4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
Our first Crystal River Cruise aboard the Mahler one of their five river ships gave us many special moments to remember. We just completed the sojourn from Amsterdam to Budapest itinerary. We are savvy cruisers having experienced many ... Read More
Our first Crystal River Cruise aboard the Mahler one of their five river ships gave us many special moments to remember. We just completed the sojourn from Amsterdam to Budapest itinerary. We are savvy cruisers having experienced many ocean itineraries aboard vessels of differing sizes. Instead of detailing the ship itself which was 2 years old, I will tell you the design team knows and understands the elements of how to make the cabins comfortably luxurious and the common areas beautiful letting the natural light and colors blend harmoniously with the water and sky. The cabin size was more then adequate. The bed and bedding, choice of various pillow types covered the bases. The dining with attention to detail, creativity, menu selections were of exceptional quality time after time. Each dinner was a favorite until the next dinner. The meat cooked to the perfection it deserved. The lobster and shellfish, caviar were of excellent quality Vegans, Gluten free, and vegetarians can all expect to be happy. Food allergies are immediately noted and special meals can be created to suit you with a personal discussion of your desires. Shore excursions were well managed with smaller groups organized from the larger group. Mahler has just 106 paying guests with its own new spacious road buses. Never a problem getting on or off. Staff at the ready for any assistance before you went ashore and there to greet you upon your return. For many it was their first Crystal experience and the comments were all positive day after day with guests sharing their own “I cannot believe this person did this for me or that for me.” I loved hearing their stories because I already knew what was in store when we booked, a trip well worth the price paid. The inclusive Crystal pricing is the way to go if you have never done so before. All speakers and entertainment were top notch. Crystal has lifetime customers and we are definitely part of this group. Love this company. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We were originally scheduled to be on the Crystal Bach for a Rhine excursion from Frankfurt to Amsterdam. However, we were alerted a week beforehand that the cruise was being switched to another ship. We discovered a bit later in the ... Read More
We were originally scheduled to be on the Crystal Bach for a Rhine excursion from Frankfurt to Amsterdam. However, we were alerted a week beforehand that the cruise was being switched to another ship. We discovered a bit later in the cruise that the Bach had been hit by a barge and needed to be repaired. We were offered to switch to the Bach's sister ship, the Mahler. Also, the itinerary was drastically changed due to low water levels in the Rhine. Our point of embarkation was also changed from Frankfurt to Cologne. Crystal took care of transfer from Frankfurt Airport to Cologne. Although it wasn't the ship, nor the cruise for which we'd signed up, we had a wonderful time. The food was wonderful both in the Bistro and in the Waterside. The staff and crew were incredibly cordial and helpful. The excursions were great, especially considering that Crystal had to do some fast thinking to schedule them. Entertainer Neal Fullerton was a treat. He's incredibly talented and also knows how to get the passengers involved. Our cabin/suite was a luxurious, comfortable haven. As always, it was stocked with wonderful wines and the nightly turn-down chocolates. This cruise was relaxing and lovely. Regardless of the need to go to "Plan B," we decided to do an open booking for a future cruise. Read Less
29 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Our Crystal Mahler Grand Europe cruise in the summer of 2018 was hit with an unprecedented heat wave and drought which made the Rhine and Danube impassable, so our itinerary from Amsterdam to Vienna to Budapest was diverted once we got on ... Read More
Our Crystal Mahler Grand Europe cruise in the summer of 2018 was hit with an unprecedented heat wave and drought which made the Rhine and Danube impassable, so our itinerary from Amsterdam to Vienna to Budapest was diverted once we got on board and we had to return to Amsterdam via Belgium and the Netherlands. This is a risk on any river cruise, with either flooding or low water levels, but it was a big disappointment when it happened. However, Crystal's Plan B turned out to be excellent and we have nothing but high praise for the ship and its staff. If there's ever a problem, you want to be in Crystal's hands. They pulled a rabbit out of a hat and turned lemons into lemonade by diverting us to many charming ports and sites. Their initial offering of a credit for the inconvenience was paltry, but after negotiations with Crystal, they increased the credit to a very generous one for any future cruise, so that helped ameliorate the