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On May 24, the keels for Crystal River Cruises’ Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel were laid at MV Werften shipyard in the presence of Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, chairman and CEO of Genting Hong Kong, the parent company of Crystal Cruises; Jarmo Laakso, managing director of MV Werften; Josef Lumetsberger, general manager of operations for Crystal River Cruises; Manfred Korous, managing director of future development and director for Crystal River Cruises; Harry Glawe, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s economics minister; and more. The first 170-ton sections of the vessels were lowered into position on keel blocks.
With this milestone, the company has gone from zero to four 106-passenger Rhine-class ships in progress or operation. Debussy and Ravel, originally planned to launch this year on the Seine, Rhone and Dordogne rivers, were repurposed for the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers in a decision last year. This required a redesign, as the size limitations for the two sets of rivers are different, so their launch dates were delayed a year, with Debussy now scheduled to debut in April 2018 and Ravel in May 2018.
This year, Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler are sailing 10- to 16-day cruises roundtrip Amsterdam; roundtrip Vienna; between Amsterdam and Vienna; between Amsterdam and Frankfurt; and between Amsterdam and Budapest.
Crystal’s river yachts are structurally identical and feature a glass-domed Palm Court atrium, a fitness area, a spa and open-seating eateries such as the Waterside Restaurant, Bistro cafe, the Vintage Room and the Palm Court.
Also, the ships each have a pool and carry an array of complimentary equipment for active travelers, from electric bicycles to Jetskis and kayaks.
All four vessels have accommodations ranging from the Petite Suite at 188 square feet and the River Suite at 253 square feet to the two-bedroom Crystal Suites at 759 square feet. Several suites connect, and all suite categories are placed above the waterline. Accommodations have king-size beds — a first for the river cruise industry — walk-in closets and large bathrooms with double sinks, along with wall-mounted flat-screen HD televisions and Nespresso machines.
Personal butler service and a high crew-to-passenger ratio ensure that Crystal’s stellar service reputation is maintained, and generous overnight stays and special experiences such as a concert at the Concertgebouw concert hall in Amsterdam distinguish the river cruises.
Crystal’s rapidly growing presence in European river cruising is only a part of the current expansion. Genting Hong Kong completed the acquisition of the MV Werften shipyard last year to fuel the fast growth, which by 2022 will see the yard construct the four new river yachts; the 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor, a polar class mega-yacht; and the first of Crystal Cruises’ Exclusive Class polar-class seagoing ships with Crystal Residences available for ownership.