9 Crystal River Crystal Bach Cruise Reviews

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
Sail Date April 2019
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
Sail Date October 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
Sail Date July 2018
We just returned from our first river cruise, a tulip time sailing in Holland and Belgium on Crystal Bach. After 50+ ocean cruises, we boarded Bach with some apprehension, not quite sure if river cruising would be for us. We had barged ... Read More
We just returned from our first river cruise, a tulip time sailing in Holland and Belgium on Crystal Bach. After 50+ ocean cruises, we boarded Bach with some apprehension, not quite sure if river cruising would be for us. We had barged in France and taken an expedition cruise on the Amazon, but traditional river cruising was new to us. We disembarked 12 nites later fully convinced that we had found our sweet spot. For us, river cruising represents the best of luxury land travel combined with the joyful relaxation of ocean cruising. We loved it. As with most river cruise lines, Crystal includes arrival and departure transfers. Upon arrival at AMS Schiphol, we were greeted by cheery ground staff, offered coffee and pastries and then transported to Bach on a Crystal-branded coach. We were the only guests arriving at that time and we had the huge bus all to ourselves! Check-in was handled via iPad in Palm Court. Quick and easy. Lunch was being served in Waterside but we chose to graze in the Bistro. The selection wasn't as extensive as on Crystal ocean ships (no Portuguese tarts) but was just fine for a quick bite and a glass of bubbly. Within a half hour, we were escorted to our suite where our luggage had already arrived. Our butler gave us a walk-through of various features, including how to operate the huge panoramic balcony window. The room itself was gorgeous. Bright, well appointed and functional. Nespresso machine and a well-stocked fridge at the ready. Decent sized walk-in closet with lots of hangers and drawers. The bathroom had double sinks and a fabulous rain head shower. Only downside was Etro toiletries, which looked great in their brightly colored containers, but performed miserably. We settled in and then roamed around to orient ourselves. Bach is just lovely. It has the feel of a contemporary boutique hotel with a casual yet sophisticated onboard ambiance. The boat is compact yet doesn't feel cramped. Corridors and public spaces are bright with pops of art for visual interest. There are not many public areas inside the vessel apart from Palm Court, Waterside and the Bistro, but the entire outside top deck with chaise lounges, comfy deck chairs and a pop-up bar, just begs to be discovered. Dining on Bach was a delight and exceeded expectations. Breakfast and lunch in Waterside was buffet, with self-serve stations complimented by fully staffed cook-to-order stations. Dinner in Waterside featured a 4-course Chef Selection each night, as well as optional classic items. The cheese selection changed daily and offered some interesting local choices, all served at the proper temperature. Daily wine pairings were suggested but all complimentary wines were available for the asking. Crystal advertises Michelin-inspired menus with locally-sourced fresh ingredients and they really deliver. While menu selections were not as extensive as on the ocean ships, execution and presentation was superior. The Bistro was also open for breakfast and lunch with a small self-serve buffet and a limited menu. The daily pastas and soup were excellent. On selected nights (3 during our cruise) the Bistro was open for dinner with a tapas menu. Unfortunately, we didn't get the opportunity to try the Bistro at night, but reports were that it was a hit. It would be great if Crystal opened the Bistro every evening as a casual alternative to Waterside. A feature of river cruising is included excursions, which didn't particularly appeal to us since we like to travel independently and usually avoid ship-sponsored tours. Nonetheless, we pre-booked a whopping 18 tours via PCPC, representing a good mix of cultural discovery, active adventures and culinary experiences. In reality, we had no need to worry about included tours. There was an amazing selection in every port and we managed to get all our top choices. Every single Crystal excursion was exceptional. Interesting itineraries, excellent guides, small groups, whisper listening devices and fabulous (yes fabulous) Setra coaches and friendly drivers. Those coaches were amazing. Purpose-built for Crystal, they have very comfortable seats with generous pitch, which not only recline but move sideways! Super smooth ride, tons of navigational aides, powerful AC, free wifi. On several excursions, so-called Crystal Moments added a special surprising touch. The Crystal Signature Evening Event was exceptional and will be a lasting memory. Looking back, we now think the included excursions contributed greatly to our overall enjoyment of our cruise. We sailed at night and were docked in port every day, conveniently located in the centre of town. Almost always, we were docked alongside the pier with other riverboats docked (barged) right next to us. Only once did we need to enter Bach through another vessel and it was Crystal Debussy, an identical twin to Bach! Unlike ocean cruising, there were few planned activities on board, especially during the daytime. In the evenings, an entertainer played piano in Palm Court both before and after dinner. Trivia, Liars Club and a Guest Lecturer each made an appearance and local entertainment was brought onboard a few times when we overnighted in port. There was a Crystal Society Reception to which all guests were invited. Lovely spread including very generous servings of caviar. We were surprised to be recognized among the top loyalty cruisers, given we have only 63 days sailing with Crystal. Yet another benefit of river cruising! We were crystallized after our first cruise on Serenity almost 2 years ago. We never dreamed we'd love river cruising as much as we did but Bach won us over. We've been recrystallized. