Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2023

83 the onboard experience, according to Stuart Perl, a stalwart of the luxury cruise sector who is now managing director of Riverside Luxury Cruises. “We’ll offer premium dining and culinary experiences in the onboard restaurants and bars, as well as speciality dishes inspired by the destinations we’re visiting,” says Perl. “These dishes will change as we sail from port to port, and everything will be made with fresh, highquality local produce. In addition, our trained sommeliers and bartenders will serve regional and global wines, spirits and other beverages to round off the culinary experience.” Meanwhile, Riverside Luxury Cruises’ itineraries will take guests to a mix of popular and lesser-known destinations. From April 2023, Riverside Mozart will sail various Danube cruises to ports in Austria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia. In May, Riverside Ravel will launch itineraries on both the Rhône & Saône in France, calling at destinations like Arles, Chalon-surSaône, Lyon, Tournus and Trévoux. And Riverside Debussy will cruise along the Rhine from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Basel, Switzerland. Riverside Bach and Riverside Mahler will begin operating in 2024. “The itineraries vary in length to ensure they are attractive to our key target markets, which include the USA, UK and mainland Europe,” says Perl. “Our research showed that some guests want to start and end their cruise in the same destination, whereas others like to begin and conclude in different places, so we’ve planned voyages to suit both preferences. In addition, we’ve taken a ‘modular’ approach to enable guests to customise their cruise by combining different itineraries into one long holiday – another little luxury they will appreciate.” Guests will be able to choose from a range of shore excursions throughout their cruises too. “We’ve created excursions focused on culture, history, food and wine, active lifestyles and more, so there’s something for everyone,” says Perl, noting that groups will be limited to 20 people to make the experience feel exclusive. Some of the highlights will include bicycle tours in Budapest, beer tasting or cooking classes in Bratislava, a visit to Vienna’s Spanish Riding School, and a forest hike to Avala Mountain in Belgrade, Serbia. “One of the best things about river cruising is that you can berth directly along the riverbank, so guests can step straight off the ship and right into the heart of the destinations,” says Gerlach. “This gives them plenty of time to explore the nearby attractions or take excursions. Plus, the ports are located fairly close together so we can sometimes stop at multiple places in one day. Of course, the ships are constantly surrounded by beautiful scenery too, so there’s always something to see whether we’re sailing by day or night.” Gerlach is keenly awaiting the day the first guests board Riverside Mozart, but he is cautious about planning too far ahead. “We aim to establish ourselves as the brand of choice for affluent international travellers wanting to enjoy an exclusive, six-star river cruise experience on some of Europe’s most beautiful rivers,” says Gerlach. “So, the plan for now is to stay small and continually refine our cruise product, but we may consider expanding the fleet or offering itineraries on other rivers, either in Europe or elsewhere in the world, in future. However, we’ll never become a mass-market operator with a huge fleet of ships.” Guests can expect luxury interiors and high-quality dining experiences The new Vista Grill on the top deck of Riverside Mozart allows guests to admire the scenery while dining al fresco