7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
For several years now I had wanted to cruise the Danube, maybe from watching all the Viking ads on PBS’ Masterpiece programs. So I began researching river cruises around the time Crystal first entered this market, and the reviews ... Read More
For several years now I had wanted to cruise the Danube, maybe from watching all the Viking ads on PBS’ Masterpiece programs. So I began researching river cruises around the time Crystal first entered this market, and the reviews immediately pegged it as the top of the line for luxury cruises. By the time we were able to actually book a cruise, Crystal’s river fleet had expanded and we wound up on a 10-day expedition on the newest addition, the Crystal Ravel. We were not disappointed: In fact, it was one of the rare experiences that totally exceeded expectations. First, the ship itself was smallish (four decks), with about a hundred passengers. I loved that it felt intimate—I have a horror of the 10-deck behemoths that cruise oceans. At the same time it was also stylish and modern. Our cabin wasn’t huge, but it had a small walk-in closet, a bathroom with two sinks and an excellent shower, and a very comfortable king sized bed. It also had a large flat screen TV, and we enjoyed watching a movie on it one night. Overall it was a very comfortable refuge. Then there was the food. We live in San Francisco, a foodie Mecca, but the cuisine on the Ravel was nothing short of marvelous, especially the sit-down dinners (they only had a buffet one night). Almost every meal was like eating at a five-star restaurant, with service to match. Wines on the all-inclusive menu were good to great (you can opt to pay extra for premium wines but we never felt the need). Two special meal options are worth mentioning: The bistro dinner in the smallish cafe (it’s free but you must reserve a seat since they can’t accommodate more than a couple of dozen diners), and the gourmet experience in the Vintage Room, a pricey but amazing 8-course meal with awesome wines (you must also reserve this ahead of time—we ate with four other people). Even if you don’t splurge on the Vintage Room, definitely try the bistro meal, which is sort of tapas-like—a lot of small plates with everything from steak tartare and gravlax to prime beef, shrimp, and caviar. It was outstanding. Breakfast buffets were great, and you could opt for ordered specialties (e.g. eggs Benedict); I rarely even ate lunch but people I spoke with also enjoyed casual bistro and served options. Crystal’s all-inclusive shore excursions covered all the basics, and we also opted for a couple of esoteric extra-cost outings (for example, Vienna’s Jewish history). Guides were generally excellent, especially the one who escorted us through the infamous Mauthausen death camp. I liked that he didn’t sugar coat his comments on the complicity of the Austrian people. Finally, the service. Every single crew member, from housekeepers and wait staff to tour organizers, the couple who provided musical and games entertainment at night, and the butler who twice a day refreshed the ice in our ice bucket, seemed truly dedicated to pampering and otherwise seeing to our comfort and satisfaction. By the end of the 10 days they seemed to know all of us by name, and always greeted us as we walked by. This cruise was a splurge for my husband and I, but we both felt it was well worth it. Crystal In our view lived up to its reputation as the best European river cruise line out there. Read Less
20 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
38 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
I thoroughly enjoyed my 1st river cruise on Crystal Mozart, sailing the Danube for 10-nights. I’m going to use a different angle to view this cruise and write a not-so-common trip report. I’ll start with a list of the pros and cons of ... Read More
I thoroughly enjoyed my 1st river cruise on Crystal Mozart, sailing the Danube for 10-nights. I’m going to use a different angle to view this cruise and write a not-so-common trip report. I’ll start with a list of the pros and cons of this cruise. Of course, it’s only based on my own opinions, but hopefully it would be helpful enough for fellow cruisers to learn more about the 5-star river cruising experience on Crystal Mozart, as I found that I got very limited information regarding this while doing my research homework on the cruise throughout my almost 2 years’ planning period. I spent a ton of time to write on Wismergirl’s travel blog to include a lot more details if you are interested in my daily activities on board. Refer to photo: Crystal Mozart, “the Giant” of Danube river cruising, docked at Linz on July 13, 2018: Pros 1) Truly all-inclusive – not even one extra cent I had to pay on board. Of course, if you want spa/hair treatments, Connoisseur wine, upgraded excursions & extra tipping, that’s another story. Now, cruise fare, airport transfers, selected shore excursions, meals, entertainment, gratuities, unlimited soft drinks, beer, most wine & spirit, unlimited WIFI on board & on coaches (though quite spotty at times), are all paid for. We even got a complimentary meal at a Michelin-star restaurant (only applicable to guests staying at Penthouses and above or those booked before Aug 7, 2017). Tips for cruisers: Buy a 3G/4G Europe SIM card. I bought one for CA$39 (US$30) with 5 GB data & 3000 talk/text for 30 days that covered all countries that we visited so I had internet access all the time. I only used less than 2GB for 16 days, even sharing personal Hotspot with my husband. 2) Unpack and Pack only once – This cruise took us to nine European cities in Austria, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. There was no need to pack our bags every day for a new destination. Setting off along the Danube from Vienna, we passed through the beautiful Wachau Valley; went for guided walking tours in Vienna, Melk & Durnstein; did all-day side trips to Cesky Krumlov & Munich; visited historical landmarks in Budapest with a violin concert in the Imperial Palace & a night cruise on the Danube; and discovered the modern art scenes and Communist-era architecture of Slovakia's capital, Bratislava. What a great itinerary! 3) 5-star Luxury accommodation and service - Cabins aboard the Crystal Mozart started at 219 square feet (except 1 that was only 206 sq. ft.). The high-end amenities like Toto toilets, mini iPad in each stateroom, free use of eBikes, 24-hour complimentary room service, Crystal clear audio device for excursions, free self-serve laundry with detergent & drying sheets, complimentary pressing, plus free butler service for all guests are incredibly awesome! Besides, Crystal Mozart is twice as wide as most river boats (22.85m instead of the normal 11.4m). Its spacious top (Vista) Deck 4 with a bar, big TV & garden features modern luxury! Low guests to staff ratio means top-notched service & 3 restaurants for meals are also big pluses. Food tasted better than that from the Crystal ocean cruises, though not enough varieties. Tips for cruisers: DON’T bring too much clothing as there is limited storage space in the room, plus you only need to wear smart casual attires for dinners. Remember: self-serve laundry is at your service! 4) Compact ship size and seasickness-free – Most of the time we didn’t even feel like the boat was moving. Being a couple of mid 50’s, we kept forgetting things and it was so easy to go back to the room to get them. We met lots of people and could call about half the ship’s passengers and most staff members by names when we left the ship. 5) Great workouts without going to the Gym – Not sure if you classify it as a pro or a con?! We did so much walking while on excursions that we didn’t gain any weight even though we ate like crazy. On average, it’s about 10,000 steps a day, walked for about 7 km with LOTS of steps. 