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Sail Date: April 2019
We have never been on a river cruise and decided after more than 20 ocean cruises we would try one. The Crystal line received excellent reviews and we had previously sailed on the Symphony. We had read about the stacking of boats at the ... Read More
We have never been on a river cruise and decided after more than 20 ocean cruises we would try one. The Crystal line received excellent reviews and we had previously sailed on the Symphony. We had read about the stacking of boats at the piers and having no view many times, also the problems with water levels and diversions but were ready for those eventualities. What we were not ready for was poor dinning service on a "luxury" riverboat. I understand the limitations of river cruising as compared to Ocean voyages and they were probably greater than I had anticipated, however, the poor service in the dinning room is not a river cruising problem but a basic systemic problem with this particular cruise. First, the use of buffets for all lunches and breakfasts does not portray a five star experience more a 3 star budget line. The selection on the buffets was too limited and a request for a simple roast beef sandwich was met with hesitation and reluctance by the staff telling me they would have to check with the chef to see what was available and intimating it would take some time. The dinner food was excellent but the wait staff in the evening seemed to be hurried all the time. We did not have an assigned waiter any waiter would serve us but more often than not, we had to flag down a waiter serve us. Waiters did not seem to listen or wait long enough to let your needs be known for instance I drink ice tea frequently I would get the ice tea but no sugar bowl to sweeten the tea. I would have to get a waiters attention to bring it to me. Then I made an effort to tell the waiters to bring sugar but many times, they were in such a hurry they would be gone before I could let my needs be known. Other small inconsistencies were I was ordered a dish with a bratwurst and did not receive any mustard I asked the waiter to get me some and I am still waiting for it. There were many other instances just like these. I can’t drink very much alcohol for medical reasons (about 4 oz per meal) I seemed to be treated like a second-class citizen for ordering ice tea. The excursions provided did not offer enough for older persons with limited stamina or mobility to be able to do. One excursion in Strasbourg required a 1.5 mile walk each way to and from the bus. The tours all required you to wear an audio listening device to hear the tour guide. No accommodation for hearing aid wearing guests were made and when asked the question they appeared to be asked the question for the first time. I eventually just took them off and went without since taking only 1 aid out caused problems with the hearing aid device. Having traveled on Crystal ocean cruises before I know this is not typical of this cruise line. This is there third season on the rivers and being early in the season maybe we were just unlucky to get a dinning room crew that has not worked it out yet. I must say, at this point, I would not recommend Crystal river cruises for those who have any mobility problems or want elegant unhurried service. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
After sailing on many cruise lines throughout the world we decided this year was when we would sample a river cruise. We booked on a Ukranian cruise with another company and really did not enjoy for several reasons , however we were not to ... Read More
After sailing on many cruise lines throughout the world we decided this year was when we would sample a river cruise. We booked on a Ukranian cruise with another company and really did not enjoy for several reasons , however we were not to be deterred as we had heard so many good reviews from people and decided to jump straight back in. We chose the Xmas markets cruise on the Mozart in November 2018 as it is something that my wife had wanted to do . Feeling slightly anxious that this would not end up feeling as though it would be throwing good money after bad I contacted Crystal concierge regarding a few queries such as change of itinerary, arriving late on the ship and transfers from the airport as we were arriving independently. We received responses straight away and were given the information that we required. Transfers are free with Crystal even if you arrange your own flight which was great news as sometimes finding exact location of river cruise vessels can be difficult. On arrival which was late the embarkation was really smooth and within 10 minutes of arriving we were in our suite ordering room service.The suites are compact yet of good quality . The wardrobe is a pretty tight squeeze but their is more than ample storage space. The bathroom is top quality and the products offered are also top quality. The next we wandered round the ship and as expected everywhere was top quality , the sauna and pool area was really nice. For a ship which only caters for 151 guests there is plenty of seating areas and the restaurant is a good size and there are plenty of tables for 2 should you wish to dine by yourself. We very early eat breakfast but lunch and dinner are of a high standard and if you wanted something different from the menu the waiters were always happy to see if they could help. The menus are small compared to larger ships but I would imagine that it would be quite difficult to have a large menu for so few guests. The food was always of a good standard and you could use 2 restaurants for lunch and a choice of 3 dining venues if an evening. The guests were mainly American , Canadian , Chinese and a few from other countries so we were the only people from the United Kingdom aboard. Everybody seemed to get on and in the bar if an evening there was a good atmosphere whether it be quizzes, dancing or the entertainers James & Ros playing music. James & Ros were really good in getting the guests to