disappointment and tension on board. The staff and cuisine were simply excellent. I must have had over 100 courses throughout the various meals and each one was divine. They prepared a wide variety of local and traditional dishes, and favorite standards, all delicious. And the desserts were to die for. Everything gourmet and exceptional. Darryl the sommelier was wonderful, and the chefs did a fantastic job. I've read that the Crystal ships' galleys are much larger than the competitors, so you get a much wider variety and higher quality of cuisine on Crystal. A few in our party had food allergies, but the staff handled that with ease and care. Gluten-free and sugar-free dishes were at the ready and very tasty. We loved all the waiters, butlers, staff, maids, crew, everyone to a person was friendly, helpful, and provided world-class service. We were very sad to leave the ship at the end of the cruise, to be sure. Crystal's ships have half the passengers with the same number of crew as competitors, so you really are waited on hand and foot- all included. Tips are included too, but our waiters and staff were so good that I gave out as many gratuities as I could. The ship itself was a comfort and technological marvel. The Mahler is less than a year old and all the state of the art touches in the room and around the ship were very much appreciated, as was the spotless cleanliness and pleasing decor. While we didn't get to go to most of the ports we had planned on, the replacement itinerary excursions were quite nice. At first, there were some average excursions, then they got better and better (perhaps because the heat wave broke- nothing off the ship is air-conditioned in Europe- be forewarned). Crystal has their own buses that follow the ship so you have the same, new, state of the art and super comfortable buses with the same drivers in every city and village. The tour guides ranged from very good to excellent, and Crystal has their own personal radio listening devices, so everyone can always hear the guide- really a nice system that assigns your device to the correct group. Crystal also put together a private symphony concert in an ancient chapel with world-renown opera soloist Hanne Roos who brought tears to our eyes with her talent. Very special. The on-board entertainer, Neal Fullerton, was a hoot, and an excellent pianist and singer in his own right. There were special local entertainers planned for the original itinerary, but due to the change, Neal had to improvise a bit and some other last minute entertainers were brought on board. So not nearly as many options as a sea-going ship, of course, but we had a great time and Neal was delightful. The gym and spa are necessarily small, but the massage therapist Sally was wonderful and the workout room had everything I needed to lift weights & stretch, albeit just a rudimentary rack. We walked so much in each town that the cardio machines on board weren't necessary. There's also a small pool on board which was lovely on a hot day. All in all, I would highly recommend Crystal Cruises (we've done one ocean cruise with them before, this was our first river one), and certainly the Crystal Mahler. I would suggest for any river-cruiser to avoid June and August as there is a chance of flooding or low water levels. I heard that Viking has so many ships that they had boats on both sides of the breaches, so they bused passengers around to their original ports and swapped them with ships on the other side of the low water. That's OK, I guess, but it sounds like a lot of rigamarole and I ended up really liking the Crystal pampering and luxury in the new itinerary, and will gladly cash in the credit for a replacement cruise. The crowd is mostly older. There were some families like ours. Our 16 and 21 year old weren't as thrilled with the trip as we parents were due to the more relaxed pace, but they still really enjoyed everything. A sea-going ship would have more on-ship options for teens, but the excursions and food on the river cruise were appreciated by ours. they especially enjoyed the 24 included room service. Our 79 year old mother in law had the time of her life too, and was able to do all the excursions and walking and climbing. The only slight negative was the internet. It's all included for free 24/7, but despite being brand new and state of the art, it's still satellite-based and therefore, rather slow and sometimes spotty. We were told ahead of time that the system wouldn't work in the locks, but when we were in the steep Moselle Valley, the satellite signal was also blocked for a long time, I think. It worked well enough most of the time to post pictures and do email, but some of us tried to do some work on line and could not download larger files or apps we needed. Not a problem for most, but could be for some. Most of the time we were within cellular range, so we were sometimes able to use our free international data plans on T-Mobile and get a signal then. The internet was much better than our last ocean cruise, however, but I wish it could still be improved more. The Crystal Mahler and its people are truly exceptional and they are the benchmark for service, comfort, cuisine, excursions, and quality. Kudos to Crystal and the Mahler. Crystal is the pinnacle. We will be back! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
