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Crystal Mozart is leaving the Crystal River Cruises fleet. That was the big news leading up to the luxury brand’s annual Crystal Sales Gala for 2019, held onboard the luxurious Crystal Serenity ocean ship. But it may not be for the reasons you think.
With the larger vessel’s departure in 2020, Crystal will boast the youngest river fleet in the industry. Next year, it will be solely composed of four identical sister ships — Crystal Bach, Crystal Debussy, Crystal Mahler and Crystal Ravel — all launched from 2017 to 2018. The redesigned 1987-built Mozart will move to corporate cousin Genting Cruise Lines, where it will still be operated by parent company Genting Hong Kong.
At the gala, Tom Wolber, president and CEO of Crystal, explained Mozart’s departure has less to do with its age, and more to do with the brand being able to offer a wholly consistent fleet to travel advisors and their clients. The Rhine-class deck plans are identical, and all their cabin categories are identical, thus avoiding any confusion.
And without Mozart, Crystal will no longer be in competition with the similarly double-wide but brand-new AmaMagna that will set sail for AmaWaterways later this year.
That leaves Crystal with an impressive lineup of very spacious vessels with capacities for 106 guests each, serviced by a high crew-to-guest ratio of two staff for every three passengers. Besides service, other hallmarks of the riverboats are their outstanding accommodations, entertainment and cuisine. Three restaurants, open seating, numerous two-top tables, a-la-minute preparation and 24-hour room service present an exceptional dining experience.
Walter Littlejohn, vice president and managing director of Crystal River Cruises, updated attendees on the line’s sales and promotional approach.
“We run on a very tight philosophy of making sure that we offer the best price in advance,” he said.
From an operational standpoint, he also informed attendees that Crystal is doing away with e-bikes to avoid less experienced riders from getting hurt. By mid-July, all ships will feature traditional high-end track bicycles instead.
Regarding routes, Littlejohn was excited to share a Crystal-exclusive dock that will be available to guests in Vienna at Hilton Vienna Danube Waterfront. It will be fully operational by 2020. New products also include a Delightful Danube itinerary and a Discover Prague package.
The Danube itinerary embarks both eastbound and westbound from Regensburg, Germany, (overnight) to Budapest (overnight) featuring Passau, Germany; and Austria’s Melk, the Wachau Valley, Durnstein and Vienna (overnight) in between. The pre-cruise, three-night Prague extension is available at a reduced price of $1,499 per person based on double occupancy and includes transfers from the airport and to Regensburg; accommodations at Mandarin Oriental, Prague; daily breakfast; and a city tour.
Meanwhile, any expansions plans have been put on hold. However, Littlejohn told guests to have patience, explaining: “We want to simplify, amplify and accelerate.”
When travel professionals start to fill Bach, Debussy, Mahler and Ravel to 100 percent or more, the line will accelerate with more ships in new markets.
Until then, he had a reminder for advisors.
“Why wouldn’t you sell the best value?” Littlejohn said. “We are not the most expensive river cruise line out there. There’s someone else out there that charges 15 to 20 percent more than we do and doesn’t offer nearly the same level experience.”
The Details Crystal River Cruiseswww.crystalrivercruises.com