Game changer? Launching in March 2017, Crystal‘s two new river cruisers will feature 68 suites measuring 250 square feet and two Penthouse Suites measuring 500 square feet. The latter are larger than Scenic Jasper’s 475-square-foot Royal Panorama Suites.
The 250-square-foot guest suites will feature walk-in wardrobes, American king size beds and bathrooms with double vanities. The two 500 square-foot Penthouse Suites will feature what Crystal says are “added comforts and conveniences.” Public areas will include the Palm Court with a dance floor and glass-domed roof as well as a well-appointed fitness center and spa.
Billed as “luxury river yachts,” Crystal’s new vessels will be built by German shipyard Lloyd Werft and will boast yacht-like designs with greater space-to-guest ratio than any other river cruise ship, according to a Crystal press release. The vessels will include Crystal’s signature all-inclusive six-star service, plus what Crystal says is a fresh approach to the traditional river itineraries and experiences.
Itineraries, fares and bookings for Crystal River Cruises will be available beginning December 1, 2015.
More from Crystal’s press release.
“We continue to listen to what our guests and the luxury traveler want, and river cruises are what they’ve been telling us they want for some time – it’s a natural extension of the exceptional ocean cruise Crystal has offered for the past 25 years,” says Crystal President and CEO Edie Rodriguez. “But more importantly, they want to experience river cruises on a luxury Crystal vessel, and their desires will be fulfilled on our luxury Crystal river yachts.”
Taking advantage of its large suites to avoid multiple packing and unpacking with pre and post hotel stays as it is common with other river operators, Crystal’s new river vessels will deploy itineraries that maximize time in port for meaningful shore-side excursions and experiences. [Editor’s note: We’re not quite sure which river operators Crystal is referring to. Tauck uses pre- and post-hotel stays, as does AmaWaterways, but many operators begin their itineraries on the vessel.]
This will afford Crystal guests virtually front-row access to some of Europe’s most charming cities and always guarantee the award-winning Crystal service and dining experiences without the hassle and uncertainties of local hotel services and standards. Crystal’s itineraries will also intentionally deviate from traditional river cruise routes to avoid congestion of other vessels in port.
Crystal will dedicate a portion of each cruise to sailing along some of the most picturesque rivers in central Europe – including destinations such as France, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria – during daytime hours, allowing travelers to relish the extraordinary scenery. This timing also affords guests the opportunity to enjoy the nightlife in select destinations with port overnights, which will often present inclusive culinary experiences ashore at Michelin-starred restaurants and local eateries, and exclusive evening events and entertainment.
“The beauty of river cruising is not only that travelers enjoy close-up access to more fascinating inland locales, but also that the rivers themselves are coveted destinations that shouldn’t be overlooked,” says Rodriguez. “Our guests will have the opportunity to revel in the unique environment that sets river cruising apart from other travel experiences.”
During days spent in port, Crystal River Cruises will offer guests a bevy of the immersive Crystal Adventures as well as launch its newest shore-side program called Active Exploration Adventures. Tailored for guests wanting a high-intensity shore-side activity, Crystal is offering a complimentary active excursion for guests to explore the splendid European landscapes while staying fit on their vacation.
Travelers may also choose to create their own active adventures using the many bicycles (electric or manual), segways and other active gear available on the ship for independent exploration.
A luxury yacht tender will also be available for private yachting experiences that take guests to even more secluded areas within the destinations.
River Cruise Advisor’s Ralph Grizzle will catch up with Rodriguez next week on Crystal Symphony.