Crystal River Cruises
Crystal River Cruises is the new offshoot of Crystal Cruises, the gold standard of luxury ocean cruising for more than two decades. Thus far, the line has ordered four brand-new river cruise ships for the Danube, Main, and Rhine rivers, all set to debut in 2017. In addition, Crystal has just relaunched Europe’s largest river cruiser — which was originally built in 1987 and previously owned by Peter Deilmann Cruises — following its stem-to-stern transformation into Crystal Mozart for service on the Danube. The Crystal River vessels provide an exclusive, deluxe onboard experience with doting service, new innovations, and included-in-the-fare features not found on most river ships.
What We Love
All-Inclusive: In addition to the posh accommodations and gourmet quality cuisine, the cruise fare covers butler service in each stateroom, gratuities, beverages, liquor (except top-shelf vintages), an excursion in each port, and a complimentary Michelin-star-style dinner. It also includes a "signature event" — a once-per-cruise gala, such as a private concert at Vienna’s Belvedere Palace.
Staff-to-Guest Ratio: The staff-to-guest ratio is one of the highest on any river ship, averaging 1-to-1.74.
Innovative Features and Technology: On board, you'll find gyms, spas, pools, sleek Wider brand tenders (that can be hired for private excursions), extra spacious tour buses, electric bikes, iPad devices in staterooms, and even automatic toilets with heated seats.
Best Known For
Impeccable Service: Crystal’s Europe-trained crew is not only efficient, friendly, and intuitive but keen on getting to know guests and catering to their preferences.
Top-Notch Dining: From the salad bar in the lunch buffet and the beautifully prepared courses at dinner in the Waterside Restaurant to the homemade pastries and ice cream in the Bistro, Crystal River ships provide an outstanding culinary experience.
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Who It's Best For
Affluent Travelers With Exacting Standards: Crystal caters to the top end of the cruise market and is an ideal fit for those willing to pay extra for flawless service, deluxe surroundings, and gourmet cuisine.
Culture Mavens: Crystal River ships spend more time in port, sometimes with overnight stays, allowing guests a more immersive land experience.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
You'll Be Spoiled: After experiencing Crystal River Cruises, it will be difficult to book a less expensive river cruise.
Peter Knego is a California-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for USA Today.