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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
We thoroughly enjoyed our recent Crystal Ravel cruise, round-trip from Vienna. We found the level of service to be outstanding. The staff were wonderful in all departments. The food was overall delicious, with plenty of choices. ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed our recent Crystal Ravel cruise, round-trip from Vienna. We found the level of service to be outstanding. The staff were wonderful in all departments. The food was overall delicious, with plenty of choices. Embarkation was a little confusing because the ship was docked away from the main docks in Vienna. But they had a representative stationed at the main dock with a Crystal wind feather, so arriving passengers could get specific instructions on the location of the ship. Once we were aboard, check-in was fast and easy. We were in one of the "petite suites", which lacks the double sinks and walk-in closet of the full-sized suites. Nevertheless, it was sufficient for our needs, spotlessly clean, quiet, and very comfortable. There was a good choice of excursions in every port. We loved the bicycle tours, although they should only be selected by people who are experienced cyclists. The ship offered a few extra activities, including a tour of the galley, and an evening sail through Budapest so we could see it lit up at night. Disembarkation went smoothly. While most other ships require passengers to be out of their room by 8:30, we were allowed to stay in ours until 10:00, giving us a few extra minutes of sleep, and a more leisurely disembarkation. This was our first Crystal river cruise, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Read Less
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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We took a week long river cruise on the Mozart and enjoyed it greatly. The food and service were excellent. The ports and included excursions were also very good, and the scenery along the Danube was spectacular! Just by way of ... Read More
We took a week long river cruise on the Mozart and enjoyed it greatly. The food and service were excellent. The ports and included excursions were also very good, and the scenery along the Danube was spectacular! Just by way of background, this was our second river cruise. Our first was on AMA, on the Rhône. We’ve done 22 ocean cruises, although none on Crystal. We boarded around noon and our room was ready. We had a room on deck 2 with a French balcony. The room was small, like most river cruise cabins. With the closet by one side of the bed it was really impossible for both of us to access the closet and get dressed at the same time. The room looked too small to have in-suite dining so we didn’t do that. The restaurants are just one deck up and with very convenient times so it wasn’t necessary anyway. The bathroom was small and the storage space was down low. The toilet seat cover was set up to automatically raise when it sensed nearby movement. After the first couple days, the novelty wore off and I asked the steward to turn it off, and she did. We hardly used the TV. There was an iPad in the room that had some magazines and we could access our account. We could access our account on our iPhone as well after we logged into their WiFi. The WiFi worked well throughout the ship. The outlets all required an adapter for US devices but there were a number of USB ports for recharging. We did not interact with our butler, Adrian, very much. He did not make himself very present but we weren’t in our room much so that was fine. The food and service in Waterside was very good to superb. Agnes was our sommelier most nights and she was very knowledgeable and helpful, and always with a smile. Lunch was always a buffet in Waterside and very well done with main entrees, a soup, salad options plus desserts. Servers were consistently available to refill water (still or sparkling) and for wine and beer. We went to Blue a couple of times for lunch. There is no buffet and a small menu with items made to order. The food and service were very good there as well. The top deck was open almost all the time except when going under a low bridge (only twice). There was bar service there as well. The scenery was spectacular! The great weather helped. It was quite warm some days but sunny with bright blue skies. The castles, vineyards and small towns make for a beautiful milieu. The included excursions were very good. The Audio Vox listening devices are a huge help (make sure they are fully charged though!). The busses were not full and the guides were very good. There are a variety of activity levels offered. I’m sure we could have booked our own guides in most towns but our tours were more than satisfactory. We were traveling with a group of 20 people that included Karen MacNeil who authored The Wine Bible. She hosted two excellent enrichment presentations on wine. The other enrichment activities were not that interesting. The pianist in the bar before dinner was good. Dinners were uniformly excellent. The service was very attentive without being overly so. The included wines were interesting and generally local, and others were available upon request—just ask for the wine menu. There were multiple options each night and the menu changed nightly. We were very fortunate that the Danube was at a perfect level for our cruise. Please note, however, the Danube is not blue! I would certainly recommend this cruise for anyone considering a Danube cruise. Five stars! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
For several years now I had wanted to cruise the Danube, maybe from watching all the Viking ads on PBS’ Masterpiece programs. So I began researching river cruises around the time Crystal first entered this market, and the reviews ... Read More
For several years now I had wanted to cruise the Danube, maybe from watching all the Viking ads on PBS’ Masterpiece programs. So I began researching river cruises around the time Crystal first entered this market, and the reviews immediately pegged it as the top of the line for luxury cruises. By the time we were able to actually book a cruise, Crystal’s river fleet had expanded and we wound up on a 10-day expedition on the newest addition, the Crystal Ravel. We were not disappointed: In fact, it was one of the rare experiences that totally exceeded expectations. First, the ship itself was smallish (four decks), with about a hundred passengers. I loved that it felt intimate—I have a horror of the 10-deck behemoths that cruise oceans. At the same time it was also stylish and modern. Our cabin wasn’t huge, but it had a small walk-in closet, a bathroom with two sinks and an excellent shower, and a very comfortable king sized bed. It also had a large flat screen TV, and we enjoyed watching a movie on it one night. Overall it was a very comfortable refuge. Then there was the food. We live in San Francisco, a foodie Mecca, but the cuisine on the Ravel was nothing short of marvelous, especially the sit-down dinners (they only had a buffet one night). Almost every meal was like eating at a five-star restaurant, with service to match. Wines on the all-inclusive menu were good to great (you can opt to pay extra for premium wines but we never felt the need). Two special meal options are worth mentioning: The bistro dinner in the smallish cafe (it’s free but you must reserve a seat since they can’t accommodate more than a couple of dozen diners), and the gourmet experience in the Vintage Room, a pricey but amazing 8-course meal with awesome wines (you must also reserve this ahead of time—we ate with four other people). Even if you don’t splurge on the Vintage Room, definitely try the bistro meal, which is sort of tapas-like—a lot of small plates with everything from steak tartare and gravlax to prime beef, shrimp, and caviar. It was outstanding. Breakfast buffets were great, and you could opt for ordered specialties (e.g. eggs Benedict); I rarely even ate lunch but people I spoke with also enjoyed casual bistro and served options. Crystal’s all-inclusive shore excursions covered all the basics, and we also opted for a couple of esoteric extra-cost outings (for example, Vienna’s Jewish history). Guides were generally excellent, especially the one who escorted us through the infamous Mauthausen death camp. I liked that he didn’t sugar coat his comments on the complicity of the Austrian people. Finally, the service. Every single crew member, from housekeepers and wait staff to tour organizers, the couple who provided musical and games entertainment at night, and the butler who twice a day refreshed the ice in our ice bucket, seemed truly dedicated to pampering and otherwise seeing to our comfort and satisfaction. By the end of the 10 days they seemed to know all of us by name, and always greeted us as we walked by. This cruise was a splurge for my husband and I, but we both felt it was well worth it. Crystal In our view lived up to its reputation as the best European river cruise line out there. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
My husband and I are currently on a Grand Europe tour on the Crystal Mahler. Service and food have been superb. We are enjoying the daily canapés and appetizers brought to our room by our butler. Entertainment on board is provided by ... Read More
My husband and I are currently on a Grand Europe tour on the Crystal Mahler. Service and food have been superb. We are enjoying the daily canapés and appetizers brought to our room by our butler. Entertainment on board is provided by Neal, host and piano player. We are staying in a petite suite so storage is tight and we are doubling clothes on our hangers. We brought one suitcase each because we planned to use the laundry onboard and we have used it. Where Crystal has really shone is how they handle a change in itinerary. A boat from another cruise line hit a lock, damaging it so that we can’t sail down the Danube as planned. We stayed extra days in Nuremberg with new excursions added. We will be avoiding the dreaded “my river cruise has turned into a bus/hotel trip” because they are sailing the ship back up the Rhine to Frankfurt with new ports in the way. Once in Frankfurt, Crystal is flying us nonstop to Budapest so we don’t miss our scheduled excursions there and flights home. On top of that, they are giving us a generous amount of Euros in cash to cover meals while in Budapest as well as a credit for a future cruise. We will be in Budapest two nights in a hotel instead on one night on the boat. They have definitely made the best of a bad situation. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
My wife and I recently returned from the May 4, 2019 Sailing of Mozart. It was our first River Cruise. We have sailed with Crystal Cruses on many voyages but those were ocean voyages. We loved the entire experience. The ship is ... Read More
