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Crystal Bach and Mahler Cancellations (through Nov. 2021)


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Wow! Over the last two days Crystal has cancelled cruises on both the Bach (cruises to Oct.31) and Mahler (Nov. 18). I hope they aren't cancelling more, as I am booked on the Bach on Nov. 28th.  This cruise was a result of my 2020 cruise being cancelled. 

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It is unfortunate that Crystal is being rather opaque about exactly what they are planning to do with these two ships for the 2021 season.  They really should make their entire plans public, instead of making these partial announcements every couple of days or so, really adding to the confusion.

 

I see that they have already cancelled most of the 2021 cruises on Mahler and close to that on Bach.  Looking at this, I am personally very doubtful that the rest of the cruises on these two ships would occur.  I can't imagine deploying these two ships just to do a few cruises before the end of the season in December.

 

I'm very curious what is being offered to those passengers on cancelled cruises that could not be automatically accommodated to another river vessel.  It would be nice to know what is being offered, so that we can have some expectation when/if this happens to us (We are also on the Nov. 21, 2021 cruise on Bach).

 

I would really like to know exactly what is going on with Crystal, in regard to these ships.  Perhaps this is purely based on demand vs. supply, staff shortage, etc. but we have no way to know if this is something else (Crystal trying to downsize their river operations temporarily or otherwise, for example).

 

 

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1 hour ago, Psoque said:

It is unfortunate that Crystal is being rather opaque about exactly what they are planning to do with these two ships for the 2021 season.  They really should make their entire plans public, instead of making these partial announcements every couple of days or so, really adding to the confusion.

 

I see that they have already cancelled most of the 2021 cruises on Mahler and close to that on Bach.  Looking at this, I am personally very doubtful that the rest of the cruises on these two ships would occur.  I can't imagine deploying these two ships just to do a few cruises before the end of the season in December.

 

I'm very curious what is being offered to those passengers on cancelled cruises that could not be automatically accommodated to another river vessel.  It would be nice to know what is being offered, so that we can have some expectation when/if this happens to us (We are also on the Nov. 21, 2021 cruise on Bach).

 

I would really like to know exactly what is going on with Crystal, in regard to these ships.  Perhaps this is purely based on demand vs. supply, staff shortage, etc. but we have no way to know if this is something else (Crystal trying to downsize their river operations temporarily or otherwise, for example).

Europe seems barely open. Maybe they don't think the experience will meet their or their passengers expectations and choose to not fully resume. I think every company is having issues now.

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@njguy_south

No fleet is fully back in operation and the earliest this will be for German river lines looks to be later in July. If that. Procuring passengers and crew from outside the European Union is a big issue so it does not make sense to have all ships in operation in the Summer, especially for international lines. By Autumn - in the towns visited - Crystal may be able to provide excellent service but I am sure getting enough passengers and crew on the ships will not back to normal by September.

 

Cancelling into October/November sounds a bit over the top but on the other hand they plan well ahead, which I regard as a plus.

 

Right now, l would not read anything more into it.

 

But I understand that you feel your river cruise may not go ahead.

 

notamermaid

 

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I received the official email this morning that they are cancelling my Nov. 28th Bach river cruise, but I can jump over to the Debussy leaving three days earlier. As of right now, it looks like the airfare change will cost me a considerable amount. I am a patient person, even though this is a second cancellation of the same river cruise, and realize it is COVID related.

 

And while I know that Crystal is dealing with the issues of COVID, they are not the only business doing so. If they are just deciding on June 10th to stop running one of their river ships (possibly for the rest of 2021?) less than 6 months out, I am very worried about the management and solvency of this company.  Am I a loyal Crystal cruiser? Yes! But it is time to wake up and smell the coffee!!

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3 minutes ago, njguy_south said:

And while I know that Crystal is dealing with the issues of COVID, they are not the only business doing so. If they are just deciding on June 10th to stop running one of their river ships (possibly for the rest of 2021?) less than 6 months out, I am very worried about the management and solvency of this company.  Am I a loyal Crystal cruiser? Yes! But it is time to wake up and smell the coffee!!

If I was Crystal - I would just cancel this year for the river boats. It costs a lot to get the river boats up and ready for a season. It would not be worth running ships for a month or two. Think how difficult it would be to hire and train crew for a month? I remember speaking with the main tour person and she said they arrive a month before passengers do early in the season as there is a lot of safety checks the ship has to do before passengers arrive.

 

I am not worried about Crystal as a company yet unless they pull their ocean ships. Though I know they are not as financially solvent as some of the other companies out there.

 

Just remember - ships are just starting to run and it is purely an experiment when they are running. I think there will be a lot of hiccups in the process.

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Just tried to edit my last comment to say that the other river cruise lines have much more invested in starting the season. They have dozens of boats. I just quickly counted Vikings Longships and there are over 50 of them.

 

It maybe cheaper for Crystal to just not run their ships this season.

