On Site: Riverside Debussy's Suites and Suite Service

Editor’s Note: This first article in a three-part series about Riverside Luxury Cruises details our perspective on the Seahorse Suite and suite service during a five-night cruise in March on the newly launched Riverside Debussy. A second article coming soon will provide gleanings about public spaces and programming, while a third will focus on the ship's Vintage Room experience and insight from Gregor Gerlach, co-owner and chairman, Riverside Luxury Cruises and the Seaside Collection.

For clients seeking a luxurious European river cruise, one new option is Riverside Luxury Cruises, which began sailing in 2023. It's operated by the Seaside Collection, a German-owned hospitality group. Two ships inaugurated service last year—the 162-passenger Riverside Mozart on the Danube and the 110-passengers Riverside Ravel in France. In the latest chapter last month, the 110-passenger Riverside Debussy began sailing three- to seven-night cruises, first along Belgium and Netherlands waterways and now along the Rhine, Main, Danube and Mosel Rivers.

All three vessels, as well as two others the Seaside Collection owns (now chartered under a three-year contract by Uniworld Boutique River Cruises), are all former Crystal River Cruise vessels. Built in 2018 by Crystal, Riverside Debussy had sailed for less than two years as Crystal Debussy. So, after acquiring the 443-foot-long ship in 2023, Riverside made a few repairs and touch-ups, but, overall, the line says that at acquisition, the vessel was still quite fresh in its look and feel.

To provide advisors with an on-site perspective, Luxury Travel Advisor sailed on Riverside Debussy's five-night cruise on March 23, 2024, from Brussels, Belgium, to Amsterdam, Netherlands.

In this first article, we'll focus on the suite product, what guests can expect in a Seahorse Suite, and what we gleaned from a brief tour of both a Symphony Suite (lower category) and a Debussy Suite (the op accommodation, which can be combined with a connecting suite to form the Owner's Suite, essentially a spacious condo). We'll also talk a bit about suite service from our suite attendant and butler. 

No. 215, Our Seahorse Suite

The Seahorse Suite and all others on Riverside Debussy too have king-sized beds that face a large expanse of glass.
A Seahorse Suite has a king-sized bed (as do all suites) and faces a large glass wall.  (Photo by Susan J. Young)

Boarding in Brussels, we were warmly welcomed aboard and handed a flute of bubbly. Opening our door at No. 215, a 258-square-foot Seahorse Suite, we discovered a lovely, relaxing accommodation with a boutique feel. Awaiting us on the desk were a welcome note and information about tours and daily activities, while a side table displayed a chilled bottle of Champagne and Belgian chocolates (appropriate given our Benelux itinerary).

One important facet of all Riverside Debussy suites is that they're all outside and have an extensive glass wall, providing much natural light and great river views. Best of all, guests can push a button to lower the top panel of glass. Presto, this creates a private open-air balcony. An added plus is having a second button that lowers a mesh screen to keep out any bugs. Both regular and sheer curtains also provide privacy.

Palette-wise, the ship's suites are designed with soft color tones, particularly for walls, bedding and carpeting. That's accented by splashes of color here and there. We loved our comfortable green velvet chair, complemented by a few green accent pillows on our king-sized bed. Overall, luxury guests will find suites designed and decorated with high-quality materials for fabrics, velvet and leather. 

Seahorse Suite #215 features a desk area on one wall and a door with a full length mirror leading to the walk-in closet.
A Seahorse Suite on Riverside Debussy has a bed facing a window, plus a desk and beverage area along one wall and a door with a full-length mirror that opens to a walk-in closet. (Photo by Susan J. Young)

But what else does the Seahorse Suite offer? Guests will discover a combination living/sleeping area (not two separate rooms), while the king-sized bed provides great views of the outside riverbank scenery—perfect if guests prefer to enjoy breakfast in bed one morning. Good to know: Riverside offers 24-hour room service.

A wall-mounted HDTV is viewable from the bed and the chair. The entertainment system has a good selection of movies, TV shows and more. Opposite that TV is a desk area. A large mirror graces the wall. Many guests will likely appreciate the separate makeup mirror with a movable, wall-mounted arm apparatus.

