The launch of Crystal River Cruises first ship, Crystal Mozart, heralds a new age for river cruising. The line held the official naming ceremony this week with her godmother Elisabeth Gürtler – managing director of the famous Hotel Sacher in Vienna – christening the first of the line’s river vessels.

River cruising is known for five-star service, bespoke shore excursions and great food, and Crystal River Cruises is establishing itself as a worthy competitor to established players such as Scenic, Uniworld, APT and Viking.

The line will be rolling out an additional three luxury river ships which, as with its ocean ships, are sleek and modern. Cruise Passenger compares Uniworld’s S.S Maria Theresa – voted “Best New River Cruise Ship” by Cruise Critic in 2015 – to the new Crystal Mozart.

S.S Maria Theresa

Launched in 2015, the S.S Maria Theresa is Uniworld’s newest ship. With the capacity for 150 guests and 57 crew, it is one of the most indulgent vessels in the world. The ship’s 18th-century décor pays homage to the former Austrian empress Maria Theresa, known for her 40-year reign over the Habsburg Dominion.


There are five cabin classes. Category 1 staterooms are Balcony cabins, each with an open-air veranda. Categories 2 and 3 are French Balcony rooms with opening floor-ceiling windows (electronically controlled). Staterooms in categories 4 and 5 are on the boat’s lowest deck (Bavarian) and have a small non-opening porthole window. The C4 and C5 staterooms are 15sqm and have a marble bathroom with L’Occitane en Provence bath and body products and a handcrafted Savoir of England bed. The largest and most decadent cabin onboard the vessel is the Royal Suite. The 38sqm suite has a full balcony, separate spacious living room, bathroom with a separate rain shower and tub as well as a secluded toilet and bidet area. All suites are styled with Baroque-inspired furniture and wallpaper.


The Baroque Restaurant is the main dining area on the vessel. The room is decked with herringbone-striped dining chairs, and has a rich blue and gold colour scheme. Champagne or mimosas are served at breakfast and you can start your day with an assortment of yoghurts, smoothies, muesli, freshly baked pastries and breads as well as cold cuts of fish and meats. Also on offer are a variety of sausages with some from local producers as well as eggs, bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms. Lunch is regional specialities – think Bavarian sausages, goulash and Czech ham. There is a carving station, a number of vegetable dishes and other delicacies like Slovakian sauerkraut soup with bacon and smoked sausage. And dessert – think Sacher torte, Black Forest cake and ice-cream. Dinner is a four-course meal which also features regional specialties like Wiener schnitzel. There is also a vegetarian offering and for those who are a bit more conscious of their waistline, a “Travelling Lite” with fish and a light dessert.


Onboard amenities include a heated swimming pool, fitness centre as well as the Serenity River Spa. Guests can try a traditional Thai Foot and Hand Treatment, Honey Body Beauty Treatment, Hot Stone Treatments as well as Women’s Facial Moments. Uniworld has also created a special wellness programs which includes TRX suspension workouts and onshore guided biking and hiking excursions. There is also a 10-seat cinema and small library.

Crystal Mozart

Crystal Mozart is the first of a new fleet of river ships from Crystal River Cruises. Before her multi-million dollar revamp she was known as MS Mozart. The CEO of Crystal, Edie Rodriguez, told Travel Weekly, everything on the ship is new: “It’s not a facelift. It’s stem cell surgery.” She’s modern and sleek and she will be the template for her sisters Crystal Mahler, Crystal Bach and Crystal Ravel.


The all-suite Crystal Mozart will have a number of different accommodation categories starting at the class W2 (fixed picture window) to the Crystal Suite which has two bedrooms and a French balcony. The ship can accommodate 154 guests. The services in the suites include turndown service every evening, in-suite hors d’oeuvres as well as butler service for each suite.


For the early risers, there is a special breakfast offering but there will also be an a la carte menu and buffet. There will be multiple dining venues with European sourced and trained chefs as well as a more casual dining area. Dining options include The Bistro Mozart, Blue Bar & Grill, Vintage Room & Wine Cellar and The Cove & Piano Bar.


Guests on Crystal Mozart can enjoy entertainment and enrichment programs with specialty guest speakers. There will be daily yoga and fitness classes, bespoke Crystal Adventure shore excursions at every port, culinary experiences at famous local restaurants as well as massage services. Excursions include a tour of a schnapps distillery and a glassblowing studio in Passau (Germany), a horse farm trip and carriage ride in Budapest (Hungary) and a tour of the Mauthausen concentration camp in Linz (Austria).

Read a full review on the Crystal Mozart in the next edition of Cruise Passenger magazine. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.