Disappointed - Experience did not live up to it's marketing by johng75370Sail Date: / Traveled As: Couple
Operational: Our whole itinerary was changed 4 days before leaving, changing from the Rhine to the Moselle. Changes were very poorly communicated, so we headed off "into the unknown" thanks to Crystal. The Moselle was full of water, but because of the hot weather there was a good amount of algae/green water, but not a major issue. The only serious issue was with the first of a three night stop in Trier, when the ship docked (literally) right across from a waste treatment plant, in an industrial area. The next day after some passengers threatened to leave, and many comments to the captain, the ship relocated to a lovely area close to town. Without question we were very thankful that Crystal was able to relocate to the Moselle; in speaking with crew however we got the impression Crystal knew well ahead of when they informed us that this would be the real cruise - they seemed to hold back that info by a couple of weeks. It could be to try (up until the last minute) to make the original itinerary work, but we felt 4 days notice of these changes was very short. Communications from Crystal were very poor and incomplete. Service: Of course, very good. We had issues with them giving then awkwardly taking back "apology credits", but the overall service level was great. Taking away an apology after it's given is one of the most classless things we have seen, and even the reception person seemed uncomfortable having to do it (couldn't explain why, and we're talking 200 euros). Our only comparison point is Seabourn, and to be blunt we felt Seabourn was more thoughtful/caring/detailed; but that's ocean versus river perhaps. For example, we had only 64 people onboard, we were booked as a guarantee, yet no upgrades (we got assigned the worst cabin, haha). At earlier stops there were no cold towels and drinks waiting for us as we returned to the ship, yet the last couple stops that appeared (why not at all)? With all the changes and last minute notifications we would have expected a bit more of a "we're trying harder" attitude. Part of what we felt Crystal markets is the idea the river/ocean/yacht/plane, the service and experience is consistent. We had many experienced cruisers with Crystal (ocean cruisers) reassure us that the ocean experience would be much better, and not to judge Crystal based on this. Food: Of course, very good. Some misses, but overall just fantastic. Only pet peeve is they would present sparkling wines from Austria and Italy as "Champagne"; good wines yes, but having to ask for "French Champagne" just wrong. But overall great drinks selection. We had a great time, spent with wonderful people, in a beautiful environment where we were well catered to. Our perspective is from 20+ ocean cruises but first time river cruisers. We do not regret taking this trip - it was a great vacation with many good times. It just fell short in some ways; we're not hooked on Crystal the way we were hoping for. Will be a long time (given how many competitors they have) until we would try Crystal again.