On the Horizon: Riverside Luxury Cruises Will Debut This Spring

Starting this spring, the new Riverside Luxury Cruises will set sail on the Danube and Rhone/Saone rivers; plus, Rhine River voyages are also expected to begin later in 2023. Luxury Travel Advisor recently chatted with Jennifer Halboth, CEO, Americas, Riverside Luxury Cruises, about the new line, its luxury focus and what advisors can expect.

Ship Size and Design

Above all, “we’re going to pick up where Crystal left off,” emphasizes Halboth, pointing to “design, comfort and space.” That refers in great part to five former Crystal River Cruises' vessels, which were acquired for Riverside by parent Seaside Collection, a luxury hotel company based in Hamburg, Germany. Riverside is a subsidiary of that hospitality group. 

Many advisors will get their first look at the 162-passenger Riverside Mozart (the former Crystal Mozart) at the upcoming ASTA Global River Cruise Expo in Budapest, Hungary, on March 15-18. This spring, that vessel will begin operating three- to 14-night itineraries on the Danube River. In addition, the 106-passenger Riverside Ravel will begin sailing France’s Rhone River in spring 2023. Itineraries will operate between Burgundy and Provence.

Riverside also expects to launch Riverside Debussy this year on the Rhine River. While that ship's itineraries and pricing are not yet "live," Halboth tells us that she expects the ship to debut in 2023. "It's absolutely still the plan, yet we may just delay the start of the sailing dates," she says. "As a reminder, we only took possession of the ships a bit over a month ago."

She continues: "We are moving quickly to get all content correct and up on the [website] and as with most things in life (think kitchen remodel) it always takes longer than you’d like. Yet it will happen."

In turn, Riverside Mahler and Riverside Bach will begin sailing European rivers in 2024. 

All the river vessels offer all-suite accommodations with king-sized beds. Officials promise a high guest-to-crew ratio and service that's at the former Crystal River Cruises' level—or even better.

What's New?

What changes or updates will the ships receive prior to their service start-up? “Those ships were only sailing for a couple of years,” explains Halboth, describing updates made over the past few months as “nothing drastic.”

Most noticeable for guests, she says, is a new dining concept. It will be added to Riverside Mozart’s top Deck (see photo below).

The top deck of Riverside Mozart will be refreshed with a new dining concept.  (Riverside Collection)

"We are adding a barbecue lunch to the Sky Deck, so that guests can enjoy one of their meals al fresco if they wish," says Halboth. The lunch will include grilled meats, vegetables, salads, drinks and more. That not only creates more dining variety, but also encourages guests to make use of one of the best areas of the ship, she believes.

Separately, guests can expect to see some cosmetic updates to the ships, including new art accents, new vases added to tables, and all new robes and towels in guest accommodations. 

For this inaugural year, what else is new? Most notably, Riverside’s pricing will be about 45 percent less than the former Crystal Cruises' pre-pandemic fares, Halboth says. Those inclusive fares include such elements as drinks, select excursions in every port, transfers, gratuities and Wi-Fi.

Voyage Length Diversity

Citing significant differences in how each luxury traveler prefers to vacation, Halboth says Riverside’s diverse voyage lengths will allow advisors the opportunity to work with a local destination management company (DMC) and build a highly customized client vacation around the river voyage.

So, for example, the agency and DMC might customize a week-long Vienna stay for performing arts enthusiasts. The guests would receive tickets to multiple concerts or performances and head out with exclusive, private car touring to musical heritage sites. Those upscale activities could then be coupled with Riverside Mozart’s five-night “Mozart’s Overture” itinerary. This short voyage will operate roundtrip from Vienna, Austria, with calls at Bratislava, Slovakia, and Budapest, Hungary. Or, an even shorter, three-night “Enchanting Capitals of the Danube” itinerary will operate from Vienna to Bratislava and end in Budapest.

In contrast, travelers may desire a longer river journey with a short pre- or post-cruise stay. For example, Riverside’s seven-night “Eastern Danube Discoveries” will sail roundtrip from Budapest and include various Balkan countries and the Danube Gorge and Iron Gates. Nine-night “Mozart’s Dreams” itineraries will operate through the scenic Wachau Valley and also visit Budapest, Bratislava, Passau in Germany and Linz in Austria. And there are up to 14-night voyages, too.

On France's Rhone River, Riverside Ravel also will operate many different itinerary lengths. A four-night “Impressions – From Provence to the Auvergne” voyage will sail between Arles and Lyon, while a seven-night “Stunning Rhone and Saone” itinerary will navigate between Arles and Chalon sur Soane.

Wellness and Culinary


Jennifer Halboth, CEO, Americas, Riverside Collection
Jennifer Halboth, CEO, Americas, Riverside Luxury
(Photo by Riverside Luxury Cruises and The River Collection)

Each of Riverside’s river vessels will carry bicycles and offer an onboard fitness center and indoor pool. In addition, all vessels will offer spa and salon services. Riverside Mozart, the largest vessel in the fleet, will have two spa treatment rooms, while the other ships will each have one treatment room.  

Will Riverside seek out a bit younger audience than Crystal typically attracted? Rather than targeting any one generation of luxury travelers, Halboth says that the line desires to become the top choice for “a variety of luxury clients.”

One prime focus for the new brand is on the culinary and wine side. Most notable? Halboth tells Luxury Travel Advisor that Riverside will spend double what the current luxury operators are spending per diem on cuisine per guest: “We’ll have multiple, larger galleys and more chefs.”

Plus, Riverside will offer 24-hour room service. The line also says that each ship also will offer a wine cellar that rivals or exceeds what's offered in the best land restaurants.

As for shore excursions, guests will have a choice of both included and premium (extra cost) shore excursions. Yes, there will be walking tours, but diversity is something the line is aiming for with guided bicycle rides, cooking classes and even helicopter or balloon rides, to name just a few of the other options. 

Trade Perks and Policies

During its inaugural year, Riverside is offering travel professionals 18 percent base commission plus a 3 percent bonus for bookings of all 2023 sailings.That's 21 percent commission if the client sails this year. The line also has special agent FAM rates, too.

Separately, Riverside has established an "Elite50" program. The first 50 travel advisors to book guests on Riverside are receiving such perks as a free cruise for two in 2023; a logo that the advisor can add to their signature; inclusion in a press release, social media campaign and webinar; a seat on the line's virtual Advisory Board; and more. 

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