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33 minutes ago, njguy_south said:

I received the official email this morning that they are cancelling my Nov. 28th Bach river cruise, but I can jump over to the Debussy leaving three days earlier. As of right now, it looks like the airfare change will cost me a considerable amount. I am a patient person, even though this is a second cancellation of the same river cruise, and realize it is COVID related.

What options did they give you if you don't switch ships? 

 

This is definitely a plus for using cruise line air. Though on my next trip - I will be with 2 different companies and will probably buy cruise air with just the first company.

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17 hours ago, Psoque said:

I'm very curious what is being offered to those passengers on cancelled cruises that could not be automatically accommodated to another river vessel.  It would be nice to know what is being offered, so that we can have some expectation when/if this happens to us

 

Here is our data point.  Last week, Crystal cancelled our Moselle cruise on Bach which was scheduled to depart mid-Sept 2021.  We were offered the opportunity to move to the same itinerary aboard Debussy with a departure date 3 weeks later than our original cruise (!!) with price protection but no other consideration.  If we didn't exercise that option, we could transfer our reservation to any 2021-2023 Crystal experience, at prevailing rates.  Interestingly, the cancellation notice did not mention that we could request a refund of monies paid, even though that is another option.  

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5 hours ago, Coral said:

What options did they give you if you don't switch ships? 

 

This is definitely a plus for using cruise line air. Though on my next trip - I will be with 2 different companies and will probably buy cruise air with just the first company.

The original e-mail sent to the affected passengers (including the one to me) had no information about what options are available other than to take what is offered (to switch to one of the cruises, or to accept an automatic transfer, depending on which itinerary the passenger was on).  No mentioning or refund (which I would think we are entitled to) or future credit.  The letter basically said to fill out this online form to let Crystal know which cruise we would like to roll over to.  No other option, at least to me, was offered.

 

Apparently, this e-mail was sent to me bypassing my TA, and my TA was less than pleased to hear this from me, not from Crystal.  Along with the fact that the notice to me was sent to me at 11 PM last night from a "do not respond" e-mail address did not sit well with my long-time TA who has done a lot of business with Crystal for many years. He is apparently discussing this and other behind-the-scenes problems he has been having with Crystal lately.  My understanding is that the currently employed Crystal staff members are not exactly capable of handling this situation well.  Sigh.

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21 hours ago, Coral said:

Europe seems barely open. Maybe they don't think the experience will meet their or their passengers expectations and choose to not fully resume. I think every company is having issues now.

If that is the reason, I have no idea why Crystal is still selling the same itineraries on the remaining two river ships for the same time period.  Something is not quite right. At best, Crystal is trying to consolidate passengers to fill their ships to higher capacity.  That scenario is a bit unlikely, based on my (perhaps incorrect) assumption that other river cruise companies are selling their fall 2021 berths like hotcakes.  Or they have other reasons to not want to use Bach and Mahler this season.  Or maybe Crystal is trying to cancel all river cruises for 2021, and this is their way of doing so in their own terms (to prevent sudden requests for refunds).  I guess we will find out the real story when we do.

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2 hours ago, Psoque said:

If that is the reason, I have no idea why Crystal is still selling the same itineraries on the remaining two river ships for the same time period.  Something is not quite right. At best, Crystal is trying to consolidate passengers to fill their ships to higher capacity.  That scenario is a bit unlikely, based on my (perhaps incorrect) assumption that other river cruise companies are selling their fall 2021 berths like hotcakes.  Or they have other reasons to not want to use Bach and Mahler this season.  Or maybe Crystal is trying to cancel all river cruises for 2021, and this is their way of doing so in their own terms (to prevent sudden requests for refunds).  I guess we will find out the real story when we do.

I called them yesterday as I am looking at booking a cruise and wanted to change dates I was holding. It took forever to get ahold of someone. I assume it was because people were having to rebook.

 

Yep - all will be revealed eventually.

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It seems likely to me that Crystal is just consolidating unsold inventory to fewer ships, due to lack of demand, and performing very poorly at it.  We had booked a penthouse on the Bach for a Rhine cruise and were given several “rollover” options when it was cancelled. We chose one on the Debussy departing 4 days earlier, dutifully filling out the manual on-line form. When the confirmation was sent, it was for a suite half the size, with no explanation to us or our TA and no alternative options offered in our suite category. Seems very bush league for a supposedly luxury line. 

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On this topic, I recall this article from SeaTrade Magazine, published on 28 May 2021:

 

"Crystal River Cruises said plans are well underway to resume service in Europe starting Aug. 29.
Anne Kalosh | May 28, 2021


'"We are cautiously optimistic about the recent news from the European Union allowing entry for vaccinated travelers,' said Walter Littlejohn, SVP and managing director, Crystal River Cruises.

Individual member states impact multi-country itineraries
He called the EU's recently approved protocol a 'necessary and welcome step toward the resumption of unfettered European river cruising,' adding: 'It is important to note the adoption of these protocols by the individual EU member states that impact our multi-country itineraries is a critical next step, as the member states ultimately control the borders.'