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We booked the river cruise through Road Scholars who had charted the boat for the Tulip Time in the Netherlands and Belgium. We spent three nights in Amsterdam before boarding the boat. The boat is new and lovely. The service is ... Read More
We booked the river cruise through Road Scholars who had charted the boat for the Tulip Time in the Netherlands and Belgium. We spent three nights in Amsterdam before boarding the boat. The boat is new and lovely. The service is excellent and the food very good. We were quite impressed with this new to river cruising line. Because this was the first cruise of the season, there were a few minor glitches, but easily dealt with. The boat was not nearly full which was nice. At maximum capacity it is only about 106 people. It is the same size of the other river boats, but accommodates fewer guests making it seem less crowded. For the most part, all of the excursions were excellent. It was cold and the tulips were just barely blooming while we were there, but that is based upon the weather and no fault of Crystal River Cruises. Embarkation was so easy. We actually were able to get into our rooms much sooner than the time quoted earlier. Debarkation was very smooth as well with no issues regarding the transfer to the airport. I would definitely go on this line again without hesitation. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We just returned yesterday from a 10 night sailing on the Crystal Bach, and we had the time of our lives! From our embarkation with a Crystal 'Ambassador' welcoming us 'Home' to Claire, the Fitness Director checking us ... Read More
We just returned yesterday from a 10 night sailing on the Crystal Bach, and we had the time of our lives! From our embarkation with a Crystal 'Ambassador' welcoming us 'Home' to Claire, the Fitness Director checking us in with a glass of champagne, seamless registration and introduction to our cabin, to our final moments on the sailing, it was truly divine. Crystal goes above and beyond to ensure every request is not only met, but anticipated before you even have to ask. The service and attention to detail were both impeccable, as was the food, the beverage offerings, and every facet of the sailing. Our cabin was BEAUTIFUL! We were worried before we sailed about the size of the cabin, but they are extremely well designed, with ample space for everything (and we packed a LOT). One benefit to odd-numbered cabins on this particular sailing, was that we were rarely blocked by another river boat and almost always had an open view of the water, or our port. However, I cannot say this would be the same on any other sailing...so keep that in mind. We had absolute confidence in Captain Hans' leadership, and he ran a tight ship, while still being extremely personable and friendly with guests and encouraging his team to do the same. The entire Crew could not have been more professional, while also being engaging. They took the time to get to know each and every guest...bartenders and Palm Court staff, from our first cocktail knew our names, and specifically how we liked our libations. Dining and culinary staff made each and every meal a joy and a delicious delight. We were hesitant upon hearing that breakfast and lunch would be served buffet style in Waterside (Room Service and the Bistro had full service with limited, but delicious offerings, in addition to an all day spread that could easily suffice for a meal). However, the Chef went above and beyond in ensuring that it NEVER became repetitive - even the salad buffet offerings and desserts completely varied each and every day. For two people that hate buffets as a byproduct of having to dine at far too many of them at conferences in our professional lives, we were actually excited to see what was going to be offered each meal. It never became monotonous...not even remotely. The servers were outstanding, ensuring our wine and water glasses were never empty, and would bring you anything else desired, including coffee and tea service post-meal. Our suite attendant, Diana, was like an incredible genie - she magically knew our schedule and somehow made our room perfectly spotless, whenever we left the room even for a few minutes. I swear - the digital room systems must have an alert that notifies attendants and your butler when you depart from your cabin, because even when we didn't select the 'make up room' toggle, it still happened. Relative to excursions, Crystal is without peer. Each port offered several complimentary excursions, and many were once in a lifetime opportunities. In Strasbourg, they closed the Cathedral (stunning) for a private Organ recital/concert