(11:32 a.m. EST) -- Crystal River Cruises today unveiled a new approach to shore excursions, as well as a number of tours exclusively designed for Crystal River passengers.
The excursions, which Crystal says focus on authenticity, are designed for smaller group sizes -- no more than 15 people per tour. More than 200 included excursions will be available to passengers beginning with the line's 2018 and 2019 voyages along the Danube, Rhine and Main rivers. Additional-fee options, which are more tailored, are also available.
"Every detail of the Crystal River Cruises' curated destination program for 2018 and 2019 has been revamped to focus on choices and offer more intimate, immersive experiences that perfectly suit travelers' preferences and properly showcase the charm and beauty of the destinations," Walter Littlejohn, the line's managing director and vice president, said in a news release.
The excursions will fall in one of five categories:
- Personal Connections: These tours focus on bringing passengers up-close to destinations, providing unique tours by locals, artisans and experts. For example, passengers might enjoy an owner-hosted tasting at Schlagkamp Winery in Cochem;
- Tantalizing Gastronomy: Excursions give passengers hands-on cooking experiences as well as a chance to dine on the signature styles and specialties of the various destinations the river ships visit. Passengers can book an immersive culinary journey in Rotterdam, for example;
- Cultural Discoveries: Passengers will visit landmarks museums and iconic and architectural sites. In Amsterdam, for example, passengers might take a boat tour of the city's famous canals;
- Exhilarating Adventures: These tours are designed for active travelers who want to enjoy historical and cultural tours in a more invigorating way. Passengers might cycle to Veitshochheim Castle and its Rococo Garden in Wurzburg;
- Design Your Time: These excursions offer the most tailored experiences, with a concierge service that creates unique private tours offering customizable choices.
Optional excursions -- those that come with additional fees -- might include hands-on instruction in Linzer torte baking or canoeing through the canals of Strasbourg.
"While each locale offers its own distinct 'can't-miss' experiences, we recognize that every guest brings his or her own distinct style of exploration, and we strive to cater to that individuality," Littlejohn said.
Additionally, all river cruises include one Signature Event, which offers rare access and musical performances in iconic places such as Vienna's Belvedere Palace and Rudesheim's Monastery Eberbach.
All excursions are offered on the cruise line's river ships, which include Crystal Mozart, Crystal Mahler and Crystal Bach. They'll also be available on Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel, which debut in spring 2018.
-- By Colleen McDaniel, Senior Executive Editor