Last week I focused on our pre-cruise tour of Prague and this week I intend on commencing with photos of the lovely ship we enjoyed and the first of the ports we appreciated as well.
We boarded the beautiful Crystal Ravel in Vilshofen, Germany, which has a capacity of only 106 passengers, along with just 60 other passengers. You can just imagine the potential for outstanding Customer Service with so few passengers vs. crew and they certainly didn't disappoint. We figured it was about a 1:1 ratio. The service was phenomenal.
The ship itself was lovely and we were amazed at how expansive our Panorama French Balcony suite was with a comfy king sized bed, spacious interior, large bathroom with large walk-in shower and even double sinks!
We spent a lot of time in the beautifully decorated Palm Court Lounge sipping our late afternoon cocktails as we sailed the river. They had informative lectures about various topics in this area along with some great entertainment every night.
The food and wine was absolutely superb. Everything was prepared a la minute and was fresh, unique every day, and plentiful with as many courses as you desired, including fabulous appetizers, salads, pasta (including gluten free, of course), various main course entrees, and an array of desserts as well. Everything was completely inclusive, but they also had some even more premium wines to choose from if you wanted to spend the extra money. Frankly, the wine selection that we had every day was outstanding so that there was no need to purchase anything else extra special since it already was.
Waterside, the dining area, has such appealing decor in a very upscale fashion with wonderful large windows and classy lighting in the evenings for dinner. We almost always ended up with a table for 2 with a great view of the window as we sailed along. We always had the choice of either dining with others or dining on our own and could go to dinner any time after 7 pm when the dining room opened.
They did an outstanding job dealing with my gluten allergy in that every morning the Restaurant Manager would visit with me to go over the evening dinner menu to get my preferred selection for that same day. He would also always follow up as well during dinner to ensure that everything was perfect with my specialty meal selection. I was VERY impressed!
There are 2 other dining options, neither of which we tried since the Bistro tended towards more of a tapas menu that was a little more challenging to cater to for my allergy. Sadly, The Vintage Room was not an option due to COVID since you needed a larger group in order to experience it and since there didn't seem to be anyone willing to group together with others, we couldn't experience it this time, but next time... There is a cost to this one but the wines that are paired with each course are top shelf and extra special for those who are interested in this option. Funnily, when I posted the one photo of The Vintage Room refrigerator, everyone thought (and hoped) it was our suite! Now, that would be one heckuva 'not so' mini bar!! LOL!
Yet another dining opportunity is also their 24 hour room service. We did experience a wonderful breakfast one morning when we didn't have an early excursion and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The cool thing too is that they have all of their amenities and information on an app that we downloaded enabling us to both review everything online but also, we could have ordered via the app as well - even pizza and burgers, if we chose to late at night! Pretty cool.
There were so many other great places that we could park ourselves with a drink in hand including the upper Vista deck where they had a bar and walking track. They had comfy couches, lounges, tables and chairs to choose from up there.
They also had an indoor pool area that was very cozy aft on Deck 3, where they had a well-stocked fridge of 'non-alcoholic' beverages, towels, and comfortable lounges as well.
The Fitness Center, Treatment Room (for massages, etc.), and guest laundry were all located on Deck 1.
The included excursions were all top-notch with great local guides for each of the ports. There were various options in each port, including the option to ride a bike with a group from Melk to Durnstein in the beautiful Wachau Valley. They even had their own luxurious, spacious coaches for transporting us on our excursions along the Danube in all the ports.
I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention their health and safety protocols that they have in place. The staff all wore masks at all times both on the ship and on the coaches. We all had to constantly sanitize our hands as we boarded the ship and entered the dining areas. All this in spite of the fact that we were all double vaccinated and been COVID tested prior to boarding the ship. Most of us felt safe enough to often not wear our masks while in the presence of other passengers and the crew although we did all practice social distancing as well.
All in all, the ship really was fantastic and we absolutely HIGHLY recommend both river cruising and considering Crystal Cruises as a choice based on our wonderful experience with them.