6) Fantastic experience passing through the locks – It was really fun going upstream/downstream with different river levels through the locks. Being so windy, sunny and hot while staying on the top deck to watch the passing of the locks, we mostly stayed at the spa waiting area, lying on the loungers to watch the locks open and close. Even when we passed the locks at night time, the views were great. Cons 1) Docking – This has been a major issue for a lot of passengers. We had a few passengers who needed to use wheelchairs and they either had to get off the wheelchairs and walked with assistance, or crew/family members needed to help lift/carry the wheelchairs for disabled passengers to get on/off the boat. Europe is not N. America and many places are still not wheelchair-accessible, including bathroom locations. The ship elevator could only go up to Deck 3 but not the Vista Deck. When we docked at Passau (Lindau), we had to take the stairs to walk up to Deck 4 and walked off the ramp to the pier (see the picture with the gangway from the top deck to the pier). Besides, many passengers complained that they were always facing a concrete pier when the boat docked, especially if your room was on Deck 1 midship. I advise you to choose your room location properly. We didn’t have any problems being at the front part of the ship on Deck 2 with a French balcony. On a river cruise, midship cabins are not the best locations, always choose Forward. If you choose the Aft cabins, you would feel more vibration because it’s closer to the engine. We could totally experience the difference while eating at Blue on the aft of the ship. Many times, there were 2 or even 3 ships parked and tied together. Look at the picture of 3 boats triple-parked in Vienna. 2) Entertainment – Entertainment was really limited and low-key. We spent most nights at the Cove Bar listening to Derek Conlon’s piano playing, with a couple of very entertaining local shows and professional guest singer/pianist for 2 nights, and a so-called “concert by 3 princesses on the violin” in Budapest. Being a concert pianist myself, I played some Beethoven and did a “Sound of Music” singalong with fellow cruisers for a couple of nights at Cove Bar. It’s actually a social time more than anything. There was no casino and shops to even spend your onboard credits. Use your OBC at the spa or on premium wine or spend it at the Vintage Room. The passing scenery on both banks was the key to river cruising. We ventured out to the city centre on our own while we were in Vienna, Linz, Bratislava & Budapest. It was very easy to move around using public transport being in the city, or Crystal could call a taxi for us. 3) Food – Breakfast buffet was the only choice for breakfast, unless we wanted to go for room service or have a late-riser breakfast at Bistro Mozart. The only varieties we could get were different types of eggs (cooked to order), smoothies and fruit. I really liked their congee with different little ingredients on the side that we could add to our own liking (see picture). There were more choices for lunch as we could eat at Waterside (buffet) or Blue (same menu every day with a different soup and pasta). Dinner menus changed daily, though choices were still limited. We actually liked to have tapas-style dining at Bistro Mozart (reservation needed) rather than eating at Waterside. The ingredients were fresh and the dishes were delicious though again, there was a lack of variety. 4) Excursions – Lots of senior cruisers depended on travel agents to plan from flights to hotels to transportation for the entire cruise. A lot of travel agents charged way too high while booking hotels and limos for pre- and post-cruise activities but did not help their clients book the excursions. Many ended up booking excursions while on board and they did not have time to fully understand what’s to be expected while signing up. The Crystal concierge had been really helpful but sometimes the tours were full (like eBikes that they only had that many number of bikes) and there’s nothing the concierge could do but to wait for cancellations. A ton of walking was involved in most tours, and many times we had to walk on cobble-stone streets which was not easy for most people, not to say seniors. Having big coaches like Crystal’s, though they were super comfy, they couldn’t park close enough for boarding at most attractions, even in big cities like Vienna. I walked 9,971 steps for 6.7 km just for one 4-hour excursion “Vienna in a Nutshell”, with about an hour on the bus. Tips for cruisers: Use PCPC (Priority Check-in & Planning Center) to book excursions that are appropriate for your own health conditions well in advance. Highlights of the whole trip 1) 2-night pre-cruise in Salzburg & 2-night post-cruise in Vienna so I could visit the 2 cities in depth and attended concerts…of course, I did a ton of homework to plan for the extra 4 days including purchasing train tickets in advance, booking hotels plus “Sound of Music” shows and Mozart concerts at Salzburg Fortress, Sternbrau in Salzburg, Musikverein and St. Charles Church in Vienna 2) Wachau Valley scenic cruising & passing through locks 3) Private tour to Szechenyi Thermal Baths (see photo) and a 1-hour Royal Thermal Massage in Budapest (I booked these in advance before the cruise but Crystal concierge could book it for you with just a few hours’ notice) – taxi ride only 10-20 Euros each way 4) Night cruise on the Mozart in Budapest with an incredible view of the illuminated parliament (see photo) River cruising definitely suited us a lot so we made an open booking on board. I need to do more homework before committing to the next Crystal cruise. All the 4 new Crystal riverboats are very different than the Mozart, so I have to look at the itineraries carefully to book one within the next 6 months. Thank you, Crystal Mozart, for making our 1st river cruise experience so enchanting and memorable! Read Less
23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We spent 10 nights on a Vienna round trip to visit Christmas Markets. The ship is new, the cabin was roomy. The itinerary was good. Shore excursions, concerts and a special 5 star dinner were all included. The food on board was above ... Read More
We spent 10 nights on a Vienna round trip to visit Christmas Markets. The ship is new, the cabin was roomy. The itinerary was good. Shore excursions, concerts and a special 5 star dinner were all included. The food on board was above par compared to other cruises. The service was excellent. The ship is wider than most river boats. There was an indoor pool. One disadvantage of having a larger river boat is that it is forced to park away from the city center which smaller river boats don’t. Crystal provided shuttles to the city center so docking was never an issue. The entertainment on board was good. There was a piano player, Mark, who made it a point to recognize everyone as they entered the loung. On several nights, out side entertainment was available which was excellent. We had VOXs for use during our excursions. The also provided commentary while cruising. Read Less
33 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Wanted to try a new cruise experience, plus visit Austria. This cruise seemed perfect, especially since it was advertised as an Oktoberfest cruise. The cruise itself was a wonderful adventure, and my wife and I would do it again. The ... Read More