In this desk area, guests will also find a comfortable padded desk chair, several drawers and two audio sets, which guests take ashore to easily hear their guide when touring. Guests will find an outlet and a USB port in the desk area (those same options can also be found above the nightstand). We were constantly charging two phones and one laptop and the suite's offering of plugs/ports—while modest in quantity—proved adequate for our needs. 

In all suites on Riverside Debussy, guests will find a Julius Meinl espresso/coffee machine with gourmet coffee pods.
All suites on Riverside Debussy, including the Seahorse Suite, provide guests with a gourmet coffee machine and pods.  (Photo by Susan J. Young)

One side of the desk area also has many beverage options. Here, guests will find a fully stocked minifridge, a Julius Meinl espresso/coffee machine, a box holding several kinds of coffee pods, a separate teapot and an ice bucket. One nifty item? We particularly liked one cabinet that pulled out to reveal drinking and wine glasses on the lower level and a tray right above for coffee cups, espresso cups and saucers.

Two favorite things in our suite? As mentioned, we truly loved our comfortable green velvet chair, and often sat here to relax and gaze at riverbank scenery through the suite’s expanse of glass. If two people are staying in the Seahorse Suite, it's easy to simply pull the padded desk chair over to the window area as a second seat. Across the room, another of our favorite things was a small, corner accent table, which held Champagne on ice and two flutes on embarkation day. But we took a closer look at this table and liked the “double thickness” and hinges. Why so? The guests can simply lift one side and flip it down to create a bit larger table.

On Riverside Luxury Cruises, we liked this small table that folded out and down to create a larger table surface.
We liked this flexible table that was compact if desired, or the surface could simply be lifted up and then down to create a larger table. (Photo by Susan J. Young)

One special touch? Each night, at turndown, Riverside places small gifts (representative of the region of sailing) on that table. So, during different nights on our Belgium/Netherlands sailing, we received these gift items: a blue metal container containing tasty Jules Destrooper butter crisps and almond thins; a small box of Belgium chocolates; a Netherlands key chain with a windmill and tulip design; and a cheese cutter with Delft-design.

On opposite sides of the Seahorse Suite's entry area are two doors. One leads to the sleek, modern bathroom, the other to a compact walk-in closet. The bathroom’s elongated vanity has dual sinks and many handy drawers. A narrow shelf above the sinks nicely holds Natura Bisse toiletry products such as hydrating hand wash and detox hand/body balm.

A large mirror graces the wall above the vanity, and next to the toilet is a large, marbled, walk-in shower. We liked that it was equipped with both a rainforest showerhead and a hand-held showerhead (which has good water flow and spread, unlike what we've experienced on some other vessels). Guests taking a shower also will find wall-mounted containers with Natura Bisse body wash, shampoo and conditioner.

The bathroom of #215, a Seahorse Suite on Riverside Debussy, has two sinks and a walk-in shower.
The bathroom of a Seahorse Suite on Riverside Debussy has a large vanity with dual sinks and a walk-in shower.  (Photo by Susan J. Young)

While our Seahorse Suite’s walk-in closet was relatively compact, we felt that its design made good use of the space. Guests will find a decent amount of hanging space for both long and short clothes, plus five regular shelves and three drawers. One thoughtful feature? Slightly tilted shelves each have a lower lip to effectively display and hold shoes. Also within the closet, guests will discover a small personal safe, two bathrobes, two sets of slippers, two umbrellas and cloth laundry bags. We liked that upon our arrival the suite already had a zillion hangars, both regular and with clamps. So, we didn’t have to ask for more as we typically do.

Incidentally, our roller bag and hand baggage fit fine within the compact closet. Those traveling with multiple bags or larger suitcases can simply store them under the bed.

The Entry Level and Top Suites

During our time aboard, we also briefly toured two other suites at opposite ends of the accommodations spectrum. One was the 194-square-foot Symphony Suite. Along with the ship’s Melody Suites, the Symphony Suites are the ship’s smallest accommodations. Yet, all are outside suites with that same expanse of glass for great views (and the drop-down pane to create an open-air balcony). And all have butler service.

Frankly, this Symphony Suite resembles the Seahorse Suite in look and feel with a few key differences. For example, the bathroom has only one sink, not two, and the suite design offers a regular closet, not a walk-in closet. But for guests seeking good value or solo guests seeking privacy, the Symphony Suite is a great option in our view.