My wife and I recently returned from the May 4, 2019 Sailing of Mozart. It was our first River Cruise. We have sailed with Crystal Cruses on many voyages but those were ocean voyages. We loved the entire experience. The ship is beautiful and kept in immaculate condition. It is double the width of most river cruise vessels. It carries a little over 150 guests with a crew of 90+ members. The crew was exceptional and very professional, attentive and welcoming. Cuisine was terrific. We had breakfast served in our room by the butler. One could also dine at Waterside which served breakfast buffet style or for a late risers breakfast at The Bistro. We enjoyed most lunches at Waterside where they served a buffet. They have a second restaurant that serves lunch for two hours each day. It includes salads, burgers and other grilled items and also it includes table service. Dinner was a Waterside which was table service. Selection was great and many items looked like ones served at a Michelin Restaurant. Alcohol is included other than connoisseur wne. They had a great selection of wine from Europe and the United States. We had a suite whose size was great for us. They included a nice set of excursions. Entertainment included a Pianist who we know from Ocean Ships who was outstanding along with local entertainment on most nights. We want to sail another Crystal River Cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We have never been on a river cruise and decided after more than 20 ocean cruises we would try one. The Crystal line received excellent reviews and we had previously sailed on the Symphony. We read about the stacking of boats at the piers ... Read More
We have never been on a river cruise and decided after more than 20 ocean cruises we would try one. The Crystal line received excellent reviews and we had previously sailed on the Symphony. We read about the stacking of boats at the piers and having no view many times, also the problems with water levels and diversions and were ready for those eventualities. First the boat was very nice well appointed and very clean. The food during the entire trip was excellent and our butler service was impeccable. The room (S2 suite) was very nice and well laid out. The bathroom was quite large for a river boat. The inconvenience of having to cross one or two other boats was as expected however, many times we had to climb up to the top deck to cross and back down again on the boats. The excursions should have been presented with the caveat “ if you are unable to walk more than a mile without stopping you should not go on the tour”. The excursions offered did not make any accommodations for older persons who may be able to walk a half mile with no problems but limited stamina for much longer walking without a rest. One excursion in Strasbourg required a 1.5 mile walk each way to and from the bus, plus whatever site seeing you did in the central city. The tours all required you to wear an audio listening device with ear piece to hear the tour guide. No accommodation for hearing aid wearing guests were made (two earphones can’t simultaneously occupy the same ear canal) and when asked about it appeared that they had never been asked the question before. I eventually just took them off and went without since taking only one side out caused problems with the hearing aid’s smart functions. I understand the limitations of river cruising as compared to Ocean voyages and they were probably greater than I had anticipated, however, the one unforgivable flaw was poor service in the dinning room. This is not a river cruising problem but a basic systemic problem with the cruise. First, the use of buffets for all lunches and breakfasts does not portray a five star experience more a 3 star budget line. On all but the cheapest ocean cruises there is always the option of being served table-side. In addition, the selection on the buffets was quite limited compared with ocean cruising equivalents. When I did not like the mains offered for lunch one day I made a request for a simple roast beef sandwich which was met with hesitation and reluctance by the staff telling me they would have to check with the chef to see what was available and intimating it could take some time. The dinner food was excellent but the wait staff seemed to be hurried all the time. We did not have an assigned waiter. Any waiter would serve us but more often than not, we had to flag down a waiter help us. Waiters did not seem to listen or wait long enough to let your needs be known. For instance I drink ice tea frequently I would get the ice tea but no sugar bowl to sweeten the tea. I would have to get a waiters attention to bring it to me. Then I made an effort to tell the waiters to bring sugar but many times, they were in such a hurry they would be gone before I could get the words out. Many other small inconsistencies were noted each night. For example I was ordered a dish with a bratwurst and did not receive any mustard I asked the waiter to get me some and I am still waiting for it. I could go on but each incident in and of itself seems to be trivial but taken as a whole showed a serious lack attention to service. I have never experienced in the 20 plus ocean cruises we have been on from mass marketed cruises (RCL) to high end (Regent, Cunard Grill suites) Having traveled on a Crystal ocean cruise before I know this is not typical of this cruise line. This is there third season on the rivers and being early in the season maybe we were just unlucky to get a dining room crew that has not worked it out yet. I must say, at this point, I would not recommend Crystal river cruises for those who have any mobility problems or want elegant unhurried service. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We are still in disbelief as to what happened to us at the hands of Crystal. More unbelievable is the uncaring, disregard they have exhibited since our return. We were assured this would be handled with the utmost attention. That has not ... Read More
We are still in disbelief as to what happened to us at the hands of Crystal. More unbelievable is the uncaring, disregard they have exhibited since our return. We were assured this would be handled with the utmost attention. That has not happened almost five months later. I could write pages describing this ordeal but will try to keep it concise. Our cruise documents we received had no information regarding the embarkation for our cruise. We figured maybe they did not have this information when they sent our tickets, and we would be hearing from them by text, cellphone, or email giving us this vital information. How else would we know how to find the Ravel ? They certainly have no problem contacting you when they want your money. We were in Budapest 6 days at a 5 star hotel prior to our cruise so we asked our concierge if he had this information. We thought it must be routine for them to know, although the ultimate responsibility was Crystals. He gave us the information he had and we went out to find the pontoon where our boat would be. We found it and were confident in his information. We never heard from Crystal. On the morning of our cruise we had arranged for a cab to take us and our 3 - 50+ bags and 4 carry ons to the pontoon (dock). There was a marathon with hundreds of runners that we were unaware of which closed the street we needed to be on. We did not know this until our cab could not get through. The cab had to let us out as he could go no further. We had no choice but to walk the 1/4 of a mile to the pontoon (5), the road was going to be closed till late evening. I was really worried because I was still recovering from major shoulder surgery I had in December but we had no choice. The race had ended so we dragged our bags through the street. It was littered with cups and debris which was getting caught in the wheels of our bags, not to mention almost being run over by the street cleaning truck spewing water everywhere, we barely got out of their way. When we got to the pontoon there was NO Ravel there. My husband called Crystal and they put him through to the Ravel. They were clueless as to what was going on outside on the street and told us to get a cab. They were at another pontoon 5 way down in the other direction. My husband told them of the dire straits we were in and asked them to send someone by foot to help us. I saw what looked like a dock master office and went in. They barely spoke English but pointed in that same direction. We tried to walk fearful that more festivities were starting soon and we would really be in trouble. That is when the Budapest police came along and told us we could not be in the street. We told them of our situation and asked them to please drive down and verify that the Ravel was indeed where we were told, which was almost a mile away. They did and came back and said it was there. We asked them to please help us. They took us, one at a time with our luggage to the boat. Their car was so small that only one officer, one of us and some of our luggage would fit at one time. No one from Crystal ever came to help. Thank god for the wonderful Budapest police. You can only imagine how embarrassed we were arriving with the police. We filled the survey they sent right away. We heard from various Crystal employees promising a swift response. It mostly fell on deaf ears until we received an offer of $125.00 each toward another cruise with a lot of stipulations. Still no answer as to how they were going to tell us where the boat was. We finally heard from the manager of cruise relations she said "the river boat industry is very different than ocean cruising and that Crystal must find a better way to inform guests as to where the boat is located. She went on to say they are currently doing that with the assistance of their IT and marketing department and hope to have a solution soon. One would think a company that touts themselves as five star would have had this important aspect figured out long ago She wished me a full recovery of my shoulder. That was it. I asked her in an email who in corporate was aware of this situation and she never responded. I am still seeing my doctor for the pain I have had since dragging our bags and may need another MRI to see if I did any damage. I agree with Radar 65's comments. Also know if there is a drought like they had in 2018 your expensive river cruise (ours was $10,000) could easily turn into a bus tour. Not exactly what you envision when wanting to cruise the Danube or other European river. We heard the details from our cruise director and they sounded bad. Through all my conversations with our cruise consultant in 2018 she never mentioned one thing about this drought that was so adversely affecting Crystal. More cons than pros with this form of travel. Breakfast only served till 9 AM in the main restaurant, limited other choices if you are a late riser. Cooked to order pancakes, waffles were only available by special request, very tight quarters in the suites, drought or too much water means boat cannot sail. too much water and they cannotget under the bridges. Small spa treatment room with one esthetician and almost impossible to reschedule. One of our excursions was changed and Crystal did not tell us so we had to change our treatments to a time that was not good. They also are getting rid of the Mozart. The river boat they touted as the Grand Dame of their fleet, the Queen of the Danube. It is NOT going to be a luxury river boat in 2020 and is going to Asia. They spent a lot of money refurbishing this boat not that many years ago, so who knows what is going on with Crystal. I also think this company has been sold maybe a few years ago. I would be very careful booking with Crystal. Read all the other reviews especially the lack of reimbursement due to the drought. If you don't mind spending big bucks on a bus trip, you might be fine with it. We have traveled all over the world and this was by far the most harrowing, dangerous experience we have ever had. Our first and last river cruise. Never again for us !! Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
