Our Crystal Mahler Grand Europe cruise in the summer of 2018 was hit with an unprecedented heat wave and drought which made the Rhine and Danube impassable, so our itinerary from Amsterdam to Vienna to Budapest was diverted once we got on board and we had to return to Amsterdam via Belgium and the Netherlands. This is a risk on any river cruise, with either flooding or low water levels, but it was a big disappointment when it happened.
However, Crystal's Plan B turned out to be excellent and we have nothing but high praise for the ship and its staff. If there's ever a problem, you want to be in Crystal's hands. They pulled a rabbit out of a hat and turned lemons into lemonade by diverting us to many charming ports and sites. Their initial offering of a credit for the inconvenience was paltry, but after negotiations with Crystal, they increased the credit to a very generous one for any future cruise, so that helped ameliorate the disappointment and tension on board.
The staff and cuisine were simply excellent. I must have had over 100 courses throughout the various meals and each one was divine. They prepared a wide variety of local and traditional dishes, and favorite standards, all delicious. And the desserts were to die for. Everything gourmet and exceptional. Darryl the sommelier was wonderful, and the chefs did a fantastic job. I've read that the Crystal ships' galleys are much larger than the competitors, so you get a much wider variety and higher quality of cuisine on Crystal. A few in our party had food allergies, but the staff handled that with ease and care. Gluten-free and sugar-free dishes were at the ready and very tasty.
Loved our cabin! The ship is brand new and it's state of the art. There are multiple charging ports, cool touch screen Do Not Disturb panels, iPads, mini bar, free snacks & drinks, an ample double bathroom, a nice walk-in closet, butler service, daily maid & turndown service, free pressing, free self service laundry, professional laundry for a fee, complimentary cheese plates, a big HDTV with a marvelous variety of live TV and the latest movies, all free, and you can tune into cameras placed around the ship so you can see where you are going on the water. The butlers and maids are delightful. One of our party had a smaller room and it was still quite doable. The king sized bed can be split into two, as our teens did, but they are quite comfortable with luxurious linens. The rooms all have a fancy, motorized, slide-down picture window that opens to a panoramic view of the river and shore. Really nice. Quite fun to lean out into the open air. There is no outdoor balcony to sit on, but you can sit inside the open window with the same effect. The ship and cabins are perfect. I don't know how any other feature could be included- really very nice and highly recommended. Also, I'm 6'-8"/203 cm tall, and I could stand up in the cabin and most everywhere on the ship- I just had to be careful walking down the halls and in some low headroom spots.
Lovely, gigantic cathedral- very much worth seeing.
We took a bus to the Geirlay Suspension Bridge, which is a 1km long pedestrian bridge over a gorge. A long walk to and from, so a good exercise/hiking day. Back in Cochem is the beautiful Reichsburg Castle overlooking the village and river. It is well worth seeing. There was a Medieval Faire going on that day despite the 100 degree F heat, wand that was really cool. The quick tour through the interior of the castle was very interesting and the vie from the top was phenomenal.
BK is a lovely village, but we took a bus trip to Luxembourg for the day which was very interesting. I'm so glad we went, although it was a Sunday so all the shops were closed, as was the palace- still well worth seeing. The highlight was visiting the American Cemetery where general Patton and the 5700+ US soldiers who gave their lives in the Battle of the Bulge are buried. Very moving.
Dusseldorf was a lovely town with good modern art galleries and museums and a tree & canal-lined shopping street & area that rivals Paris. A really nice old cathedral too- well worth walking around.