ENCHANTING MOSELLE – Elaine’s Adventure on Crystal Bach (Part 1)

DAY 1 – TRIER:

It was a 4.30 am start – well we wanted to get the holiday started as soon as possible – so after a quick taxi ride to Heathrow, the obligatory holiday breakfast and a short hop across Europe, we arrived in Luxembourg at about 9.30.

We’ve flown to Luxembourg as it’s actually the closest airport for Trier – who knew! It’s a great little airport, everything is really close and super quick so we were off and through arrivals in about 30 minutes, and greeted by our transfer driver. We had to wait 20 minutes or so for a few guests on a flight behind us but we were soon whisked off and into our mini-van for the drive to the ship. 

The drive from Luxembourg airport to Crystal Bach, docked just outside Trier, was around 50 minutes. Crystal usually use their coaches for the included transfers (each ship has its own fleet of three) however because we were doing one of the Getaway sailings (embarking mid-cruise) these were busy on excursions so we had a really nice private mini-van. The ship also touched base with the driver mid-journey so that they knew when we’d be arriving.

The journey went quickly and we were soon pulling up alongside Crystal Bach, moored along the riverbank just behind a vineyard – it couldn’t get more idyllic! From the taxi to our suite was five minutes maximum as, after being greeted at the gangway with a glass of Champagne we were walked straight there with lovely Marita, one of the River Concierges, checking us in as she went. Our key cards were in our rooms already and we were good to go!

Within minutes, our luggage had arrived (well it doesn’t have to go far) and we’d had visits from Madara our Room Stewardess, and Vinnie, our Butler to explain how everything worked in the room and how we could contact either of them if we needed to. Also, a really nice touch was that Vinnie personally connected our phones to the WIFI for us. We were pretty comfortable with doing this ourselves however how thoughtful if you’re not – it just means you’re all set up and in contact with home (if you want to be!) without the faff of working out how to do it yourself.

Waterside opens for lunch at midday and although there was the Bistro for a quick snack if we really couldn’t wait, we were restrained and spent the time familiarising ourselves with the riverboat. We were captivated by the view from Vista Deck though – vineyards as far as the eye can see, and with the summer sunshine, it was just beautiful – we’d be spending a lot of our trip up here if the sun continued to shine.

Lunchtime in Waterside is an open seating arrangement – you can walk in and sit wherever you like. It’s open for around two hours, depending on where the riverboat is and how many people are out on tour. Lunch is served buffet style in the main however there is a chef preparing a la minute pasta dishes and there are also a couple of options you can order off menu – sandwich of the day, hamburger and a Caesar salad. Today I went for crispy chicken fillets with a side salad and freshly baked rolls…oh and we had just a little portion of the fresh pasta to taste – we couldn’t resist! Desserts are a must too – they’re only small so it doesn’t matter if you can’t choose, just have a couple.

The early start was catching up on us now so opted for an afternoon nap so we’d be awake enough to enjoy dinner and the evening entertainment. The beds are so comfy, the nap was a little longer than planned, so it was off to the Bistro for a coffee when we woke up!

We then had our mandatory safety drill as we’d embarked the riverboat midway through the cruise and had missed the main drill. There were around 12 of us who had arrived today so they held the drill in the Vintage Room. It was fairly short, given by Captain Janos, and told us everything we needed to know about what to do in an emergency.

It was then time to get ready for dinner. As we’re inclined to do on an ocean cruise, we started our evening with a pre-dinner drink in Palm Court. And because we’re creatures of habit with our drinks, it wasn’t long before the staff made us a drink without us even asking. Palm Court, like on the ocean ships, is a beautiful lounge with panoramic views from the floor to ceiling windows, great to sit and relax at any time of the day and night.