After sailing on many cruise lines throughout the world we decided this year was when we would sample a river cruise. We booked on a Ukranian cruise with another company and really did not enjoy for several reasons , however we were not to ... Read More
After sailing on many cruise lines throughout the world we decided this year was when we would sample a river cruise. We booked on a Ukranian cruise with another company and really did not enjoy for several reasons , however we were not to be deterred as we had heard so many good reviews from people and decided to jump straight back in. We chose the Xmas markets cruise on the Mozart in November 2018 as it is something that my wife had wanted to do . Feeling slightly anxious that this would not end up feeling as though it would be throwing good money after bad I contacted Crystal concierge regarding a few queries such as change of itinerary, arriving late on the ship and transfers from the airport as we were arriving independently. We received responses straight away and were given the information that we required. Transfers are free with Crystal even if you arrange your own flight which was great news as sometimes finding exact location of river cruise vessels can be difficult. On arrival which was late the embarkation was really smooth and within 10 minutes of arriving we were in our suite ordering room service.The suites are compact yet of good quality . The wardrobe is a pretty tight squeeze but their is more than ample storage space. The bathroom is top quality and the products offered are also top quality. The next we wandered round the ship and as expected everywhere was top quality , the sauna and pool area was really nice. For a ship which only caters for 151 guests there is plenty of seating areas and the restaurant is a good size and there are plenty of tables for 2 should you wish to dine by yourself. We very early eat breakfast but lunch and dinner are of a high standard and if you wanted something different from the menu the waiters were always happy to see if they could help. The menus are small compared to larger ships but I would imagine that it would be quite difficult to have a large menu for so few guests. The food was always of a good standard and you could use 2 restaurants for lunch and a choice of 3 dining venues if an evening. The guests were mainly American , Canadian , Chinese and a few from other countries so we were the only people from the United Kingdom aboard. Everybody seemed to get on and in the bar if an evening there was a good atmosphere whether it be quizzes, dancing or the entertainers James & Ros playing music. James & Ros were really good in getting the guests to mingle and take part in the activities. The excursions were mainly Xmas markets in Bratislava, Salzburg , Vienna and a few walking tours in Passau , Linz and Melk. These were well organised and most of them guides were knowledgeable and interesting. The Crystal coaches were excellent and very comfortable and even had Nespresso coffee machines onboard . We have travelled with many cruise lines and have always had good service on the ships and until now my favourite was Seabourn because the staff were so friendly and professional and always smiled when they spoke and took the time to talk to you . I always believed that was the best cruise crew we had been with . They have been matched by Crystal as we found the staff to be so helpful , professional and friendly. Wherever we went on the ship they all seemed happy . The staff on the Mozart are such an asset because we booked another cruise whilst on board and that is something we have never done before.There was no one area that we could make a negative criticism even when we received a letter in the cabin saying that we were not sailing to Bratislava because of the low level of the water , they took us by bus and gave us 250UD off a future cruise and I already knew that there were problems with the water level. I would definitely recommend Crystal to anybody who likes the nice things in life and like being looked after. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We were originally scheduled to be on the Crystal Bach for a Rhine excursion from Frankfurt to Amsterdam. However, we were alerted a week beforehand that the cruise was being switched to another ship. We discovered a bit later in the ... Read More
We were originally scheduled to be on the Crystal Bach for a Rhine excursion from Frankfurt to Amsterdam. However, we were alerted a week beforehand that the cruise was being switched to another ship. We discovered a bit later in the cruise that the Bach had been hit by a barge and needed to be repaired. We were offered to switch to the Bach's sister ship, the Mahler. Also, the itinerary was drastically changed due to low water levels in the Rhine. Our point of embarkation was also changed from Frankfurt to Cologne. Crystal took care of transfer from Frankfurt Airport to Cologne. Although it wasn't the ship, nor the cruise for which we'd signed up, we had a wonderful time. The food was wonderful both in the Bistro and in the Waterside. The staff and crew were incredibly cordial and helpful. The excursions were great, especially considering that Crystal had to do some fast thinking to schedule them. Entertainer Neal Fullerton was a treat. He's incredibly talented and also knows how to get the passengers involved. Our cabin/suite was a luxurious, comfortable haven. As always, it was stocked with wonderful wines and the nightly turn-down chocolates. This cruise was relaxing and lovely. Regardless of the need to go to "Plan B," we decided to do an open booking for a future cruise. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
This cruise line treated us like royalty! By day two the staff knew our names and preferences. Never did we want for anything....and in fact....had to politely decline service as they were always looking to see what they could provide. I ... Read More
This cruise line treated us like royalty! By day two the staff knew our names and preferences. Never did we want for anything....and in fact....had to politely decline service as they were always looking to see what they could provide. I can’t say enough positive about Crystal. Food was far beyond expectations. I tried things I would never normally try....and lived them. It will be exceedingly difficult to be on any other line after this! In fact, I doubt we will be with any other line! We depart the ship in two days. Already depressed about it! Shore excursions were included and awesome. Guides were well informed and gave us great information. Ships staff was so gracious and friendly. Thanks so much Crystal! Totally thrilled with our experience. Ship was comfortable and easy to navigate. Can’t wait for our next opportunity. When changes in itinerary were required...due to river conditions the crew scrambled to provide us with excellent alternatives. They never missed a beat. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
This was our first river cruise after several ocean cruises. We chose Crystal because of its reputation and the itinerary (Vienna to Belgrade and back) offered the opportunity to visit cities we otherwise would never get to. ... Read More
This was our first river cruise after several ocean cruises. We chose Crystal because of its reputation and the itinerary (Vienna to Belgrade and back) offered the opportunity to visit cities we otherwise would never get to. Unfortunately, due to the prolonged drought, the itinerary changed to the opposite direction (Passau). Doubly unfortunate was that we were not notified of the change in itinerary until the day before sailing, when we were already in Prague. The crew mentioned that only once since July had the eastern route been possible. We were committed at that point, so chose to continue. Others have commented on the dining facilities and menu. Waterside is lovely and the service was superb. The standard wines were average and the optional wines seriously overpriced. Choices at breakfast and lunch were varied and very well prepared. Dinner choices were somewhat limited, but excellent. Others have also mentioned the cabin. We had a "deluxe" suite. When we embarked, I inquired about an upgrade and was told that none of the larger suites was available. We later learned that that wasn't true. After all, from an original passenger list of 145, only 86 actually embarked. The suite we were in was cramped and drawer space totally inadequate. But the bathroom was very nice and the HVAC worked well. The shore excursions were, by and large, well done, especially considering that several had to be improvised. We found all the staff to be very professional and courteous. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Debussy staff and ship were more than expected. We were in the “low water” season and initially were worried about the lack of information shared with us on what changes would be made to the itinerary. As we sailed we realized that ... Read More
Debussy staff and ship were more than expected. We were in the “low water” season and initially were worried about the lack of information shared with us on what changes would be made to the itinerary. As we sailed we realized that Crystal’s objective was to keep us onboard, and stay true to the itinerary no matter what...The captain was brilliant and did just that with creative maneuvering. Embarkation and disembarkation was highly personalized with a crew member sitting with us explaining all aspects of the cruise and confirming the requests that were made in advance. When our room was ready we were escorted to the cabin and introduced to the staff that would be caring for us during the sailing. Our departure was also cared for on a one to one ratio. Staff knew our names by the time we set sail! The ship is elegant with personal service that made us feel that we were their favourite guest. Enjoyed that we were able to dine when it suited our schedule and that we had the option to dine alone or with others. The food was incredible and again the service outstanding, with staff remembering our likes and dislikes very quickly. We never felt rushed to leave meal service at anytime which was refreshing. Entertainment varied, with a talented couple leading musically and enthusiastically with trivia and other activities. We had guest speakers with varied topics, a gifted violinist, so truly something for everyone! Shore excursions were a delight, lead with well educated, informative guides and small groups which allowed for an excellent experience. The Crystal busses and drivers were also exemplary. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Don’t select this cruise if you or anyone you’re traveling with has mobility issues— there are no “gentle” excursions. One passenger referred to them as forced marches. The ship docks way out of the towns for the most part so you ... Read More
