Crystal Mozart Cruise Review by RICHARD JAMES
- Sail Date: November 2016
- Destination: Europe River
--MY CABIN: The entire ship is ultra-modern, so ignore the unflattering photos of the exterior. I was a single in a gorgeous and comfortable cabin with a window just above the water line. Features included: 40" high-def t.v. with good reception; roomy bath with no-splash shower; great king-sized mattress; Nespresso machine; remote controlled toilet/bidet (I turned it off); controls on iPad that I ignored because it was redundant, etc. Attentive butler service is included, and the female room attendant even wore attractive make-up. The entire ship feels roomy and uncrowded with just a 160 passenger max, tho my trip was not entirely filled because of the time of year.
--FOOD: As fine as any I've ever consistently experienced on water or even land. They really know seafood, pork, lamb, and beef, tho they're typically European in not knowing how to make a great steak, including my special order ribeye that wasn't very tender or tasty. (Note: no specialty steakhouse). The lunch buffet offers even a bigger selection than the fine evening meals, including the great pastries & desserts. (I skipped breakfasts in a vain effort to hold down calories). The cruise also offers an included Michelin starred restaurant ashore, but some of us cancelled our reservations because upon seeing its menu we assumed the fine food on board made the Michelin excursion not worth the effort!
--SERVICE: The highest staff to passenger ratio I've ever experienced, and also the highest ratio on the Danube. The service was truly amazing and friendly everywhere; the ton of extremely helpful waiters had to try hard to look busy.
--BEVERAGES INCLUDED: All but the ships very finest wines and spirits are included, starting with the cabin having arrival bottles of good sparkling wine, white wine, red wine, beer, soft drinks, and bottled waters. The very free-flowing alcohol on board exceeded expectations, and the bartenders really know their stuff. Note: ask for the extensive list of included beverages, because otherwise the waiters just offer a more limited selection of good wines if you don't ask for the list showing the rest of the included beverages.
--WI-FI: Unlimited satellite wi-fi is included without extra charge, and the speed is a bit sporadic depending on the demand level of other passengers and whether we're passing large hills.
--ELECTRICAL: The online and brochure descriptions are confusing. The reality is that the ship offers 220 Volts only, which is usable if your laptop and chargers automatically handle both 110V and 220V. (Check the converter "brick" on your device power cord to see if it automatically converts). Otherwise, while the boat offers a plug adapter for American electronics, you'll have to provide your own 220V to 110V power converter.
--INCLUDED SHORE EXCURSIONS: Various excursions are included with several more expensive ones you can pay for; I only used the included ones. Four new full-sized roomy buses (with toilets) follow the ship from port to port. No buses were ever crowded.
--MISCELLANEOUS: The large top deck has a pop-up pilot bridge and bar for lowering the height when going under bridges. It also has a viewing area for warm weather movie viewing. The small indoor pool, large jacuzzi, and gym are new and no charge, tho the spa services cost extra. Entertainment: Several musicians came onboard at port stops. Otherwise the ship's permanent and witty singer/pianist/games host was very good, including sing-alongs.
--OWNER AMBITIONS: Owned by a Hong Kong company (perhaps with some mainland money?), and they're throwing big bucks at Crystal in order to dominate the top ultra-luxury travel business. Four new-build river ships are being prepared , a super-luxury ocean yacht, a dedicated Antarctic cruise ship (with helicopter), and Crystal's own Boeing 777. This cruise included several Crystal corporate employees to analyze ways to improve the experience, but that'll be tough to do. I even met four Americans who were on the cruise for the duration to install a huge amount of the very finest European Christmas holiday decorations.
--BOTTOM LINE: I typically don't do a lot of luxury cruises, but this was such an unexpectedly superior experience that I'll likely have to become a Crystal repeat customer. All the other passengers I met were similarly enthusiastic about this truly lap of luxury experience.
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