dinner is full service. Only hiccup was when the 24 hour automatic coffee/expresso machine, which is built in quit on day 2, but hot coffee was always available and expresso products from room service. Read Less
35 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We have just finished the 16-day inaugural cruise of the Crystal Mahler. This cruise had a unique itinerary as it was changed one month prior to its September 30 start due to a delay in completing its construction. The itinerary was ... Read More
We have just finished the 16-day inaugural cruise of the Crystal Mahler. This cruise had a unique itinerary as it was changed one month prior to its September 30 start due to a delay in completing its construction. The itinerary was roundtrip Amsterdam, with stops in Arnhem, Cologne, Koblenz, Rudesheim, Speyer, Strasbourg, Basel, Breisach, Plittersdaorf, Mainz, Niederlahnstein, and Bonn. There were overnights in Amsterdam, Koblenz, Basel, Mainz and again in Amsterdam. Because of the change in itinerary, Crystal was extremely generous in compensating the passengers. I was concerned that there would be some short-comings on this cruise due to the need to complete construction and subsequent crew training on time, but I couldn't have been more wrong. The ship was gorgeous and the hallways even had that "new" smell that usually is associated with new cars. In this case, the smell was that of a Bentley, I believe. Embarkation was a breeze: we walked on board, were greated by smiling staff, had a quick photo taken and our luggage was whisked to our room. Within 5 minutes we were seated in the Waterside Restaurant, downing a glass of quality champagne and checking out the lunch menu. Our room was category S1. The ship has 53 cabins, which include 2 two-bedroom Crystal Suites, 16 "petite suites" (188 square feet), with the remainder being "river suite deluxes" (253 square feet). The river suite deluxes included S1, S2 and S3, with the only difference among these three being their location on the boat (S1 cabins had the more desirable locations, although there really wasn't a bad location anywhere). All of the cabins had "panoramic balcony windows." The entire river-side wall of the room was basically a window, and with the push of a button the top half of the window would retract down. With the push of a second button, a fine-mesh screen would lower from the ceiling to cover the opening and prevent insects and large birds of prey from entering. All of the cabins were above water, i.e., there were no "aquarium class" cabins. The cabin was well designed, with a comfortable king bed that faced out to the river. There was a large flat screen TV on one wall (it was hinged and could be angled in different directions), a walk-in closet, a sitting area with desk, a small refrigerator, a Nespresso machine and a decent amount of drawers/shelves. The bathroom was outstanding, with a double-sink vanity, a large attractive back-lit mirror, adequate shelf space and a large glass-enclosed shower with a wonderful rain shower head. The bathroom floor was heated. The ventilation in the bathroom was so efficient that the mirror never steamed up even after a long hot shower with the bathroom door closed. For techies, the cabin probably would meet your requirements. The TV was interactive, there were USB ports to charge your devices at each nightstand, and each cabin had an iPad, which allowed for internet connectivity as well as for using the Press Reader to get free access to hundreds of daily worldwide newspapers. Eventually all of the dinner menus, excursions and other cruise-related activities will be accessible on the iPad. There was free, 24-hour internet. The public rooms were classy and luxurious. The main area was the Palm Court, which had well-spaced comfortable seating, a grand piano, and most importantly, a well-stocked bar. Talks, evening music and the entertainment were performed here. The entertainment director was Neal Fullerton. He was witty, pleasant, engaging and had a delightful bit of an edge to him. In my opinion, he is the top entertainment director on Crystal (although I know Mark Farris fans may not agree). The gym was small, but with only 53 cabins on the ship and active excursions every day, a larger gym would have been a waste of space. There was a fitness director who led daily yoga classes, stretching sessions, etc. There were several e-bike excursions for those so inclined, and you could always jog along the river or nearby if you wanted to burn off some of the calories that you may have attracted in the restaurant. There was also a spa where you could get a massage, and there was a complimentary self-service laundry with two washer/dryers and iron/board. All of the cabins have a butler assigned, as well as a cabin attendant. The butler will pack and unpack for you, but I doubt many passengers would want to avail themselves of that service. It probably would be quicker to unpack yourself than it would be to hunt around to find where the butler placed your socks or your cummerbund. Our butler came by every day at 5:00PM with some canapes, either a cheese tray, shrimp cocktail or fresh fruit. The food on this cruise exceeding my expectations, which where quite high since I am spoiled by the superb cuisine aboard the Crystal Symphony and Serenity. In summary, the quality of the dinners was way beyond what a Michelin one-star restaurant serves. Compared to the Crystal oceans vessels, our dinners were even better. The quality of ingredients, the often spectacular presentations, and the taste of the food were all remarkable. Of our 16 dinners, I don't believe that any course was offered more than once. It was obvious that no corners were cut in order to provide the exquisite dinners we received. Breakfast and lunch were buffet-style, with a wide variety of incredible choices, as well as several hot dishes that are served/carved/prepared at the hot station. During the day, there is also a bistro (not surprisingly named "The Bistro"), which has a delightful spread of charcuterie, smoked fish, cheeses, breads, salads and outstanding pastries. In case I didn't make myself clear, the food on this cruise was phenomenal. Do you like to drink? Do you enjoy quality