Don’t select this cruise if you or anyone you’re traveling with has mobility issues— there are no “gentle” excursions. One passenger referred to them as forced marches. The ship docks way out of the towns for the most part so you can’t return early if you’d like, and 9 out of 10 times you’re looking into someone else’s cabin as there is a ship docked next to you. If you’re interested in the e-bike excursions, also beware; if you don’t book super early you won’t get on them. There is almost nothing to do if you elect to stay on the ship. The evening entertainment was lame, although the exercise instructor was excellent. Everyone is unfailingly polite in a very impersonal way, and when something goes wrong the response is very corporate. In our case we couldn’t complete the last three days of the cruise because of low water in the Danube and all Celebrity offered was a $250 credit on a future cruise (which they upped to a.$1,500 credit when my travel agent asked). Although the food was great, overall I don’t think this cruise is worth the expense— we booked a penthouse— so we don’t plan to travel on Celebrity again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
First on Crystal River cruise and will be last. Have had great experiences on their ocean voyages; but the river line is a separate division and vastly inferior in most areas. Company was not forthcoming in notifiying us of the low ... Read More
First on Crystal River cruise and will be last. Have had great experiences on their ocean voyages; but the river line is a separate division and vastly inferior in most areas. Company was not forthcoming in notifiying us of the low water level until 2 days before we were scheduled to leave. Itineray changed to all but a couple of ports in the Netherlands. The highlights of the trip were to be the areas where the ship didn't travel. To make matters worse, tour director was disorganized, ship Captain did not speak English, ship docked so far from destination ports it was ridiculous. Other ships were providing buses to take passengers to destination. Not our ship. The few tours offered were primarily ones of walking around the town plazas, etc. And the majority of passengers were over 65! I understand the couple of buses they had were shuttled back and forth between the Danube groups and the Rhine. They seemed to always be with the Danube folks. We were not offered bus/hotel choices to make up for all the ports we did not see. That is standard with other river cruise lines. Passenger complaints to the officers and tour director fell on deaf ears and it was clear the disorganization and confusion came down from the top. The service staff tried their best; but they were understaffed. The spa was good but very limited; the food good except there was a problem keeping the buffet dishes hot. The rooms were way too small for the large beds. We booked 2 rooms for a family of 4 at last minute and top dollar and I never felt like we had spent so much money on something so disappointing. Our trip was in August and now in January we are still waiting for any compensation from Crystal. We all had out of pocket expenses because we had to change return flights from Basel Switzerland (which we never got to see) to Frankfurt. Additional transportation, hotel etc. all added up to more than they promised to reimburse. And there was no compensation even promised for the missed excursions and ports. My advice is to avoid this line at all costs. We are seasoned cruisers on several small luxury lines and have never had an experience like this! How could such an esteemed company as Crystal allow this group to be a part of their company??? We want to go back to take a Rhine cruise; but it sure won't be with Crystal. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
This was our first river cruise and we looked forward to the ease of river cruising: seeing many ports without the hassle of driving/packing and unpacking. However, due to the water shortage on the Danube, this ease of travel was not ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and we looked forward to the ease of river cruising: seeing many ports without the hassle of driving/packing and unpacking. However, due to the water shortage on the Danube, this ease of travel was not delivered. We were forced to bus to two destinations and pack a small overnight bag. Crystal put us up in a four star hotel and gave us a food allowance but we also had to endure a long bus ride between Vienna and Budapest and back. This is not the fault of Crystal but they were not forthcoming about the problem when asked prior to leaving for the cruise. I should add Crystal's lack of transparency was in contrast to Viking Cruise Line which had a website devoted to itinerary changes due to the drought. Many passengers were unhappy with the abrupt change of plans. I think if it had been handled more honestly, the passengers would have adjusted more easily and been happier.. On the other hand, the Mozart delivered on many aspects of the trip. The crew was fantastic. They were always pleasant, smiling and helpful. The food was quite good and plentiful with lots of options. Our cabin was quite nice and well-equipped with a comfortable bed, seating area, a large screen TV and an unending supply of wine, soda and water. The tours for the most part were informative and entertaining, conducted by knowledgeable local people. My only criticism is they should have offered a few more openings for some of the popular bike tours which booked up early. The special event in Budapest was a knockout. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Chose the original cruise 15 months in advance splendors of the rhine... trip of a lifetime. Total cost $20,000 by the end of it 3 days prior notified we would be in the Netherlands 7 days and Germany 3..how rude of corporate..we only ... Read More
Chose the original cruise 15 months in advance splendors of the rhine... trip of a lifetime. Total cost $20,000 by the end of it 3 days prior notified we would be in the Netherlands 7 days and Germany 3..how rude of corporate..we only cruised 5 hours of daylight and saw the country side of germany..I know the river was low.we should have been offered a refund. A rebooking for next year...or a discount because the itenery substituted was inferior for the price we paid...the crew was awwsome..Crystal only offered us $500 per cabin toward a future trip with them..they should have given passengers a partial refund or other options and more than 3 days notice of a drastic change in our itenary. We spent 3 days in amsterdam..too many...dorchdeht Netherlands. Rotterdam. Nijmegen cochem they skipped bonn and lastly kolbenz..we cruised at night AMD our trip was half as.long as planned..Hoping that crystal corporate comes through with a better compensation for an inferior itenary...otherwise we have learned a hard lesson and spent alot of money for an inferior product and poor customer service from corporate headquarters Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
I have cruised on many ocean lines with Seabourn being my favorite. This was my first river cruise. The service was great, food ok, room well designed, but, we had a huge problem. The river water was too low for us to navigate the ... Read More
I have cruised on many ocean lines with Seabourn being my favorite. This was my first river cruise. The service was great, food ok, room well designed, but, we had a huge problem. The river water was too low for us to navigate the Danube so we did a 3 day round trip from Vienna to Wachau valley and did not sail to Slovakia or Budapest. That was a major disappointment to not sail into Budapest. The ship made a weak attempt to still cover the itinerary by booking us into a 4-star hotel in Budapest and giving us an $80 euro dining credit for our final day! Does not begin to cover the cost of the cruise which was around $1600 a day. The worst part was how while we were in Vienna for so many days we were sandwiched between two boats so had to keep the curtains closed at all times as the boat next to us was literally 2 inches away from us and a guest room on that boat! Claustrophobic! It was very overpriced for what was delivered and I will not cruise agin on Crystal. I consider it to be a total rip off. Horrible experience, never again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
On Aug 1, 15-20 of us that returned after a Crystal excursion dinner found the SHIP HAD LEFT WITHOUT US. We were scanned to get off the ship but manually checked in when the ship returned for us. We were told the people that did the ... Read More
On Aug 1, 15-20 of us that returned after a Crystal excursion dinner found the SHIP HAD LEFT WITHOUT US. We were scanned to get off the ship but manually checked in when the ship returned for us. We were told the people that did the scanning had left. Guess they outsourced their security. Also there was scanner mistake when they told me 3 of my friends were still on shore and 1 came back but in fact all 4 were on shore. We missed Budapest, a main attraction for the cruise, but Crystal made little effort to make up for the changed itinerary even though they knew at the start of the journey and that was 7 days before we would go to Budapest. We had to revisit Linz and they added Karen’s and offered each guest USD500 FUTURE CRUISE CREDIT to be booked within a year. Linz and Krems were not comparable substitutions for Budapest by any stretch of imagination. Also crew told me Viking has 77 ships so they can offer swaps when similar situation arises. Reading some of the reviews, I noticed other cruise operators not only made monetary compensations but also arranged alternative transport and hotel accommodations in order for them to fulfil their advertised attraction. Also Crystal may be late to join the river cruise market, at a couple of stops, the ship was parked so far away from the parking lot that we had to walk about 10 minutes to get to the coach. It was definitely difficult for my friend that had a hip replacement and walking with a cane. I used to view Crystal with high regard, but it seems things may be different under new ownership. A very disappointing experience AND NOT VALUE FOR MY MONEY. 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
