I'm a frequent cruiser - although mainly the larger ocean liners. I recently strayed from course and took my mom on a CRYSTAL CRUISES RIVER CRUISE ON THE DANUBE. It was, in a word, SPECTACULAR.
Let me start by saying I'm in my mid 40's and my mom is an active 73. We live in the NYC area and are from the entertainment/media fields. We were looking for something more mellow than the traditional big ship offerings, as well as something elegant and steeped in culture-rich activities (tours). CRYSTAL CRUISES surpassed both my mom's and my expectations.
The Mozart is CRYSTAL's first foray into the river cruise biz. It's an older ship, retrofitted and refurbished to the line's usual high standards. It's simply stunning. We landed in Vienna and headed straight to the ship. We opted to set up a private car thru Crystal, which was set up weeks prior to departure. The car service rep was waiting right as we walked out of baggage, led us to our driver and off we went for the 30 minute drive to the Mozart. The large SUV was spotless and the driver was friendly and professional.
Upon first seeing the Mozart - you may or may not have a little moment of panic ("Wait, this is it?!?") The outside of the ship is very...river cruise-ish. Nothing mindlblowing. But the second you walk up to the glass entryway - WOW. The decor is modern yet elegant. It's clean lines, muted grays and creams...really classy. I looked into another line early on in my planning stages and was turned off by the decor, which looked like a botanical garden gone haywire (lots of florals and brocade-ish appointments; nice but NOT my style).
The entire span of the interior of Mozart was dazzling in Christmas decor, since this was a Christmas Market-centric itinerary. Beautifully decorated Christmas trees in every corner, sweet winter gnomes popping up here and there (not creepy looking) and wrapped presents in silvers, golds, greens and reds. With the chill in the air it fast forwarded me right to Christmas Eve. Couples will no doubt feel a wave of love, moms/daughters (there were a couple of these tandems on board actually) will feel grateful for the opportunity to bond. Seriously, I probably sound corny but the Mozart brought such warmth to guests the second we walked on, and it really meant a lot I know to everyone.
The crew is, again, amazing. And gorgeous by the way. My mom and I joked with our adorable "butler" Daniel that we were quite pleased with the aesthetics of the ship - EVERYTHING on the ship lol. Handsome young men and lovely women in their 20's and 30's mainly from places like Poland, Slovakia, Latvia. Hard working, friendly, patient and extremely professional.
Things to just point out randomly:
The average age of the guests I would say is mid to late 60's. This isn't a party ship by any stretch. THAT SAID - if you want to have fun on board, you can absolutely have it and more. My mom and I met two other couples on Day 2 and became inseparable. We would probably be considered the "fun crew" (there were little pods of us that grew as the days went on, then began to morph into one LOL). We would meet up in the mornings before our complimentary tours, sit on the same bus and hang together thru the day. It was fun to share these amazing cities with others. If we wanted alone time, we could easily have it. Everyone "got it"; no one was offended if you split off. But I have to tell you - stumbling on an authentic, locals-type German restaurant after our tour of Munich with new friends, drinking wine, beer, eating delicious food surrounded by a hundred old German men and women who had clearly loved this place forever was AWESOME.
Tour buses were spacious, prompt and comfortable - luxury buses. Drivers were safe and friendly.
Tours were great. Mozart offered many complimentary tours each day and those were perfect. Guides were just what they should be: Informative, pleasant, professional.
We took a tour of the Mauthausen concentration camp. Do this, please. Those of us who did are so grateful. It was very overwhelming but it bonded many of us -- we realized in very stark terms how incredibly lucky we are. People who can afford a luxurious vacation with not a concern in the world walking in the same footsteps as those who were tortured by barbarians was not lost on any of us. Men, women, young, old from The States, Spain, Australia, etc all weeping like children. It was intense but left us feeling very lucky.
After the tours wrap up, we usually found ourselves back on ship heading straight for the lounge. Attire on board and off was pretty much the same: Comfort, comfort, comfort with a splash of cute.
The lounge can be summarized in one word: Neal. He's the entertainer; a one man show who really made the trip EVERYTHING. He's a cute Brit who plays piano, sings, charms and is hilarious. He sat with my mom and I on night two and we ended up grabbing him for dinner where we continued the laughs. He is equally warm to everyone on board, which is a feat given there are about 185 guests. Our group pitched in and jokingly "presented" him a blue sequined blazer on one of the last nights. He is quite fond of snazzy duds that only HE could get away with.
That's the thing - 6 adults, touring Munich, giggling like schoolgirls as we ran around trying to grab that ridiculous jacket. It says it all. Neal, Brian - everyone was just so cool and so cute. And always professional. Watching women who are sitting there with their husbands of 30 years screaming and preening as crazy Neal performs his piano man routine was epic. The memories will last a lifetime.
I will follow this up with the names of some folks to keep an eye out for - I don't have them handy but it's important to me to mention them.
The food: As good - OR BETTER - than any NYC top tier restaurant, and that is no joke. Part of our crew was in the restaurant biz and they were very, very impressed. The restaurant is run masterfully. You can dress up or keep the causal vibe going but either way you are treated with excellent service from everyone. (Stefan the sommelier was adorable. I told him I wanted to bring him home so my fiancé and I could adopt him. But then he told me he was 32...).
I could go on and on, and pretty much have. I just wanted to express how wonderful CRYSTAL CRUISE's Mozart experience was. Any questions - I'm happy to answer.
Small, but spacious enough for my mom and I to share. Elegant. A-plus. Balcony is french - so not room to sit outside and have coffee in the AM but nice to lean out and watch the sights of the Danube roll by. Bathroom was fantastic - very large, nicely appointed.