liquor, well-crafted, served in generous portions by a bartender who remembers your name and your drinking preferences? Then look no further. I've never had a better negroni than on board the Mahler. The martinis, cosmos, bloody Marys etc. were also excellent. Within one minute of sitting down in the Palm Court, bartenders Adam or Norbert would have a negroni sent my way, and Daryl the sommelier would hardly let me settle into my dinner chair without doing the same. As on virtually all river cruises, there wasn't much in the way of evening entertainment, although Neal Fullerton did very well with his evening performances. There were also a few interesting talks given by local speakers. One evening we all went to a wine chateau for a private performance by a string quartet, which was very nice. Probably the biggest difference between an ocean cruise and a river cruise is that river cruises are port-intensive and depend upon interesting excursions. Here, too, Crystal excelled. There was a good variety of excursions and they were well-organized. On the included excursions, even when all of the passengers going on a certain tour could have been lumped together into one group with one guide, we were broken up into smaller assemblages so that the groups were kept quite small. Highlights for me included a day trip to Lake Lucerne which included a boat ride on the lake; a trip to the Dutch countryside to visit an eel-smoker, a cheese maker and a windmill; a visit to Heidelberg and its castle; a tour of lovely Strasbourg with a boat ride there; and the obligatory tour of Amsterdam by canal boat. Even the otherwise mundane daily walking tours were well-guided and interesting. The Crystal buses were quite comfortable and spacious. I must comment on the service provided on this cruise. The cabin attendant did an outstanding job thoroughly cleaning our room twice daily, seemingly reading our minds and slipping in and out of our cabin when we were elsewhere. The butler was nice to have, he picked up our clothes for the free ironing service and brought our daily late-afternoon canapes, but wasn't all that essential. The food servers, waiters and bar attendants were superb, although occasionally there was a delay in refilling beverages during the buffet breakfasts and lunches. The entertainment director, the hotel manager, the front desk personnel, and even the bus drivers all seemed to make it their goal to provide the best service possible, and they succeeded. Although I was obviously very pleased with this cruise, there were a few minor deficiencies. The lighting system in the cabin was interesting, you could say. It was clearly too sophisticated for me, however. It took the entire 16 days to figure out how to turn on the bathroom light at night without turning on the lights in the rest of the room. The toilet paper dispenser was an anomaly, as it did not provide its intended service properly. The laundry detergent was perfumed, which not all passengers would find desirable. Some of the chairs in the Palm Court, although comfortable, were very heavy and hard to move to face different directions. There was an error in my final statement at checkout, and it took a couple of attempts to correct it. That's about all of the negatives I can come up with at this time. I guess I could complain that it rained the day we went to Heidelberg, but it's debatable whether that is Crystal's fault. Read Less
28 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
My husband and I wanted our first river cruise to be a high end luxury one, and Crystal Bach has totally delivered it! We have been cruising for years with various cruise lines, including Regent which is supposed to be the #1 in the world, ... Read More
My husband and I wanted our first river cruise to be a high end luxury one, and Crystal Bach has totally delivered it! We have been cruising for years with various cruise lines, including Regent which is supposed to be the #1 in the world, but Crystal Bach surpassed it by a mile! ~First of all, the food was out of the world! Every meal they served on the ship was excellent! We are foodies and we are very critical of food. Chef Mattias Pape and his team were unbelievable. ~The executions were complementary and they were wonderful. We enjoyed all the sightseeings. There were plenty of umbrellas and bottles of water on the buses. The bus drivers and staff were very attentive and friendly. ~The room was very spacious and chic. All cabins have a floor to ceiling window which can be opened and turn the room to a balcony. The water pressure in the bath room was just perfect. ~The deck was very spacious for relaxing, even for jogging/walking. ~The service was excellent. All staff members, especially the captain, were very friendly and went out their ways to make guests happy. ~ The entertainment was wonderful, to say the least. We have been used to watch full stage productions on those big ocean liners and we did enjoy them. We were told that the entertainment on river cruises tends to be boring due to the size of the ships. Well, it turned out, every night with our wonderful entertainer, Mark Farris, was the best time we ever had on any ship. Not only is Mark a gifted singer and pianist, he is also very kind and friendly. He remembered every guest from day one and always involved everyone during his nightly show. He made us feel like partying with a very close circle of friends. We all love him very much and hope that he will be on our next cruise. Since we were on the inaugural voyage, we did experience some mishaps, mechanically and human errors. But Crystal Cruise made every effort and went above and beyond to accommodate every guest. As I mentioned, we have sailed on different cruise lines. After this wonderful experience with Crystal Bach, we have decided to become lifelong Crystal cruisers. On another note, our fellow cruisers' age range from mid 40s to 90s. Most of them looked like 65 and older. I am in my mid 50s but feel fit in well with this group of kind and friendly international guests. If you want a more lively crowd, or casinos, this ship is not for you. Please excuse my grammatical errors since English is not my first language. Read Less
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