Crystal River Cruises, a romantic way to journey

Walter Littlejohn

RIVER cruising is one of the hottest trends in the cruise industry at the moment, according to the latest Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook Report by Cruise Lines International Association. Nearly four out of five travel agents (79 per cent) have stated that a river cruise is a great way to introduce “new to cruise” travellers to cruising.

We spoke to the vice-president and managing director of Crystal River Cruises, Walter Littlejohn, for more insight into the river cruising trend.

“While Crystal River Cruises began because of the overwhelming demand from existing ocean guests, we are delighted that approximately 50 per cent of our river guests are new to Crystal. The standard of luxury and excellence is consistent within the Crystal brand, but the Crystal River Cruises experience is its own distinct vacation that appeals to a specific audience.”

River cruises are ideal for clients looking for new or different experiences, smaller ships, destination immersion and a relaxed way to see Europe. As a result, Europe is seeing an uptick in popularity.

According to Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook Report by Cruise Lines International Association, river cruises in Europe have seen a 53 per cent year-over-year growth to eastern waterways (Rhine, Moselle, Danube, Elbe) and a 30 per cent growth to western channels (Soane, Seine, Loire) as well as a 24 per cent growth to the south (Douro, Rhone, Dordogne, Garonne, Po).

“All of our ships, itineraries and Crystal Collection of experiences are intimate and perfect for a romantic getaway,” says Littlejohn. “Our ‘Romantic Rhine’ voyages on Crystal Bach offer an ideal retreat for couples to explore the cobbled streets of Amsterdam, be mesmerised by the storybook village of Cochem and get swept away in the awe-inspiring views of the Rhine Gorge.

“We can arrange a private cooking class in port or an unforgettable dinner for two under the stars – anything that will make a couple’s trip extra special,” he says.

“Crystal River Cruises unquestionably will appeal to your clients looking for luxury on the romantic waterways of Europe. The line, however, appeals to a wide range of other travellers as well,” the line’s vice-president and managing director, tells TTN. Crystal River Cruises operates five identical ships: Crystal Mozart, Crystal Bach, Crystal Ravel, Crystal Debussy and Crystal Mahler.

“The heart of the Crystal River experience, like all Crystal experiences, is the genuine warmth and personalised service from the best crew in the industry. Crystal River ships boast the highest service ratios in river cruising, with nearly twice the number of crew than guests and with personal butler service in every suite.

“The ships collectively make their mark as the most luxurious ships in European river cruising. Our fleet of five river ships was designed to anticipate the wishes and conveniences that today’s travellers seek. Every suite features king-size beds, panoramic balcony windows, walk-in closets and dual vanities in the bathrooms in most categories, ETRO robes and slippers, and wall-mounted flat-screen HD TVs.

“Crystal also sets the bar for Michelin-level, farm-to-table cuisine in multiple open-seating eateries. Menus are designed to reflect the classic cuisine of the regions explored – with extraordinary grape beverage lists complementing the selections – as well as Crystal’s own take on modern cuisine.”

In 2019, Crystal River Cruises is offering new voyages along the Moselle River, sailing roundtrip from Amsterdam, with five new ports of call.

“We’ve also added more seven-day cruises on the Rhine River between Amsterdam and Basel. These itineraries can be combined with a stay at a five-star hotel in Amsterdam or Paris,” he suggests to readers.