Littlejohn said Crystal is assessing its final deployment for fall/winter 2021 and will communicate further details when completed.

'We are readying the fleet as well as our devoted crew members in advance of resuming service to refresh their skills, ensuring the six-star standards for which our award-winning river ships are known,' he said.

"Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.  Seatrade, a trading name of Informa Markets (UK) Limited."

 

While the rollout of this final deployment seems to be fraught with a lack of transparency and the customer service to be expected of a luxury line, what is happening DOES seem to be in line with the CEO's statement.  We are booked on the Ravel itinerary departing on 27 October and all categories are showing "Call for Availability" except the lowest two.  A quick check of other sailings show similar status.  Not having anything to do with the cruise industry beyond as a client, I wonder if it would it be deleterious to make a public statement that Crystal is consolidating cruises in fall 2021 to two ships and the rationale (staffing, efficiency, whatever?)  People fill in vacuums of information with their own theories--which tend to be negative.

 

I'm also hoping that communication will extend to what testing will need to be done for the cruise--beyond whatever is needed for entry to the first country visited prior to embarkation--plus what Crystal has planned for U.S. citizens who will need a COVID-19 test before flights home.  We realize this is all a moving target, but will be watching for experiences of those on Ravel sailing 29 August and Debussy shortly thereafter.

 

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Another announcement for more cancellations on both Bach and Mahler were made today.  Nowthere's only one cruise each still not accounted for Bach and Mahler.  I'm not sure why they didn't include the last two in this announcement.  Crystal's strategy to announce additional cancellations every 2-3 days makes no sense to me, and it is concerning to me that they have to consolidate their river cruises from 4 ships to 2.  I was assuming, incorrectly, that they were selling their river cruises well, just like the other lines.  Hopefully Crystal does not run out of cruises to cancel after they cancel the remaining two for December, and start cancelling those on Debussy and Ravel in the next 4-6 days.  I've already made changes to my plans, and I'm not sure if I want to make more.

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Do you really think that the other lines are selling well? I doubt it. While there are some people gung ho to travel, there are others who aren’t even sure about 2022. 

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26 minutes ago, gnome12 said:

Do you really think that the other lines are selling well? I doubt it. While there are some people gung ho to travel, there are others who aren’t even sure about 2022. 

I don't know for sure, but I have been told by my TA (who, until very recently, was doing most of his business with Crystal) is selling a lot of river cruises, and having trouble finding alternatives for some of his customers who, for some reason or another, is interested in re-booking their river cruises with other lines.

 

On a related topic, I would be very curious to know if other river cruise lines are doing what Crystal is doing with their river vessels.  Are they consolidating their cruises by cancelling some of their ships (almost??) altogether for the 2021 season?  If this is the case industry-wise, I can envision both passengers and travel suppliers (hotels, tour operators, etc.) being flooded with need to do a lot of rescheduling/rebooking.  I'm sort of glad I am not in the travel/leisure industry, but just merely a consumer of their services.

Edited by Psoque
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42 minutes ago, Psoque said:

On a related topic, I would be very curious to know if other river cruise lines are doing what Crystal is doing with their river vessels.  Are they consolidating their cruises by cancelling some of their ships (almost??) altogether for the 2021 season?  If this is the case industry-wise, I can envision both passengers and travel suppliers (hotels, tour operators, etc.) being flooded with need to do a lot of rescheduling/rebooking.  I'm sort of glad I am not in the travel/leisure industry, but just merely a consumer of their services.

I mentioned in a post, I think the Avalon one, that it appeared they were doing some consolidation as well.  For example, my Romantic Rhine route seemed to be cancelling all the Tuesday departures, but keeping all the Saturday departures.  I can't specify the reason for sure.  It very well could be demand. As of yesterday, my Oct 16th cruise is 72% full.  That is higher than some others I've seen on here though.

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Crystal announced this afternoon on their website that the remaining 2021 cruises on Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler have been cancelled.  Now that they have ran out of cruises to cancel for these two vessels, I'm hoping that this is the end of all cancellations for the 2021 Crystal river cruises.  However, I'm not holding my breath, and have not purchased the flights for our cruise that was re-booked on Crystal Debussy.

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41 minutes ago, Psoque said:

Crystal announced this afternoon on their website that the remaining 2021 cruises on Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler have been cancelled.  Now that they have ran out of cruises to cancel for these two vessels, I'm hoping that this is the end of all cancellations for the 2021 Crystal river cruises.  However, I'm not holding my breath, and have not purchased the flights for our cruise that was re-booked on Crystal Debussy.

Sounds like your theory was right.

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  • 2 weeks later...

What's unclear to me, though, is what Crystal is planning to do now.  Are they trying to just sell them for cash and depart from the river cruise business?  Or are they planning to continue to operate the ships on a leaseback arrangements??

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8 minutes ago, Psoque said:

What's unclear to me, though, is what Crystal is planning to do now.  Are they trying to just sell them for cash and depart from the river cruise business?  Or are they planning to continue to operate the ships on a leaseback arrangements??

My guess is to sell.

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