38 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
I thoroughly enjoyed my 1st river cruise on Crystal Mozart, sailing the Danube for 10-nights. I’m going to use a different angle to view this cruise and write a not-so-common trip report. I’ll start with a list of the pros and cons of ... Read More
I thoroughly enjoyed my 1st river cruise on Crystal Mozart, sailing the Danube for 10-nights. I’m going to use a different angle to view this cruise and write a not-so-common trip report. I’ll start with a list of the pros and cons of this cruise. Of course, it’s only based on my own opinions, but hopefully it would be helpful enough for fellow cruisers to learn more about the 5-star river cruising experience on Crystal Mozart, as I found that I got very limited information regarding this while doing my research homework on the cruise throughout my almost 2 years’ planning period. I spent a ton of time to write on Wismergirl’s travel blog to include a lot more details if you are interested in my daily activities on board. Refer to photo: Crystal Mozart, “the Giant” of Danube river cruising, docked at Linz on July 13, 2018: Pros 1) Truly all-inclusive – not even one extra cent I had to pay on board. Of course, if you want spa/hair treatments, Connoisseur wine, upgraded excursions & extra tipping, that’s another story. Now, cruise fare, airport transfers, selected shore excursions, meals, entertainment, gratuities, unlimited soft drinks, beer, most wine & spirit, unlimited WIFI on board & on coaches (though quite spotty at times), are all paid for. We even got a complimentary meal at a Michelin-star restaurant (only applicable to guests staying at Penthouses and above or those booked before Aug 7, 2017). Tips for cruisers: Buy a 3G/4G Europe SIM card. I bought one for CA$39 (US$30) with 5 GB data & 3000 talk/text for 30 days that covered all countries that we visited so I had internet access all the time. I only used less than 2GB for 16 days, even sharing personal Hotspot with my husband. 2) Unpack and Pack only once – This cruise took us to nine European cities in Austria, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. There was no need to pack our bags every day for a new destination. Setting off along the Danube from Vienna, we passed through the beautiful Wachau Valley; went for guided walking tours in Vienna, Melk & Durnstein; did all-day side trips to Cesky Krumlov & Munich; visited historical landmarks in Budapest with a violin concert in the Imperial Palace & a night cruise on the Danube; and discovered the modern art scenes and Communist-era architecture of Slovakia's capital, Bratislava. What a great itinerary! 3) 5-star Luxury accommodation and service - Cabins aboard the Crystal Mozart started at 219 square feet (except 1 that was only 206 sq. ft.). The high-end amenities like Toto toilets, mini iPad in each stateroom, free use of eBikes, 24-hour complimentary room service, Crystal clear audio device for excursions, free self-serve laundry with detergent & drying sheets, complimentary pressing, plus free butler service for all guests are incredibly awesome! Besides, Crystal Mozart is twice as wide as most river boats (22.85m instead of the normal 11.4m). Its spacious top (Vista) Deck 4 with a bar, big TV & garden features modern luxury! Low guests to staff ratio means top-notched service & 3 restaurants for meals are also big pluses. Food tasted better than that from the Crystal ocean cruises, though not enough varieties. Tips for cruisers: DON’T bring too much clothing as there is limited storage space in the room, plus you only need to wear smart casual attires for dinners. Remember: self-serve laundry is at your service! 4) Compact ship size and seasickness-free – Most of the time we didn’t even feel like the boat was moving. Being a couple of mid 50’s, we kept forgetting things and it was so easy to go back to the room to get them. We met lots of people and could call about half the ship’s passengers and most staff members by names when we left the ship. 5) Great workouts without going to the Gym – Not sure if you classify it as a pro or a con?! We did so much walking while on excursions that we didn’t gain any weight even though we ate like crazy. On average, it’s about 10,000 steps a day, walked for about 7 km with LOTS of steps. 6) Fantastic experience passing through the locks – It was really fun going upstream/downstream with different river levels through the locks. Being so windy, sunny and hot while staying on the top deck to watch the passing of the locks, we mostly stayed at the spa waiting area, lying on the loungers to watch the locks open and close. Even when we passed the locks at night time, the views were great. Cons 1) Docking – This has been a major issue for a lot of passengers. We had a few passengers who needed to use wheelchairs and they either had to get off the wheelchairs and walked with assistance, or crew/family members needed to help lift/carry the wheelchairs for disabled passengers to get on/off the boat. Europe is not N. America and many places are still not wheelchair-accessible, including bathroom locations. The ship elevator could only go up to Deck 3 but not the Vista Deck. When we docked at Passau (Lindau), we had to take the stairs to walk up to Deck 4 and walked off the ramp to the pier (see the picture with the gangway from the top deck to the pier). Besides, many passengers complained that they were always facing a concrete pier when the boat docked, especially if your room was on Deck 1 midship. I advise you to choose your room location properly. We didn’t have any problems being at the front part of the ship on Deck 2 with a French balcony. On a river cruise, midship cabins are not the best locations, always choose Forward. If you choose the Aft cabins, you would feel more vibration because it’s closer to the engine. We could totally experience the difference while eating at Blue on the aft of the ship. Many times, there were 2 or even 3 ships parked and tied together. Look at the picture of 3 boats triple-parked in Vienna. 2) Entertainment – Entertainment was really limited and low-key. We spent most nights at the Cove Bar listening to Derek Conlon’s piano playing, with a couple of very entertaining local shows and professional guest singer/pianist for 2 nights, and a so-called “concert by 3 princesses on the violin” in Budapest. Being a concert pianist myself, I played some Beethoven and did a “Sound of Music” singalong with fellow cruisers for a couple of nights at Cove Bar. It’s actually a social time more than anything. There was no casino and shops to even spend your onboard credits. Use your OBC at the spa or on premium wine or spend it at the Vintage Room. The passing scenery on both banks was the key to river cruising. We ventured out to the city centre on our own while we were in Vienna, Linz, Bratislava & Budapest. It was very easy to move around using public transport being in the city, or Crystal could call a taxi for us. 3) Food – Breakfast buffet was the only choice for breakfast, unless we wanted to go for room service or have a late-riser breakfast at Bistro Mozart. The only varieties we could get were different types of eggs (cooked to order), smoothies and fruit. I really liked their congee with different little ingredients on the side that we could add to our own liking (see picture). There were more choices for lunch as we could eat at Waterside (buffet) or Blue (same menu every day with a different soup and pasta). Dinner menus changed daily, though choices were still limited. We actually liked to have tapas-style dining at Bistro Mozart (reservation needed) rather than eating at Waterside. The ingredients were fresh and the dishes were delicious though again, there was a lack of variety. 4) Excursions – Lots of senior cruisers depended on travel agents to plan from flights to hotels to transportation for the entire cruise. A lot of travel agents charged way too high while booking hotels and limos for pre- and post-cruise activities but did not help their clients book the excursions. Many ended up booking excursions while on board and they did not have time to fully understand what’s to be expected while signing up. The Crystal concierge had been really helpful but sometimes the tours were full (like eBikes that they only had that many number of bikes) and there’s nothing the concierge could do but to wait for cancellations. A ton of walking was involved in most tours, and many times we had to walk on cobble-stone streets which was not easy for most people, not to say seniors. Having big coaches like Crystal’s, though they were super comfy, they couldn’t park close enough for boarding at most attractions, even in big cities like Vienna. I walked 9,971 steps for 6.7 km just for one 4-hour excursion “Vienna in a Nutshell”, with about an hour on the bus. Tips for cruisers: Use PCPC (Priority Check-in & Planning Center) to book excursions that are appropriate for your own health conditions well in advance. Highlights of the whole trip 1) 2-night pre-cruise in Salzburg & 2-night post-cruise in Vienna so I could visit the 2 cities in depth and attended concerts…of course, I did a ton of homework to plan for the extra 4 days including purchasing train tickets in advance, booking hotels plus “Sound of Music” shows and Mozart concerts at Salzburg Fortress, Sternbrau in Salzburg, Musikverein and St. Charles Church in Vienna 2) Wachau Valley scenic cruising & passing through locks 3) Private tour to Szechenyi Thermal Baths (see photo) and a 1-hour Royal Thermal Massage in Budapest (I booked these in advance before the cruise but Crystal concierge could book it for you with just a few hours’ notice) – taxi ride only 10-20 Euros each way 4) Night cruise on the Mozart in Budapest with an incredible view of the illuminated parliament (see photo) River cruising definitely suited us a lot so we made an open booking on board. I need to do more homework before committing to the next Crystal cruise. All the 4 new Crystal riverboats are very different than the Mozart, so I have to look at the itineraries carefully to book one within the next 6 months. Thank you, Crystal Mozart, for making our 1st river cruise experience so enchanting and memorable! Read Less
20 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
28 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
I write this review from the perspective of giving you the traveler some insight about what to expect on this river cruise and to provide some tips. The good: itinerary, excellent food, small group tours, e-Bike tours, nightly ... Read More
