Penthouse accommodations onboard Crystal Cruises’ new river fleet // © 2016 Crystal River Cruises
Feature image (above): In the next few years, a fleet of brand-new vessels will join Crystal Mozart on the rivers. // © 2016 Crystal River Cruises
Wondering what's new with Crystal Cruises? Here's what we learned at the 2016 sales gala
In the wake of the launch of its first river vessel, the completely renovated Crystal Mozart, Crystal Cruises has announced its design plans for four river yacht newbuilds, which will make their debut beginning in the spring and summer of 2017. Not surprisingly, the features strongly echo those on Mozart, but there are some interesting design differences.
Some of these have to do with the size restrictions for different rivers. While Crystal Mozart is the largest river cruise vessel in Europe, accommodating 154 guests on the Danube River, the newbuilds will carry fewer passengers. Originally, the plan was to have the all-suite Crystal Mahler and Crystal Bach sail on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers in the category of Rhine Class yachts — 135 meters long and carrying 106 guests — while Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel cruised the Seine, Garonne, Dordogne and Gironde rivers as Paris Class yachts — 110 meters in length, with a capacity of 78 passengers. However, at the end of July, Crystal announced that all four newbuilds will be deployed on the Rhine, Main and Danube, necessitating changes in the design of the French vessels, which will now debut in 2018.
“Unlike an ocean-going ship that can accommodate a change in itinerary with short notice, a river ship operates within more confined parameters and is unable to reroute easily,” said Edie Rodriguez, CEO and president of Crystal Cruises. “We are listening carefully to what travelers are telling us and have concluded that the best way to anticipate, meet and surpass their expectations is by making this move earlier than later.”
Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel are now set for maiden voyages in April 2018 and May 2018, respectively; detailed itineraries will be announced soon.
Both ships will be increased in size from 110 meters to 135 meters — the maximum size permissible on the Rhine, Main and Danube — and will feature a swimming pool with a sliding-glass roof and more of the ship’s larger suites, which range in size up to 759 square feet.
Unlike Crystal Mozart, which has French balconies, all of Crystal’s new river ships will have panoramic windows — covered in fine Egyptian cotton linens — with a section that opens, with king-size beds facing the windows. All accommodations will be suites that are above the waterline and feature walk-in closets, Etro robes and slippers, flat-screen HD televisions with an interactive system offering movies on demand and a selection of music and Nespresso machines. All four river yachts will offer butler service for every suite. Service on the rivers is also Crystal-style, with high crew-to-guest ratio: Crystal Mozart has 92 crewmembers for its 79 suites, and the newbuilds will follow the same pattern, with 68 crewmembers for 106 passengers. (The more common ratio is 1:3.)
The new Crystal vessels are designed with several dining venues: Waterside Restaurant, Bistro cafe, Vintage Room, Cove Bar and the glass-domed Palm Court. Crystal will offer open seating, allowing guests to dine where, when and with whom they want.
In addition, each ship will have a full-service spa with massage services and a separate fitness center with TechnoGym equipment and free weights, complete with a dedicated staff and a yoga area, plus a partial indoor-outdoor pool aft.
Crystal’s river yacht fares include all onboard gratuities; use of Nordic walking sticks, electric bikes, personal watercraft and kayaks; 60 minutes of Wi-Fi access per day; and unlimited soft drinks and premium beverages, including champagne, fine wine and spirits on the ship, and soft drinks, beer and bottled water in suites. Passengers receive complimentary motorcoach airport transfers on embarkation and debarkation days, self-service laundry, complimentary shore excursions in each port, in-suite hors d'oeuvres and a complimentary meal off the ship on some sailings.
“We have ensured that, in designing Crystal River Cruises’ yachts, we remain committed to the cornerstones of the Crystal brand that travelers throughout the world have come to love: service, space, quality and choices,” said Walter Littlejohn, vice president and managing director for Crystal River Cruises. “It is imperative that our guests’ experience onboard these vessels conveys this commitment to the Crystal Difference.”
Guests who have already booked 2017 voyages on Crystal Debussy can choose from a Crystal Mozart cruise and a $750 shipboard credit per person, plus a $500 per person future cruise credit; a Crystal Bach voyage and a $500 future cruise credit per person; a seven-night 2017 Crystal Esprit voyage, plus a $750 per person shipboard credit and a $500 per person future cruise credit; a veranda room for a 2017 Crystal Symphony European cruise (up to 14 days) and a $500 per person future cruise credit; or a $1,000 per person future cruise credit to apply toward any other 2017 Crystal Experience (booked at prevailing rates).
Guests who booked 2017 voyages on Crystal Ravel can choose from a Crystal Mozart sailing and a $500 per person future cruise credit; a seven-night 2017 Crystal Esprit voyage and a $750 per person shipboard credit, plus a $500 per person future cruise credit; a veranda room for a 2017 Crystal Symphony European cruise (up to 10 days) and a $500 per person future cruise credit; or a $1,000 per person future cruise credit to apply toward any other 2017 Crystal Experience (booked at prevailing rates).
All offers are valid for 18 months and can only be used toward a second Crystal Experience beyond the one chosen as an alternate to the Crystal Debussy or Crystal Ravel booking.
In May, Crystal also announced plans for two additional river yachts, which are yet unnamed and slated to launch before the end of 2019.