We just returned yesterday from a 10 night sailing on the Crystal Bach, and we had the time of our lives! From our embarkation with a Crystal 'Ambassador' welcoming us 'Home' to Claire, the Fitness Director checking us in with a glass of champagne, seamless registration and introduction to our cabin, to our final moments on the sailing, it was truly divine. Crystal goes above and beyond to ensure every request is not only met, but anticipated before you even have to ask. The service and attention to detail were both impeccable, as was the food, the beverage offerings, and every facet of the sailing.
Our cabin was BEAUTIFUL! We were worried before we sailed about the size of the cabin, but they are extremely well designed, with ample space for everything (and we packed a LOT). One benefit to odd-numbered cabins on this particular sailing, was that we were rarely blocked by another river boat and almost always had an open view of the water, or our port. However, I cannot say this would be the same on any other sailing...so keep that in mind.
We had absolute confidence in Captain Hans' leadership, and he ran a tight ship, while still being extremely personable and friendly with guests and encouraging his team to do the same. The entire Crew could not have been more professional, while also being engaging. They took the time to get to know each and every guest...bartenders and Palm Court staff, from our first cocktail knew our names, and specifically how we liked our libations. Dining and culinary staff made each and every meal a joy and a delicious delight. We were hesitant upon hearing that breakfast and lunch would be served buffet style in Waterside (Room Service and the Bistro had full service with limited, but delicious offerings, in addition to an all day spread that could easily suffice for a meal). However, the Chef went above and beyond in ensuring that it NEVER became repetitive - even the salad buffet offerings and desserts completely varied each and every day. For two people that hate buffets as a byproduct of having to dine at far too many of them at conferences in our professional lives, we were actually excited to see what was going to be offered each meal. It never became monotonous...not even remotely. The servers were outstanding, ensuring our wine and water glasses were never empty, and would bring you anything else desired, including coffee and tea service post-meal.
Our suite attendant, Diana, was like an incredible genie - she magically knew our schedule and somehow made our room perfectly spotless, whenever we left the room even for a few minutes. I swear - the digital room systems must have an alert that notifies attendants and your butler when you depart from your cabin, because even when we didn't select the 'make up room' toggle, it still happened.
Relative to excursions, Crystal is without peer. Each port offered several complimentary excursions, and many were once in a lifetime opportunities. In Strasbourg, they closed the Cathedral (stunning) for a private Organ recital/concert and tour, exclusively for our group. In another, we had a private concert with 4 ladies playing string instruments, in a stunningly lit castle, complete with champagne welcome. Yes, you heard me right - we had a private concert in a CASTLE. We paid for one all day, optional excursion to Colmar and the Alsation Wine Route. It was not to our groups standards (or Crystal's), and when we shared our disappointment, they immediately refunded the cost and apologized profusely. It was still a fun day, but had been misrepresented in the description and didn't hold a candle to the experience we could have had on the ship, beyond the fabulous morning in storybook Colmar, which was also offered as a complimentary activity.
The ship also has a gorgeous spa suite, with a remarkably talented massage therapist and aesthetician. I had the best massage I've ever had - and I've had countless, and my spouse said the same about her facial.
As for any negatives, there were only two. The first is that the gym is extremely small, albeit the equipment is in exceptional shape and offered full technical/digital capability with tv, music, news, etc (recumbent bike, another racing-style bike, ample free weights, exercise ball and rowing machine). The ceiling was also standard ship height, so if you wanted to do tricep raises or any other lifting, you had to do so sitting down on the weight bench or ball. However, Claire was available each morning for a scheduled exercise class, optional personal training if desired, and almost all days' excursions offered plenty of walking/cardio opportunity. There was also a gorgeous pool room (indoor) with a resistance pool, lounge chairs for relaxation, etc. I wanted to spend more time there, but there were simply too many other things to do! But the guests that did spend time in the pool or relaxation room, shared they enjoyed it immensely.
The other negative, not for us, but for others on the sailing, was that it was promoted both as a Holiday sailing along the Rhine, but also as a Christmas Market Cruise. With the departure date on December 23rd, almost all Christmas Markets close either on December 23rd, or certainly on the 25th - with the exception of Strasbourg and minimal other markets that converted to 'Winter Markets' (a scaled down version, with most booths closed down - such as in Heidelberg). However, my spouse and I flew in early and spent 4 days in Belgium and an extra night in Amsterdam, so we were able to get our Christmas Markets fix. But keep this in mind, as you select your sailing date if this is an important reason for your sailing.
On a positive note, the Crystal Bach Crew did an exceptional job making the Bach feel festive and joyful for both Christmas, New Year's Eve and Day. The New Year's Day Brunch was one for the record books - the best I've ever experienced and a glutton's heaven (freshly shucked oysters, caviar bar, poached cold-water lobster tail salad, crab cakes, made to order crab pasta, truffled this and that, incredible pork, beef and protein offerings, extensive dessert selections and more). New Year's Eve we had a phenomenal dinner, followed by champagne toast, passed hors d'oeurves, and headed up to the top deck for a 360 degree view of the most splendid fireworks display many of us had ever seen.
The guests on the Bach were just wonderful, and it was a much younger (and/or younger at heart) sailing than many of us had been expecting. A few families were traveling together for the Holiday break, and we made friendships that will last long beyond the sailing. We had ample romantic time to reconnect as a couple, but plenty of time to engage and get to meet amazing people from all over the globe. Most fellow guests were American, but there were others from the UK, Australia, Mexico and beyond.
This is well beyond a cabin review alone, but my point is, if you're considering a sailing on Crystal Bach, DO IT! It's truly one of the best decisions we've ever made and we will remember it fondly forever. We loved it so much, we already booked the Danube sailing for the same dates next December. Well done, Crystal Bach (and more importantly, her Crew)...VERY well done!
See above - but the short answer, is that our cabin was stunning, exceptionally designed aesthetically and offered ample storage, never feeling cramped (which we were worried about). We absolutely loved it, and appreciated the extra space in the room in lieu of a proper balcony, considering the weather would have made being out on a balcony prohibitive. When we wanted a balcony or outdoor experience, we lowered the full length window, and our entire room turned into a balcony!
We wouldn't change a thing about our room, or room selection...
Intimate boat with fun and informative tour guide and server. Each table offered phenomenal Dutch cheese, nuts and snacks, and we were offered wine, Heineken or non-alcoholic beverages. We loved it - it was a perfect kick-off to our sailing!View All 311 Canal Tour Reviews
This was one of our favorite excursions! Our tour guide, Ute, was brilliant, funny, engaging and we'll simply remember her for a lifetime. She provided an overview of the Cathedral, walking tour with history of Cologne with little-known facts, and took us to three distinct breweries. When the third was closed, we told her it was okay (we already had a blast with her, having tasted two great Kolsch beers), but she instantaneously found a solution and knew of an alternate brew house we could visit and got us in (30+ people, on Christmas Eve!). It was an amazing day...View All 25 Paffgen Kolsch brewery Reviews