Crystal River Cruises made its splashy debut in 2016 and now features five luxury ships that offer an experience that’s a cut above the ordinary river voyage in Europe.
The line’s 106-passenger Crystal Bach sails Rhine and Danube river itineraries and helps set the standard for the fleet. The ship is nearly identical to three others in the line’s Rhine class: Crystal Ravel, Crystal Debussy and Crystal Mahler.
Service, style and sophistication stand out onboard Bach, which features 53 suites — all with butler service and floor-to-ceiling panorama windows that can be opened with the push of a button to create a “balcony.”
“We’ve had a lot of guests who have sailed on other river lines, and the main differences they say they find are in our service, food and design of the ship,” said Martin Nenkov, hotel director for Bach.
Nenkov, who is from Bulgaria, is in his third year with Crystal and his first year on the rivers with the company. He says guests give especially positive feedback about the spacious staterooms.
Deluxe Suites have 237 to 253 square feet of space, and Petite Suites offer 188 square feet. Bach also features a two-bedroom Crystal Suite and a Crystal Penthouse. Every stateroom has a large bathroom with a walk-in shower, as well as a huge walk-in closet.
The ship also features 16 connecting suites, so it easily accommodates families with children.
“We get a fair number of children,” said Walter Littlejohn, vice president and managing director for Crystal River Cruises. “[The suites are] important for multigenerational travelers.”
Babysitting can also be arranged on Bach.
“I think we have the best children’s program of all the luxury lines,” Littlejohn said.
The culinary experience — a full range of options that includes both indulgences and more healthful choices — is a highlight onboard Bach. Clients can enjoy a variety of meals at the Waterside Restaurant main dining room and the innovative atrium space that’s home to Bistro, which serves a light breakfast, lunch and a tapas-style dinner. Plus, passengers can enjoy 24-hour in-suite dining via room service or a decadent wine-pairing experience at The Vintage Room (available for an additional fee).
The Market serves buffet-style breakfast and lunch, offering a salad station, fresh bread, desserts and main courses such as pasta prepared a la minute and carving station items. The galleys on Crystal ships are three to four times larger than those on other river lines, and guests can taste the difference. Meals are prepared fresh to order, and all breads, pastries and desserts are made onboard in the ship’s bakery.
The 24-hour self-service Pantry venue in the lobby has a fridge with wines, water and soft drinks, as well as a counter offering cookies, pastries, fresh fruit and a coffee machine.
Cuisine is an important part of the Crystal luxury experience, so the line offers guests the option to book a dining experience at a Michelin-starred restaurant in cities such as Basel, Switzerland; Budapest, Hungary; and Vienna. (In 2019, the experience will be complimentary for guests booked in the Crystal Penthouse or Crystal Suite.)
Shore excursions, which are designed for smaller groups, are included in the cruise fare, Littlejohn said.
“Intimacy is important for our guests,” he said.
A spa offers a full range of treatments such as facials, lash and eyebrow tinting, hot-stone massages and custom massages. Bach also has a gym with two exercise bikes, a rowing machine, dumbbells and yoga/stretching mats. Personal training is available, as well.
There are no bikes onboard Bach; however, Crystal arranges to have bicycles available at each port — whether for planned ship excursions or for guests wanting to cycle on their own.
“We do everything possible if guests request a bike,” Nenkov said.
The sundeck offers plenty of seating, and shade is available under a canopy or umbrellas. You won’t find a chess board, putting green or walking track onboard, but the Vista Bar is staffed from morning to late afternoon, and servers make continuous rounds to ensure guests get their drinks quickly. Bach additionally has a heated indoor pool located in a comfy indoor area with a faux fireplace, a large glass ceiling and loungers.
“Overall, the guests don’t have one particular thing they like about the product,” Nenkov said. “It’s the overall experience: the food, the shore excursions and the service — especially the attention from the crew. We try to be a step above the rest.”
Crystal River Cruises