Crystal Debussy redefines true luxury in the river cruise industry

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Jill Sayles joins Crystal River Cruises for the christening of its newest ship, Crystal Debussy, in Amsterdam, the latest in the luxury line’s rapidly expanding river fleet

Expanding at a rate of five river ships over the last two years, Crystal River Cruises recently welcomed its newest ship, Crystal Debussy, to its fleet at a christening ceremony in Amsterdam.

Debussy is the sister ship to Crystal Ravel, Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler, as well as the redesigned Crystal Mozart, which launched the luxury line’s river cruise product back in 2016.

The event was attended by Crystal’s president and CEO, Tom Wolber; Crystal River Cruises’ vice president and managing director, Walter Littlejohn; and the ship’s godmother, Broadway star Rachel York.

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Wolber joined the cruise line in September 2017 following the departure of Edie Rodriguez, under whose leadership the company added Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises, Crystal Air and Crystal River Cruises. Of the latter, he said: “Crystal River Cruises has raised the bar of excellence with each new ship, and now again as Crystal Debussy joins the fleet, effectively redefining true luxury in the river industry.”

On the subject of expansion, Littlejohn said how the line is “changing the face of river cruising in Europe” with its high-end, luxury river cruise experience.

Set over four decks – named Harmony, Seahorse, Crystal and Vista – Crystal Debussy accommodates 106 guests in 53 rooms and has a crew of 68. It follows the luxury model of all Crystal’s river vessels as an all-suite, all-butler vessel, with every category of accommodation positioned above the waterline and the butler service offered in every room category.

Suites also have the company’s Panoramic Balcony-Windows that lower from the ceiling to incorporate a balcony allowing for a more spacious room. Rooms are in the following categories: two-bedroom Crystal Suite with connecting rooms, one-bedroom Crystal Penthouse, Deluxe Suite and Petite Suite. The king-sized beds face the river and there are walk-in closets and dual vanity units in the bathrooms in most categories. The high standard continues with Etro toiletries, robes and slippers, a pillow menu, wall-mounted flat-screen HD TVs, iPads, mini-bar, quiet box system for excursions and a complimentary bottle of Blanc de Blancs.

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Dining options include the Waterside Restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in an open dining set-up. The menu consists of farm-to-table local dishes and traditional choices all prepared with fresh produce sourced locally each day. At the informal Bistro Café, guests can choose from a light buffet throughout the day, tapas-style dinner options and freshly made ice-cream made on board. The Vintage Room is a small, intimate dining area that can be booked for special occasions; it can also be converted to a meeting room. The Pantry near the reception area offers snacks thought the day.

The Palm Court is the social hub where there’s an onboard pianist and local entertainers (if moored at a destination overnight), plus enrichment presentations. It’s a light and airy space with a glass roof and floor-to-ceiling windows to make the most of the views. All drinks in the lounge are included apart from a selection of speciality drinks.

On the top Vista deck, guests can relax on loungers and there’s a small bar. Elsewhere, the ship has a spa and fitness room and there’s a small indoor pool at the stern.

The vessel embarked on its maiden voyage along the Rhine on April 9, sailing itineraries between Amsterdam and Basel. In the line’s 2019 river programme, 14-night sailings have been replaced with seven-night and 10-night itineraries.

Littlejohn said there has been a lot of support from the travel trade, with good growth from the UK market which has helped with the expansion of the river product. However, he indicated that, going forward, new plans will be rolled out at a slower rate.

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