After 15 cruises and over 300 days on Seabourn we decided to try a river cruise, so to be fair my opinion of this cruise is colored by my Seabourn ocean cruise experiences. A river cruise was something we had thought about for the past ... Read More
After 15 cruises and over 300 days on Seabourn we decided to try a river cruise, so to be fair my opinion of this cruise is colored by my Seabourn ocean cruise experiences. A river cruise was something we had thought about for the past several years, and had enticed friends who never did any type of cruise to join us. After evaluating the various lines for a river cruise, Crystal seemed to have the best offerings in a lot of ways. The original itinerary was very interesting Budapest to Amsterdam, but due to low water levels it was changed to round trip Amsterdam, less than 2 weeks prior to the cruise - or at least that was when Crystal let us know. To their credit you could either cancel - as our friends did - and get a credit equal to what you paid or go on the changed itinerary and get a substantial future credit, which we took as the changed ports were not places we had been to. If you took the cruise, they would also cover up to $1000 of airfare per person, which worked out well since we had flights booked to Budapest. We took advantage of the Crystal - included - airport to/from ship transfers on a comfortable coach. Once we got to the ship, the service from start to finish was top notch. But I need to qualify this, the ship can hold 106 pax, we only had 44 due to the changed itinerary. We had a butler who basically was useless, canapes delivered to the room each afternoon, 1/2 the time after we had left to go to the bar for pre-dinner cocktails. Never offered to pack or unpack for us. Nice guy, but one less crew they need to pay, IMO. There is only 1 bar on the ship, excluding the pop-up on the open deck where only one day was anyone actually working there (the hard-working bar waiters always went down one level to the main bar and back up). Given the less than 1/2 occupancy the bar area was nice but if at full capacity not sure how easy it would be to get a seat if one arrived late. The entertainment was varied, when we had over nights in port they brought on some very talented local singers / musicians. When sailing (is that the right term on the river??) we had the on-board entertainer, who was interesting and quite a character but more than a few nights we had karaoke with a few drunk pax and the problem is, this is the only bar on the ship so deal with it or go to your room, or to the top deck depending on the weather. On the ship there are different categories of rooms, unlike on Seabourn that all are basically alike just the deck level determines the category (and deck 5 veranda differences). So I can only speak to what we had, deck 2 not the most expensive. The room was about 200 sq, feet. No walk-in closet, a single sink, but shower was bigger than on Seabourn, but no tub. WiFi is free for all, as are the tours at each port, some worthwhile, others Mhh. No veranda. Window comes 1/2 way down and a screen goes up. Not that useful unless you need some fresh air, IMO. The top deck is spacious with a lot of comfortable seating and not on top of each other. They have a unique popup bar - although it was rarely used, that can go down to deck level when the ship passes under low bridges. All the deck rails on the top deck can also be taken down - as happened one day when we passed under a very low bridge. The crew who run the ship details really work hard, especially when things like having to take down all the rails, which was not expected and then put them back up after we cleared the bridge. Interestingly their title is "Sailor". As far as river ships go, we thought the Mahler was the best looking one we saw - and we saw quite a few at different ports - especially how the top deck was laid out. The ship is relatively new and we did not notice any maintenance issues. Service everwhere was exceptional, but again it is hard to objectively judge since there were only 44 of us. I never waited more than 2 minutes at the one and only bar to have someone appear to take my order, if we were on the open deck someone usually appeared within 5 minutes of us being situated. At all the restaurants we had good service - and friendly, sometimes too friendly, OK I'd like to eat my food now please while it is hot as much as I enjoy hearing your life story - and what we liked was each night the chef prepared a local dish to coincide with the port de jour. We thought the included wines were pretty good. They brought on more wines as the cruise went along. I do have to call out the great people at the reception desk - we had an issue the entire cruise with a bag being lost in airline baggage purgatory and every day they called multiple times for us trying to get the issue resolved. The gym was very small, laundry room (something I missed being able to avoid as a Diamond on Seabourn) was often very busy. Getting on and off the ship at every port was easy, although they hire local people instead of having their own security people. In summary, we very much enjoyed our time on the Mahler and it opened us open to trying a Crystal ocean cruise, and if we ever do another river cruise it will be on Crystal. Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