mingle and take part in the activities. The excursions were mainly Xmas markets in Bratislava, Salzburg , Vienna and a few walking tours in Passau , Linz and Melk. These were well organised and most of them guides were knowledgeable and interesting. The Crystal coaches were excellent and very comfortable and even had Nespresso coffee machines onboard . We have travelled with many cruise lines and have always had good service on the ships and until now my favourite was Seabourn because the staff were so friendly and professional and always smiled when they spoke and took the time to talk to you . I always believed that was the best cruise crew we had been with . They have been matched by Crystal as we found the staff to be so helpful , professional and friendly. Wherever we went on the ship they all seemed happy . The staff on the Mozart are such an asset because we booked another cruise whilst on board and that is something we have never done before.There was no one area that we could make a negative criticism even when we received a letter in the cabin saying that we were not sailing to Bratislava because of the low level of the water , they took us by bus and gave us 250UD off a future cruise and I already knew that there were problems with the water level. I would definitely recommend Crystal to anybody who likes the nice things in life and like being looked after. Read Less
11 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
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
This cruise line treated us like royalty! By day two the staff knew our names and preferences. Never did we want for anything....and in fact....had to politely decline service as they were always looking to see what they could provide. I ... Read More
This cruise line treated us like royalty! By day two the staff knew our names and preferences. Never did we want for anything....and in fact....had to politely decline service as they were always looking to see what they could provide. I can’t say enough positive about Crystal. Food was far beyond expectations. I tried things I would never normally try....and lived them. It will be exceedingly difficult to be on any other line after this! In fact, I doubt we will be with any other line! We depart the ship in two days. Already depressed about it! Shore excursions were included and awesome. Guides were well informed and gave us great information. Ships staff was so gracious and friendly. Thanks so much Crystal! Totally thrilled with our experience. Ship was comfortable and easy to navigate. Can’t wait for our next opportunity. When changes in itinerary were required...due to river conditions the crew scrambled to provide us with excellent alternatives. They never missed a beat. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Debussy staff and ship were more than expected. We were in the “low water” season and initially were worried about the lack of information shared with us on what changes would be made to the itinerary. As we sailed we realized that ... Read More
Debussy staff and ship were more than expected. We were in the “low water” season and initially were worried about the lack of information shared with us on what changes would be made to the itinerary. As we sailed we realized that Crystal’s objective was to keep us onboard, and stay true to the itinerary no matter what...The captain was brilliant and did just that with creative maneuvering. Embarkation and disembarkation was highly personalized with a crew member sitting with us explaining all aspects of the cruise and confirming the requests that were made in advance. When our room was ready we were escorted to the cabin and introduced to the staff that would be caring for us during the sailing. Our departure was also cared for on a one to one ratio. Staff knew our names by the time we set sail! The ship is elegant with personal service that made us feel that we were their favourite guest. Enjoyed that we were able to dine when it suited our schedule and that we had the option to dine alone or with others. The food was incredible and again the service outstanding, with staff remembering our likes and dislikes very quickly. We never felt rushed to leave meal service at anytime which was refreshing. Entertainment varied, with a talented couple leading musically and enthusiastically with trivia and other activities. We had guest speakers with varied topics, a gifted violinist, so truly something for everyone! Shore excursions were a delight, lead with well educated, informative guides and small groups which allowed for an excellent experience. The Crystal busses and drivers were also exemplary. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Don’t select this cruise if you or anyone you’re traveling with has mobility issues— there are no “gentle” excursions. One passenger referred to them as forced marches. The ship docks way out of the towns for the most part so you ... Read More
Don’t select this cruise if you or anyone you’re traveling with has mobility issues— there are no “gentle” excursions. One passenger referred to them as forced marches. The ship docks way out of the towns for the most part so you can’t return early if you’d like, and 9 out of 10 times you’re looking into someone else’s cabin as there is a ship docked next to you. If you’re interested in the e-bike excursions, also beware; if you don’t book super early you won’t get on them. There is almost nothing to do if you elect to stay on the ship. The evening entertainment was lame, although the exercise instructor was excellent. Everyone is unfailingly polite in a very impersonal way, and when something goes wrong the response is very corporate. In our case we couldn’t complete the last three days of the cruise because of low water in the Danube and all Celebrity offered was a $250 credit on a future cruise (which they upped to a.$1,500 credit when my travel agent asked). Although the food was great, overall I don’t think this cruise is worth the expense— we booked a penthouse— so we don’t plan to travel on Celebrity again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
