Q – Your latest update caught us by surprise. You rate Crystal # 1 even though none of their boats have yet launched. We had pretty much decided on a Scenic sailing next summer on an itinerary in France. Now we are wondering if it might pay to wait. We’re in our mid-fifties, quite active, and we do not care for mass market anything. There is no particular need to travel in 2016. Should we wait?
A – Wait if you want to sail the best of the available river boat products. But you might try Scenic in France and then look at doing Crystal in 2017 or 2018 in central Europe.
Our top rating for Crystal is provisional and is based on what we currently know about building and service plans for their new boats as well as the company behind it. Crystal is seeking to extend the reputation of its cruise line to become the top-rated luxury travel plan in the world. They are devoting billions to that goal and we have ample reason to believe that they will be the best at what they do on Europe’s rivers.
Our Provisional Rating is out now because Crystal’s books are open and they will have a wonderful boat, the Mozart, sailing this coming year on the Danube. This is their only purchase of an existing boat – the four new-builds will begin arriving in 2017. Top suites on these sailings are already heavily booked by past Crystal Cruises guests.
What we know about Crystal’s river boats is that they will have the highest staff to guest ratio in the industry, they will spend the most on food, they will have the largest cabins (the smallest category will be 220 sq. ft.) and they will have a top-tier lecture program and unique in-port experiences including company owned deluxe motor coaches. Our current rating is based on those facts, among others. We will be revising our ratings once our Inspection team has experienced the product but it is entirely possible that our ratings will be revised upward at that time given what we now know.