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Crystal River Cruises review: Ravel's début on the Danube

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Having already been on a Crystal ocean cruise, I had high expectations for my first Crystal river cruise and I certainly was not disappointed. I joined Crystal Ravel's inaugural sailing in Nuremberg and was met with warm welcomes from all the staff on board and shown to my stateroom.

The accommodation is both stylish and well thought out; unlike other river ships I have been on, the bed faces a large floor-to-ceiling window that stretches the length of the room. Many people, including myself, had been concerned about the ship's lack of balconies, however Crystal have cleverly found a way around this through providing a retractable window to give a balcony feel to the room. This is the perfect way to relax in your room and watch the world pass by as you sail.

Crystal Ravel - Suite bedroom

One of Crystal's many strengths is their food. Whether it's breakfast in Waterside, a light lunch in the Bistro, or a three course dinner whilst watching the sunset, none of it will disappoint. The food is so good that I almost didn't want to go on excursions for fear of missing out. But this too would have been a mistake as our ports of call were some of the most picturesque I have visited. The excursion that really stood out for me was the e-bike tour through the Bavarian countryside where we cycled from Germany into Austria - a must do in my opinion.

Crystal River Cruises - Onboard cuisine

Ultimately, it is Crystal's service that makes them one of the most awarded cruise lines out there. The staff are highly trained but they are also friendly and approachable, and it is the little things that take Crystal's service that step higher. On my last day when I sadly had to leave the ship, the chef, who had learnt of my love of his cookies, hand-delivered some to me to take with me on my journey. A small gesture, but one that will stick with me.

Crystal River Cruises staff

Since their first river vessel was launched in 2016, Crystal have taken the river cruise industry by storm. With nearly 27 years of expertise in 5-star luxury on the oceans, Crystal have created a river version of the award-winning Crystal product, with distinctive differences from the competition. These include the highest crew-to-guest ratio in the industry, with twice as many crew members, all of whom are hand-picked Crystal employees, and solely dedicated to their own area of expertise. Crew include expert butlers, certified wine sommeliers, massage therapists, a team of three destination experts and a full time fitness director.

Crystal Ravel - Vista Deck

All vessels offer true flexible open-seating dining so that guests may dine where, when and with whom they choose - whether they arrive in the dining room at 7pm or 9pm, they will be given the same welcome, and furthermore there is 24-hour room service. Food is Michelin-inspired, farm-to-table cuisine with each dish prepared to order.

Crystal Ravel - Waterside restaurant

Accommodations are the largest in the river cruising industry, and each suite has private butler service. And finally, the extensive complimentary shore excursion programme, designed to cater to smaller groups, is built around six themed categories, and tours are operated by a fleet of Crystal luxury motor coaches that would normally hold 52 passengers but are outfitted to seat only 40.

Crystal Ravel - Vista Deck

Still having doubts? Why not see for yourself on one of the 6 or 7-day samplers this season...?

Meet the author

Georgia Starr is a former Operations Executive at Mundy Cruising

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