Riverside Luxury Cruises is a European river cruise line that has, as its physical backbone, the former Crystal Cruise river cruise ships. While there are some of the Crystal officers and staff onboard, the philosophy of, and guest profile for, Riverside is different…and I am excited to check it out!
I previously wrote about the Riverside product a few months ago, when they first came onto the market: Riverside Luxury River Cruises – Definitely Worth a Hard Look! – Goldring Travel
I will be boarding the Crystal Mozart, the first of the Riverside ships to set sail, on May 14, 2023 on a fairly unique itinerary – Eastern Danube Discoveries: Roundtrip Budapest, visiting Hungary, Croatia, and Serbia…with a touch of Romania; a very interesting itinerary:
The staterooms and suites are essentially as they were when it was the Crystal Mozart, offerings such as the Vintage Room will be there, as will the various dining venues. (Why change something that received extremely high marks?!) But while there are areas and concepts that are similar to what Crystal Cruises offered, this river cruise line is different!
Riverside has a number of different types of guests it is looking to engage. As a backbone to this (discussed below), and as I detailed in my first article, there are four pricing options:
If you are wanting to combine two shorter cruises or take one of the longer itineraries there is a built-in 10% discount.
There are three differentiators for Riverside. First, there will definitely be a more European flavor as Riverside is German-owned and is being marketed in Europe. The Wine By The Glass List (included in the Premium Packages) reflects this with Austrian wines dominating, with Hungarian, French, Italian, and a single American cab. (Beers are Austrian and German.) The Bottle List is very international with only two American wines. Interestingly, if you have a Premium Package you receive a 35 Euro credit towards the very reasonable bottle prices.
Second, Riverside has a focus, in part, on guests who are looking for more of a hotel experience of three or four days in a local area and/or a sort of hop-on/hop-off opportunity (cruise from one place to another, spend time there, and then cruise to a final destination a bit later).
The third focus on Riverside Luxury Cruises engagement is for younger, more energetic, guests (which is not exclusive to younger guests!) in addition to the more traditional ones. Extended biking and hiking options are being offered in addition to an understanding that personal exploration, rather than always taking a tour, is an upcoming trend. The over 50 Cocktails reflect this as they are broken down into “Traditional Old School Classics” (ouch!), “Botanicals”, “Easy Going”, “Gin & Tonic Variations”, “The Amaro Club”, and “After Dinner Delights”. Definitely a more trendy approach.
So what the heck am I going to be doing on this river cruise besides checking out the Riverside onboard experience?
I arrive in Budapest late on the night before the cruise. I will be staying at Mystery Hotel, which seems to be a bit quirky and fun. But I won’t have much time there even though I will board later in the afternoon. You see, I was in Budapest on a previous river cruise and had an amazing Tokay wine tasting at Domus Vinorium as part of a Goldring Travel Culinary & Cultural Cruise back in 2014. I plan on having a wine tasting lunch.
There are no tours in Vukovar, Croatia, but with only a late afternoon there, I can’t think of anything better to do than wander the town…and possibly have a bit to eat with a local wine or beer. Next up we cruise the eastern Danube to Romania and the Iron Gates, which is really a series of four beautiful gorges.
In Belgrade, Serbia I want to have more of a local experience, rather than a typical tour, and the Culinary Morning Stroll Though Belgrade seems to be exactly what I am looking for to set me up for our long stay there. At this point, I am not sure if I want to spend my afternoon on a Forest Hike to Avala Mountain or the more political and sociology experience of Yugoslavian Heritage Experience which discusses Tito, meeting with a local to hear stories of life under socialism (real socialism) and the transition to the Republic of Serbia.
Novi Sad, Serbia remains a question for me. I don’t yet have a feel, so I don’t know if the offered walking tour is for…but isn’t that what travel is about?!
We arrive in Kalocsa, Hungary for a short three-hour visit. Claiming to be the Paprika Capital of the World, this is definitely one that I will go off and experience on my own. How many variations of paprika are there?
I am especially impressed with the uniqueness of this itinerary and the offerings on a sailing that covers a lot of territory in a short amount of time which, in turn, allows me to experience places I otherwise practically would never have access to unless I wanted to take a significantly longer cruise, a cruise focused on Christmas markets, or spend more time in Romania rather than focusing on this area.
There is space on this river cruise, so if you are interested in traveling with me (or just the itinerary!), let me know. l have a deal for you!
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