With tender boats, a sophisticated spa and wellness area, and a greater variety of public spaces, some of the newly released details of Crystal Cruises’ first river cruise ship, the Crystal Mozart, break new ground in the design of river cruise vessels.
River lines have been working for years to improve and maximize the use of the limited space onboard their ships, and it appears Crystal has managed to maximize that space even further, albeit on one of the larger vessels sailing Europe’s rivers.
Among some of the highlights of the Mozart, the details of which were revealed last week, will be a pop-up bar area on the top deck, complete with a retractable movie screen for evening screenings outside. There will also be a rooftop garden on the top deck.
“I am excited to see Crystal is putting some new features onboard that have not really been seen on any other river cruise ship,” said Pete Larson, a river cruise specialist and owner of RiverCruiseGuru.com.
He pointed to the retractable bar and movie screen on the top deck as the feature with which he was “most impressed.”
“The top deck of river cruise ships doesn’t see much action in the evenings, aside from some people taking a stroll after dinner,” he said. “This will likely attract many more people to the outdoors during nice weather.”
The Mozart is a former Peter Deilmann vessel that was acquired by Crystal last year. The company has since undertaken an extensive redesign of the 158-passenger ship, which is scheduled to launch on July 13 on the Danube River.
The interiors are being designed by London’s AD Associates and Toronto’s II by IV Design in a palette of cream, gray and white, accented by deep blue, green and vibrant prints. All suites will feature king-size beds; Nespresso machines; 40-inch, flat-screen televisions; and marble bathrooms.
The accommodations will include 219-square-foot window suites and deluxe suites with a French balcony; 330-square-foot penthouse suites; and a two-bedroom Crystal Suite at 883 square feet. Every cabin will include butler service.
Two custom tender boats will be made available so that passengers can experience a more intimate exploration of Europe’s waterways; a common feature on exotic rivers but not in Europe.
River cruise ships typically have one or two dining and entertainment venues, limited by the smaller dimensions of the vessels, but the Mozart will have more than that.
Waterside is the main dining room with indoor and outdoor spaces. Blue, a casual indoor dining venue, will be located at the aft of the vessel.
The ship will also offer Bistro Mozart, which will serve light bites; Pantry, a self-service wine and beverage bar; and two Crystal mainstays: the Palm Court, the main hub for dancing and live entertainment, and the Vintage Room, an intimate dining room that can seat a dozen guests for an exclusive winemaker’s dinner.
The Mozart will also feature well-equipped fitness, spa and salon facilities within the Crystal Life Spa, which will be operated and staffed by Crystal’s own trained crew, a first for the company. This area will house an indoor pool, two treatment rooms and separate sauna and steam rooms for men and women.
Despite all the added bells and whistles, Don Baasch, a river cruise specialist and owner of American Canyon, Calif.-based LastCallCruises, said that Crystal’s ambitious approach won’t necessarily put additional pressure on competitors to trick out their ships to match.
“River cruise bookings are very itinerary-driven, not ship-inspired,” Baasch said.
He added that regardless of which river cruise line passengers end up sailing, the feedback is often very positive, and cruisers tend to stick with the initial company they sailed with, thus making it unlikely that Crystal would steal customers from other river lines that perhaps don’t have vessels with five different dining venues.
Instead, he said, Crystal will likely fill its river ships with its ocean cruise passengers who are looking for more of the same kinds of luxury experiences on Europe’s inland waterways.
While the Mozart is Crystal’s initial foray into river cruising, the company is unveiling four new river vessels next year: the 110-passenger Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler and the 84-passenger Crystal Ravel and Crystal Debussy.