Crystal Cruises to Have Largest River Vessel
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Crystal Mozart Rendering

Regular cruisers are always seeking something different for their next adventure and one sector of the industry that has in recent years been growing in popularity is river cruising.

More and more seafaring cruise lines including Crystal Cruises have been looking into this lucrative niche. Crystal is known to cater to passengers seeking ultra-luxury. They have gathered many awards for their fine service such as being voted by Travel + Leisure readers for 20 consecutive years as the “World’s Best Large Ship Cruise Line” and as Conde Nast Traveller’s Reader Choice Awards for the past 22 years as the “World’s Best Cruise Ship”.

Crystal recently made headlines with the announcement that they were extending their signature quality to the rivers of Europe. Two new river cruise ships sailing under the name of Crystal River Cruises were due to set sail in March 2017.

News in the cruise industry can change quickly and the CEO Edie Rodriguez made it known that the company had a change of plans. They will launch three more luxury river vessels than previously announced; now totaling five in all. Crystal believe this expansion will pay off, making them serious players in the river sector. The new river cruise line will now commence earlier than planned and begin sailing in 2016.

Crystal River Vessel

One of the ships scheduled to embark on July 13, 2016 along the Danube River is the former MS Mozart. This vessel was built in 1987 and is scheduled to be the largest river cruise ship on European waters, holding more than 160 passengers and measuring 75.1 feet wide. She is presently going through an extensive dry dock refurbishment and will be known as “Crystal Mozart”.

Crystal Mozart cabins all have window views and the smallest suites have a spacious 203 square feet. The deluxe suites follow at 215 square feet; whilst 322 square feet is the size of the penthouse suite. The two-bedroom Crystal Suites are the largest on any river ship measuring a massive 860 square feet. Several venues are available for dining and there is a wraparound promenade. Everything for a luxurious stay is available including a spa, salon and fitness center, an indoor pool and library.

Crystal River Cruises Suite

“Once the transformation of Crystal Mozart is completed, it will truly be the crown jewel of the European rivers” stated Edie Rodriguez.

The remaining four vessels are being built at the German shipyard, Lloyd Werft and each vessel is appropriately being named as “Crystal Bach“,“Crystal Debussy“, “Crystal Mahler“ and the “Crystal Ravel”. Their designs will be along the lines of luxurious yachts and feature the ‘best of the best’ in amenities.

Cabins will boast walk in wardrobes and king sized beds. Debuting in June and August 2017, all of the ships cabins will be suites with the smallest cabins measuring a spacious 220 square feet. The next sizes measure in at 250 square feet (deluxe suite), 500 square feet (penthouse) and 750 square feet (the two-bedroom Crystal Suite). Tentative sailing schedules will offer the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers for two of these new vessels. Both will hold 110 passengers.

The other two are more intimate with an 84 passenger capacity. One of the smaller vessels will follow the Garonne and Dordogne rivers route, whilst the other will sail on the river Seine.

All of the new vessels will feature “spacious public areas” including the Palm Court with a dance floor and glass domed roof. There will also be fitness center, spa, and library. Sporting equipment will be provided for intensive activities such as biking around the countryside or kayaking along the tributaries on exciting excursions, known as “Crystal Adventures”.

The cruise line also plans on including overnight stays which will allow passengers a chance to enjoy the essence of the ship’s destinations after dark.

Crystal River Cruises promises that no matter which of the itineraries are chosen, the passenger will be presented with many scenic stopovers along the way. Bookings for the 2016/17 season on any of the new vessels will begin on the 30th of November.

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Crystal Cruises Latest Outdoor Venture
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crystal symphony

A new project costing 11 million pounds is currently being worked on at Crystal Cruises onboard their ship Symphony. This project, part of their latest renovation, is an enormous outdoor fitness garden that is due to have nothing short of state-of-the-art exercise facilities.

The equipment will be supplied by Technogym’s cardio line, ARTIS, known as the best available in the industry for cardio and strengthening exercises. Exercise will never be as enjoyable when utilising the interface programming system in the form of a tablet, giving participants the chance to connect to music, data, workout-tracking or even television.

