Seaside Collection operates 11 properties and the new river cruise brand.

Newcomer Riverside Luxury Cruises wants to break into the growing river cruise market.The ultra-luxury cruise line operates former Crystal ships in popular European rivers like the Danube.Riverside’s 2024 cruises start at $1,055 per person for four days.

A new ultra-luxury cruise line wants to be the swankiest travel-by-river vacation option.

To do so, it’s enticing cruisers with truffle-infused butter, $320-per-person dinners, and butlers that can be beckoned with a simple WhatsApp message.

Affluent travelers, meet Riverside Luxury Cruises.

The budding company first set sail in March 2023. With a year of service under its belt, its three ships are now sailing some of Europe’s most popular rivers — starting at more than $260 per person per day.

Riverside is operated by Seaside Collection, a European hotelier.
Seaside Collection owns 11 properties and five cruise ships. Its vessels’ open-air Vista Deck has a “lounge feel” with couches, music, a bar, and high-end meals like grilled lobster.

The firm had its sights set on a river cruise venture since 2018, Jen Halboth, CEO of Riverside Luxury Cruises, told Business Insider.

Ironically, COVID-19 was the reason it got into the business.

Crystal Cruises declared bankruptcy in early 2022 amid the pandemic. Shortly after, Seaside purchased and updated five of the then-defunct cruise line’s ships.

Three of these vessels now make up Riverside’s fleet. The other two are being leased to competitor Uniworld River Cruises.

River cruising has become increasingly popular as wealthy travelers gravitate to ultra-luxury small-ship vacations.
Riverside Luxury Cruises

River cruise ships are much smaller than their behemoth ocean-based counterparts, allowing Riverside to sail in waterways like Europe’s Rhine, Rhone, Danube, Main, Moselle, and Saône rivers.

Along the way, guests can explore destinations many giant ships can’t easily access — like Budapest, Hungary; Frankfurt, Germany; and Amsterdam — sometimes visiting more than one port in a day.

One of Riverside’s shortest and cheapest 2024 voyages starts at $1,055 per person for a four-day Danube River cruise from Passau, Germany, to Vienna.
The most spacious option, the Owner’s Suite, has two bedrooms and bathrooms, a fireplace, and a private dining room.

Alcohol and excursion packages can tack on an extra $75 to $175 per person per night.

Looking to ball out? The most expensive and longest itinerary is $59,521 per person for a three-river, 22-day cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest, Hungary, in the most expensive suite with the most inclusive package.

To compare, the cheapest 2024 voyage with all-inclusive luxury competitor Uniworld River Cruises starts at $2,000 per person for an eight-day Danube River sailing.

River cruisers tend to be over the age of 55.
Excursions could include hot-air balloon rides, wine tastings, and helicopter tours. Or, guests could spend their afternoon in the spa.

But the new company is targeting guests 45 years old and older, specifically those who frequent luxury vacations but have yet to try a river cruise.

“New luxury travelers want to be pampered, get off and have an adventure, and come back and be taken care of,” the cruise line’s CEO said.

“Pampering” they will get.
Because of its width, Riverside Mozart can only sail in the Danube River, Halboth told BI.

Of Riverside’s three ships, the 394-foot-long, 74-foot-wide Mozart can accommodate the most guests — up to 162, not including the 82 crew.

Yes, it’s larger than Uniworld’s ships, which range from 32 to 159 guests. But it’s also significantly smaller than Royal Caribbean’s new 9,950-person Icon of the Seas ocean vessel.

Like most cruise liners, Riverside’s three ships have spas, buffets, and plush lounges and bars.
Riverside Mozart has a cigar lounge.

During the day, travelers can enjoy lunch at the open-air grill and relax to live music courtesy of Steinway and Bösendorfer pianos, no less.

At night, they can dine on a seven-course meal at the 295 euros ($320) per-person Vintage Room.

Riverside’s ships have up to 5 restaurants. Vintage Room is the only specialty option.
The Vintage Room can seat up to 12 people but isn’t available for every night of the cruise, Halboth told BI.

The cost to dine includes a wine pairing and plates like veal with truffle and chanterelle mushrooms and “surf and turf” with beef sirloin and scallops.

But don’t expect a lackluster, rushed meal at the other complimentary options: “This is not a churn-and-burn,” the company’s CEO said of the ships’ Waterside restaurants. “You come in for fine dining.”

Infused, whipped butter is apparently one of Riverside’s hottest commodities.
Riverside’s Mozart and Ravel sailed 52 cruises in its first year of service.

Sometimes, it has chiles. Other times, it’s infused with citrus. If you’re lucky, you’ll get one with truffles.

“People were raving about our butter,” Halboth said. “Everyone’s waiting to see what butter they’ll get at dinner each night.”

Need to sleep off all that dairy? You’re in luck. Every cabin has a king bed.
The 645-square-foot Mozart Suite has luxurious touches like a marble fireplace and a dual vanity bathroom.

Riverside’s suites range from 194 to 883 square-feet. These high-end cabins include butler service, stocked mini-bars, and espresso machines.

Some suites also have double-sink vanities and walk-in closets, a hallmark of an ultra-luxury cruise vessel.

Does Riverside’s more than $260 per person, per day fare seem reasonable now?
The three ships have fitness centers, as is traditional on most cruise vessels.

If yes, book soon. It’ll only get more expensive from here.

These fares don’t offset the amount Riverside is spending on amenities like the upscale food, according to Halboth. To make up for these expenditures, the cruise line plans to raise its prices gradually over the next two years.

The company’s CEO said bookings have been ‘a little lighter’ since the start of 2024.
The cruise line offers around-the-clock room service.

But the back half of the year is “filling up” thanks to Americans: About 70 to 80% of its guests are from North America, the company said.

Riverside will operate its Mozart, Ravel, and Debussy ships for three years as it ‘hones the brand,’ Halboth said.
The Palm Court lounge serves up cocktails and mocktails.

The cruise line’s two additional vessels would join its fleet in the next few years.

Given the growing popularity of river cruises, it’s a good time for companies like Riverside to start expanding.

However, it could face plenty of incoming competition.

Jamie Loizou, the UK managing director of luxury river cruise line AmaWaterways, is forecasting 2024 as a “pivotal” year for the river cruise industry, noting that 15 new river-based vessels are expected to launch this year, Cruise Critic reported.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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