On location aboard Crystal Bach
Today’s issue of CW is coming to you courtesy of Crystal Cruises, aboard the Crystal Bach currently cruising Germany’s Rhine River. CRYSTAL Cruises has pulled out all stops to create its new river ships, with our voyage aboard Crystal Bach this week taking us from Mainz to Basel and then back to Frankfurt.
The Rhine itinerary sees us stop in Speyer, Kehl and Breisach before an extended stay in Basel, where the ship will dock for two nights to allow for exploration of the Black Forest & Switzerland.
CRYSTAL Cruises created its new European river cruise product as a result of feedback from members of its Crystal Society loyalty program wanting to experience river cruising after enjoying the company’s ocean ships - so it has been somewhat of a surprise to see how many pax so far have been “new to Crystal,” according to Walter Littlejohn, md of Crystal River Cruises. Littlejohn is cruising aboard
Crystal Bach on Germany’s Rhine River this week, and told CW about half of the line’s bookings are from customers who haven’t cruised on Crystal’s ocean vessels - indicating the potential to crosssell from river into ocean as they are introduced to the brand.
Crystal has been determined to emulate the luxury aspects of its ocean product with the European river operation.
“We don’t want to just ‘Crystallise’ existing river cruise offerings - we are building a new product from the ground up,” Littlejohn said.
“We don’t want to use the limitations imposed by operating a river ship to impede the experience in any way,” he added.
Crystal Bach ( pictured), which debuted in Aug 2017, is the same size as European river cruise ships operated by other brands, but carries significantly fewer passengers and many more staff than its competition.
The vessel carries 106 guests in 53 cabins, served by 68 staff including butlers for every suite.
Passenger accom is spread across two decks - in Littlejohn’s words “we don’t have any swanview cabins” - and every suite has a panoramic window which opens to provide an indoor-outdoor river experience.
There has also been a major investment behind the scenes, with the new Crystal ships utilising diesel-electric propulsion systems meaning there is minimal engine noise.
The galley is five times the size of kitchen facilities on competitor vessels, meaning Crystal can offer a full a la carte dining experience with all items cooked on demand.
Twenty-four hour room service is included, while the vessel also features a heated indoor pool with a “swim jet” - and a gymnasium and fitness instructor.
Currently the ships carry their own speedboats, used for some excursions, but in 2018 these will be relocated to specific locations on the river ready for deployment by any of the visiting vessels.
One of the key reasons for the change is that currently the speedboats impede the view from the rear of the ship, and with six in total across the fleet they can provide superior options in all of the suitable locations.
Littlejohn said another distinguishing feature of Crystal was the length of its season on the rivers of Europe, with the last cruise finishing around 03 Jan.
Crystal currently operates three river ships in Europe, with a further two to launch in 2018.