The newest player in the river market is one of ocean cruising's most established luxury lines. In late 2015, Crystal Cruises announced it would spin off an entirely new river cruise division to bring its brand of all-inclusive luxury river cruises to the waterways of Europe. Launching in the summer of 2016 with a repurposed vessel purchased from another operator and renamed Crystal Mozart, things will really get going for Crystal during the summer of 2017, when the line takes delivery of its first purpose-built river vessels.
These won't be any ordinary ships; Crystal plans to come out of the gate swinging. To that end, Crystal's river cruise ships Crystal Debussy, Crystal Bach, Crystal Ravel, and Crystal Mahler will have the largest suites on the rivers of Europe, along with ocean-liner style design and layout.
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They'll also boast some uncommon features, from complimentary Nordic walking sticks to GPS-enabled whisper touring guides, electrically assisted bicycles, and, apparently, jet skis and kayaks. Where you'll go jet skiing in Europe is something of a mystery, but Crystal is planning to offer it.
Huge WOW Factor: Crystal isn't cutting corners or skimping on costs for their first river cruise ships. Expect the best-of-the-best at every turn, both on board and ashore.
Gorgeous Ships: If Crystal's river cruise vessels turn out to be half as good as they're anticipated to be, the line will have a tremendous success on its hands.
Potential Growing Pains: Crystal is entering service into a market crowded with well-established competitors. The line may experience a few hiccups here and there as it finds its footing. Then again, perhaps it will come in and be the juggernaut it seems. Time will tell.
Crystal Cruises brings its finely tuned luxury product from the high seas to the rivers of Europe in one of the industry's most exciting and unexpected announcements. For Crystal loyalists, sailing with Crystal River Cruises is a no-brainer and no doubt the line hopes that will work in reverse, as legions of river cruisers try ocean cruising for the first time. The line's entry into service hadn't yet begun at press time, but we're optimistic about what Crystal has to offer river cruisers.
The Crystal river cruise fleet debuted in 2016 with the extensively refurbished Mozart. A repurposed ship that originally sailed for German-operator Peter Deilmann, Crystal made substantial changes to the vessel that brought her up to the line's high standards of decor and quality. In 2017, the line will begin adding its first purpose-built ships: Crystal Bach, Crystal Mahler, Crystal Ravel, and Crystal Debussey.