Wanted to try a new cruise experience, plus visit Austria. This cruise seemed perfect, especially since it was advertised as an Oktoberfest cruise. The cruise itself was a wonderful adventure, and my wife and I would do it again. The staff, especially the waiters, were tremendous. Great service, plus they had wonderful recommendations. The food was always excellent, and did feature some local dishes. The room staff was always keeping the cabin fresh and stocked with towels and whatever else was needed. Some of the shore excursions were outstanding, like the Belvedere in Vienna and the concert. Simply wonderful. The guide in Budapest (Claudia) was wonderful. All the cruises were very educational. The one major disappointment was Passau and the trip to Munich. In spite as being billed as "Oktoberfest," little was done to accommodate those that wanted to go. A very, very small special trip was arranged for some and considerable cost (plus the driver got lost and service and food was terrible, according to those that went). Instead, it would have been much better on the "Munich" tour to just drop those that wanted to visit Oktoberfest off and let them do it on their own (which is a much better experience). In spite of knowing it was Oktoberfest, the tour bus had no idea of all the road closures and so the bus wandered around aimlessly for quite a while, wasting valuable time. Google Maps had all the road closures, so its surprising that Crystal didn't know. In short, by the time we got off the bus and took a cab to Oktoberfest, we only had a couple of hours there. This only occurs once a year and Crystal needs to have a better way to go directly to the area (or near there) without all the bus stops on the way up, drop off those interested, then take the rest on the Munich tour. This should be a complimentary option, with no reserved seating at Oktoberfest. This is a much better option. Then a later bus for the return. Ridiculous to advertise it as Oktoberfest and not take advantage of it. For other shore excursions, there was very, very little "free time." So if you wanted to grab one of the local food specialties, or do some shopping, you couldn't. There needs to be more free time. I think Crystal is catering to an older clientele which is why they make so many bus stops (bathroom breaks) and keep the excursions so short. They might consider two groups--those that want it limited, and those that want more free time and fewer bus stops. They already have several busses going on the same excursion, so this would be easy to do. As for the cabin, the luxury suites might be quite spacious, but the basic suite (201) is poorly designed. You cannot even access the right half of the closet (no door). The one closet door opens and hits the bed. You have to contort to reach the rest of the closet. Sliding doors would have given better access, or put the bar there and the closet where the bar is. Poor design for hanging and storing clothes. The ship is extremely quiet (except when transiting the locks). It made for a very pleasant sleep. Temperature control was excellent. The brochures imply that there are both European and American outlets. There is not. Only European outlets, so an adapter is needed. Room cleaning was excellent and they seem to know when you are gone, as the room is always ready! The pool and jacuzzi are nice. NO temperature control on the jacuzzi, so whatever the ship sets for it is the temperature you get. At the beginning it was extremely hot, but by the end of the cruise it was lukewarm. Spa jets only run for a minute so you have to frequently press the cycle button. Overall a great cruise. Meals were a delight because of the staff (cooks, waiters, wine, everyone). It was the best part of the cruise. Activities were excellent. As mentioned, the shore excursions were great but needed more free time. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We wanted to try a river cruise snd explore new parts of Europe. We were uncertain about the other offerings and booked based on Crystal's reputation. Our experience exceeded expectations. The service was impeccable. The vessel was ... Read More
We wanted to try a river cruise snd explore new parts of Europe. We were uncertain about the other offerings and booked based on Crystal's reputation. Our experience exceeded expectations. The service was impeccable. The vessel was thoughtfully decorated and felt very high end. The food was wonderful, well presented, and perfectly prepared. There were several special touches- a private concert in the Belvedere Palace where we were greeted with champagne, special onboard entertainment, some lovely excursions (most complementary), and a special dinner at a Michelin star restaurant. Le Ciel was the passenger favorite for restaurant options and we were so pleased to have dinner there. If it is booked, get wait-listed. The Budapest restaurants did not receive the same comments, so I would avoid them. Most tour guides were knowledgable and friendly. Czesky Krumlov was very social and the brewery a highlight of our trip-skip Munich-so not worth it from what we heard. Agree that the smaller cabins can feel a bit cramped, but that was more than offset by the amenities. We had to ask our butler for evening hours d'oevres, which are included, but that was the only misstep. When you arrive and unpack, send out clothes for pressing (no charge). You will feel pampered and relaxed at the end of this trip! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
Good experience with Crystal Mozart, over what we did expect. It has been an amazing 10 days onboard. The crew is very friendly, polite, always smiling and willing to assist with everything. The weather was unfortunately not so nice, ... Read More
Good experience with Crystal Mozart, over what we did expect. It has been an amazing 10 days onboard. The crew is very friendly, polite, always smiling and willing to assist with everything. The weather was unfortunately not so nice, but we were able to enjoy the tours in every location we docked. The food was extraordinary, presentation and taste wise, and very varied menu, all over higher then what we expected. We felt happy with personal service from Mrs Judy. The entertainment was also great! Very talented local singer and musician, able to make everyone sing and dance. The spa is also luxurious, which includes a Jacuzzi, female and male sauna and steam room, and very well trained therapist for Hair treatments, body massage, facials... Front desk is also very kind and always helpful, willing to answer any inquiries with a big knowledge, smile and making sure we are comfortable onboard. We got especially great help by Mrs Patricia by solving my IT questions. We look forward to join Crystal again! Read Less
33 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Just returned from a wonderful holiday cruise on the Crystal Mozart (Dec 22 – Jan 4). While the weather may have been very cold and bleak on certain days and our itinerary had to be modified halfway through the cruise because the Mozart ... Read More
Just returned from a wonderful holiday cruise on the Crystal Mozart (Dec 22 – Jan 4). While the weather may have been very cold and bleak on certain days and our itinerary had to be modified halfway through the cruise because the Mozart could not sail on to Bratislava and Budapest, we still concluded our trip with great memories of a wonderful cruise. Crystal has definitely managed to get that “Crystal Onboard” feel transferred from the oceans to the river. Although all the rooms were booked, it never felt busy or full onboard; there were several solo passengers, so the boat was not completely full. There are a number of intimate seating areas (like small living rooms) scattered around on Deck 2 and Deck 3, along with the Bistro area, the Crystal Cove area and the Palm Court. There was always somewhere to sit in the public areas for individuals, small groups or larger parties. The Vista Deck was effectively off-limits for this cruise except for short brisk strolls, when the sun peeked out from under the clouds, given the cold, inclement weather. It was the middle of winter so we were expecting this. In fact, for New Year’s Eve, when the crew knew guests would go out to the promenade deck to see the fireworks along the Danube, the outdoor promenade deck was heavily gritted as it was below freezing. Team Crystal were great at keeping the outdoor promenade deck gritted everytime the tempreture went below freezing. The pool/spa area was very under-utilized despite the cold weather. While there a small pool, it has one of those rather powerful “current” device, so you can happily swim away as