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Crystal river cruises review
Sail the Rhine and Danube, wandering through bucket list European cities.
Crystal’s river cruises provide classic luxury voyages through countries like Germany, Austria, Holland, Switzerland and beyond. Its themed itineraries can deliver delicious insight into local wines, blossoms, music, dancing and other niche cultural topics. Explore each port at your leisure or take advantage of Crystal’s complimentary shore excursions, which including walking, hiking and biking tours.
While fare is pricier up front than other mid-tier cruise lines, if you book with a buddy you’ll get maximum bang for your buck — and when you factor in complimentary alcohol, specialty dining and Wi-Fi, Crystal’s river cruises ultimately deliver great value.
Amy Stoltenberg is a staff writer covering all things travel, shopping and lifestyle. After earning a BA at Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked as technical designer in corporate fashion before opting for a career with unlimited travel time. When her laptop's closed, you can find her wandering around Los Angeles looking for hole-in-the-wall eateries and plotting her way to all 50 states (she's currently at 28).
Crystal’s river cruises offer a total luxury experience en route to romantic, world-class European destinations. But if you’re hoping for a younger crowd or cheaper fare up front, it’s worth comparing other options.
On February 18, 2021, Crystal announced that all staff and passengers will be required to show proof of a vaccination before boarding. The full vaccination must be complete at least 14 days before departure. In addition, staff and passengers will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to embarkation.
You can learn more about Crystal’s response to the COVID-10 pandemic on its advisory page. Currently, it has cancelled all river cruises through May 2021, and all ocean voyages through June 2021. It expects vaccinations to be available by the time cruising resumes.
Where do Crystal’s river cruises depart from?
Crystal doesn’t offer any river cruises departing from the US, as all of its itineraries sail through Europe. Here’s where you can set sail:
Crystal River Cruises currently sails from: Amsterdam, Basel, Budapest, Regensburg, Strasbourg, Vienna
Crystal river cruises destinations
River cruising is an excellent — and efficient — way to tick multiple famous European cities off your list in only one trip. With itineraries ranging from seven nights to as many as 25, stroll romantic cobblestone streets and get lost in ancient history in these culturally significant ports:
Here’s where it sails to: Europe
What do you wear on a Crystal river cruise?
During the day, Crystal’s river cruise dress code is active resort wear — basically, anything you’d wear to a typical hotel or bed and breakfast on vacation. However, swimsuits, swimsuit cover-ups, baseball hats and denim cutoffs are not appropriate in the dining rooms. As there isn’t a pool on deck, this rule isn’t as inconvenient as it might be on an ocean cruise.
The good news for more casual dressers is that there aren’t any black tie optional nights where fellow cruises might be dressed to the nines. Instead, after 6 p.m. guests are asked to wear “Crystal Casual” attire. Here’s what that means:
If you’re sailing during the winter months, don’t forget to pack wraps, evening coats, gloves, scarves, hats and any other cold-weather attire.
Why you should — or shouldn’t — take a Crystal river cruise
Crystal’s river cruises are luxurious and truly all-included. There’s no doubt you’ll feel pampered with farm-to-table dining, 24-hour complimentary butler service and thoughtfully curated events at distinctive ports alongside some of Europe’s most famous rivers.
Still, it can be pricey upfront. And folks who don’t plan on drinking alcohol or using Wi-Fi might not think the splurge worth it.
Here’s some pros and cons to consider before booking a Crystal river cruise:
It’s truly all-included — gratuities, alcoholic drinks, shore excursions, 24-hours butler service and Wi-Fi are complimentary.
Every suite has an ocean view and king-size bed — most suites have a private balcony.
Epicurean experiences include reservations at Michelin-starred restaurants on shore.
Dress code may be too strict for some.
Cruises are more expensive than mid-tier lines.
Fewer onboard activities than more energetic lines like Carnival or Royal Caribbean.
Nightlife onboard may be lacking.
Limited itineraries to choose from, as it only sails through Europe.
The other passengers on your Crystal river cruise will mostly be age 50+. If you’re hoping for a younger crowd, it’s worth considering U by Uniworld, which curates river cruises specifically for Millennials.
How much do Crystal river cruises cost?
Of course, fares vary depending on the time of year in which you sail, the itinerary you choose, and the type of suite you book. But we know that ballpark estimates can be helpful when you’re comparing cruises. So here’s an idea of what you might pay for a seven-night Crystal European river cruise from Amsterdam to Basel in November 2021:
Fare — per person
$2,799 to $2,949
$3,449 to $4,149
But that’s simply the sticker price. Here’s how to get a deal on your Crystal river cruise to get an even lower fare:
Book early. It always offers early bird savings if you book far enough in advance.
Book quickly. You can generally save up to $1,000 by booking and paying directly on Crystal’s site, instead of requesting a quote and booking through an agent.
Book with a buddy. Crystal’s two-for-one deals can save you thousands.
Frequently asked questions
Crystal Cruises — which offers both river and ocean sailings — is owned by Genting Hong Kong. It also owns Star Cruises, Asia’s largest cruise line.
US dollars and Euros are both accepted on Crystal’s European river cruises. However, at port stops it’s advisable to keep some local currency on hand in case you visit a retailer or restaurant that only accepts cash. Crystal will provide information about local European currencies before departure.
No, your Crystal river cruises fare doesn’t cover the cost of plane tickets to and from the port. If you’re looking for a luxury cruise line that provides complimentary flights each way, consider Oceania Cruises.
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