First on Crystal River cruise and will be last. Have had great experiences on their ocean voyages; but the river line is a separate division and vastly inferior in most areas. Company was not forthcoming in notifiying us of the low ... Read More
First on Crystal River cruise and will be last. Have had great experiences on their ocean voyages; but the river line is a separate division and vastly inferior in most areas. Company was not forthcoming in notifiying us of the low water level until 2 days before we were scheduled to leave. Itineray changed to all but a couple of ports in the Netherlands. The highlights of the trip were to be the areas where the ship didn't travel. To make matters worse, tour director was disorganized, ship Captain did not speak English, ship docked so far from destination ports it was ridiculous. Other ships were providing buses to take passengers to destination. Not our ship. The few tours offered were primarily ones of walking around the town plazas, etc. And the majority of passengers were over 65! I understand the couple of buses they had were shuttled back and forth between the Danube groups and the Rhine. They seemed to always be with the Danube folks. We were not offered bus/hotel choices to make up for all the ports we did not see. That is standard with other river cruise lines. Passenger complaints to the officers and tour director fell on deaf ears and it was clear the disorganization and confusion came down from the top. The service staff tried their best; but they were understaffed. The spa was good but very limited; the food good except there was a problem keeping the buffet dishes hot. The rooms were way too small for the large beds. We booked 2 rooms for a family of 4 at last minute and top dollar and I never felt like we had spent so much money on something so disappointing. Our trip was in August and now in January we are still waiting for any compensation from Crystal. We all had out of pocket expenses because we had to change return flights from Basel Switzerland (which we never got to see) to Frankfurt. Additional transportation, hotel etc. all added up to more than they promised to reimburse. And there was no compensation even promised for the missed excursions and ports. My advice is to avoid this line at all costs. We are seasoned cruisers on several small luxury lines and have never had an experience like this! How could such an esteemed company as Crystal allow this group to be a part of their company??? We want to go back to take a Rhine cruise; but it sure won't be with Crystal. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Chose the original cruise 15 months in advance splendors of the rhine... trip of a lifetime. Total cost $20,000 by the end of it 3 days prior notified we would be in the Netherlands 7 days and Germany 3..how rude of corporate..we only ... Read More
Chose the original cruise 15 months in advance splendors of the rhine... trip of a lifetime. Total cost $20,000 by the end of it 3 days prior notified we would be in the Netherlands 7 days and Germany 3..how rude of corporate..we only cruised 5 hours of daylight and saw the country side of germany..I know the river was low.we should have been offered a refund. A rebooking for next year...or a discount because the itenery substituted was inferior for the price we paid...the crew was awwsome..Crystal only offered us $500 per cabin toward a future trip with them..they should have given passengers a partial refund or other options and more than 3 days notice of a drastic change in our itenary. We spent 3 days in amsterdam..too many...dorchdeht Netherlands. Rotterdam. Nijmegen cochem they skipped bonn and lastly kolbenz..we cruised at night AMD our trip was half as.long as planned..Hoping that crystal corporate comes through with a better compensation for an inferior itenary...otherwise we have learned a hard lesson and spent alot of money for an inferior product and poor customer service from corporate headquarters Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
On Aug 1, 15-20 of us that returned after a Crystal excursion dinner found the SHIP HAD LEFT WITHOUT US. We were scanned to get off the ship but manually checked in when the ship returned for us. We were told the people that did the ... Read More
On Aug 1, 15-20 of us that returned after a Crystal excursion dinner found the SHIP HAD LEFT WITHOUT US. We were scanned to get off the ship but manually checked in when the ship returned for us. We were told the people that did the scanning had left. Guess they outsourced their security. Also there was scanner mistake when they told me 3 of my friends were still on shore and 1 came back but in fact all 4 were on shore. We missed Budapest, a main attraction for the cruise, but Crystal made little effort to make up for the changed itinerary even though they knew at the start of the journey and that was 7 days before we would go to Budapest. We had to revisit Linz and they added Karen’s and offered each guest USD500 FUTURE CRUISE CREDIT to be booked within a year. Linz and Krems were not comparable substitutions for Budapest by any stretch of imagination. Also crew told me Viking has 77 ships so they can offer swaps when similar situation arises. Reading some of the reviews, I noticed other cruise operators not only made monetary compensations but also arranged alternative transport and hotel accommodations in order for them to fulfil their advertised attraction. Also Crystal may be late to join the river cruise market, at a couple of stops, the ship was parked so far away from the parking lot that we had to walk about 10 minutes to get to the coach. It was definitely difficult for my friend that had a hip replacement and walking with a cane. I used to view Crystal with high regard, but it seems things may be different under new ownership. A very disappointing experience AND NOT VALUE FOR MY MONEY. Read Less
24 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
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