if you were in a large swimming pool since the current of water keeps you from moving forwards. The current is suitable for the serious swimmer and is way too powerful for a leisure swimmer like me. The jacuzzi is a decent size - the bubbles automatically turn off after about three minutes so you have to keep pressing that button by the side. There is large steam room and a large sauna in both the men’s and the ladies’ changing rooms. I was often the only person in there. The food at dinner-time was excellent. We found the quality a lot better and with speedier service than on the ocean ships since there are fewer passengers in a smaller restaurant. Chef Dirk Magg does a great job. Lunch is a more moderate affair with a choice of a buffet in the Waterside (main dining room) and Blue (bistro at the end of the boat). For lunch, there is always a freshly made-to-order pasta (the tastiest we had was fusilli with caviar in a vodka sauce) and something on the carvery which is tucked behind the chefs so you have to look out for this. Lunch is a reasonable offering but does not compare to the quality and selection at dinner-time. We only made it to breakfast buffet at the Waterside a couple of times. There is an egg/omelette station, a waffle/crepe station and a Chinese congee station in addition to the usual hot and cold buffets. Late breakfast is served at the bistro where you can even make your own toast in the toaster provided. Top experiences during the cruise included: • Free-flowing champagne and caviar at the Crystal Society Party • The Crystal Exclusive event at the Belvedere Palace (drinks reception, tour of the art galleries, a typical Viennese concert of Mozart and Johann Strauss II with a small orchestra, two opera singers and two ballet dancers) • Early entry to the Museum of Fine Arts, exclusively for Crystal guests, with small group tours led by art experts supplied by the museum. The guides even used iPads to help us zoom in on the finer aspects of the artwork. • Tapas-style dinner at the Bistro (a similar experience to Taste on the Crystal Serenity) • Half the Café Sacher blocked off for exclusive use by Crystal guests for coffee and Sacher cake despite there being an outdoor queue in the cold for the other half of the café (this was a complimentary excursion too!) • Visiting a German brewery where they filled our glasses with cold beer directly from the pipes leading from the fermentation tanks to the bottling area. • Enjoying a modern-day “Von Trapp Family” perform a Sound of Music and Holiday concert on Christmas Day. • Seeing Filip Wojciechowski, a regular headliner who performs on the Crystal ocean cruises, performing with both his wife and son – tight squeeze at the piano. • The check-in experience. We were seated in the pantry area on our own after walking up to the reception desk. This was about 12:20pm. We arrived at the same time as three or four other cars/taxis with each party was taken a separate seating area. Equipped with an iPad, the receptionist found our reservation after I quoted our suite number. She took a photo of each of us for our key cards with her iPad and then said she would check if our suite was ready. After about 5 minutes, she returned with our key cards and said as our Penthouse suite was ready, we should follow her to the room. Our our six bags were already in the room, nicely laid out on the bed and sofa for us to start unpacking. We were totally unpacked by 1:10pm For us, a key ingredient to this successful cruise was Neal Fullerton, the Entertainment Host. He happily played songs that everyone shouted out at him in the evenings, chatted with guests around the boat during the day, dealt with guest announcements and organized the logistics of the guest entertainers who came on board. Crystal flew in a four-person band from the UK to cater for the ballroom dancers for the second half of the holiday cruise. The Paul James Band were good at judging the mood of the audience and adapted their set accordingly each evening. Each one of them is a great musician and there was an amazing after-hours “jam session” in the Palm Court, to a very small audience, where they were not restricted to the strict tempo of ballroom dance music. The one downside of the Mozart is the on-board wi-fi and was the subject of much discussion on board. On the plus side, the wi-fi was completely free. However, Crystal really imposed very strong firewalls. Any website that used a secured interface or needed a log-in was blocked. I could not even log into my office secure system which would have been a real issue had this not been the Christmas period. The speed of the wi-fi on the Crystal coaches was so much better. It does vary from bus to bus and depends on the cellular signals on the highway; i.e. it can come and go. Crystal laid on buses for a 3.5 hour transfer to Budapest as the Mozart was unable to sail past Vienna. 100 guests did the transfer and were put up at the lovely Ritz Carlton hotel, which was very centrally located in Budapest. Most of the Crystal Excursions were maintained but the Michelin-starred restaurant had to be swapped for new bookings in Vienna as we were in Budapest on a different day to that originally scheduled. 35 guests remained in Vienna and had their own separate excursion programme. The Paul James Band and Neal Fullerton continued to entertain the guests who remained in Vienna. Crystal also laid on buses for the one-hour transfer to Bratislava for an afternoon’s sightseeing, dinner and New Year’s Day concert performed by the Slovenská Filharmónia, a 75-person orchestra plus a 65-person choir. Interestingly, for those guests who chose to have dinner on board the boat, two key members of the orchestra presented their own extraordinary concert in the Palm Court. The butler service advertised is really glorified room service. Do not expect the type of service you see at Penthouse Level on the Crystal Symphony and Serenity. We saw in the New Year with the Mozart cruising around the Danube within the Vienna area so we could see the fireworks going off along the river. We do not think these were organized fireworks but private residents celebrating themselves along the river. The Paul James Band played until 2am, the countdown was done by the Captain and the Hotel Director. The German bistro server dressed up as a German chimneysweeper and handed out good luck gifts of marzipan. Given this cruise is so close to Christmas, there were only opportunities to visit the Christmas Markets in Vienna (at the start of the cruise), Salzburg (Boxing Day) and Budapest (Dec 29). While the biggest Christmas market in Budapest had ended, we came across two Christmas market (mainly serving food and mulled wine) still going strong. The Salzburg Christmas market was very large. Only 50% of the passengers were past cruisers with Crystal. The other half are mainly cruisers from Regent and Seabourn looking the luxury ocean cruising experience on the rivers. Almost all the guests were very chatty. Tables for two at the Waterside a conveniently placed close enough for conversation. It is the same with the tables for two at the Bistro. This also helped make our cruise experience so splendid. The newly installed lift was definitely in use and is definitely key to Crystal securing a wider demographic of passengers. For a blow by blow account of our cruise experience with a pictorial diary, have a read of my blog - http://johnken3.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/dec-22-boarding-crystal-mozart-and.html The dinner menu and offerings can be found at http://johnken3.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/dinner-on-board-crystal-mozart.html and some comments on stateroom selection are at http://johnken3.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/some-logistics-points.html I am looking forwards to a return cruise on the Mozart in September 2017 - hopefully when I get to use the top deck more in the warmer weather. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
