Walter Littlejohn Outlines What's New for Crystal River Cruises

(Photo by Susan J Young) Walter Littlejohn, vice president and general manager, Crystal River Cruises, spoke to top producing travel advisors at the 2019 Crystal Trade Gala.

Walter Littlejohn, vice president and managing director, Crystal River Cruises, talked to Crystal’s top producers at the recent 2019 Trade Gala on Crystal Serenity. Here’s a look at important developments for the ultra-luxury river brand.  

Anniversary Celebration

Crystal – as a cruise brand – turns 30 next year. So, the line has designated “30th Anniversary Collection” sailings. Among those are five sailings on the Rhine and Danube rivers. 

Guests who sail can expect to receive commemorative luggage tags and a complimentary “30th Anniversary Cookbook” with savory recipes created by the line’s chefs from all Crystal experiences.

Mostly Seven-Night Cruises

For 2020, most Crystal river departures on the Main, Rhine, Mosel and Danube rivers will be seven nights. Those will be mixed with a few longer itineraries, including 10-night Mosel River cruises, 10-night Danube River cruises and 16-night Amsterdam-to-Budapest cruises.

For those 16-night voyages, the line will reduce the number of departures to one departure monthly between May and October, as Littlejohn believes that’s the “sweet spot” of desired timing.

New Extended Land Packages

Crystal also plans two new extended 2020 land packages, one in Prague and another in Zurich at the Savoy Baer en Ville with transfers and a city tour.  

New Vienna Docking Location

In Vienna, the river line is in soft-launch mode for a new river docking location exclusive to Crystal and adjacent to the Hilton Vienna Danube Waterfront. Littlejohn said several vessels have already docked there, and agents can expect the new docking location to be fully operational in 2020.

Guests traveling from North America can stay at the hotel, get good night’s sleep and, after they check out on embarkation day, Crystal will transfer their luggage directly from hotel to ship.

If a voyage ends in Vienna, guests with late departing flights also will have hospitality services at the hotel.

Important to know? Yes, Crystal will still use its other Vienna docking location, too. So, it plans a new website that guests will check a few days prior to embarkation to find out where their ship is docked.  

Highest Rated River Ships

Littlejohn revealed guest satisfaction statistics showing that Crystal Ravel was the highest rated ship in the river fleet, with a 98.61 score, followed by Crystal Mozart and Crystal Mahler.  

But even the lowest rated river vessel had an excellent satisfaction rating of 92.69.

E-Bike Change-Out

The river line has carried e-bikes on Crystal Mozart for guests to take out independently or for use on guided bicycle tours. On its four other Rhine-class vessels the line also has arranged for e-bikes to be brought to the ship. But things are changing this month.

Littlejohn said that the line will eliminate e-bikes. Why? Guests were getting hurt using them, particularly as many people simply hadn’t been on a bicycle in many years. So the line will replace those with “regular” bicycles.

Starting in about two weeks, all Crystal River Cruises vessels will carry their own new, snazzy Trek bikes (regular bikes) for independent use and group bike tours. 

New Junior Cruisers’ Menu

Taking the kids on a river vacation? If clients are traveling with children on Crystal, the river line now offers a junior cruiser’s menu with kid-friendly dishes and smaller portions.

"Delightful Danube" is Back

A year ago, Crystal tested a “Delightful Danube” itinerary between Regensburg, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary.  Based on that itinerary’s popularity, Crystal will offer it for 2020 on the 106-passenger Crystal Ravel and sister, Crystal Mahler, with overnights in Regensburg, Germany, Vienna and Budapest. 

A three-night, add-on Prague package is also available.

Crystal Mozart Heading Out

Later this year, Crystal Mozart, the river line’s first vessel, will leave the Crystal fleet and transfer to Genting Hong Kong, Crystal’s parent company, for a new Asian project (details yet to be announced).

For more insight from the recent Crystal 2019 Trade Gala, check out this marketing update from Kari Tarnowski, vice president of marketing.

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