My wife and I have done two other river cruises, one on Amawaterways and one on Viking. The Crystal Mahler is a new ship the same size as all the others but only carries 110 passengers and has 68 crew members. Everything is inclusive on ... Read More
My wife and I have done two other river cruises, one on Amawaterways and one on Viking. The Crystal Mahler is a new ship the same size as all the others but only carries 110 passengers and has 68 crew members. Everything is inclusive on the ship, gratuities, all bar drinks, excursions and one Michelin Restaurant dining experience. The ship was launched in October and this was it's 4 cruise. You are picked up at the airport and returned for your trip home. The crew is amazing and quickly they learn your name. They treat the guests like the staff at the Ritz Carlton and always acknowledge you as you come an go. The dining on board is top notch and the choices are varied. Crystal has it's own motor coaches and they follow the ship from start to finish so you always have the same drivers. The guides are all local and have a wealth of knowledge about everything they show you. Each room comes with a Butler and a house keeper and they are exceptionally professional. The king size bed in the room is one of the most comfortable ones we have every slept in. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We chose this cruise because of its reputation as a high end company and wanted to experience the benefits of a high end river cruise. In the end, sadly, not any better than AMA or Avalon. Everything was good. But, you know, just good ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of its reputation as a high end company and wanted to experience the benefits of a high end river cruise. In the end, sadly, not any better than AMA or Avalon. Everything was good. But, you know, just good isn't great and I was looking for a wow factor each day. (And whether anyone else chooses to write a review from our cruise, my comments were repeated by a number of guests.). Other guests who have travelled extensively with Crystal on their oceangoing ships rave out that. We may give that a try. We did feel very well looked after. The crew were very professional, enjoyed them every day. The tours were fine, the food was fine. Our bed was fine. Storage was fine. A disapointment for me was the fact that there was no option to dine from a menu at breakfast and lunch. Our previous river cruises offered that option. I didn't pay extra to eat buffet every day. And if you are not an early riser, forget having breakfast in the dining room. It Finishes at 9:00a.m. We are on vacation and we may be ready to dine shortly after 9 but that is already too late. We were able to help ourselves on the upper deck to breakfast items so we certainly didn't go hungry! The captain, first mate, chef all made themselves available throughout the cruise and they were all very personable. Our room was nice. The toilet configuration is a little odd. I feel badly that I can't be more positive about our trip. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip but it wasn't unlike our other river ship experiences and I expected more. So, a very subjective view but it is how I feel. I certainly wouldn't dissuade someone from taking a Crystal river cruise. Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
This river cruise was a first for both the Crystal Mahler, my wife and me. Both my Wife and I are experienced ocean cruises and this was our first River cruise. The cruise was not supposed to be the the first one for the Mahler but due to ... Read More
This river cruise was a first for both the Crystal Mahler, my wife and me. Both my Wife and I are experienced ocean cruises and this was our first River cruise. The cruise was not supposed to be the the first one for the Mahler but due to construction delays, This became the inaugural cruise. When we booked it it was supposed to be from Budapest to Amsterdam for 16 days but due to construction delays, they were unable to get the boat down to Budapest to start the cruise as planned but instead created a new itinerary Round trip Amsterdam down the Rhine to Basel, Crystal offered a generous compensation for those of us that decided to take the new route. Air arrangements had to be changed, which Crystal helped with and transportation was provided between the airport and ship. The Mahler is a beautiful new ship! We were in Stateroom 209 (S2 category suite), it was nice sized with comfortable beds and pillows, the bathroom was nice with a great shower. One nice surprise was the endless swimming pool that worked great. Food was the best yet on any ship we had been before,( Crystal, Seaborn, Celebrity, Princess, etc) Service was always with a smile and excellent. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style, dinner is full service. Only hiccup was when the 24 hour automatic coffee/expresso machine, which is built in quit on day 2, but hot coffee was always available and expresso products from room service. Read Less