I'm a frequent cruiser - although mainly the larger ocean liners. I recently strayed from course and took my mom on a CRYSTAL CRUISES RIVER CRUISE ON THE DANUBE. It was, in a word, SPECTACULAR. Let me start by saying I'm in my ... Read More
I'm a frequent cruiser - although mainly the larger ocean liners. I recently strayed from course and took my mom on a CRYSTAL CRUISES RIVER CRUISE ON THE DANUBE. It was, in a word, SPECTACULAR. Let me start by saying I'm in my mid 40's and my mom is an active 73. We live in the NYC area and are from the entertainment/media fields. We were looking for something more mellow than the traditional big ship offerings, as well as something elegant and steeped in culture-rich activities (tours). CRYSTAL CRUISES surpassed both my mom's and my expectations. The Mozart is CRYSTAL's first foray into the river cruise biz. It's an older ship, retrofitted and refurbished to the line's usual high standards. It's simply stunning. We landed in Vienna and headed straight to the ship. We opted to set up a private car thru Crystal, which was set up weeks prior to departure. The car service rep was waiting right as we walked out of baggage, led us to our driver and off we went for the 30 minute drive to the Mozart. The large SUV was spotless and the driver was friendly and professional. Upon first seeing the Mozart - you may or may not have a little moment of panic ("Wait, this is it?!?") The outside of the ship is very...river cruise-ish. Nothing mindlblowing. But the second you walk up to the glass entryway - WOW. The decor is modern yet elegant. It's clean lines, muted grays and creams...really classy. I looked into another line early on in my planning stages and was turned off by the decor, which looked like a botanical garden gone haywire (lots of florals and brocade-ish appointments; nice but NOT my style). The entire span of the interior of Mozart was dazzling in Christmas decor, since this was a Christmas Market-centric itinerary. Beautifully decorated Christmas trees in every corner, sweet winter gnomes popping up here and there (not creepy looking) and wrapped presents in silvers, golds, greens and reds. With the chill in the air it fast forwarded me right to Christmas Eve. Couples will no doubt feel a wave of love, moms/daughters (there were a couple of these tandems on board actually) will feel grateful for the opportunity to bond. Seriously, I probably sound corny but the Mozart brought such warmth to guests the second we walked on, and it really meant a lot I know to everyone. The crew is, again, amazing. And gorgeous by the way. My mom and I joked with our adorable "butler" Daniel that we were quite pleased with the aesthetics of the ship - EVERYTHING on the ship lol. Handsome young men and lovely women in their 20's and 30's mainly from places like Poland, Slovakia, Latvia. Hard working, friendly, patient and extremely professional. Things to just point out randomly: The average age of the guests I would say is mid to late 60's. This isn't a party ship by any stretch. THAT SAID - if you want to have fun on board, you can absolutely have it and more. My mom and I met two other couples on Day 2 and became inseparable. We would probably be considered the "fun crew" (there were little pods of us that grew as the days went on, then began to morph into one LOL). We would meet up in the mornings before our complimentary tours, sit on the same bus and hang together thru the day. It was fun to share these amazing cities with others. If we wanted alone time, we could easily have it. Everyone "got it"; no one was offended if you split off. But I have to tell you - stumbling on an authentic, locals-type German restaurant after our tour of Munich with new friends, drinking wine, beer, eating delicious food surrounded by a hundred old German men and women who had clearly loved this place forever was AWESOME. Tour buses were spacious, prompt and comfortable - luxury buses. Drivers were safe and friendly. Tours were great. Mozart offered many complimentary tours each day and those were perfect. Guides were just what they should be: Informative, pleasant, professional. We took a tour of the Mauthausen concentration camp. Do this, please. Those of us who did are so grateful. It was very overwhelming but it bonded many of us -- we realized in very stark terms how incredibly lucky we are. People who can afford a luxurious vacation with not a concern in the world walking in the same footsteps as those who were tortured by barbarians was not lost on any of us. Men, women, young, old from The States, Spain, Australia, etc all weeping like children. It was intense but left us feeling very lucky. After the tours wrap up, we usually found ourselves back on ship heading straight for the lounge. Attire on board and off was pretty much the same: Comfort, comfort, comfort with a splash of cute. The lounge can be summarized in one word: Neal. He's the entertainer; a one man show who really made the trip EVERYTHING. He's a cute Brit who plays piano, sings, charms and is hilarious. He sat with my mom and I on night two and we ended up grabbing him for dinner where we continued the laughs. He is equally warm to everyone on board, which is a feat given there are about 185 guests. Our group pitched in and jokingly "presented" him a blue sequined blazer on one of the last nights. He is quite fond of snazzy duds that only HE could get away with. That's the thing - 6 adults, touring Munich, giggling like schoolgirls as we ran around trying to grab that ridiculous jacket. It says it all. Neal, Brian - everyone was just so cool and so cute. And always professional. Watching women who are sitting there with their husbands of 30 years screaming and preening as crazy Neal performs his piano man routine was epic. The memories will last a lifetime. I will follow this up with the names of some folks to keep an eye out for - I don't have them handy but it's important to me to mention them. The food: As good - OR BETTER - than any NYC top tier restaurant, and that is no joke. Part of our crew was in the restaurant biz and they were very, very impressed. The restaurant is run masterfully. You can dress up or keep the causal vibe going but either way you are treated with excellent service from everyone. (Stefan the sommelier was adorable. I told him I wanted to bring him home so my fiancé and I could adopt him. But then he told me he was 32...). I could go on and on, and pretty much have. I just wanted to express how wonderful CRYSTAL CRUISE's Mozart experience was. Any questions - I'm happy to answer. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
This was our third trip with Uniworld. We have totally enjoyed every trip that we have taken with them. The ships are beautiful, the service exemplary, and the tour guides are knowledgeable. We especially like the fact that the final price ... Read More
This was our third trip with Uniworld. We have totally enjoyed every trip that we have taken with them. The ships are beautiful, the service exemplary, and the tour guides are knowledgeable. We especially like the fact that the final price includes everything. We are then comfortable with making the decision to sit back, relax, and enjoy the cruise. We would not hesitate to go with them again. Our trip traveled the Blue Danube from Venice to Nuremberg. Since our passion is all things Christmas, we certainly got our fill with the Christmas Markets on this trip. If we have any criticism, it would be that we would have liked more time in some of the ports. We would have gladly extended our trip to 12 days and spent more than one night in some of the towns, taking in some of the museums or just roaming. The exclusive excursion to a concert in Vienna of Mozart and Strauss music with dancers performing the waltz was a highlight for me. Read Less
32 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