and tour, exclusively for our group. In another, we had a private concert with 4 ladies playing string instruments, in a stunningly lit castle, complete with champagne welcome. Yes, you heard me right - we had a private concert in a CASTLE. We paid for one all day, optional excursion to Colmar and the Alsation Wine Route. It was not to our groups standards (or Crystal's), and when we shared our disappointment, they immediately refunded the cost and apologized profusely. It was still a fun day, but had been misrepresented in the description and didn't hold a candle to the experience we could have had on the ship, beyond the fabulous morning in storybook Colmar, which was also offered as a complimentary activity. The ship also has a gorgeous spa suite, with a remarkably talented massage therapist and aesthetician. I had the best massage I've ever had - and I've had countless, and my spouse said the same about her facial. As for any negatives, there were only two. The first is that the gym is extremely small, albeit the equipment is in exceptional shape and offered full technical/digital capability with tv, music, news, etc (recumbent bike, another racing-style bike, ample free weights, exercise ball and rowing machine). The ceiling was also standard ship height, so if you wanted to do tricep raises or any other lifting, you had to do so sitting down on the weight bench or ball. However, Claire was available each morning for a scheduled exercise class, optional personal training if desired, and almost all days' excursions offered plenty of walking/cardio opportunity. There was also a gorgeous pool room (indoor) with a resistance pool, lounge chairs for relaxation, etc. I wanted to spend more time there, but there were simply too many other things to do! But the guests that did spend time in the pool or relaxation room, shared they enjoyed it immensely. The other negative, not for us, but for others on the sailing, was that it was promoted both as a Holiday sailing along the Rhine, but also as a Christmas Market Cruise. With the departure date on December 23rd, almost all Christmas Markets close either on December 23rd, or certainly on the 25th - with the exception of Strasbourg and minimal other markets that converted to 'Winter Markets' (a scaled down version, with most booths closed down - such as in Heidelberg). However, my spouse and I flew in early and spent 4 days in Belgium and an extra night in Amsterdam, so we were able to get our Christmas Markets fix. But keep this in mind, as you select your sailing date if this is an important reason for your sailing. On a positive note, the Crystal Bach Crew did an exceptional job making the Bach feel festive and joyful for both Christmas, New Year's Eve and Day. The New Year's Day Brunch was one for the record books - the best I've ever experienced and a glutton's heaven (freshly shucked oysters, caviar bar, poached cold-water lobster tail salad, crab cakes, made to order crab pasta, truffled this and that, incredible pork, beef and protein offerings, extensive dessert selections and more). New Year's Eve we had a phenomenal dinner, followed by champagne toast, passed hors d'oeurves, and headed up to the top deck for a 360 degree view of the most splendid fireworks display many of us had ever seen. The guests on the Bach were just wonderful, and it was a much younger (and/or younger at heart) sailing than many of us had been expecting. A few families were traveling together for the Holiday break, and we made friendships that will last long beyond the sailing. We had ample romantic time to reconnect as a couple, but plenty of time to engage and get to meet amazing people from all over the globe. Most fellow guests were American, but there were others from the UK, Australia, Mexico and beyond. This is well beyond a cabin review alone, but my point is, if you're considering a sailing on Crystal Bach, DO IT! It's truly one of the best decisions we've ever made and we will remember it fondly forever. We loved it so much, we already booked the Danube sailing for the same dates next December. Well done, Crystal Bach (and more importantly, her Crew)...VERY well done! Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
For a number of years, we have wanted to experience the Christmas Markets of Germany. We had also wanted to give Crystal Cruise lines a try. When the Crystal Bach was announced, we made our booking immediately and waited nearly two years ... Read More
For a number of years, we have wanted to experience the Christmas Markets of Germany. We had also wanted to give Crystal Cruise lines a try. When the Crystal Bach was announced, we made our booking immediately and waited nearly two years for the ship to be built in anticipation off a once in a lifetime experience. It was worth the wait! From the time that we were greeted at the airport in Amsterdam until we were dropped off at the airport in Basel, the service and the warm hospitality that we received from the Crystal Bach team was exemplary. The ship was immaculate, the cabin spacious for a river cruise, and everything was immaculately kept. While breakfast and lunch were served buffet style, it was not a typical buffet. The buffet simply allowed us to select what we preferred and in the quantity that we liked, It also afforded us to interact with the friendly team that was more than happy to prepare something special to our liking. Every evening the dinner was top shelf. The Chef frequently incorporated local ingredients in the dishes of the region and the staff in the dining room was very attentive Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Had enjoyed the Crystal Mozart last fall and wanted to try the newest river boat. Again, the boat is lovely and Crystal staff, particularly in the restaurants and bar, are enthusiastic and professional. The problem comes with the front ... Read More