Dinner in Waterside is again open seating, any time between 7pm and 9pm, and you can really walk in at any time between those hours and enjoy the full menu at your own pace – no rushing you to catch up with everyone else. All of the food on Crystal’s riverboats is bought on fresh and is freshly prepared to order and wow, what amazing food it was. Not a huge menu, plenty of different options though so I doubt there’s anyone who wouldn’t find something to tempt them. We enjoyed lobster bisque, a local German Bierfleisch (beef stew) and a chocolate mousse cake to finish. We had the pleasure of dining with Captain Janos and Johannes, the Hotel Director tonight which was very lovely and we very much appreciated their time and company.

Back in Palm Court, with a cheeky nightcap, we enjoyed a performance by Steffan Mullan, a vocalist, and Francesco Carlo Leone, a pianist who were just on for the evening – stunning entertainment. And then it was time for bed and a well-earned sleep!

DAY 2 – TRIER:

We woke refreshed and pretty early as today we were returning to Luxembourg for a full day excursion.

Most excursions are included with Crystal River Cruises, at least two in each port and there’s a great selection. There are also some you can pay for and these are shown when you view the tours on PCPC before you travel, and where you can pre-reserve them. 

Breakfast is served in Waterside, again open seating and buffet style in the main with a chef preparing fresh eggs and omelettes. With a full day ahead, we had a full breakfast and then grabbed our listening devices (key for tours – remember to charge them!) and headed for the coach.

Back the way we came yesterday and the first stop was the US Military Cemetery in Luxembourg. We had a short tour of some of the memorials and just a few of the many, many graves before a little time to explore ourselves. A very humbling and thought-provoking experience. It was then back on the coach and on to the city centre. The group was split into three small groups, each with a local guide who lead the tour. Everyone has a listening device which connects to the guides so you can walk at your own pace and still hear what they are saying. We had a great walking tour of the city, taking in the many bridges, the Cathedral and the market square before being let loose to explore on our own. We enjoyed a great lunch in the square and one of the best ice creams ever before going on the hunt for the obligatory magnet. That purchased, it was time to re-join the group and head back to the coach.

Tired and hot, we returned to the ship to very welcome cold towels and chilled (blue) lemonade. After all that walking it was time for a snack – dinner was still a way off, we had to keep our levels up – so it was off to the Bistro for coffee and cake. Then straight up on deck with a book to enjoy the beautiful scenery – we were sailing tonight so couldn’t wait to see if the rest of the Moselle is just as beautiful. The pop-up bar is manned (weather permitting) during the day and early evening, providing you with unlimited cold drinks. But even when it’s closed at night, if you’re able to access the deck (no low bridges) the team from Palm Court will make sure your drink is never empty.

It was a quick change for dinner tonight as we were cruising and due to go through a number of locks fairly soon after casting off and we wanted to take a look. As anyone who has cruised on Crystal Symphony or Crystal Serenity knows, every time you leave port, Louis Armstrong’s ‘It’s a Wonderful World’ is played out and for us, it’s a lovely moment of excitement for the next port. With this being our first river cruise on Crystal, we were keen to see what was played, if anything. The answer is yes, they do, and it is Louis Armstrong once again, with Moon River – pretty perfect!

From Palm Court, you have access to the front of the riverboat, right by the Bridge, and it’s a great place to be when you’re going through locks – just don’t get in the Captain’s way! With drink in hand, we really enjoyed sitting and watching as we transited the lock – it’s one of the really different and interesting parts of river cruising.

From there, it was time for dinner and it was Waterside once again, and with great excitement we realised that it was lobster night! Once every cruise on all Crystal riverboats, fresh lobster and oysters are flown in and served that evening. So, as we gently sailed up the Moselle, we tucked into caviar and lobster – can this get any better.

Our after dinner drink this evening was accompanied by Joe, the brilliant entertainment host onboard (together with his lovely wife Olivia) playing his tribute to Bob Dylan. You’ll always find fellow guests in Palm Court throughout the evening which is nice, or up on deck if the weather is nice. We loved it up on deck watching the world go by, tucked up in a blanket with a cold G&T – nothing beats it…

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Elaine’s ‘Enchanting Moselle‘ Adventures!


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