Crystal Cruises is ‘upping the ante” by entering the river cruise sector with more than twice the number of vessels originally planned.

Crystal River Cruises will deploy five luxury river yachts – three more than previously announced – with the first ultra-luxury river vessel starting in 2016, year earlier than first indicated.

President and chief executive, Edie Rodriguez (pictured), confirmed that four new-build vessels – twice the originally planned deployment – have been ordered for delivery in 2017 from the German shipyard Lloyd Werft.

Crystal has also completed the purchase of the German built MS Mozart, claimed to be the largest river cruise vessel in Europe carrying 160 passengers.

Following an extensive revamp in dry dock, the re-designed vessel will be renamed Crystal Mozart start sailing on the River Danube on July 13, 2016.

Crystal Mozart is designed to fit into the wider locks of the Danube from Passau in Germany to Budapest in Hungary, and holds the record of being the largest river cruise vessel on European rivers, measuring 75.1 feet wide, which is double the width of an average industry river boat. Features will include multiple dining rooms, a wrap-around promenade, spa and fitness centre, indoor pool, beauty salon and library.

The four new all-suite luxury river boats will enter service in June and August 2017, 220 square feet suites, deluxe suites of 250 square feet, a penthouse suite of 500 square feet and a two-bedroom Crystal Suite of 750 square feet.

The new vessels will feature a Palm Court with dance floor and glass domed roof, a library, fitness centre, spa and sporting equipment such as electric assisted bicycles, kayaks and jet skis. Designed with the maximum size to fit into the locks of rivers and under bridges, two of the Crystal River Yachts will cruise the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers with 110 passengers.

The other two, each carrying 84 passengers, will cruise in France, along the River Seine and the Garonne and Dordogne rivers as well as navigating through the Gironde Estuary.

The two new builds cruising on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers will be named “Crystal Bach” after the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach and “Crystal Mahler” after the Austrian composer Gustav Mahler.

The two new builds cruising on the Seine River and Garonne River will be named “Crystal Ravel” after the French composer Joseph Maurice Ravel and “Crystal Debussy” after the French composer Claude Debussy.

Itineraries, fares and bookings will be available from November 30.

The announcement comes just months after Crystal Cruises unveiled ambitious expansion plans with the addition of Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Yacht Cruises, Crystal Exclusive Class ocean vessels and Crystal Luxury Air.

Rodriguez said: “In response to travellers’ and travel agents’ enthusiasm for Crystal River Cruises, and through Crystal’s innovation, we are upping the ante once again, bringing ‘true luxury’ to the river cruise sector with the largest guest suites and public spaces, the highest crew-to-guest-ratio and Crystal’s award-winning service.

“Once the transformation of Crystal Mozart is completed, it will truly be the crown jewel of the European rivers.”