Crystal Cruises redeploys new river vessels away from France

The new river cruise arm of Crystal Cruises is delaying plans to deploy two new vessels on rivers in France.

Instead Crystal River Cruises is to increase its presence on the Danube, Main and Rhine, deploying four of its planned new build ‘river yachts’ in the region in 2017 and 2018.

The shift in focus means redesigning and enlarging the company’s two Paris-class river vessels – Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel – as Rhine-class boats, and redeploying them east in 2018.

Previously, Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel were to travel along the Seine, Rhone and Dordogne rivers in France from June and August 2017 respectively.

No mention was made of recent terrorist incidents in France and the extension of the country’s state of emergency for six months following the deadly truck attack in Nice earlier in July.

The luxury line, which draws a large proportion of passengers from the US, said the change away from France was based on passenger feedback “lauding the itineraries planned in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Amsterdam and Holland”.

As a result, “the company has elected to delay its entrance into the French river cruise market, choosing instead to prioritise its offerings in the German/Austrian region in order to meet travellers’ demand for those experiences”.

Chief executive and president Edie Rodriguez said: “Unlike an ocean-going ship that can accommodate a change in itinerary with short notice, a river ship operates within more confined parameters and is unable to re-route easily.

“We are listening carefully to what travellers are telling us and have concluded that the best way to anticipate, meet and surpass their expectations is by making this move earlier rather than later.”

The line is offering a series of compensation packages to people who have booked 2017 voyages on Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel including on board credits and future cruise credits worth up to $1,000.

No details were given of how many bookings the line has received for the sailings in France.

The new design places the vessels as part of the line’s 106-passenger Rhine-class series currently comprising Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler, which are due to enter service June 18 and August 29, 2017 respectively.

Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel are now due for maiden voyages in April 2018 and May 2018 respectively with detailed itineraries to be announced shortly, the company said.

They will be increased in size from 110 metres to 135 metres, the maximum size permissible on the Rhine, Main and Danube. The increased length allows for the addition of a swimming pool with a sliding glass roof and more large suites.

The move follows the recent launch of the line’s first luxury river cruiser, Crystal Mozart.


Crystal opens reservation books for river cruises

Crystal’s luxury ships will sail the Danube and Rhine rivers plus several waterways in France.

Crystal Cruises on Monday unveiled details of its five river cruise itineraries and opened bookings.

Inaugural voyages for the five vessels will be exclusively available for booking to members of Crystal Society, the line’s loyalty program, from Nov. 30 through Dec. 15, 2015.

The newly acquired Crystal Mozart, a former Peter Deilmann vessel, will sail its maiden voyage on the Danube River on July 13 after an extensive redesign. Crystal will reduce the number of suites and increase suite sizes, transforming a 203-passenger vessel into a 160-passenger one.

It will sail the 10-night “Danube’s Capital & Wachau Valley,” visiting Austria’s Wachau Valley as well as Dürnstein, Melk, Linz and Vienna in Austria; Passau, Germany; and Bratislava, Slovakia. It will also sail the 11-night “Countries of Eastern Danube” that will call in Vienna; Esztergorm, Kalocsa, Budapest, and Mohacs, Hungary; Vukovar, Croatia; Romania’s Iron Gates; Belgrade and Novi Sad, Serbia; and Bratislava, Slovakia. The Crystal Mozart will also sail several Christmas market and holiday cruises through Austria, Germany and Slovakia.

Additionally, Crystal has ordered the construction of four yacht-style river vessels at the Lloyd Werft shipyard in Germany — the 110-passenger Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler, and the 84-passenger Crystal Ravel and Crystal Debussy.

The Crystal Debussy will make its maiden voyage on the Seine River on June 4, 2017, after which it will sail five-, seven- and 10-night voyages along the Seine. The ship’s smaller size will allow it to dock near the Eiffel Tower and guests can extend their stay in Paris, according to Crystal.

The Crystal Bach will have it first departure on the Rhine and Moselle rivers on June 18, 2017, and will sail a 14-night itinerary with stops in Amsterdam and Antwerp, Netherlands; Basel, Switzerland; and Rudesheim, Nijmegen, Cologne, Cochem, Koblenz, Mainz, Speyer, Kehl, and Breisach, Germany. It will also sail a 10-night Christmas markets trip in the region.

The Crystal Ravel will sail the Garonne and Dordogne rivers in France’s Bordeaux region beginning Aug. 8, 2017. There will be a seven-night Bordeaux, the Wine Region & Beyond itinerary that will begin with two nights in Bordeaux, before cruising to Cadillac, Pauillac, Blaye and Libourne, France, before heading back to Bordeaux.

The Crystal Mahler will make its maiden voyage on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers on  Aug. 29, 2017, after which it will sail the 16-night “Grand Europe” itinerary, the longest offered by Crystal. It will include overnights in Budapest, Vienna, Passau and Amsterdam.