Crystal Mozart is twice the width of other boats on the river and the standard of equipment on the boat is superb. Some boats that are half the width can take 200 passengers compared to Crystal Mozart taking 170 i.e. less than half the space per person. The bathroom fittings, towels etc are of the highest quality. Good water pressure in shower but no bath. A toilet that will perform tricks that made my eyes water! Nespresso coffee in the cabin but no kettle to make tea. The bed and pillow were exceptionally comfortable and the linen was of the highest thread count quality.
The staff are nothing less than magnificent. They were all so friendly, efficient and charming. Among the best I have ever come across. The management accepted my comments when I approached them during the trip and were polite in dealing with me and responded to my comments.
The shore excursions were well organised. I particularly enjoyed the concert, the E- Biking and the tour buses were of the very best and latest standard. Airport transfers were efficient and we were immediately greeted at the airport. The tenor and pianist that were flown in especially for an evening’s entertainment on the boat were nothing less than spectacular. They were both of the highest international standard. The other performers brought on board were also very good.
Not Crystal’s fault but we were moored up next to other boats too often. This is due to the unbelievably high number of large river boats being operated on the Danube but it means that one’s view from the French Balcony of our suite was often the side of another boat only a few feet away and not the local scenery. This can also shield their communications systems so the internet doesn’t work. This is the price that has to be paid for there now being 330 monster river cruise boats on the Danube. This won’t happen at Passau as Crystal are relative new boys on the block and are therefore not high enough up the pecking order to actually go into Passau so the boat moors up a 10 minute bus ride from the town. This obviously prevents casual shore visits.
I bought a VPN for the trip so that I could watch Wimbledon on board but I was advised by their IT man that their IT system is not comprehensive enough to operate with a VPN. So no BBC.
Budapest is a beautiful city with many spectacular buildings. Having visited Budapest before I know just how stunning the night time river cruise is. Unfortunately the river was closed on the one night that we were in Budapest so we were relegated to a bus trip which definitely did not compare to the river cruise. We specifically chose not to opt for the free/inclusive dinner at a Michelin Stared restaurant so that we could do the river cruise. Again not Crystal’s fault but another aspect that was very disappointing.
Our friends went to Costes Downtown and were bitterly disappointed. Not Michelin Star food by any imagination but I guess Crystal don’t pay Michelin Star prices. Similar comments were to be heard from everyone who chose to visit one of the offered Michelin restaurants. It’s a great marketing ploy to say that a Michelin Star meal is included in the trip but it’s absolutely not what it purports to be. I am horrified that restaurants of such renown are prepared to demean themselves to such an extent.
Now for the most outrageous bit. On our first night we were offered flat or fizzy water that were both chlorinated tap water. We complained and were brought bottled water. Two nights later we were offered water from the bottles that they use for the tap water so we declined and asked for bottled water. We were informed that the bottled water for our table had been decanted into the tap water bottles as everyone else had seen us having bottled water and they wanted it as well. In other words they were disguising the fact that our table was having better quality water that must have cost one or two Euros a bottle as opposed to free tap water. To me this is nothing less than fraudulent. On reporting this to the management we were told it was a misunderstanding between a supervisor and a member of staff. This can’t be true as our waiter had already told us it was to prevent too many customers asking for bottled water. There must have been more to this as bottled water was handed out everywhere we went. All the waiters, in every restaurant, were offering chlorinated tap water to all for the whole trip.
The reasonably extensive complimentary wine list is just that but don’t expect them to all be available throughout the trip. When we boarded the Italian, Spanish and American wines were not available, only Austrian. We were advised that the week before the boat had had a wine group on board and that they had drunk all the better wines and that as the boat was only 400 feet long they were restricted in their stock. On our last night they had again run out of the Italian red so the next group of customers would have been restricted in their in the same way as we were.
The food is well cooked but initially the selection was very limited and unimaginative. I was told by the Manger, Restaurant Manager and Chef that we could not expect normal cruise quality food on a river boat. Prior to booking I was lead to believe that the quality of food on the Crystal Mozart was one of its features. After my comments to the Management Group we were told to look at the menu in the morning and if we didn’t like the look of the choices to order anything else we might fancy.
The main restaurant stops serving breakfast at 9.0 when in port and 9.30 when cruising which, in my opinion, is far too early for a holiday situation. The eggs for the first 5 days were stale, cheap mass produced and totally tasteless. When fried they spread out to the size of a plate which is a sure sign of poor quality stale eggs. The chef told me it was because of the temperature they were cooked at! After my comments about the eggs my wife and I were offered our own special free range organic eggs that had been especially bought for us! Not for all the other 150 or so passengers. The friends we were traveling with were needless to say appalled by this.
After the boat was re-stocked at Passau the wine selection improved to 95% available and the quality, style and imagination of the food was very substantially better. In fact on one night we had a superb meal that ended with a truly memorable Grand Marnier soufflé. It is manifestly wrong that we had to go through half the trip with an inadequately stocked boat when the quality was so good after the boat was re-stocked. It seems crazy that it can go from average to excellent overnight.
The boat and trip overall was great but sadly let down by the food and lack of wine selection during the first 5 days especially as it cost £700 a day for 2. The first part of the trip was not worth this and the last part was worth every penny.