Exclusive: Riverside eyes remaining Crystal river ships

Exclusive: Riverside eyes remaining Crystal river ships

The co-founder of new luxury line Riverside tells Jane Archer that he will buy the remaining Crystal river ships “if the price is right”

The co-founder of new luxury river cruise line Riverside has confirmed he will buy the remaining Crystal river ships “if the price is right”.

Speaking in Vienna on Riverside Mozart, the company’s first river ship and also a former Crystal vessel, Riverside Luxury Cruises CEO Gregor Gerlach said he is interested in the Crystal ships but not if they are too expensive.

In that case, he will build two new vessels instead. One will be like Riverside Mozart, which is twice the width of normal river ships, the other will be the same as other vessels on Europe’s waterways.

Crystal bought Mozart from German operator Dertour in 2015 and spent what reportedly ran into several million dollars during a six-month refit.

Gerlach said: “We had planned to start a river cruise line in 2018, but couldn’t find a ship to suit the luxury we were looking for. Now we have the most luxurious river ship in Europe. I’m not sure we’d have spent as much on it [as Crystal].”

He said food, service and excursions were key priorities for the company. All crew who worked on Crystal Mozart have been found and will be returning when Riverside Mozart starts sailing in April 2023 and a lot of time is being spent sourcing new and different excursions.

Gerlach is expecting up to 80 per cent of passengers to be English speaking and a mix of river cruisers and first-timers. The first language on board will be English, with menus also in German.

He said: “The bulk of sales will be through the trade. Luxury needs explaining, the higher costs need explaining.” Riverside rates will be from €250 per person per day, with the top suites starting from €3,000 per person per day.

Industry veteran Stuart Perl has been appointed UK managing director for Riverside and will initially be taking on two more people to handle trade sales and work with agents. He confirmed he will be joining CLIA.

Riverside Mozart will be based in Vienna and sail three-night cruises through the Wachau Valley and four-night cruises to Budapest that can be combined into seven-night “nature and city” cruises.

There will also be two seven-night sailings on the Lower Danube as far as the Iron Gates Gorge.

“The feedback I’m getting is that people are nervous to go on the Lower Danube because of the war in Ukraine, so we’re only doing two departures and only going part-way,” Gerlach said. “When things normalise we will go all the way to the Black Sea.”

Read more: Seaside Collection enters the luxury river cruise market



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