This garden will be positioned in the open areas on Deck 7 and Deck 8 as well as Deck 12 aft. There will also be a ‘Movement Journey’ that will evaluate the passenger’s fitness level and train them on how to make the best use of the equipment.

The ship’s 360-degree promenade on Deck 7 offers several open-air fitness options including their ‘Walk on Water and Nordic Walking’ programs.

walk on water program

Crystal Symphony was equally innovative when she first set sail in 1995 and refitted in 2006. The ship is known for their roomy cabins with all outside cabins offering 202 square feet and large deluxe cabins with verandas offering an amazingly large 246 square feet. Suites are a massive 982 square feet and offer features such as separate lounge and dining room.

All of the 461 cabins onboard the Symphony contain a luxurious queen sized bed as well as flat-screen television, DVD player  and a minibar with complimentary drinks and snacks. In addition, there is a spacious bathroom with terrycloth bathrobes, two sinks and a bathtub/shower combination.

With four restaurants in total guests can indulge in fine international cuisine prepared by their talented team of chefs. ‘The Lido’ is a buffet with a breakfast bar in the mornings. ‘The Trident Bar & Grill’ by the poolside offers casual fare including burgers, the Asian fusion restaurant, the Silk Road which is run by celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa and the Italian restaurant Prego which specialises in dishes from North Italy.

symphony lido cafe

You can also get a bite to eat at the café, ‘The Bistro’ for pastries or the ‘Palm Court’ for afternoon tea and canapés.

The service is always impeccable and Crystal Symphony’s enrichment programs really do excel. Obtain some knowledge in art, history, French, music, piano playing and even wine tasting.

Lighter fun activities include a trivia quiz, Scrabble, mah-jongg, bingo, and daily movies in the ship’s cinema. There is also ‘Luxe’, the ship’s nightclub as well as a large casino with plenty of gambling games to test your luck.

Crystal cruises believe that cardio exercise, resistance training and stretching are needed to remain in shape whilst on your cruise holiday. Exercise tends to be at the bottom of the priority list, but it’s nice to know that Crystal can offer their guests something a little different with these latest innovations.

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A look at some upcoming Theme Cruises
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upcoming themed cruises

One way the cruise lines try to entice new passengers onboard is to have their marketing experts come up with a theme cruise.These are targeted towards specific interests and tend to be more enhanced than the enrichment programs found on many ships and can range from stamp collecting to football to theatre and music. Many times experts in these topics will be on board and the theme can continue even when on shore in a port of call.

Check out the examples below to see what’s on offer.

Culinary & Wine Delights of Spain

Get to know some of the best wines imaginable from Spain with this special themed cruise that Windstar Cruises has drawn up. The cruise will be departing on November 15th of this year. This is part of their culinary themed cruises that have been very successful for them.

The cruise aboard the Wind Surf for eight days out of Barcelona will be calling at six ports in Spain at locations such as Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, and Cartagena before finishing off in Lisbon. Hosting is by famous wine experts and Spanish wine importers Stephen Metzler and Almudena de Llaguno, there are over 40 activities available on the ship with a Spanish theme. Everything from lectures to special wine dinners to excursions are planned as well as taking tourists to see unique and interesting sights.

Danube River Adventure Marathon

AmaWaterways has scheduled the Danube River four country tour of walking, running or biking aboard their AmaDolce sailing on the 28th of April of next year. This once in a lifetime opportunity takes you on a heart-pounding journey through Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and Austria.

Experience the sights and sounds along the way that have inspired those creators of classical art and music. The 7-day sailing begins in Budapest and ends in Germany. Besides the large amount of events planned, one can still enjoy the peace and tranquility of cruising along the river. The cruise visits both big cities and hidden villages.

amawaterways cycling

The Ghost Hunter’s Cruise

For those with a flair for the supernatural, this 7-day cruise is the right one to pick. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Gem is heading out to areas rumoured to be haunted in New England and Canada. The cruise is hosted by professional paranormal experts and America’s Syfy Channel personalities Barry Fitzgerald and Karl Pfeiffer as well as Medium Sarah Lemos.

