We are still in disbelief as to what happened to us at the hands of Crystal. More unbelievable is the uncaring, disregard they have exhibited since our return. We were assured this would be handled with the utmost attention. That has not happened almost five months later. I could write pages describing this ordeal but will try to keep it concise.
Our cruise documents we received had no information regarding the embarkation for our cruise. We figured maybe they did not have this information when they sent our tickets, and we would be hearing from them by text, cellphone, or email giving us this vital information. How else would we know how to find the Ravel ? They certainly have no problem contacting you when they want your money.
We were in Budapest 6 days at a 5 star hotel prior to our cruise so we asked our concierge if he had this information. We thought it must be routine for them to know, although the ultimate responsibility was Crystals. He gave us the information he had and we went out to find the pontoon where our boat would be. We found it and were confident in his information. We never heard from Crystal.
On the morning of our cruise we had arranged for a cab to take us and our 3 - 50+ bags and 4 carry ons to the pontoon (dock). There was a marathon with hundreds of runners that we were unaware of which closed the street we needed to be on. We did not know this until our cab could not get through. The cab had to let us out as he could go no further. We had no choice but to walk the 1/4 of a mile to the pontoon (5), the road was going to be closed till late evening. I was really worried because I was still recovering from major shoulder surgery I had in December but we had no choice. The race had ended so we dragged our bags through the street. It was littered with cups and debris which was getting caught in the wheels of our bags, not to mention almost being run over by the street cleaning truck spewing water everywhere, we barely got out of their way. When we got to the pontoon there was NO Ravel there. My husband called Crystal and they put him through to the Ravel. They were clueless as to what was going on outside on the street and told us to get a cab. They were at another pontoon 5 way down in the other direction. My husband told them of the dire straits we were in and asked them to send someone by foot to help us. I saw what looked like a dock master office and went in. They barely spoke English but pointed in that same direction. We tried to walk fearful that more festivities were starting soon and we would really be in trouble. That is when the Budapest police came along and told us we could not be in the street. We told them of our situation and asked them to please drive down and verify that the Ravel was indeed where we were told, which was almost a mile away. They did and came back and said it was there. We asked them to please help us. They took us, one at a time with our luggage to the boat. Their car was so small that only one officer, one of us and some of our luggage would fit at one time. No one from Crystal ever came to help. Thank god for the wonderful Budapest police. You can only imagine how embarrassed we were arriving with the police.
We filled the survey they sent right away. We heard from various Crystal employees promising a swift response. It mostly fell on deaf ears until we received an offer of $125.00 each toward another cruise with a lot of stipulations. Still no answer as to how they were going to tell us where the boat was. We finally heard from the manager of cruise relations she said "the river boat industry is very different than ocean cruising and that Crystal must find a better way to inform guests as to where the boat is located. She went on to say they are currently doing that with the assistance of their IT and marketing department and hope to have a solution soon. One would think a company that touts themselves as five star would have had this important aspect figured out long ago She wished me a full recovery of my shoulder. That was it. I asked her in an email who in corporate was aware of this situation and she never responded. I am still seeing my doctor for the pain I have had since dragging our bags and may need another MRI to see if I did any damage.
I agree with Radar 65's comments. Also know if there is a drought like they had in 2018 your expensive river cruise (ours was $10,000) could easily turn into a bus tour. Not exactly what you envision when wanting to cruise the Danube or other European river. We heard the details from our cruise director and they sounded bad. Through all my conversations with our cruise consultant in 2018 she never mentioned one thing about this drought that was so adversely affecting Crystal. More cons than pros with this form of travel. Breakfast only served till 9 AM in the main restaurant, limited other choices if you are a late riser. Cooked to order pancakes, waffles were only available by special request, very tight quarters in the suites, drought or too much water means boat cannot sail. too much water and they cannotget under the bridges. Small spa treatment room with one esthetician and almost impossible to reschedule. One of our excursions was changed and Crystal did not tell us so we had to change our treatments to a time that was not good.
They also are getting rid of the Mozart. The river boat they touted as the Grand Dame of their fleet, the Queen of the Danube. It is NOT going to be a luxury river boat in 2020 and is going to Asia. They spent a lot of money refurbishing this boat not that many years ago, so who knows what is going on with Crystal. I also think this company has been sold maybe a few years ago. I would be very careful booking with Crystal. Read all the other reviews especially the lack of reimbursement due to the drought. If you don't mind spending big bucks on a bus trip, you might be fine with it. We have traveled all over the world and this was by far the most harrowing, dangerous experience we have ever had. Our first and last river cruise. Never again for us !!
Very small space to move around in. When we packed to leave only one of us could be walking around at one time. Bathroom is nicely laid out with good shower and double sinks.
King bed is nice but takes up most of the suite. We had a breakfast smell odor in our suite every morning between 4:30 and 5 AM that no one could figure out. It disappeared after the third day.Door was a little hard to open and the butler said he would take care of it but never did. Only got hor d'oeuvres in our suite twice during our 7 day cruise. Several people were sick and I think the tight quarters and tables so close together in the restaurant could be a factor.
Although we had a very bad start to our voyage the food especially for dinner was very good. As I said breakfast is not served after 9 AM in the main restaurant, we did enjoy most of it. When I complain about the pancakes, French toast and waffle not being cooked to order as listed in our booklet, they said I could request it. Five star service should not serve these items from a warming dish. Those breakfast items never taste good left sitting. Suites are so small I do not know if room service would be doable. Bartenders were very good and did remember our drink choices.
It is true you have a long walk from the boat, and possibly have to walk through at least one other boat to get to the bus for excursions. Buses were nice and exclusive to Crystal. Entertainment was very limited with a married couple providing the nightly entertainment. They were lovely people, but even the woman succumbed to the virus that hit several guests. Again, close quarters so illness could spread. I cannot stress enough, do your research to see if you can get an idea of water level conditions. Obviously other people were caught unaware and never told of this situation by Crystal. Communication is not Crystal’s strong suit, so you might get a surprise at the last minute. Other reviewers have written they were unhappy not to be able to take the trip they planned and paid a lot for due to the drought which, Crystal never bothered to tell them about. I also would take out insurance, we did, almost another $1,000 to add on to an already expensive trip. You might be able to cancel without penalty depending on the coverage. All of these big “what if’s” makes river boat travel risky and nothing we want to do again.