I write this review from the perspective of giving you the traveler some insight about what to expect on this river cruise and to provide some tips. The good: itinerary, excellent food, small group tours, e-Bike tours, nightly entertainment, all inclusive (including many wines and liquors, shore excursion, and tips). The bad: expensive, no support for Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), Crystal’s newness to river cruising. Overall, it was a very good cruise. The staff was uniformly friendly, helpful, and upbeat. The butler and room attendant made a point of learning our last names and greeting us when they saw us. After a few days, seeing the dining room attendants was like greeting old friends. My wife and I enjoy river cruising, because the pace is more relaxed than on an ocean cruise. We traveled with a group of 8 family members. Traveling with a group that size was not a problem. We could always find several adjacent tables in the main restaurant to sit at for meals. We had an unexpected situation on the cruise. When we boarded the Crystal Mahler in Amsterdam, the ship was less than half full with passengers; we had 35-40 passengers at that time. We were told that more passengers would join us in Passau for the last week of the cruise, about the same number of passengers. It was nice for the first portion of the trip, because the dining room and lounge were never crowded. But even for the last week, there was sufficient seating. True, it did take longer to be served our dinner meal or drink in the lounge, but the wait was tolerable, and we knew we had to share the staff with the new guests. We liked the itinerary, with the chance to visit so many towns in The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. We travelled on the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers. We traversed 68 locks on the trip. Leaving Amsterdam, we would go up in the locks as we headed toward Kelheim, Germany. Between Nuremberg and Kelheim, on the Rhine-Main-Danube canal, we reached the top of the European watershed at one lock, and then we started going down in the locks as we continued to Budapest. Passing through the locks, and particularly the tallest ones, was a popular sightseeing activity for passengers. There were some locks that the ship would barely fit inside width-wise. A downside to the lock system is that the ship’s schedule can be adversely affected. The Captain cannot predict which barges and ships might be on the river and enter a lock before the Mahler; the Mahler may have to wait its turn. For some locks, the Mahler had to wait for a ship to come through in the other direction, for efficient pumping of the water in the lock. However, Captain Pasztor managed the schedule very well. We were only a few minutes late to one port. No shore excursions were impacted. We were lucky to be able to get all the way to Budapest on the river. Ships are at the mercy of river conditions along the route. There has not been a lot of rain in Europe this year, so the water levels can be low. When we booked the cruise, the ship was originally going to spend two days in Regensburg. Once we boarded the ship, we were informed that the itinerary changed, and we would only spend one day in Regensburg and two days in Passau. About halfway into the trip, we were told the water level was too low and that we would extend the stay in Regensburg by one day to see if the water levels would rise and allow us to get to Passau (in which case we would only spend one day in Passau). Fortunately, we were able to continue our trip towards Passau after the 2-day stay in Regensburg; there was some rainfall and some extra water was released from one of the nearby locks. We learned later that the water level dropped again and no other river ships could get between Regensburg and Passau the day after we left Regensburg. You have to be flexible when planning a river cruise. You don’t want the water level to be too high (e.g., in the spring, due to melting snowfall—ships may not be able to go under bridges) or too low (possibly in the fall or winter—ships may not be able to move on the rivers). My wife and I had a Category S1 stateroom (“Deluxe Suite with Panoramic Balcony-Window”), about 253 square feet. (I wouldn’t call it a suite, though; there was no separate sitting area.) We had a king size bed. The pillows were very “squishy”. There was a decent size bathroom, with a spacious shower. The shower had an overhead round rainfall showerhead as well as a handheld shower head. They were operated by separate pushbuttons (press pushbutton to turn on, press pushbutton to turn off or press the other pushbutton). There were dual sinks in the bathroom and a trash can. Each sink had two drawers for storage. There was a design flaw [hint to Crystal]. If you are right-handed, it is extremely difficult to reach the toilet paper which is mounted to your immediate left when you sit on the toilet. It was uncomfortable to reach across your body with your right hand and effectively get toilet paper off the roll. My wife and I came up with a solution: take the toilet paper off the holder and put it in the bottom drawer by the toilet; then it is easily accessible. Two bathrobes were provided for each person—a heavier cotton bathrobe and a lightweight bathrobe. There were hooks in the bathroom. The toiletries were Etro from Milan (La Bottega Home Collection Musk). The towels can be replaced twice a day when the room is made. Although my wife and I would hang our wet towels on the towel racks to dry and not put them on the floor, the ever-efficient room attendant would replace them every time with fresh towels. A nice feature is that the bathroom floor is heated. There is no control for it, but it was never too hot. My wife and I learned late in the cruise to shut the bathroom door at night. We found that our room got hot in the middle of the night and we would be sweating, even though we had a cool setting on the thermostat (3 settings for amount of cold, with a “quick cool” feature). Due to the lock system on the rivers, we were told to keep our room window closed. We started shutting the bathroom door, and the bedroom remained cool at night. In the stateroom there is a refrigerator and a desk with desk chair, and a lounge chair. There are wine and champagne glasses and a corkscrew in a drawer beside the refrigerator. The refrigerator is stocked with still water, sparkling water, Coke and Sprite. Upon arrival in the room, there was a full bottle of red wine on the desk and a smaller bottle of white wine. Your Crystal listening devices are in a charging stand on the desk. There is a pair of Bushnell 7x35 binoculars as well. There are no hooks on the walls for hanging stuff. [Tip] I brought 3 magnetic hooks that I affixed to the walls, to use for hats and coats. There is an iPad in the room that is already logged into Wi-Fi and your account on the ship. You can store your suitcases under the bed. There is a closet with 3-4 feet of hanger space. There are 5 shelves, 2 shoe shelves, 3 drawers, and a safe above some of the shelves. The safe is spacious and can fit a laptop computer. Behind the door are 4 hooks with a Crystal umbrella, a shoe horn, a hair dryer in a bag, and 1 other item I cannot recall. There is a flat screen TV in the room. You can watch live TV and see views from the bow, stern, port, and starboard sides of the ship. You can also watch a variety of free movies. Be aware that the movie selection changes on the first of the month. My wife and I started watching one movie on June 30th and went to bed, intending to finish it the next day. We discovered that the movie was no longer available on July 1st. There were at least 2 USA (Type A) and more than 2 European (Type F) power outlets in the room, as well as 3 USB power plugs for electronic devices [kudos to Crystal]. My wife and I had room 306, a Category S1 stateroom with “Panoramic Balcony-Window” on the Crystal Mahler. Using controls to the left of the window, you could lower a screen over the upper window to reduce the intensity of the sunlight. You could also completely lower the upper window to get fresh air. However, we were told to keep the window closed at night, because the ship might go through a lock, and the window should not be open. In some ports, we did not open the window, because another ship was docked right next to us on our side of the ship. Overall the panoramic balcony window was a disappointment. If you are new to river cruising, be aware that there can be a lot of river boats on the rivers. At a port, we sometimes had one to two other river ships docked next to us. When you leave your ship, you may cross through the lobby or on top of adjacent river ships to get to shore. If you docked next to another ship, you don’t get a scenic view on one side of the ship; you only see the exterior of the staterooms on an adjacent ship. On the occasions when we spent more than one night at a port and there was another ship next to the Crystal Mahler, the river ships would switch positions. Then I would have a view outside my window, and the passengers on the other side of the ship would see the staterooms of another river ship. I think that the type of window view/balcony in your stateroom should be one of the factors in your decision about which river cruise line to select. I looked at other river ships during the cruise (AmaWaterways, Uniworld, Tauck, Scenic, Viking, Croisi) to see the types of balconies. Some had actual outdoor balconies separate from the room. Some had floor-to-ceiling horizontal sliding glass doors with a barrier to keep you from falling overboard (“French balcony”). Some ships had vertically sliding windows. Crystal has the automatic upper window that lowers. Some are easier to open to enjoy fresh air. There is a butler assigned to each room (to a group of rooms actually). I had read reviews saying that the butler could unpack and pack your clothes for you. That was never offered to me, but I would have declined. The butler brings a snack to the room each day about 5:00 pm: cheeses, fruit, or shrimp plate. The butler can provide daily ice in the ice bucket if requested. The butler gives you an orientation to your room after you arrive. There is also a cabin attendant who is responsible for cleaning your room. Typically he or she comes in the morning and in the early evening. The cabin attendants are hard-working, and always smiling and saying “Hello”. There is Wi-Fi on the ship. I had some connection problems on the first day. I had to talk to the Information Technology (IT) guy on the ship to get help. I later found instructions in my stateroom. Once I got each device connected, it would usually, but not always, stay connected. It was a disappointment that Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) could not be used with the Wi-Fi. The IT guy assured me that passengers were behind a strong firewall on the ship. However, that was irrelevant, because I wanted to prevent anyone on the ship from eavesdropping on my web traffic. But I could not, if I wanted to use the Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi was slow (which I expected). On my laptop computer, it would take 1-2 hours to download about 40 emails, some with attachments, each day. Web surfing speeds were OK. One trick I learned is that if your Internet service is not working, go to “connect.crystalcruises.com” (not “login.com”) and see if you are still