CRYSTAL MOZART’s Danube Debut, Part Two

Part Two of Knego’s recent two night preview experience aboard Crystal River Cruises’ ultra-luxe MV CRYSTAL MOZART, Europe’s “Queen Of The Rivers”, in Vienna.

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All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2016.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

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Spinach salad starter.

After a great sleep in and a short workout in the gym, I headed up to the Waterside Restaurant for another epic salad to fortify a gala, if sweltering afternoon.

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Bubbly assembled.

I felt bad about not wearing my coat but with the heat index and two cameras to juggle, I made my way in shirtsleeves to the Palm Court lounge, where said cameras and necktie did their best to get entangled during a celebratory toast to the “reborn” CRYSTAL MOZART.

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Szigeti up close and personal.

Fittingly, we were saluting with the same brew that would be splattered onto the ship’s bow that afternoon: Szigeti Sonderedition Adele 2011.

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Magnum in the sky.

A short while later, steps away from the CRYSTAL MOZART’s bow, I captured the magnum before it became shards of history. In the meantime, the heat wave in Vienna was nothing short of equatorial. I felt especially sorry for the guests and crew that struggled to keep their formal regalia and composure intact.

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Godmother walks the red carpet.

Minding the heatwave, the good people at Crystal did their best to make the ceremony as elegant but brief as possible. Once the crowd was gathered, the CRYSTAL MOZART’s regal godmother, Elisabeth Gurtler, the managing director of Vienna’s legendary Hotel Sacher and the Spanish Riding School, walked the red carpet into the pavilion along with a host of other dignitaries that included Genting Hong Kong’s (owner of Crystal Cruises) Tam Sri Lim Kok Thai and Crystal Cruises’ President and CEO Edie Rodriguez.

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Godmother and CEO at christening.

After brief speeches, Rodriguez and Gurtler paired up for the moment of truth.

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Bottle break.

With the release of a lever, the bottle collided with the ship’s gleaming white hull and the deed was done. I raced back to my stateroom to file a dispatch as the crowd slowly made it was back to the ship. Had the internet not been working so well, I would have surely missed dinner in the Waterside Restaurant.

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Christening tablemates.

A bit disheveled, I made it to table one, where I was shocked and delighted (if not a bit terrified about being underdressed) to find myself seated next to the Godmother and the CEO. They were warm, funny and very welcoming and we all had a fantastic time toasting Crystal’s exciting new venture and the gorgeous ship with a choice of no less than four wines and champagnes.

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Golden Kaluga Caviar with White Asparagus Royal, Creme Fraiche.

A fixed menu began with a caviar starter that resembled a Shakespearean stage production and it went gastronomically ballistic from there with an Applewood Smoked Alpine Beef Crudo with Potato Mousseline and Horseradish Cream, a Chilled “Paradeiser” Gazpacho with Kuimer Carp, and Melon Sauerrahm, followed by a choice of Broised Seabass with Jerusalem Artichoke, Garlic Confit, Chanterelles, Wilted Spinach and Zweigelt Sauce or Duo of Veal with Locay River Crayfish, Broccollini, Creamy Topfen Polenta and Lemon Hollandaise. “The Emperor’s Favorite Dessert” that capped it all off included a Marzipan Kaiserschmarrn, Nougat Ice Cream and Wild Forest Strawberries.

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Setra coaches.

Another luxe Crystal River touch is the pair of Setra coaches that accompany the CRYSTAL MOZART on her travels up and down the Danube. They are specially designed for Crystal’s guests and with the removal of a row or two, feature extra legroom and especially comfortable seating.

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MV CrYSTAL MOZART Coach interior.

The Setra coaches also have their own Nespresso bar so one need not worry about grabbing a cup to go before heading off on tour. Water and snacks are also provided.

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En route to Crystal Event.

And indeed, the air conditioning was in fine form as we piled on board to be whisked off to Vienna’s historic Belvedere Palace for the CRYSTAL MOZART’s very first Crystal Signature Event.

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Upper Belvedere squared.

Completed in 1715, the Baroque Belvedere complex (consisting of upper and lower palaces) was built for Savoy’s Prince Eugene. Today, it is a museum featuring a vast collection of works, perhaps the most notable being those of Vienna-born Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. What was especially nice is that for the Crystal Signature event, we had the place to ourselves.

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Twilight concerto in the Upper Belvedere.

After champagne and sweets in the lobby, we had a short amount of time to explore the museum before filing into its magnificent Marble Hall for a private concerto.

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Upper reaches of the Upper Belvedere.

Under a canopy of chandeliers and a ceiling fresco by Carlo Carlone, we sat in awe as twilight lingered outside and the music played.