--OVERVIEW: This review is about my 10 day Danube cruise from Vienna to Budapest. The Mozart is the largest and I understand it to be the most luxurious river ship in Europe, having been stunningly remodeled this year. I've done ... Read More
--OVERVIEW: This review is about my 10 day Danube cruise from Vienna to Budapest. The Mozart is the largest and I understand it to be the most luxurious river ship in Europe, having been stunningly remodeled this year. I've done over 30 cruises (including some luxury lines and the old Crystal Harmony) and river cruises (including luxury competitor Uniworld), and recommend this all-inclusive ship without reservation as being the most luxurious ship I've experienced. --MY CABIN: The entire ship is ultra-modern, so ignore the unflattering photos of the exterior. I was a single in a gorgeous and comfortable cabin with a window just above the water line. Features included: 40" high-def t.v. with good reception; roomy bath with no-splash shower; great king-sized mattress; Nespresso machine; remote controlled toilet/bidet (I turned it off); controls on iPad that I ignored because it was redundant, etc. Attentive butler service is included, and the female room attendant even wore attractive make-up. The entire ship feels roomy and uncrowded with just a 160 passenger max, tho my trip was not entirely filled because of the time of year. --FOOD: As fine as any I've ever consistently experienced on water or even land. They really know seafood, pork, lamb, and beef, tho they're typically European in not knowing how to make a great steak, including my special order ribeye that wasn't very tender or tasty. (Note: no specialty steakhouse). The lunch buffet offers even a bigger selection than the fine evening meals, including the great pastries & desserts. (I skipped breakfasts in a vain effort to hold down calories). The cruise also offers an included Michelin starred restaurant ashore, but some of us cancelled our reservations because upon seeing its menu we assumed the fine food on board made the Michelin excursion not worth the effort! --SERVICE: The highest staff to passenger ratio I've ever experienced, and also the highest ratio on the Danube. The service was truly amazing and friendly everywhere; the ton of extremely helpful waiters had to try hard to look busy. --BEVERAGES INCLUDED: All but the ships very finest wines and spirits are included, starting with the cabin having arrival bottles of good sparkling wine, white wine, red wine, beer, soft drinks, and bottled waters. The very free-flowing alcohol on board exceeded expectations, and the bartenders really know their stuff. Note: ask for the extensive list of included beverages, because otherwise the waiters just offer a more limited selection of good wines if you don't ask for the list showing the rest of the included beverages. --WI-FI: Unlimited satellite wi-fi is included without extra charge, and the speed is a bit sporadic depending on the demand level of other passengers and whether we're passing large hills. --ELECTRICAL: The online and brochure descriptions are confusing. The reality is that the ship offers 220 Volts only, which is usable if your laptop and chargers automatically handle both 110V and 220V. (Check the converter "brick" on your device power cord to see if it automatically converts). Otherwise, while the boat offers a plug adapter for American electronics, you'll have to provide your own 220V to 110V power converter. --INCLUDED SHORE EXCURSIONS: Various excursions are included with several more expensive ones you can pay for; I only used the included ones. Four new full-sized roomy buses (with toilets) follow the ship from port to port. No buses were ever crowded. --MISCELLANEOUS: The large top deck has a pop-up pilot bridge and bar for lowering the height when going under bridges. It also has a viewing area for warm weather movie viewing. The small indoor pool, large jacuzzi, and gym are new and no charge, tho the spa services cost extra. Entertainment: Several musicians came onboard at port stops. Otherwise the ship's permanent and witty singer/pianist/games host was very good, including sing-alongs. --OWNER AMBITIONS: Owned by a Hong Kong company (perhaps with some mainland money?), and they're throwing big bucks at Crystal in order to dominate the top ultra-luxury travel business. Four new-build river ships are being prepared , a super-luxury ocean yacht, a dedicated Antarctic cruise ship (with helicopter), and Crystal's own Boeing 777. This cruise included several Crystal corporate employees to analyze ways to improve the experience, but that'll be tough to do. I even met four Americans who were on the cruise for the duration to install a huge amount of the very finest European Christmas holiday decorations. --BOTTOM LINE: I typically don't do a lot of luxury cruises, but this was such an unexpectedly superior experience that I'll likely have to become a Crystal repeat customer. All the other passengers I met were similarly enthusiastic about this truly lap of luxury experience. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We cruised with Uniworld in 2014 from Passau Germany to Budapest, Hungary. At the end of that cruise we both had the same conclusion, it was the very best vacation we have ever had. This year we returned to Uniworld once again and cruised ... Read More
We cruised with Uniworld in 2014 from Passau Germany to Budapest, Hungary. At the end of that cruise we both had the same conclusion, it was the very best vacation we have ever had. This year we returned to Uniworld once again and cruised from Vienna to Prague. We even booked the pre Vienna option plus and extra day to enjoy Vienna so much more. The representatives of Uniworld that meet you at the hotel are also the expert tour guides that know the great history of the excursions you are taken on while visiting Vienna on the per cruise portion. I would heartily recommend the pre or post cruise options in conjunction with your cruise. The hotel accommodations are superior to say the least. Once on board the ship one will be wined and dined, pampered, catered to in a way you cannot imagine. My husband remarked after getting on the boat, "I do not have to do anything." Meaning he could just stay on the boat if he chose to and read books, watch out the window or view from the top deck all the great scenery one passes on the Danube, the river traffic, the many towns, villages, and cities one encounters on the cruise. Meals are not to be missed, a fine buffet at breakfast and at lunch has selections to please, dinner is always a four course feast.The attentiveness of the staff in the dining room is superb. After dinner a trip to the nicely appointed lounge for beverages, entertainment is a great way to end a day of activities. We highly recommend Uniworld for European river cruises. The two boats we cruised on River Ambassador, and River Beatrice were smaller than other boats, but were a mighty pleasure to sail on, because of the fine crews on these boats. When we boarded the boat in Vienna, one of the persons at the reception desk recognized by husband by name as well as one of the waiters in the dining room as both had been on River Beatrice 2 years ago when last we cruised. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
This was our second Uniworld cruise, having done Basel to Amsterdam two years ago. The Ambassador is among their smaller ships but our suite was outstanding. There was a nice sized witting area with plenty of storage and closet space. ... Read More