logged in. Typically, you only had to click the button to connect to the Internet to get reconnected. Crystal Cruises has a useful program that passengers can access via Wi-Fi at “connect.crystalcruises.com”. You can access information on Ship Info, Crystal Collections, Voyage Details, Entertainment, Dining, Crystal Life Wellness, and The World of Crystal. The Ship Info tab provides links to information on ship officers, deck plans, shipboard services, etc. The Voyage Details tab provides access to the ship itinerary and weather, location and points of interest, your amenities, your onboard folio, and port maps. I used the Voyage Details > Location link frequently, because it displays a map showing the location of the ship at any time [kudos to Crystal]. I used this to track the path of the ship along the rivers. The Entertainment tab provides access to select newspapers, magazines, movies, music and Crystal media. The Dining tab provides a link to information on the Waterside restaurant (Deck 2), the Bistro (Deck 3), the Pantry (Deck 2 by the Front Desk), and The Vintage Room (Deck 3). The Crystal Life Wellness tab has info on the ship spa, the swimming pool, etc. The World of Crystal has links to information on Crystal cruises, the Crystal Society, future bookings, etc. My only disappointment was that the shipboard Crystal Internet program does not display the schedule of Daily Activities [hint to Crystal]. There are several places to eat on the ship. The main dining room is on Deck 2 and called the Waterside Restaurant. You can also eat on Deck 3 in the Bistro (reservation needed for dinner due to limited seating). There are snacks on Deck 2 in The Pantry, an area across from the Front Desk. In the afternoon, snacks are placed in the Bistro—the pretzels and pretzel rolls were excellent (with Dijon mustard)! You can also indulge in a luxury dining experience called The Vintage Room. There is a limit of about 10 guests and a per person cost of 290€. The Executive Chef creates culinary pairings with seven fine reserve wines chosen by the Head Sommelier. The experience promotes wine appreciation. My recommendation is to do The Vintage Room at the beginning of the cruise (Amsterdam vicinity) rather than at the end (Budapest vicinity). Towards the end of the trip, there is competition because guests can opt to do special wine tastings and eat at Michelin restaurants in Vienna or Budapest as special Crystal shore excursions (for a fee). There may not be enough interest then to get the minimum number of people to have a Vintage Room event. At the beginning of the cruise, there is more likely to be enough interest to get the minimum number to sign up. If you sign up at home, check with the Restaurant Manager once you get aboard to find out when and if a Vintage Room dinner will be scheduled. At the main restaurant, the Waterside Restaurant, breakfast and dinner are served buffet style. There was a large variety of food to choose from. Some food was served by Crystal personnel; other food you served yourself. My disappointment is that the hand washing discipline for passengers entering the restaurant seemed lax [hint to Crystal]. It was up to passengers to decide if they wanted to use the hand sanitizer stations set up outside the restaurant (and at other locations on the ship). Several passengers had coughs; a few had colds. Buffet style eating can lead to the spread of infections. For dinner, the meal is served table side. You select from a menu. There are 2 entrees available, as well as supplementary dining choices for appetizer, salad, pasta, local main course, traditional entrees, and dessert. You can also ask for simple desserts like ice cream and gelato. An all-inclusive white wine and red wine selection is listed. You are free to ask for other wine. You can also purchase “fine” wines at a price, from a Connoisseur menu. You can get all-inclusive wines at any meal or whenever the bar (Palm Court) is open. The food was varied, tasty, and well-prepared. It was gourmet quality [kudos to Crystal]. The wine pairings at dinner were good. For July 4th, the chef even fixed thick, juicy burgers and a red, white, and blue cake for lunch. The next-to-last night was lobster night. There were only a few exceptions to food quality during the 16-day cruise. One meal had beef brisket; another had lamb; another had purple artichoke. They were overcooked and too tough to cut and eat. But, in general, the excellent food served on the ship is a compelling reason to select a future Crystal River Cruise. You can provide information on food allergies and dietary restrictions before you sail. One of my party of 8 did submit that information on a timely basis. For some unknown reason, it was not communicated by the Crystal head office to the chef on the ship, so a lot of improvising had to be done. I attribute this lack of coordination to Crystal’s newness to river cruising. There are still some bugs to be worked out of the process. I was disappointed that Crystal does not have a policy to prohibit cell phone calls in the restaurant [hint to Crystal]. One lunchtime a gentleman at the next table was using the speaker on his cell phone to carry on a conversation. We complained to the Restaurant Manager, but she said the guest probably needed the speaker to hear the conversation. It was an annoying distraction during the meal to have to listen to that conversation. You have several options for working out on the ship (and enjoying all the good food). There is a small exercise room on Deck 1. It has free weights, a rowing machine, and 2 exercise bikes. There was no elliptical trainer [hint to Crystal]. There is a small “wave” pool at the back of the ship, but still inside, on Deck 3. You activate a jet of water and can then swim against the current. The Active Adventure Coordinator (Fidell on my cruise) offered stretching, yoga, Pilates, and Abs classes in the mornings during the cruise. He also assisted with all the e-Bike shore excursions. When the top deck was open, you could also walk up and down the length of the ship. I enjoyed during my Tai Chi routine on the top deck, or in the lounge when the top deck was closed. During the portion of the cruise on the Main River, about 5 days from Mainz to Regensburg, the top deck of the ship, the Vista Deck, was closed, because of low clearance underneath bridges on the river. There was no good place to watch all the action while cruising. This could be another factor in your decision about which river cruise line to select. Some of the river ships have an open area or terrace at the front or back of the ship for sightseeing. On the Crystal Mahler that area in the back of the boat is enclosed for the small swimming pool. River cruising has become popular, especially in Europe. You should not expect that your river ship will dock in the city center. Expect to dock sometimes in an industrial area or on the outskirts of the city, a 10-15-minute bus ride from the city center. In the Daily Activities handout, Crystal does list the docking location for the next day. It’s a good idea to take a picture of that in case you want to venture out and sightsee on your own, and take a taxi back to the ship—then you know the location to give the driver. Several months before your cruise, you can sign up for shore excursions online at the Guest Check-In & Planning Center at www.crystalcruises.com/already-booked/. That was not a positive experience for me. I attribute some of the problems to Crystal’s newness to river cruising. This was only the second year of river cruising by Crystal. Do not depend on any preliminary list of shore excursions. Wait for the official ones to be released about 6 months before sailing. There were numerous differences. I signed up for shore excursions at the end of December after the trip was booked. Two months before departure, 2 ports were removed from the itinerary (and their tours). There were several changes to tour departure times, which sometimes impacted wanting to do multiple tours in a single day. Sometimes I would logon to check for changes and see that some shore excursions were dropped. Several days later I would logon and see those shore excursions re-appear. Once I found I was signed up for 3 tours on one day, two of which conflicted. My only advice is to print out the list of shore excursions you have signed up for, and then check at least weekly for changes and omissions; then contact your travel agent or Crystal to fix any problems. So, you’re ready to board the ship. One important thing you need to do after you arrive is to check your list of shore excursions (that you printed at home just before you left) with the list you find in your stateroom. I was surprised to find out that one of my wife’s tours was cancelled and replaced by a tour with a fee—not a change either of us made. The sooner you find out, the quicker you can get the problem fixed by the onboard Destination Team Lead (Shore Excursions Director). Also, check to see if the departure times for the tours have changed. I did find changes on the list in my stateroom. Even then, take the listed times with a grain of salt. What really matters is the time that is printed on the “ticket” you get delivered to your stateroom (or the time printed in the Daily Activities schedule) the night before the excursion. I discovered one or two earlier departure times that way; one couple missed a tour, because they didn’t check the times on the excursion tickets. At least 1 new shore excursion was added while we were sailing; we got a notice in our room. If you are doing multiple tours on the same day, do let the onboard Destination Team Lead know. I told the Lead on my cruise, Jessica, about that, and she assured me that my wife and I could make both tours, even though there was nominally only 15 minutes between the end of one tour and the start of the next. We were supposed to get on the bus to come back early. That got cancelled, but we still made it back in time on another Crystal bus. It may be useful to print out a description of tours you sign up for, when you are still at home. There is no description readily available on the ship; you would have to login to the Crystal Cruise website to find the description. It would be helpful to have that information available on the shipboard Crystal Internet program [hint to Crystal]. Be flexible when water conditions dictate changes in the itinerary. When I boarded the ship, I had to rebook some tours because Crystal planned to spend 2 days in Passau and only 1 in Regensburg. That changed due to water conditions, when we delayed our departure from Regensburg and had to change the Passau shore excursions. I couldn’t do the organ recital in Passau. Instead my wife and I attended church service at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Regensburg on the Sunday. One of the locals showed us a shortcut into the church and told us where to sit for the best acoustics. We got to hear the organ and the famous Regensburger Domspatzen (Regensburg Cathedral Choir)—wonderful!! We