(10 a.m. EST) -- Pent-up demand for river cruising, as seen in advance bookings, has prompted Crystal Cruises to bring Crystal Mozart back to its European fleet for 2022.
The luxuriously refurbished ship, which is twice as wide as a normal river cruise vessel, was used to launch Crystal River Cruises in 2016. After the company added four newbuilds to its European river fleet, Crystal Mozart was retired after the 2019 season and intended to be redeployed by parent company Genting Hong Kong.
The ship, which originally carried 154 passengers, has reduced its capacity to 120, primarily by dedicating 38 deluxe window suites to solo travelers. These cabins will not carry a single supplement, on any voyage.
"This expansion meets the increased demand and pent-up desire to explore expressed by our guests across the globe as indicated by our strong advanced bookings,” said Walter Littlejohn, senior vice president and managing director of Crystal River Cruises.
“We are delighted to reintroduce Crystal Mozart to the global marketplace. She launched Crystal River Cruises’ wonderful journey five years ago and holds a very special place in the hearts of those of us at Crystal and to many along the Danube River."
Crystal is not the only river line to cite pent up demand driving forward bookings. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is also seeing huge increases in bookings -- up 425 percent in January, compared to 2020.
Large groups, longer sailings and far-flung destinations are all proving to be the most popular types of cruise, said Ellen Bettridge, CEO.
"For 2022, 11 percent of the bookings were carried over from 2020 and 89 percent is new organic business," she said, speaking at a CLIA River Cruise Forum event.
"It's new people who have never cruised with us before -- I don't know if they've never river cruised before, but they've never cruised with us."
And AmaWaterways has just launched the longest-ever river cruise for 2023 -- 46-night journey along seven rivers through 14 countries -- prompted by passengers desire to tick off bucket-list destinations, post-pandemic, according to co-founder Rudi Schreiner.
The width of Crystal Mozart is what makes it special, as the ship is able to have more amenities than you'd find on a regular river cruise. There's a choice of three dining venues, for example, plus snacks and room service. The ship has a separate spa, salon and fitness center that is markedly larger than most on the river.
The size of the ship does limit Crystal Mozart (as well as AmaWaterways' AmaMagna, the other double-width European river ship) to the Danube River. The 2022 itineraries, which start on March 28, will sail from Vienna to Budapest, with calls on Esztergom, Hungary; Bratislavia; Durnstein and Austria's Wachau Valley and Linz, which is a jumping off point for day trips to Salzburg.
With the return of Crystal Mozart, the company will deploy Crystal Mahler, one of its 106-passenger Rhine class ships, to sail various itineraries in 2022, including those on the Rhine, Moselle, Main and Danube. The trips will range from five to 16 nights, and include sailings that will visit three rivers in one voyage.
Crystal Mahler will also have 2022 sailings that visit Floriade, a flower expo near Amsterdam that takes place once a decade.
Both of the 2022 lineups for Crystal Mozart and Crystal Mahler include Christmas Market and holiday sailings. Itineraries for 2022 have not yet been announced for Crystal Bach, Crystal Ravel or Crystal Mahler. Reservations open March 11.