This was our second Uniworld cruise, having done Basel to Amsterdam two years ago. The Ambassador is among their smaller ships but our suite was outstanding. There was a nice sized witting area with plenty of storage and closet space. The bath was large, double sinks and a big walk in shower and was well appointed. These suites look like what you would expect to fine in a five star hotel. The other staterooms on this ship were pretty small (10x12) so I strongly recommend you go online to look at the dimensions of the rooms on any of their ships... they can vary greatly. The Ambassador had the best staff I've run across. The tour Director, Ramona appeared to work 24 hours a day to please passengers. She even arranged for some private tours for us along the way, for an additional charge which was very reasonable. Our butler, Zelko treated us like royalty as did the bar staff and wait staff, particularly Zlotko, Sam, De Jan and others. The food was wonderful and the chef was always offering to make us something else if he thought we didn't like what was on the menu. But the menu choices were always varied, well prepared and beautifully presented. This was honestly the most trouble free vacation we've ever been on. The tours were varied and well planned, and all inclusive truly meant All Inclusive! Our third Uniworld cruise is being planned as I write this. Ships from other lines just don't compare. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Whie I had only a special 4-night chartered cruise, it was nevertheless great to sample Crystal's new river line. We started from Vienna and the next day we were supposed to be in Budapest, but due to a technical problem (I heard that ... Read More
Whie I had only a special 4-night chartered cruise, it was nevertheless great to sample Crystal's new river line. We started from Vienna and the next day we were supposed to be in Budapest, but due to a technical problem (I heard that it was because of a canel lock) we sailed to Bratislava instead and arrived at around 8pm for an overnight. Good to have a pleasant walk in fine weather in the old town, which is near the ship's berth. Next morning we were compensated for with an organized coach tour to Budapest free, but I didn't join due to hot weather and the fact that there simply isn't time enough to see Budapest in such a hurry. And of course Budapest is not new to me. Instead I had a good time visiting the new part of Bratislava which is just a short walk by the river from the pier. Next port is Durnstein, a very pleasant Austrian town on the Danube, very scenic. Then back to Vienna arriving next late morning. The ship arranged a Mozart/Strauss concert at Belevedere, a popular touristic activity for Vienna, and it was really enjoyable. Disembark next day to end what is my first taste of Crystal River cruise, as a frequent cruise on the ocean ships and a Crystal Society member. But what an enjoyable trip. I had a PH stateroom which is beautifully decorated and configured as on Crystal Serenity, but smaller (yet more than 300 sq ft) and there is no bath tub. Also French balcony instead of a real balcony (not available in most river boats). Breakfast at Le Bristo is mainly continental but good, with freshly squeeed orange juice. Dining is good but choice is limited unlike on a Crystal ocean cruise, there being no alternative restaurant except the Bristo, which can serve a tapa-type degustation menu of many items for a change. Service attitude is excellent as on Serenity and Symphony, among the very best. Crew seem to have run-in completely. The crew is all European for a change when most ships are serviced by Philipinos. The beauty of a river cruise is that it is scenic all the way, and in this respect the Danube is comparable to the more famous Rhein. The best aspect on this river trip that I enjoy most is to watch the Danube sunset, a long drink in hand, on the top level long sun deck, which has comfortable day beds and bar, all inclusive of course, and even a small garden. It can be an ultra romantic experience with the right companion, and perhaps this is what you do not find in an ocean cruise. The Vienna disembarkation is smooth, but need a taxi to town. Embarkation was great too and passengers are met at airport by a fleet of luxury appointed coaches operated by Crystal. The same fleet of cars also handles excursions. I had a most enjoyable cruise, perhaps more relaxing than anything on ocean. A beautiful ship and the great service still lingers in my mind long after disembarkation. Will surely return. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Let me start by saying that Crystal advertised this cruise as a 6 star experience.We were not disappointed.Fantastic in every way possible.If I could give 7 stars, I would!! My wife and I were looking for an upscale river cruise to ... Read More
Let me start by saying that Crystal advertised this cruise as a 6 star experience.We were not disappointed.Fantastic in every way possible.If I could give 7 stars, I would!! My wife and I were looking for an upscale river cruise to celebrate being empty nesters.Everything about this cruise was exceptional.Embarkation was a breeze.As we entered the ship you could see the beautifully appointed foyer. We were taken to our cabin immediately where we met Roman,our incredible butler who opened champagne and attended to our every need.He filled our room daily with fresh bottled water, Austrian and Czech beers and wine as well as the premium liquor of our choice.We quickly became great friends. The dining was incredible from sumptuous breakfasts, gourmet lunches,and the finest dinner cuisine you could imagine.Not to mention, continuous daily spreads of fine italian meets,cheeses,pastries etc.the cocktail lounge at night was a hit for all with entertainment by Mark Farris on piano who knew everyones name on the ship by the second night.He was superb. Our cabin was beautifully appointed with kingsize bed , a large walk-in shower and a heated toilet seat!Everything in the room could be controlled by your own personal ipad at the bedside. The shore excursions provided in all ports were mostly complimentary and were fascinating with wonderful tour guides.We did pay extra for an evening cruise on the ships 32 foot speedboat withe Bela the captain.Seeing the city on Budapest lit up at night on the Danube was phenomenal.Speaking of the crew,the service was as first class as it could be.From waiters,bartenders,and cruise directors; everyone was so friendly.The captain would take us the the pilothouse and answer any questions we had. When it comes to being all inclusive,Crystal doesn't miss a thing. We wanted for nothing.This was indeed better than we could have ever dreamed of.Hats off to Crystal;they got it right Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Having sailed with Crystal before we were not disappointed with the Crystal Mozart as it was the quality we have come to expect from Crystal. Speaking to fellow passengers who had been on other river boats they all said that the Mozart ... Read More
Having sailed with Crystal before we were not disappointed with the Crystal Mozart as it was the quality we have come to expect from Crystal. Speaking to fellow passengers who had been on other river boats they all said that the Mozart was more like an ocean liner than a river boat such was the extensive range of amenities, quality of design, furnishings and fittings, faultless food and superb service from all the Crystal staff. The main dining room 'The Waterside' was excellent. The food was of exceptional quality. Speaking to those who had experienced the Michelin restaurants many had said that the Waterside was an equal if not better. The staff were very courteous and friendly without being obsequious. The open dining worked very well and there was no shortage of fellow passengers to talk to thanks to the restaurant managers. The choice available for evening dining was not as extensive as would be the case on any of the Crystal cruise liners but this is expected given the respective sizes of the two types of vessels. Wherever possible the dining room staff tried to cater for passengers individual requirements. Like staff on their sister ocean cruise liners whenever a passenger had a specific request they only needed to ask once. The service was very personal. The excursions were generally very good especially as Crystal had their own fleet of luxury coaches that included a toilet and coffee machine. Also many of the excursions were only between two and four hours in duration