Crystal Bach Rhine River Cruise – Day 2 (con’t) – April 1, 2019 – Strasbourg, France (9am-10pm)

After a quick lunch on the ship, my husband and I took the 2:30 pm shuttle and went back to Strasbourg city centre for more exploration. Since my civil engineer husband loves taking photographs, he would not want to miss the Medieval architecture in this quaint little place.

After getting off the shuttle, we took a tram (line B or F) from the Republic Square to Petite France. It cost € 1,80 per person and we used our credit card to pay at the ticket machine at the tram stop.

Tram stop at Republic Square

It was a quick 3-stop ride and we got off to walk to the Swing Bridge.

We waited for about 20 minutes for the swing bridge to make an opening for the canal boat to pass

Then we walked further in Petite France to watch the canal boat passing through a narrow lock.

water level rising while canal boat was in the lock
Fast track of how the canal boat passed through the lock

After all the video-taping, we strolled leisurely in Petite France, admiring the beautiful medieval buildings.

St Pierre-le-Vieux Church, Petite France in Strasbourg
The Tanner’s House on the left with other half-timbered medieval houses
Rue du Bain aux Plantes, Petite France in Strasbourg

Walking along the lovely street of Rue du Bain aux Plantes to the Cathedral Square, we were eager to try some French coffee at Christian Patisserie before attending a private organ recital in the Strasbourg Cathedral.

Stained glass with the beautiful organ on the right

After the closing of the cathedral at 6 pm, we attended a 15-minute organ recital, followed by a private tour of the cathedral.

The Strasbourg astronomical clock in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame
Touch the dog’s nose to make a wish come true
We walked past this model of the Strasbourg City, with the cathedral in the middle. and the canal around it.

After dinner at Bistro, we attended “The Modern Strings”, a well-presented show by a virtuoso violinist, Anna-Maria Barth. It was pleasing to the general crowd with pretty good violin skills.

A very pleasant first full day of our river cruise, with beautiful nice warm weather that a jacket was not even necessary in the afternoon.

Crystal Bach Rhine River Cruise – Day 2 – April 1, 2019 – Strasbourg, France (9am-10pm)

Docking Location: Strasbourg Pier 11, Rue de la Minotarie

We passed through many many locks on the first day, some through the night, but it didn’t bother our sleep, though we could feel the difference in movement and faintly hear the engine.

As soon as I woke up and opened the curtain, a very disappointing sight appeared…we docked with our side against the dock and our view was completely blocked by the concrete. Next time we have to book a deck 3 room to minimize such views!!

Just one deck higher would offer a much more pleasant view

Crystal Bach docked at Strasbourg, France, with industrial cargo docks surrounding us

Other than the not very desirable docking location, Strasbourg was probably my favourite day of the entire cruise, with so much to see in one day.

At 9:30 am, we departed for the 4.5 hour complimentary tour: Panoramic Tour of Strasbourg & Canal Boat Cruise. Make sure you sit on the left Of the bus as there was so much more to see on that side going from the dock to the city centre. We passed through the bridge linking the trams between France & Germany, Russian Orthodox Church, Council of Europe, Jewish Synagogue and many more sights. Along the way, we saw many storks in their nests on pruned sycamore trees.

Storks in their nests on almost every tree we passed by

The coach dropped us off at Republic Square(Place de la Republic) and we had to walk for about 15 minutes to the Cathedral.

Big open Republic Square

Crystal provided shuttles from dock to city centre at 10 am, 12 noon, 2:30 pm & 4:30 pm.

Strasbourg Cathedral, our meeting place

This was where we went on the 1-hour canal boat cruise at 10:30 am.

canal boat cruise
Vauban Bridge – Where the canal boat turned around

There were so many beautiful sights (e.g., locks, canals, swing bridge, Petite France, etc.) we passed by that we decided to go back to town so we could explore more.

During the 1-hour free time, we got on the Petite Train from the Cathedral Square, then went back to ship for lunch using the Crystal Shuttle that departs at 1 pm from Republic Square. The Petite Train was 7 Euros each and the whole journey was 40 minutes. The narration was great and it gave us some directions of where we should go in the afternoon.

Petite trains that run every half hour
Passed by the Vauban Dam where our canal boat turned around
14th century stone towers at Ponts Couverts

Followed the Crystal rep to walk to the shuttle waiting at Republic Square. Lunch on board.

