I have hesitated writing this review, but considering the limited number of reviews for Crystal River, I thought it would be helpful. As my title implies, we were neither impressed nor happy. I should probably add that this was our first river cruise (we have taken several ocean cruises on Azamara, Regent, and Celebrity). However, my complaints have nothing to do with the "river" aspect of the cruise. Our itinerary was the 7 day trip from Vienna to Budapest.
First, the positives. The cabin (Petite Suite) was very small but extremely beautiful and well organized, with many nice features. The functioning window and heated bathroom floor come to mind. Towels and toiletries were nice. Our butler and room attendant were efficient and did what we expected, no more, no less. We did not order room service nor the afternoon canapes.
The tours were excellent. They were well organized and the guides were informative and fun. I could not have asked for more in this category and it was the saving grace of the trip. Fantastic.
Our laundry came back beautifully done up in lovely packaging. It was really over the top!
The entertainer, Neal, was absolutely fun and kept things lively in the afternoons and evenings. This was a bit of a surprise as we went in assuming that the entertainment would be hokey or nonexistent. We had lots of fun a couple of evenings during his show.
The included wine selection and cocktails were very good and all that we expected.
And finally, debarkation was extremely efficient. The taxi that the desk had arranged for us came exactly on time and we had plenty of assistance with our bags. Kudos.
Now to what did not meet expectations. Among staff, there was a general attitude of unease or dissatisfaction. It was not a happy boat. There was no one on shore to greet us or help us with our things when we arrived. Our first greeting was at the door after struggling from our taxi over some rough terrain. (I did notice that they had later set up a canopy which was staffed by the blue tail-coated and top-hatted greeters, so I think that they were out of sorts for some reason) This first impression underwhelming, to say the least, after the glowing reviews I have read of Crystal.
On our first trip to the beautiful lounge (early afternoon on our first day) we seated ourselves. There was a bartender and a server or two behind the bar, from whom we received no greeting whatsoever. I finally went to inquire of the bartender as to the possibility of getting served. His indifferent response was yes. This was the order of the day on many occasions, even when the bar was not busy at all.
On another occasion, we finally, after five days, were blessed by the weather gods with a nice enough day to go "up top". This was pretty exciting and there were a number of passengers there, but no bartender. The bar, however, was "open". We observed one woman open a bottle of bubbly (which was on the "included" list) and pour it for herself and her friend. A young (and we were told later, new) server came up shortly thereafter and reprimanded her loudly and in an extended and rude manner. It was embarrassing and uncomfortable for all who witnessed it. Unacceptable.
And finally, the food. Dinner frequently was only acceptable. We are not fussy eaters in the least, but there were occasions when we couldn't find anything interesting to order. The quality of ingredients just wasn't up to expectations and many dishes needed seasoning. Lunches were some better, for whatever reason, but a breakfast order came out completely wrong one morning. Missing was any fun banter with servers or having our preferences remembered. The atmosphere again, was generally stilted and uncomfortable.
This cruise was priced competitively with some of the other lines, or perhaps a bit more. I chose it because I had read so many glowing reviews of Crystal, mostly ocean, but river also. If this represents "the best of the best", then I don't care to try the others. It was, in a word, disappointing. We met some very nice people who had the same sentiments. Hopefully this was a one-off and they have made some corrections.
Very nicely laid out and organized. No noise or other disturbance. The Panoramic window that lowered to let in some air is nice, but we only used it once. It was either raining or cold for the most part.