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.