turned lemons into lemonade. I was impressed with the way Crystal conducted its tours. Like some other cruise lines, Crystal has its own buses, which follow the ship along its route. We would leave the ship and board the buses to go to our excursions. Bottled water and a WC was available on the bus; I learned at the end that Wi-Fi was available as well. The buses could hold about 40 people, and we always had 2 local guides on the buses [kudos to Crystal]. We then split into groups when we got off the buses, tuned our Crystal listening device to the correct channel, and went off on our tour. Thus, the groups were generally 20 people or fewer. I noticed that other cruise lines had a single guide for 30-40 people. Listening to the guide is not a problem in that situation. But I much preferred the smaller groups when we went into churches and other smaller buildings. It didn’t take so long to get in and out. The local guides were friendly and knowledgeable. Be sure to pick up a local map at the Front Desk before going out to explore a town. The maps are available the night before docking. Also bring your Crystal listening device if going on a tour (but not needed on e-Bike tours). The guides carry an extra or two, if you happen to leave yours in the room or experience a problem. Crystal offered many complimentary shore excursions, enough to keep you busy. My wife and I did a different European river cruise with a different company 4 years ago. We loved all the excursions, but decided after we returned home that we were too busy. For this trip we decided to usually do only 1 excursion a day (with 2 exceptions, for Melk-Dürnstein and for Vienna), so that we could have more time to relax and enjoy the sights. We found we had too much free time. Here is my suggestion to cruise lines: have a 2-hour excursion in the morning that leaves about 10 am (gives you time to sleep in) and have a 2-3-hour excursion in the afternoon that leaves about 2 pm [hint to Crystal]. Many times we had an hour of free time during a shore excursion which was basically shopping time—that time could be reduced. Some local guides seemed intent on pointing out places to shop at. They were willing to provide suggestions if you wanted to shop for particular items. I loved the Crystal Signature Event at the Belvedere Palace in Vienna. It was one of the highlights of the cruise. Only Crystal Mahler passengers attended. We were treated to champagne upon arrival. We got to attend a special showing of “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt, and saw other artwork in the palace. Then we were treated to a performance by the Schloss Schönbrunn Orchestra of Vienna with operatic singers and dancers in the Marble Hall. It was a special and enjoyable evening [kudos to Crystal]. I would recommend all the e-Bike tours. For me, they were very memorable [kudos to Crystal]. Helmets were provided. You had assistance with proper bike fitting, although some guides were less helpful than others (but there were always other people who could help out). The gears were not complicated to use—you would just turn a knob by the right handlebar. I enjoyed cycling through the countryside. We had 2 guides with our group, one at the front and one at the back of the group (along with the Crystal Active Adventure Coordinator or substitute) to help ensure everyone stayed on the proper bike path and to help out with any problems. On some trips some people—me included—had problems with the power going off from time to time. That was due to the battery slipping out of its holder. I learned to just push it back in, and power back up. I could keep up with the group without power assist; I typically stayed in a middle gear for pedaling. It was only after stopping to take pictures that I might have to use battery power to speed up and rejoin the group. Power assist was useful to some people when going up an incline. One person in our group pre-requested and used a regular bike which weighs much less than an e-Bike. We typically stopped for refreshments somewhere along the route. On the last e-Bike tour, the Danube Island eBike Discovery in Vienna, the bike group cycled across the Danube to Danube Island. Later we crossed the New Danube river and cycled across the Danube City area and cycled along the Old Danube Lake. That lake is designated for swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, and other water activities. I even saw an overhead wire system for slalom water skiing. I saw several restaurants, piers, and lots of people out enjoying the sunshine. Several of us decided that Crystal should offer a day or half-day shore excursion to hang out on Old Danube Lake. When you’ve visited enough churches, castles, and historical buildings, it would be great to have some “down time” on the Lake [hint to Crystal]. The e-Bike tour stopped for a refreshment break with a drink (soda, water, coffee) and apple strudel at the revolving restaurant on top of the Donau Turm (Vienna Tower), which had magnificent views over the city. Your ship identification/key card lists your name, ship name (and contact phone number), and the deck you live on. Security officers scan the card when you leave and return to the ship, and check against your picture to be sure the proper person is boarding the ship. Most of the passengers on the ship were in their 50s and 60s. There were some older and some younger. There were teenagers with one family and some 20-year old young adults with another family. Most passengers were American. There were also Mexicans, South Africans, Canadians, and Australians. One thing I liked about the Crystal River Cruise was providing nightly entertainment on the ship [kudos to Crystal]. Sometimes we had special guests: La Finesse String Quartet in Würzburg, the Pressburger Duo with unique and traditional Slovakian instruments in Bratislava, and a soprano and pianist performance in Regensburg. Other nights we were entertained by the talented and vivacious Rita and Bruno (piano, guitar, vocals) in the Palm Court lounge. We had game time as well, when not watching the 2018 World Cup competition: Trivia, Name That Tune, and the (Not So) Newlywed Game, to name a few. There was also pre-dinner cocktail music in the lounge. There were several enrichment lectures held in the lounge with guest speakers. Topics included the European Union, Germany, and the Main-Danube Canal. The bar staff was friendly and helpful. They would even serve drinks on the top deck when it was open. Most of the drinks were included in the cruise price. There were some top shelf liquors for which you had to pay (e.g., Hennessy XO cognac, Patron tequila). My sister-in-law spoke highly of the quality of the “Drink of the Day”. She tried them all and loved them. I tried a margarita, and later a mojito, but they didn’t suit my tastes (which could have been due to the base liquors), so I stuck with wine most of the time. I loved the Grüner Veltliner white wine from Austria. An interesting and informative Galley Tour is offered about halfway through the cruise. The Executive Chef takes you down to the kitchen and talks about how your great food is prepared. Be sure to read the Reflections (“Welcome Aboard Crystal Mahler”) and the “Crystal Collections Notice” brochures in your room when you arrive. They provide some information to make the cruise more enjoyable. There is a self-service laundry on Deck 1. There are 2 washers and 2 dryers. There is no charge to use them. Laundry detergent pods are provided (just put into the washer), as are dryer sheets. There are lots of customizable options for washing and drying your clothes. There is an ironing board and iron. You can watch TV while you wait. If you leave, be sure to come back when your washing or drying finishes (look for the estimated time on the control panel of the washer or dryer). There may be other people waiting to use the machines. Laundry service was available for a nominal fee; pressing was complimentary. Stay on top of your folio. I had read other reviews about problems with the stateroom bill, which I also had. Check a few days into the cruise and a few days before the end of the cruise. That allows time to fix any obvious problems, like charges from other staterooms being improperly posted to your account. It would be helpful to have a clock in the swimming pool area and in the bar at Palm Court [hint to Crystal]. Carry some Euro coins with you when you go out on excursions or on your own. You may have to pay €0.50-€0.80 to use public toilets. In Hungary, the official currency is the Forint. The Euro appears to be accepted at stores frequented by tourists. You may be able to get Euros back in change by asking (otherwise you probably get forints); you may or may not get a favorable exchange rate. The Euro was used in all the other countries on the cruise. My wife and I enjoyed lounging on the top (Vista) deck when it was open. You have great views of both sides of the river, especially during scenic cruising, such as early in the cruise after the ship left Cologne and we went through the Rhine Gorge. On the last night of the cruise, the ship went cruising up and down the river in Budapest; there were quite a few illuminated buildings to see and bridges to go under. The furniture was comfortable, including the sofas and lounge chairs. There were also tables for playing cards. There was a large perforated (tight weave) canopy in the central area that provided some screening from the sun. There was an outdoor bar with bar chairs, but it was rarely used on this cruise. With Crystal’s all-inclusive cruising, complimentary gratuities for housekeeping, bar and dining staff (including in-room dining service staff) are included in the cost of the cruise. I was told that local guides were also covered. However, my wife and I still gave some nominal tips if we thought the local guides did an exceptional job. We felt that the room attendant, some of the bar staff, some of the dining room staff, and the Active Adventure Coordinator deserved an additional tip because of their outstanding service, which we gave to them in sealed envelopes the day before disembarking in Budapest. As I indicated above, a Crystal River cruise is expensive. You have to consider value for the money—food, shore excursions, amenities, ship layout (including room balcony access, 8exercise room, laundry, and spa), nightly entertainment, etc. This cruise cost about $12,000 per person. By comparison and for example, a comparable stateroom on Viking (similar layout but 50 fewer square feet) with a similar Amsterdam to Budapest itinerary would cost about $8,000 per person. It’s an individual decision about whether you can have a comparable experience for a lower price point than Crystal. We did have several people on the cruise who have been longtime Crystal ocean cruise passengers and who decided to experience river cruising with Crystal; they seemed very happy with this trip. A Crystal yacht cruise may be in their future. Read Less
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