The hosts will take passengers on tours through spooky locations as well as holding seminars on ghost hunting and workshops of the tools they use to find mysterious apparitions. The cruise will take place on September 20th of this year and departs from and returns to New York City.

Harry James Orchestra Ballroom Dance Cruise

Harry James was one of the most successful bandleaders in the days of the big bands in the 1940s working with legends such as Frank Sinatra. He got his start as an expert trumpeter in other bands such as the Benny Goodman band before deciding to go on his own in 1939.

Crystal Symphony

James wrote songs for hit movies such as “Youth on Parade” and recorded an endless amount of hits. Audiences can still enjoy his songs aboard Crystal Cruise’s Crystal Symphony and dance the night away. October 5th of this year is the day to mark when the ship departs from Lisbon on a transatlantic crossing to the Turks Caicos Islands and finally Miami for a ten-day musical journey.

Ireland Knitting Cruise

Choose a 14 day excursion leaving from Rotterdam and hit the British Isles, Ireland and Norwegian Fjords and knit. Knitting classes are available for both novices and experts through the cooperation of expert Chris Bylsma. These classes are mostly focused on the theme of Irish Cables and aim to build skills in everyone.

The classes even extend to the ports, where one can see rare knitting materials, as well as tours of factories and special demonstrations. Learn the history and popularity of the ancient art of knitting. The sailing is only available on the 16th of August sailing aboard Holland America’s Rotterdam.

There are hundreds of theme cruises during the course of the year and they are open for bookings on nearly every major cruise line.Take advantage of these upcoming five cruises or one of the others that have a theme tailor made for you.

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Crystal Serenity to be Renovated
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Crystal Cruises have recently announced their plans for an 11 million pound redesign of the award winning Crystal Serenity in November of this year. Crystal Serenity was constructed in 2003 and can hold just over 1000 passengers and 655 crew members. Crystal Serenity’s Extreme Makeover is in line with the Extreme Makeover of its other ship, Crystal Symphony which has also recently taken place.

Crystal Serenity

Crystal Cruises offer luxury on a larger scale with its reasonably big ships. They aim to offer the levels of luxury that are offered on board smaller cruise lines like Seabourn Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Silversea Cruises, whilst having larger ships. Both Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony have very popular Italian and Japanese speciality restaurants on board which passengers love.

The company was one of the first to introduce the concept of boutique restaurants at sea, as well as many other innovations and features that passengers have now come to expect. Crystal Cruises also boast one of the highest passenger-to-staff and passenger-to-space ratios at sea, which is something passengers consistently comment on.

crystal passenger to staff

The ship will remain in dry dock in Spain for 13 days and will be worked upon by some 500+ contractor crew and further Crystal crew. The ship will be entirely deep cleaned, exteriors and interiors will be repainted, new carpets will be laid and energy-saving LED lighting will be added, among many other new features.

Crystal Cruises is planning to renovate the ship’s Crystal Penthouses (which are the lines coveted top accommodations) and Lido Deck. This includes the popular Trident Grill which has both indoor and outdoor space, Crystal Serenity’s Lido café and popular Tastes Restaurant.

Crystal Serenity Trident Grill

The Lido Deck will be inspired by Santa Barbara’s casual yet cultured fell and will feature natural stone and wrought iron design features set off with blue tones. More sofa seating will be offered and there will be an open kitchen and a cocktail bar, which is sure to be popular with passengers. There will also be four ‘living walls’ and additional green features surrounding the Trident Lounge to add a resort feel to this area of the ship.

The four Crystal Penthouses on board are being redesigned with clean lines, classic simplicity and refined elegance in a dramatic ultra-contemporary update. The 1,345 square-feet staterooms will be completely ripped out and reconfigured. The dining area will be moved near to the floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing passengers to dine with beautiful views out to sea.

Crystal Serenity Penthouse

A shower will be added to the guest bathroom which means the space can also function as a second bedroom – ideal for families and couples or friends travelling together. The Penthouses also feature spacious living rooms, private entrances, three flat screen TVS, iPod docking stations, a den area and luxurious butler service.

There are planned environmentally friendly green updates proposed throughout the ship within maintenance, cleaning, mechanical and environmental updates.

Images Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

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