There is always a fascination with what lies behind a closed door. Backstage passes, behind the scenes access, we all crave special entrée into experiences that offer insider knowledge and rare encounters. Crystal’s luxurious river cruises on the Rhine, Danube and Moselle, offer an incredible selection of Destination Discoveries that open doors to experiences typically beyond the reach of the casual traveler.
With more than twice to three times the shoreside excursions of any other river cruise line, Crystal River Cruises showcases experiences that provide a variety of perspectives and insights on Europe’s best-loved destinations. If you think you’ve seen it all, Crystal’s shore excursion team is ready with a new twist, a hidden gem or exclusive access and curated experiences designed to shed new light on even the best-loved and most popular destinations.
We’ve asked our shipboard team to share a few of their favorites…
Wine Tasting & Coral Chant at Eberbach Monastery – Rüdesheim, Germany
Surrounded by lush forests and sweeping vineyards, Eberbach Abbey, founded in 1136, is one of the best-preserved monasteries in Germany boasting a centuries-old tradition of viticulture and winemaking. It’s an admitted favorite of the onboard Destination Team, who confess they encourage guests to book this optional tour because they themselves love it so much. Savor a glass of wine from the monastery’s own vineyards upon arrival and set off on a guided tour of the grounds.
Eberbach Abbey was the stunning setting for “The Name of the Rose” starring Sean Connery, and a side room off the Gothic dormitory was used as the monks’ writing room in the movie. Trace the footsteps of the monks to the Gothic Chapter Hall and view the historic wine presses in the Dining Hall of the lay brothers, the oldest dating to 1668.
Experience a wine tasting in the candlelit wine cellars and then bask in the spectacular acoustics of the Romanesque Basilica as you enjoy a choral chant prepared especially for Crystal guests.
Hiking the Mullerthal Trail in Little Switzerland – Trier, Germany
A call in Trier, Germany opens the door to a fairytale forest and an invigorating hike through the lush landscapes of Luxembourg’s Mullerthal Trail on this complimentary tour. The scenery begins to change as you venture into the region known as “Little Switzerland,” although you are actually encountering the lush hills surrounding Echternach, the oldest town in Luxembourg.
This invigorating eight-kilometer hike through ethereal natural landscapes is a guest favorite offering beautiful vistas through woods and valleys and punctuated by creeks, waterfalls and interesting rock formations. After the hike, enjoy the medieval ambience of Echternach and its winding cobbled streets, namesake Benedictine abbey, Gothic town hall and even the remains of one the most important Roman Villas north of the Alps.
Charming Family-Owned Winery & Tasting – Bernkastel, Germany
As you cruise the Moselle, verdant terraced vineyards are a centerpiece of the landscape. A call in Bernkastel offers the option to visit to the beautiful, family-owned Schloss Lieser wine estate to learn about the Moselle’s flagship grape, the Riesling.
Award-winning wines are a point of personal pride for the Haag family and Schloss Lieser is one of the few wineries in Germany to have received five stars in all leading German wine books. In summer 2021, Thomas Haag was named “Winemaker of the Year” by the renowned wine guide, Falstaff.
Thomas and his wife Ute have passed their passion for wine making to the next generation with their children working alongside them in the winery. Their son Niklas is engaged in his wine-making apprenticeship at Schloss Lieser, while daughter Lara assists on the business side. Meet one or more members of the Haag family as you learn about local wine production and the estate’s connection to the nearby 19th-century castle.
Best of all enjoy a tasting of several of Schloss Lieser’s acclaimed fine wines.
Amsterdam Diamond & Champagne Experience – Amsterdam, Netherlands
As one of just six guests on this exclusive optional tour, step into the sparkling, gem-studded world of beautifully crafted jewelry and fine watches at Gassan Diamonds, one of Amsterdam’s premiere diamond houses situated in a 19th century building once home to a steam-driven diamond factory.
Sip champagne as you learn about the golden age of diamonds in Amsterdam, a major diamond center since the 16th century and birthplace of the brilliant cut, still the most popular in the world.
Witness master craftsmen polishing diamonds to perfection and discover the meticulous process of transforming a rough diamond into a dazzling brilliant. Have your jewelry cleaned by an experienced goldsmith and watch a certified watchmaker service a Rolex watch. Explore Gassan’s Rolex boutique and receive a unique Rolex gift bag on this unique VIP tour.
Hungarian Wines & Spirits – Budapest, Hungary
Venture into the heart of Budapest to enjoy a wine tasting in a rustic wine cellar featuring a selection of more than 200 Hungarian wines and a philosophy based on the tradition to sell only those wines they can offer with a pure heart. Enjoy a guided tasting of a chardonnay from Mátra, a rosé from Pannonhalma, a syrah from Szekszárd, and a Tokaji from the wine region that bears its name, as well as delicious Hungarian treats including “lángos” balls made of fried bread and savory scone-like pogácsa pastry.
Stop at the Zwack Unicum Museum to learn the storied history of Hungary’s revered national drink, Unicum, and taste the original Unicum and Unicum Plum straight from the oak barrels. Crafted from a secret blend of more than 40 herbs and spices it was created by Dr. Jósef Zwack, the Royal Physician to the Habsburg Court for Emperor Joseph II in 1790. History has it that upon tasting it, Joseph II declared, “Dr. Zwack, das ist ein Unikum!” The amber liquid is ‘unique’ indeed and a must-try drink in Budapest.
Art & Music at the Belvedere Palace, Crystal Signature Event – Vienna, Austria
The Belvedere Palace, one of Europe’s most stunning Baroque landmarks, is the centerpiece of this complimentary Crystal Signature Event. Bask in the glorious gardens, likened to those of Versailles, and enjoy sweeping views of Vienna.
The impressive Baroque edifice hints to the treasures within as the Belvedere Palace houses an impressive collection of Austrian art dating from the Middle Ages, and works by renowned masters such as Klimt, Monet, and van Gogh. Enjoy enviable and exclusive access to the rooms of Klimt, Kokoschka, and Schiele with professionals on hand to offer insights on the magnificent works.
Continue your exploration of the palace to the two-story marble hall, crowned with breathtaking frescos. Enjoy a classical concert performed by opera singers, ballet dancers and members of a Viennese orchestra amid truly spectacular surroundings.
It’s not too late to book your autumn or holiday escape on Europe’s famed Rivers in 2021!
Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel are currently featuring their perennially popular seven-night itineraries on the Rhine and Danube, as well as voyages on the Moselle, holiday sailings and more.
Experience true luxury in the heart of Europe with Crystal River Cruises.