35 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We have just finished the 16-day inaugural cruise of the Crystal Mahler. This cruise had a unique itinerary as it was changed one month prior to its September 30 start due to a delay in completing its construction. The itinerary was ... Read More
We have just finished the 16-day inaugural cruise of the Crystal Mahler. This cruise had a unique itinerary as it was changed one month prior to its September 30 start due to a delay in completing its construction. The itinerary was roundtrip Amsterdam, with stops in Arnhem, Cologne, Koblenz, Rudesheim, Speyer, Strasbourg, Basel, Breisach, Plittersdaorf, Mainz, Niederlahnstein, and Bonn. There were overnights in Amsterdam, Koblenz, Basel, Mainz and again in Amsterdam. Because of the change in itinerary, Crystal was extremely generous in compensating the passengers. I was concerned that there would be some short-comings on this cruise due to the need to complete construction and subsequent crew training on time, but I couldn't have been more wrong. The ship was gorgeous and the hallways even had that "new" smell that usually is associated with new cars. In this case, the smell was that of a Bentley, I believe. Embarkation was a breeze: we walked on board, were greated by smiling staff, had a quick photo taken and our luggage was whisked to our room. Within 5 minutes we were seated in the Waterside Restaurant, downing a glass of quality champagne and checking out the lunch menu. Our room was category S1. The ship has 53 cabins, which include 2 two-bedroom Crystal Suites, 16 "petite suites" (188 square feet), with the remainder being "river suite deluxes" (253 square feet). The river suite deluxes included S1, S2 and S3, with the only difference among these three being their location on the boat (S1 cabins had the more desirable locations, although there really wasn't a bad location anywhere). All of the cabins had "panoramic balcony windows." The entire river-side wall of the room was basically a window, and with the push of a button the top half of the window would retract down. With the push of a second button, a fine-mesh screen would lower from the ceiling to cover the opening and prevent insects and large birds of prey from entering. All of the cabins were above water, i.e., there were no "aquarium class" cabins. The cabin was well designed, with a comfortable king bed that faced out to the river. There was a large flat screen TV on one wall (it was hinged and could be angled in different directions), a walk-in closet, a sitting area with desk, a small refrigerator, a Nespresso machine and a decent amount of drawers/shelves. The bathroom was outstanding, with a double-sink vanity, a large attractive back-lit mirror, adequate shelf space and a large glass-enclosed shower with a wonderful rain shower head. The bathroom floor was heated. The ventilation in the bathroom was so efficient that the mirror never steamed up even after a long hot shower with the bathroom door closed. For techies, the cabin probably would meet your requirements. The TV was interactive, there were USB ports to charge your devices at each nightstand, and each cabin had an iPad, which allowed for internet connectivity as well as for using the Press Reader to get free access to hundreds of daily worldwide newspapers. Eventually all of the dinner menus, excursions and other cruise-related activities will be accessible on the iPad. There was free, 24-hour internet. The public rooms were classy and luxurious. The main area was the Palm Court, which had well-spaced comfortable seating, a grand piano, and most importantly, a well-stocked bar. Talks, evening music and the entertainment were performed here. The entertainment director was Neal Fullerton. He was witty, pleasant, engaging and had a delightful bit of an edge to him. In my opinion, he is the top entertainment director on Crystal (although I know Mark Farris fans may not agree). The gym was small, but with only 53 cabins on the ship and active excursions every day, a larger gym would have been a waste of space. There was a fitness director who led daily yoga classes, stretching sessions, etc. There were several e-bike excursions for those so inclined, and you could always jog along the river or nearby if you wanted to burn off some of the calories that you may have attracted in the restaurant. There was also a spa where you could get a massage, and there was a complimentary self-service laundry with two washer/dryers and iron/board. All of the cabins have a butler assigned, as well as a cabin attendant. The butler will pack and unpack for you, but I doubt many passengers would want to avail