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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Vista Deck night.

Back aboard, the CRYSTAL MOZART, I packed up my belongings and took a final stroll around the Vista Deck.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

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Not only did I get a punctual wake up call but at the suggestion of my tireless butler, it came with a full breakfast that included a piping hot omelette and a cappuccino. After that, I headed outside for the first airport transfer. The CRYSTAL MOZART’s funnels were up and she was in the throes of preparation to greet her first official guests.

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With the launch of the CRYSTAL MOZART, there is no doubt that a new era in deluxe European river cruising has begun…

And now for a look at the remainder of the ship not covered in Part One:


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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Crystal Life Spa, facing forward.

Following, in descending order, Vista and Crystal Decks (see part one), Seahorse Deck begins with the Crystal Life Spa, with its swim-against-the-current pool and Jacuzzi. Such a vast facility on a European river cruise ship is unprecedented.

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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Relaxation Area, facing starboard.

Literally perched in the bow, the relaxation area has a wonderful view of oncoming scenery which must be a fantastic vantage during the full day of river cruising offered on most sailings.

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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Men’s changing area, facing aft.
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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Women’s changing area, facing aft.
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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Men’s steam area.
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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Men’s sauna area.

Both men and women have separate changing areas with their own saunas and steam rooms.

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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Treatment Room #2.

There are two treatment rooms with a menu of massage therapies provided by Crystal’s own specially trained staff (versus Steiner or another of the conglomerates).

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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Salon, facing starboard.

The Crystal Life Spa also has a dedicated beauty salon and barbershop.

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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Self Service Laundry, facing starboard.

A few steps aft of the Crystal Spa, there is a complimentary self service laundry room with new, state-of-the-art machines that may require a degree in computer science to figure out.

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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Seahorse Deck reception.
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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Reception stairs, facing aft.

Farther aft, the reception area is located at the base of the grand staircase leading up to Crystal Deck.

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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Library, facing forward.
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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Library fired up.

Guests usually enter the ship on this level, either from the port side, which features a lovely library that boasts a marble fireplace emitting atmospheric vapor flames…

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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Pantry, facing starboard.

…or from the starboard side, which features the Pantry, a 24 hour self service snack and wine bar.

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MV CRYSTAL MOZART suite passage.

Due to her double width, the CRYSTAL MOZART boasts port and starboard passageways that access the accommodations on Seahorse and Harmony Decks.


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M CRYSTAL MOZART Gym, facing forward.

Largely devoted to accommodations with fixed windows (versus French balconies), Harmony Deck begins with the gym on the port side and a stretching area on the starboard side.


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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Crystal Suite bedroom, facing forward.

The CRYSTAL MOZART has four categories of suite accommodation, the largest of which are two Crystal Suites, which when combined with a neighboring French Balcony Suite, form the largest suites (883-square-feet) on any river cruise ship. Beds in the Crystal Suite bedrooms face a floor-to-ceiling window with a French balcony.

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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Crystal Suite bathroom.

Crystal Suite master baths are lined in marble and have a tub with Jacuzzi jets and a separate shower.

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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Crystal Suite, facing port.

Crystal Suite living rooms also have a full length window with a French balcony. In addition to the sitting area, there is a dining nook.

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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Crystal Suite fireplace.

Crystal Suites also have a marble fireplace and a separate powder room for guests.


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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Penthouse Suite dressing area.

Twelve Penthouse Suites measure 330-square-feet and feature an entryway with a dressing area that leads to the marble-lined bathroom.

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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Penthouse Suite bedroom.

Penthouse Suites have a spacious bedroom with a sitting area that boasts a large floor-to-ceiling window and a sliding glass door that opens onto a French balcony.

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Penthouse Suite bathrooms feature a double sink, a Jacuzzi tub and a separate shower.


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MV CRYSTAL MOZART Fixed Window Suite.

Forty One Fixed Window Suites on Harmony Deck share the same 219-square-foot dimensions and layout as the French Balcony Suites (see prior post) on Seahorse Deck but feature a narrow fixed window. All suites feature Crystal’s acclaimed butler service, king-size beds, Nespresso machines, 40-inch flat-screen televisions, ETRO luxury amenities, twice daily housekeeping services, and in-suite hors d’oevres. Additionally, suites will have state-of the art technology, including bedside digital iPad directory, and interactive TV system with complimentary movies on demand and an extensive music library.

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CRYSTAL MOZART electrical sockets.

All suites also feature an American and two European style outlets as well as controls with multiple setting options.

End Of Crystal Mozart’s Danube Debut

Click Here For Part One

Special thanks:  Paul Garcia, Gene Sloan


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