unlike many excursions on sea voyages which can last all day and very often on inferior local transport often not suitable for elderly European and North American posteriors. The local guides that Crystal used were very informative, engaging and often quite humorous. They all spoke perfect English. Like sea cruises passengers need to do their homework before embarking on some excursions. On some evenings local entertainers performed. The Pressburger Duo from Bratislava were outstanding and shouldn't be missed for future passengers. The local host Mark Farris was the life and soul in the evenings. He deserves a medal. The voyage could be enhanced if there were presentations on the countries and towns the Mozart was due to visit. The Mozart provided excellent coloured maps but some did not identify where the Mozart would be moored so it was sometimes difficult orientate with nearby surroundings. It would also help if Crystal listed on their website where the Mozart will be moored to enable passengers to plan ahead. For example the Mozart was moored a bus ride away from Passau and therefore we couldn't make any impromptu walks off the boat into the town. Embarkation and disembarkation was smooth. Overall we where very satisfied with our first river cruise. It was as we had come to expect from Crystal. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We have cruised on Crystal a fair amount of times and were most anxious to try a river cruise as opposed to an ocean voyage. There are many fine lines that are represented on the rivers, but we decided to remain loyal to Crystal and see ... Read More
We have cruised on Crystal a fair amount of times and were most anxious to try a river cruise as opposed to an ocean voyage. There are many fine lines that are represented on the rivers, but we decided to remain loyal to Crystal and see how they managed cruising on the Danube. The beginning and end of the cruise had major problems - a matter that I will discuss with Crystal's Air Department. All I can say is make certain there is more than just the "legal" connection time at overseas terminals because you had better count on a delay between crowds, security, customs and weather. Aside from the air problems, this was a wonderful adventure highlighted by a superior staff that went far and above the line of duty. I had often heard that the river cruises were much more intimate that the ocean voyages. This was very true not only of the staff but also fellow passengers. Top "kudos" go to Arno, the excursion manager and all around contact person for just about anything. Whether it was an issue or information, Arno was there to help and soothe. I could not believe that, while waiting for our 5am shuttle from he boat to the airport, Arno was already up, moving luggage. readying the shuttle and still had time to ask if I'd like a latte. He is a joy to work with. Next, I'd like to single out Sonia, the hotel manager. Bright, cheery, knowledgable and well informed. A super nice lady who called us by name by the end of the cruise. I'd like to also mention that our room stewardess, Sylvia, was efficient and charming and made you feel that you really were both a guest and a friend. The room itself is not as large as the ocean going vessels but once you got used to it, it was very functional. I have no basis to compare it with other boats as this was our first river cruise. It was decorated with modern decor and functional. I couldn't believe all of the high tech features that were employed - including a Toto bidet lid. An IPad is in your room which controls everything from the lights, temperature, TV, and even the "Do not disturb" light. The king sized bed was extremely comfortable and when I mentioned to Sylvia that the large King pillow was a bit awkward for me, she promptly brought me a more manageable size. The big screen HD TV had a lot of recent movies which I'd missed. Since there is no "official" entertainment in the evenings similar to an ocean cruise, the was a great time to put on one of Crystal's comfortable robes and enjoy a quiet evening. You'll need the down time. We really enjoyed the daily excursions. There are a lot of walking tours conducted by excellent guides on brand new Crystal busses. I was so happy that they offered excursions to Salzburg as an inclusive. It may have been a 2 hour trip in but very well worth it. My favorite excursion was the concert in Belvedere Palace. The art, of course was amazing. However, the wonderful orchestra played masterfully and the guest vocalists sounded like their voices descended from heaven. There was a thunderstorm that night and the lightning and thunder added an incredible ambiance to the evening. The boat itself was kept in immaculate condition, as one would expect from Crystal. The dining room was much more casual than the ocean going ships but fit in perfectly with the less formal feel. One comment I will be making to Crystal, is that the dining room should have some kind of sound baffling as the low ceilings make it almost impossible to carry on a conversation. A favorite spot was the Mozart Bistro where coffees, expressos, tea, and snacks are served. The servers were young and full of smiles and helpfulness. They would laugh and joke with you like you knew each other for a long time. We did attend a local concert in the Palm Court which was a quality treat. Next time, we may try to do more in this lovely part of the ship. Another example of genuine interest in the passengers, occurred when my husband and I both came down with a virus. I was so tickled because everyone from the waiters to the assistant butler, offered their "home" remedies from Schnapps to Lemon Ginger tea with honey. They cared that you weren't feeling well and wanted to help make it better. On the whole, it seemed to me that the participants were younger than the ocean voyage and more more active. When friends have asked me why we spend the $ to go on Crystal, I've always responded that you get what you pay for. The experience on the Mozart was worth the cost and I am already considering our next river cruise on Crystal. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
Took the Uniworld European Holiday Markets cruise on the Danube, something we had wanted to do for some time. This cruise line touts this as all inclusive, and it didn't disappoint. Top shelf beverages and wines, not just at meals, ... Read More
Took the Uniworld European Holiday Markets cruise on the Danube, something we had wanted to do for some time. This cruise line touts this as all inclusive, and it didn't disappoint. Top shelf beverages and wines, not just at meals, but virtually all day. They even had a specific bottle of my favorite beverage waiting for me a the bar, which Evo, the bartender explained had my name on it. I mentioned this at booking and that's all it took. Meals were extraordinary, varied, superbly prepared and presented. Martin, the rest. mgr, visited with my wife and her sister before each meal to ensure their specific dietary restrictions had been taken into consideration, and in some cases, alternative meals prepared just for them. Chef Bogdan even provided a special off menu meal for us the last night which took several days preparation. Try that on your typical ocean cruise with 5000 of your closest friends. Oh yeah, there were only 67 passengers on this 110 passenger ship, so it was really special. George, one of the dining and lounge staff, took special care of our party all cruise long, never missing the chance to find ways to meet our every request. The staterooms were more than adequate, comfortable, and immaculate. There really are no bad rooms on a river cruise ship. The excursions were well planned, expertly guided, and yet leisurely. The service we received in every area of the ship was world class and my wife and I doubt we will ever take another mega-boat cruise again. And we will definitely cruise Uniworld again. Read Less

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