themselves of that service. It probably would be quicker to unpack yourself than it would be to hunt around to find where the butler placed your socks or your cummerbund. Our butler came by every day at 5:00PM with some canapes, either a cheese tray, shrimp cocktail or fresh fruit. The food on this cruise exceeding my expectations, which where quite high since I am spoiled by the superb cuisine aboard the Crystal Symphony and Serenity. In summary, the quality of the dinners was way beyond what a Michelin one-star restaurant serves. Compared to the Crystal oceans vessels, our dinners were even better. The quality of ingredients, the often spectacular presentations, and the taste of the food were all remarkable. Of our 16 dinners, I don't believe that any course was offered more than once. It was obvious that no corners were cut in order to provide the exquisite dinners we received. Breakfast and lunch were buffet-style, with a wide variety of incredible choices, as well as several hot dishes that are served/carved/prepared at the hot station. During the day, there is also a bistro (not surprisingly named "The Bistro"), which has a delightful spread of charcuterie, smoked fish, cheeses, breads, salads and outstanding pastries. In case I didn't make myself clear, the food on this cruise was phenomenal. Do you like to drink? Do you enjoy quality liquor, well-crafted, served in generous portions by a bartender who remembers your name and your drinking preferences? Then look no further. I've never had a better negroni than on board the Mahler. The martinis, cosmos, bloody Marys etc. were also excellent. Within one minute of sitting down in the Palm Court, bartenders Adam or Norbert would have a negroni sent my way, and Daryl the sommelier would hardly let me settle into my dinner chair without doing the same. As on virtually all river cruises, there wasn't much in the way of evening entertainment, although Neal Fullerton did very well with his evening performances. There were also a few interesting talks given by local speakers. One evening we all went to a wine chateau for a private performance by a string quartet, which was very nice. Probably the biggest difference between an ocean cruise and a river cruise is that river cruises are port-intensive and depend upon interesting excursions. Here, too, Crystal excelled. There was a good variety of excursions and they were well-organized. On the included excursions, even when all of the passengers going on a certain tour could have been lumped together into one group with one guide, we were broken up into smaller assemblages so that the groups were kept quite small. Highlights for me included a day trip to Lake Lucerne which included a boat ride on the lake; a trip to the Dutch countryside to visit an eel-smoker, a cheese maker and a windmill; a visit to Heidelberg and its castle; a tour of lovely Strasbourg with a boat ride there; and the obligatory tour of Amsterdam by canal boat. Even the otherwise mundane daily walking tours were well-guided and interesting. The Crystal buses were quite comfortable and spacious. I must comment on the service provided on this cruise. The cabin attendant did an outstanding job thoroughly cleaning our room twice daily, seemingly reading our minds and slipping in and out of our cabin when we were elsewhere. The butler was nice to have, he picked up our clothes for the free ironing service and brought our daily late-afternoon canapes, but wasn't all that essential. The food servers, waiters and bar attendants were superb, although occasionally there was a delay in refilling beverages during the buffet breakfasts and lunches. The entertainment director, the hotel manager, the front desk personnel, and even the bus drivers all seemed to make it their goal to provide the best service possible, and they succeeded. Although I was obviously very pleased with this cruise, there were a few minor deficiencies. The lighting system in the cabin was interesting, you could say. It was clearly too sophisticated for me, however. It took the entire 16 days to figure out how to turn on the bathroom light at night without turning on the lights in the rest of the room. The toilet paper dispenser was an anomaly, as it did not provide its intended service properly. The laundry detergent was perfumed, which not all passengers would find desirable. Some of the chairs in the Palm Court, although comfortable, were very heavy and hard to move to face different directions. There was an error in my final statement at checkout, and it took a couple of attempts to correct it. That's about all of the negatives I can come up with at this time. I guess I could complain that it rained the day we went to Heidelberg, but it's debatable whether that is Crystal's fault. Read Less
Crystal Mahler Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.3
Dining 5.0 4.9
Entertainment 4.0 4.0
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 2.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.6
Enrichment 1.0 4.2
Service 5.0 5.0
Value For Money 4.5 4.3

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