This year, however, the low water levels from the resulting drought were still affecting the Danube and Rhine in the autumn months, which is very unusual. The cruise lines then had the difficult job of putting contingency plans in place, whilst praying for rainfall to enable them to stick to their original itinerary. My itinerary was changed, but I was still able to go and experience a lovely trip in the Netherlands aboard Crystal Debussy, one of Crystal's new river ships.
After a very slick check-in process, which is all done in your room (no wasting time in queues), I was given a quick run through how everything works, including the panoramic balcony window: at the push of a button the large window lowers to the level you want, giving a perfect view as you sail along.
Straight away I could see that Crystal have thought of everything to make your stay as comfortable as possible in this good sized stateroom, including a walk-in closet and a lovely bathroom with a large shower and plenty of storage space. You also have the use of a coffee machine and a fridge stocked with the drinks of your choice, and of course the butler is available for anything you may need during your stay.
The Bistro was great for a more relaxed dining experience during the day, and I really enjoyed the Waterside restaurant in the evening. We had such a variety of dishes to choose from, served by friendly staff who really couldn't do enough for you, and in only a few days I felt like I knew them all.
The excursions I'd picked were interesting and really enhanced by the guides Crystal had selected. On some of the trips we had a small group so we could hear and speak to the guide easily, but with larger groups we used the Quietvox system that's provided, which ensures that you are kept in the loop and don't miss anything.
I enjoyed the evenings in Palm Court after dinner catching up with fellow guests and talking about the day, enjoying the entertainment by the Crystal team and the local guest entertainers.
The Crystal river ships have a lovely sun deck with an assortment of seating to suit everyone, and although it was November and a bit chilly, I wrapped up and got myself cosy with the blankets and just watched the scenery go by. Although we were the only people there, a member of staff still came and checked if we would like a drink, reminding me how good they are and how spoilt I am.
One evening, our butler heard from the room attendant that we were retiring to our room early because we had decided to watch a movie. A little later there was a gentle knock at the door, and there he was with popcorn and other snacks to surprise us!
In short, I simply have to recommend Crystal; they are the very best in European river cruising.