I recently had the opportunity to experience a Crystal River Cruise on the Crystal Mahler doing a 7 night Danube cruise roundtrip from Vienna. The inaugural sailing was in the late fall of 2017 so the ship was in excellent condition. The guest capacity is 106 with a total crew of 68 which is very good ratio. Our Crystal River Cruise, like a Crystal Cruise, was all-inclusive.
The categories S5 & S4, Petite Suite are 188 sq. ft. but were plenty big enough as you don’t really spend much time in the stateroom. The categories S3, S2 & S1, Deluxe Suites are 253 sq. ft. All S category staterooms all have a panoramic window that makes into a Juliette balcony. The category CP, Crystal Penthouse is 506 sq. ft. and the CS, Crystal Suite is 759 sq. ft. These suites have suite wide panoramic balcony-windows.
When we arrived at the Crystal Mahler, we were greeted by the staff and escorted to the Palm Court Lounge where we were offered a drink. Shortly one of the staff came and did the check-in and afterwards a butler escorted us to our stateroom. Everything was so seamless. Our Butler and stateroom Attendant both came by shortly
Our stateroom (category S4) was beautifully appointed. We had a lovely walk-in closet that contained a safe, 3 drawers, plenty of hangers as well as 2 terry towel robe and 2 cotton robe and 2 pairs of slippers. There was a vanity with a chair as well as a comfortable chair and our queen bed faced the window. Our amenities included a wall mounted TV, bedside table with a convenient iPad for us to use on the cruise and an Inspresso coffee machine & a fully stocked bar and a bottle of red & white wine as well as a sparkling wine. There was also an adjustable height/extendable coffee/dining table. The washroom was quiet large with 2 sinks, toilet and a walk-in shower that had a rainforest shower head as well as a hand held showerhead. The toiletry amenities were of high quality and larger than what most cruise lines offer.
On deck 2 which is the lowest guest deck is the reception area and also a set up for coffee, tea and pastries which is available 24 hours a day. The Waterside restaurant is also located on this deck. A breakfast & lunch buffet are served in this location and in the evening an al ‘a carte menu is served. Each night there was the classic steak and chicken dinner available and then the rest of the menu changed daily with an assortment that changed each evening but always contained a fish dinner as other regional fares to choose from. Service was excellent.
On deck 3 there was a bistro which served a late risers breakfast from a menu, a limited buffet luncheon and dinner by reservations only. The dinner menu was a tapas and our waiter suggested that we order everything as it is a shared meal. My husband was so taken by how well everything was prepared and presented that he complimented the chef.
Deck 3 also contained the Palm Court lounge where nightly entertainment and special daytime activities took place. There is also a small jet pool at the aft of the ship with some lounge chairs and change rooms with a fridge stocked with bottled water and towels.
Up on Deck 4 there is a small bar that recedes into the boat when goes under low bridges, deck & lounge chairs & couches and a sun roof.
A real plus is that there is an elevator that goes only on the 2nd & 3rd floor, a small spa and exercise room.
Our Cruise Director Neal was a wonderful entertainer and knew everyone by name. Entertainment ranged from sing-alongs to an Operatic Tenor, Karaoke, Liar’s Club, a tribute to the Sound of Music, and The (Not So) Newly Wed Game. One afternoon we had a strudel demonstration put on by the head pastry chef and on the afternoon that we were in Bratislava, The Pressburger Duo played a selection of classical music and a also did a Musical Potpourri featuring unique traditional Slovakian instruments.
There is a wide range of complimentary shore excursions, but you can also purchase private excursions. We went on only the complimentary excursion and each one ran perfectly. On several of the excursions our Crystal River Cruise included additional little surprises. In Budapest when we did the Beautiful Budapest tour when we were up at the Fisherman’s Bastion they took us up the tallest of the Bastions were there was a champagne cocktail reception and 3 couples who came and danced a local folklore dance. In Bratislava we did a tour to a that included a beer tasting at a local pub were we got to sample 3 beers and each of us also received a homemade pretzel. In Krems our tour of the Old Town also included a workshop at a family run Confectioners. The demonstration was very well done and we got to sample chocolate from the most bitter down to the sweetest, as well as sample 2 different chocolate candies and a piece of their chocolate cream cake. Also included was your choice of beverages. Our evening excursion in Krems took us to a 400 year old Monastery were upon arriving there was a champagne reception and then a most wonderful concert by crossover classical violin master Barbara Helfgott. This was a Crystal River Cruise Signature Event that was beyond belief.
I have been on over 30 cruises, all on Mass Market Cruise Lines, but I must say that this was a very pleasant way to travel and see a part of Europe that the major cruise lines cannot take you to.
Cruise Review & Photos provided by
Independent Advisor with New Wave Travel
A division of Vision Travel, a Direct Travel Company