We cruised with Crystal for the first time in September, along with two other couples, on the Mozart 10-day Dunube river cruise. Our cruise organizer was originally good but she was replaced mid-way and the experience with our new organizer was poor. He did not respond to our questions. We had to call Crystal directly for answers and they were not very helpful either. In fact, one Crystal operator made dinner reservations for us in restaurants that did not exist on our boat!
The boat appeared "lived in", but clean. We were happy with our cabin, which was small but highly functional. The food in the main restaurant was uniformly excellent. The food at the cafe and the more casual lunch spot was not as good but still acceptable.
The Danube stops were lovely, although we were rarely docked within comfortable walking distance of the towns we were visiting. Having cruised many times previously, comparitively we felt the time allowed at each stop was too short to really enjoy the town and rarely left time to browse and wander. The quality of the Crystal tours was highly variable- the minority were excellent. Most were rushed and idiosyncratic.
Unfortunately, we were unable to reach Budapest due to the low river. We were bussed there as a result. Some of us were placed at the Ritz Carleton and others at the Kempinski. We were told they were comparable, which was false. We went from a suite on our boat and excellent food quality to a room at the Kempinski with two twin beds pushed together and a view of the side of a building construction site (see pictures). The breakfast at the Kempinski was a cattle-call: over-crowded and poor quality food.
Every request I made to the Mozart team- may I please be at the Ritz Carleton?, may I use my ship credit to upgrade my room in Budapest? (I wasn't able to use the credit on the boat because we lost 2 days onboard due to the low water and the spa was completely booked)- all received an immediate "no". When I asked to speak to the manager, I was told: "they'll tell you the same thing". That was true. I was offered the "special gift" instead- I could use the credit against a future cruise- $400 off a >$20,000 cruise.
For us, the cruise did not meet our expectations. I expected a higher-end experience, given the cost is far greater than any other cruise I have enjoyed. In short, I was disappointed with the quality of the experience, and being told "I'm sorry we didn't meet your expectations" isn't meaningful when it's followed by silence.
Room small but functional. Bathroom tiny but functional Toto bidet nice addition.