Had enjoyed the Crystal Mozart last fall and wanted to try the newest river boat. Again, the boat is lovely and Crystal staff, particularly in the restaurants and bar, are enthusiastic and professional. The problem comes with the front desk - inability to get accurate info on tours and destinations is frustrating. Group tours suddenly change - now it is a "trek" not a "hike", and today we have time to kill so "before we get to the vineyard we do a city tour". Remember - your tour is only as fast as the slowest member and as good as your local guide. Given that these excursions are complimentary the opinion by staff seems to be that this means no accurate description is necessary for the guest. If you decide to venture on your own there is little assistance given (even when you stress you will pay yourself) and it is difficult to get any info from front desk, probably because at this point they are still unsure as to how these excursions will play out on a new itinerary for them. We took shuttles, did our research and enjoyed the stops, but if every older guest or person with a special need is assisted, I question why those who prefer a more active trip must struggle to create a cruise that suits this request??! And do not even think you will have a "fitness class" if that is something you may enjoy!! Granted there is not much interior space for exercising - but all that room on deck for morning yoga or stretching?? The fitness instructor did her best to discourage participation in her classes and after 10 showed up to a cramped spot in front of a piano on the first day made sure no one would join in after. Get imaginative - lead walks outside when in port, move stretching, yoga outside on nice days ... trip is not over - and no decent white wine left, so ... be warned!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
My husband and I wanted our first river cruise to be a high end luxury one, and Crystal Bach has totally delivered it! We have been cruising for years with various cruise lines, including Regent which is supposed to be the #1 in the world, ... Read More
My husband and I wanted our first river cruise to be a high end luxury one, and Crystal Bach has totally delivered it! We have been cruising for years with various cruise lines, including Regent which is supposed to be the #1 in the world, but Crystal Bach surpassed it by a mile! ~First of all, the food was out of the world! Every meal they served on the ship was excellent! We are foodies and we are very critical of food. Chef Mattias Pape and his team were unbelievable. ~The executions were complementary and they were wonderful. We enjoyed all the sightseeings. There were plenty of umbrellas and bottles of water on the buses. The bus drivers and staff were very attentive and friendly. ~The room was very spacious and chic. All cabins have a floor to ceiling window which can be opened and turn the room to a balcony. The water pressure in the bath room was just perfect. ~The deck was very spacious for relaxing, even for jogging/walking. ~The service was excellent. All staff members, especially the captain, were very friendly and went out their ways to make guests happy. ~ The entertainment was wonderful, to say the least. We have been used to watch full stage productions on those big ocean liners and we did enjoy them. We were told that the entertainment on river cruises tends to be boring due to the size of the ships. Well, it turned out, every night with our wonderful entertainer, Mark Farris, was the best time we ever had on any ship. Not only is Mark a gifted singer and pianist, he is also very kind and friendly. He remembered every guest from day one and always involved everyone during his nightly show. He made us feel like partying with a very close circle of friends. We all love him very much and hope that he will be on our next cruise. Since we were on the inaugural voyage, we did experience some mishaps, mechanically and human errors. But Crystal Cruise made every effort and went above and beyond to accommodate every guest. As I mentioned, we have sailed on different cruise lines. After this wonderful experience with Crystal Bach, we have decided to become lifelong Crystal cruisers. On another note, our fellow cruisers' age range from mid 40s to 90s. Most of them looked like 65 and older. I am in my mid 50s but feel fit in well with this group of kind and friendly international guests. If you want a more lively crowd, or casinos, this ship is not for you. Please excuse my grammatical errors since English is not my first language. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Crystal Bach Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.9
Dining 5.0 4.7
Entertainment 4.5 4.0
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.6
Family 3.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.1
Enrichment 3.5 3.8
Service 5.0 4.6
Value For Money 4.5 4.4

Find a Crystal Bach Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click