Insight River Cruise Insight The importance of being above water By Michelle Baran / June 07, 2017 Share 1 -- When Crystal River Cruises hosted the keel laying ceremony for two new river cruise vessels, the Crystal Debussy and the Crystal Ravel, at the Werften shipyard in Wismar, Germany last month, the company emphasized that "every category of accommodation [will be] perched above the waterline.That emphasis is significant because river cruise lines are finding themselves with a problem: there is growing demand for the balcony cabins that are on the upper decks, and less demand for the staterooms that are partially below the waterline featuring only smaller porthole windows.Last month, when AmaWaterways unveiled plans to build a double-wide vessel on the Danube, president and co-owner Rudi Schreiner said the company finally decided to go ahead with the project in part because it has noticed a trend in bookings away from the smaller, less expensive cabins to larger balcony cabins and suites.Others have noticed the same. Three years ago, Tauck introduced its innovative lofted lower-deck cabins with a higher ceiling, raised seating area and large windows that can be opened. Back then, Tauck CEO Dan Mahar confirmed that "the lower-deck cabins are [traditionally] the toughest to sell."The tweak was perhaps one of the most clever attempts at tackling the problem of how to not cut capacity too much while somehow making those lower deck cabins more appealing.But Crystal just decided to cut the capacity. According to the deck plans for the 106-passenger Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel there isn't a single passenger cabin on the first deck, and the only passenger areas there are the guest laundry, a fitness room and a spa treatment room. There are likely also crew cabins on that first deck, and perhaps part or all of the galley, too (Crystal doesn't specify on the deck plans). But, for other river cruise lines, the below-water cabins still provide a crucial role the opportunity to offer things such as solo cabins with no single supplement, or more affordable prices for families traveling together. And for some passengers, sleeping below the water line is just as restful and enjoyable as being fully above it.