Crystal Bach Rhine River Cruise – Day 1 – March 31, 2019 – Embarkation in Basel, Switzerland

Docking Location: St. Johann Pier 1

After 1.5 hours, our flight from London arrived in Basel, Switzerland. Since Crystal moved the departure time from 8 pm to 5 pm, there was no time for us to visit the Basel Old Town which was directly opposite the dock.

We were the 1st ones to get to the passport control and got our luggage 30 minutes after arrival. Very impressed with the super fast service at Basel Airport!

As soon as we stepped into the airport arrival hall after collecting our luggage, we were greeted by a Crystal rep who ushered us to the luxurious Crystal Coach. The 15-minute drive to the dock led us past the Old Town to our boat.

When we arrived at the dock, we could only see the Crystal tent. Where was the boat?

Crystal Bach at Basel dock

We had to walk down the ramp to get to the boat. Having a Deck 2 suite on the Starboard (right) side of the ship, our view from the room was facing the dock. We booked too late last November so all rooms including the Petite suites on Deck 3 were sold out, so we had to take a less desirable room location on Deck 2.

Suite #205 was quite spacious with a King bed, bathroom with double sinks and a walk-in closet. I loved the panoramic window that could be lowered to form a balcony. It’s an extremely clever design. The lowering of the window took 39 seconds and as soon as the glass was touched, the window would stop moving as a safety feature.

Beautiful panoramic window with a view of the Basel dock
Lovely room with bathroom behind the King bed and a walk-in closet next to the desk

Bathroom with a big shower and Etro products
walk-in closet with a safety deposit box and lots of storage
The little entry way with bathroom on one side and the door of the walk-in closet on the other

After a quick cup noodle snacks, we attended the muster drill in the Palm Court with the new Crystal safety vest.

The best muster drill on board, comfortably sitting in the Palm Court

Crystal Bach Rhine River Cruise – Day 1 – March 31, 2019 – London, England to Basel, Switzerland

We used our free voucher to stay at Marriott Courtyard at London Gatwick before flying to Basel. Being a Marriott Platinum elite member, we got free upgrade to a spacious junior suite with food credits to have buffet breakfast at the hotel. We had to move the clock forward that weekend so we lost 1 hour sleep.

Junior suite on the 3rd floor directly above hotel entrance

Although it was an easy 15-minute walk to the South Terminal where we could take the shuttle train to the North Terminal, we chose to pay £3 each for the Airport Transfer bus to take us all the way to the North Terminal where our flight departed. The bus ran every 20 minutes directly from the hotel & we just paid on the bus.

15-minute bus ride to the North Terminal, then walked 5 minutes from bus stop to the terminal

Super easy check-in with Easy Jet. Their online check-in opened 30 days before departure date so make sure you check-in as soon as you can as they tend to overbook. We paid for 1st row seat with speedy boarding & 1 piece of check-in baggage for £78 per person. At the gate, they announced that whoever could leave 1 day later would get €500 compensation with a 1-night hotel stay. Too bad we were in a rush to get to the cruise port so we couldn’t get the deal!!

The flight was on time & we got to Basel at 2:40 pm.

Rhine River Cruise on Crystal Bach from Basel to Amsterdam – March 31 – April 7, 2019

Getting ready …

In 10 days my husband and myself will be sailing the Rhine on Crystal Bach…getting super excited!!

Unfortunately, we received an email on March 6, just 3 weeks before our sailing, that the departure time from Basel was moved ahead from 8 pm to 5 pm. All aboard time would be at 4:30 pm.

That totally freaked me out as our flight arrival time at Basel is 2:30 pm on the departure day. So I sent an email to Crystal regarding the sudden change and they replied that if we missed the boat then we’ll have to pay for hotels but they would try their best to assist. That’s a “typical” reply from the cruise company. So my warning is NOT to arrive on the same day as embarkation! They even gave us the emergency number of the “Ravel” though we are sailing on the “Bach”. Crystal’s pre- and post-cruise customer service and communication is definitely below par, as seen from a few of the past incidents. Get a good travel agent to make sure that everything goes fine before the actual sail date. Look at the route map below that shows our sailing from the official Crystal site that says “Danube River” instead of “Rhine River”. Numerous little mistakes like that are all over the Crystal website.

Hopefully we won’t have to use the contingency plan.