Fledgling river cruise operator, Riverside Luxury Cruises, aspires to reach a younger market and elevate high-end cruising in Europe to a new level when it enters the market next spring.
Backed by luxury German hospitality company Seaside Collection, Riverside Luxury Cruises may be a new entrant in the cruise sector, but enters the game with one of the most luxurious vessels on European waters, the former Crystal Mozart, and an expanding team of experienced cruise experts.
That team in North America is being led by Jen Halboth, formerly of Avalon Waterways for nearly 19 years, as Chief Engagement Officer, while the sales team includes Michelle Rodriguez Suarez, who was most recently with Atlas Ocean Voyages and Carolyn Szkeres, who was previously with Crystal.
Speaking with travel advisors in a webinar on Monday [12 December] with Travel Weekly in the US, Halboth said the brand is “excited to get Mozart back in the river cruise space”.
Having acquired and recently rebadging Crystal Mozart as Riverside Mozart – following the demise earlier this year of Crystal Cruises under the ownership of Genting – Halboth said “Riverside is really going to step in and we want to fill that gap that Crystal left – that high level of service and luxury on the river”.
“We know there are a lot of great options out there now, but we felt strongly there’s so many people, especially in the luxury segment, who are still yet to take their first river cruise.”
“We want to grow the pie of people taking river cruises,” she said.
The river cruise expert said Riverside will offer four levels of pricing on board Mozart to appeal to the at-home source market in Europe, and international travelers. Those cruise fare levels are Cruise Only (suite accommodation and meals), Cruise Only plus Premium Beverages; Cruise Only plus Excursions; and All-Inclusive.
A strong focus for Riverside Luxury Cruises will be the gourmet experience and cuisine, utilising the best local ingredients and masterchef-inspired menus. Halboth said the cruise line will be doubling the per diem spend on food of other comparable cruise lines in the same space.
A separate decadent dining experience will be offered to guests in a private venue, called the ‘Vintage Room Sommelier Experience’ that accommodates between 8-12 guests. It will provide a unique pairing of wines and menus tailored according to the guest’s preference, in consultation with chefs, Halboth said. Priced at US$295 per person, it will be the kind of experience to celebrate a milestone, anniversary or a birthday.
She said Riverside is targeting a younger cruise audience, from the mid-40s and up “as the standard”.
“I think longer cruises have a tendency to skew an older demographic, whereas we have 3, 4, 5, 7-night cruises,” she explained, which would appeal to first-timers wanting to get a taste of river cruising.
Riverside Mozart will sail exclusively on the Danube – due to her extra-wide size – between the Iron Gates and Passau, with sailings including ‘must-see’ sites such as the Rhine Gorge and Wachau Valley.
Pre- and post-accommodation packages will be offered.
Riverside Luxury Cruising is offering “very aggressive” fares in its debut season, slashing brochure pricing for 2023 sailings by up to 45%, while offering clients the option to book now with no deposit until 30 January 2023. A commission of 21% (18% base plus 3% bonus) is currently offered to travel advisors for bookings on Mozart.
While the company has established a sales force to service the US/Canada, UK/Ireland and European markets, there is no indication at this stage of its plans for a presence in the Australian market.