Penthouse suites onboard Crystal Mozart measure 330 square feet. // © 2016 Crystal Cruises
Feature image (above): The river cruise ship will sail on the Danube through 2018. // © 2016 Crystal Cruises
At Crystal Mozart’s christening, Crystal Cruises president and CEO Edie Rodriguez shared that it didn’t take long to realize the potential of the 1987-built ship while seeking out a vessel to launch Crystal River Cruises.
Because of its size, which is twice the width of the typical European river cruise boat, the 395-by-75-foot Crystal Mozart can accommodate luxurious suites and multiple dining venues that are on par with those onboard the line’s ocean-going Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony. A full wraparound promenade deck, an indoor pool, a spa and a large gym are also major assets.
In October 2015, Crystal bought the ship — which has operated for multiple companies, including First Danube Steamboat Shipping Company, Peter Deilmann Cruises and, most recently, Dertour — and immediately gutted it down to the steel framework before rebuilding it to the line’s deluxe specifications.
“The only things that remain are four paintings and the Bosendorfer [an $80,000 piano that is now in the Palm Court],” Rodriguez said.
The company added skylights to bring natural light into the public spaces; replaced a block of smaller cabins with 12 suites; installed new wiring and HVAC systems; replaced all doors and windows; and built an elevator to connect the three interior decks.
The top Vista Deck boasts a full-service bar backed with a large screen for movie and sports events, in addition to a garden area with teak benches. Crystal Deck has a suite of beautifully decorated, contemporary spaces. Here, guests will find Palm Court Lounge, which can accommodate all of the ship’s 154 guests; the Crystal Cove piano bar; the Connoisseur Club smoking room; the Waterside main dining restaurant; The Vintage Room, a restaurant for exclusive wine-pairing dinners; and the aft-situated Blue, a casual eatery.
Passengers enter the vessel on midship Seahorse Deck, where the reception area features an elegant library on one side and The Pantry, a 24-hour self-service wine, beverage and snack bar, on the other. At the far-forward end of the Seahorse Deck, Crystal Life Spa includes a full-service salon; separate men’s and women’s steam and sauna areas; a Jacuzzi; a counter-current pool; and a relaxation area with a forward-facing view of the river. On the lowest level, Harmony Deck, there is a gym with free weights and a cardio room. Even self-service laundry is available.
The suites are extremely lavish, with two 553-square-foot Crystal suites and 12 penthouse suites that each measure 330 square feet. There are 22, 291-square-foot French balcony suites and 42 fixed-window suites at 219 square feet. Among the many perks in every suite category are butler service, iPads and marble- and tile-lined bathrooms with automated Toto toilets.
Crystal also provides a Crystal Adventures excursion in every port, a Michelin-star restaurant dining experience and a signature event — for our sailing, this entailed a gala evening and concert at Vienna’s Belvedere Palace. Electric BMW bikes can be used for group excursions or taken out for self-guided rides. Also, a pair of racy, Italian-built Wider tenders can be hired by up to 12 guests for additional scenic rides.
Per and Linda Nilsen from Temecula, Calif.-based Blue Ribbon Travel gave Crystal Mozart an enthusiastic thumbs-up, noting that Crystal River Cruises is the perfect marriage for their river cruise clients and loyal Crystal clients. Both especially enjoyed the spa, the extra width of the ship and the all-inclusive bonuses such as butler service.
Another top-selling agent, Erik Maryanov from All-Travel in Los Angeles, echoed their enthusiasm.
“I love the diversity of the public spaces and extra perks such as the electric bikes and the Michelindining experience,” he said. “The ship itself is a destination, and that’s a first for a river cruise line. Crystal has surpassed my already high expectations.”
Crystal Mozart offers alternating 10- and 11-night Danube itineraries through 2018.