Best of all? Throughout 2024, Riverside is offering a select number of these Symphony suites (capacity controlled) with no single supplement. 

The Debussy Suite's living room is shown above.
The one-bedroom Debussy Suite has both a living room (shown above) and separate bedroom. When this suite is combined with the connecting Riverside Suite it transforms into an even larger, two-bedroom Owner's Suite. (Photo by Susan J. Young)

In contrast, we also toured the ultimate for those desiring "top digs." That's the one-bedroom, one-bath, 506-square-foot Debussy Suite with a separate living room and bedroom. Both of these rooms have those large glass windows with a drop-down pane. Akin to a spacious private apartment, this suite’s living room is outfitted with a dark red couch providing a nice pop of color, two comfortable, upholstered chairs, a wall-mounted 40-inch flat-screen TV, and a faux fireplace.

Plus, in the living room, guests will find a writing desk, entertainment counter area with coffeemaker and mini-refrigerator, and a dining table with two chairs. Separately, the accommodation has a large-walk-in closet (much larger than that of the Seahorse Suite) and a separate makeup/vanity area. In addition, the Debussy Suite’s separate bedroom has a king-sized bed, another flat-screen TV, and an upholstered chair, among other amenities. So, guests have plenty of room to spread out.

When combined with the connecting Riverside Suite, this Debussy Suite transforms into the 764-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath Owner’s Suite. That largest suite is a combination of Nos. 307 and 309 or Nos. 308 and 310 with a connecting interior door between the two suites.  

Personalized Suite Service

The intimate Riverside Debussy sails with one onboard crew member for every two guests. The line tells us that approximately 50 percent of crew members previously worked at Crystal, while others have come from other luxury lines or luxury hotels. Overall, service throughout the ship and in the suites seems personalized, friendly and intuitive. Both a suite attendant and butler serve every accommodation.

Our suite attendant, a nice lady from Romania, introduced herself promptly on our day of arrival. Communicating well in English, she asked about our housecleaning preferences, explained her daily services and asked if we had questions. She then demonstrated how to press handy electronic buttons near the entry door, which show crew members outside in the corridor whether guests desire their suite cleaned, or alternatively, prefer not to be disturbed.

Worth noting? One evening as we were changing for dinner, we quickly tossed our clothes worn during the day onto our suite chair. Upon our return after turn-down service, we found that the suite attendant had nicely folded the clothes and placed them atop that chair. During our second day aboard, the suite attendant—at our request—also replaced the fluffy duvet with a thinner blanket inside the duvet cover, helping keep us cooler at night.

One night our suite attendant took clothes hastily thrown on this suite chair as we were racing to dinner. When we returned, we found them nicely folded and lying on this green chair.
One evening, we tossed our day clothes onto the green chair shown above while we freshened up and changed for dinner. Later, we returned to discover that the suite attendant had neatly folded them and placed them on that chair. (Photo by Susan J. Young)

Our butler, hailing from Croatia, also proactively discussed how we could reach him during our cruise. He adeptly handled our laundry service; brought back the clean clothes later that same day; replaced certain drinks in our stocked mini-fridge; and, on our last day aboard, even was a "go-to" guy in helping us tape up an unusual-sized item we wanted to check as baggage at Amsterdam’s airport.

On Riverside Debussy, guests staying in the Debussy or Owner’s Suite also receive a few added perks. Those include free pressing and laundry service, plus complimentary limousine transfers on embarkation and debarkation day.

Coming Next: Public Spaces

Riverside Debussy has a pool that also can be used as "swim against the current" for guests accustomed to doing laps in the pool.
Riverside Debussy has a nice indoor pool and guests who are lap swimmers at home can opt for "swim against the current." (Photo by Susan J. Young)

In our next article in this series, we’ll show firsthand photos and provide perspective on all the public spaces aboard Riverside Debussy, plus look at dining, entertainment and enrichment. Our final story in this series will provide insight from our conversation with Gregor Gerlach, co-owner and chairman, Riverside Luxury Cruises and the Seaside Collection, as well as the exclusive Vintage Room experience where we dined with Gerlach on our cruise.

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