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.