This New River Cruise Line Launches Next Month in Europe — With Fantastic Food and Extra-spacious Suites

We were on board for Riverside Luxury Cruises' first sailing. Here's what to expect when the new line launches next month.

Exterior of Riverside Mozart on Danube river in Hungary

Courtesy of Riverside Mozart

“Caviar is my favorite food group,” one of my dining companions mused.

It was piled atop a lightly seared piece of flaky halibut, surrounded by a mouthwatering beurre blanc.

We followed the fish with seared foie gras, an herb-crusted beef filet, a blue cheese profiterole, and for dessert (my favorite food group), a hazelnut sphere and petit fours. Each course was expertly paired with wines that all had a story, whether it was the Champagne that once graced the table of King Louis XIV or the white from South Tyrol, a region in Italy that’s been growing wine since the Iron Age.

This was the experience in the Vintage Room, the luxe, limited-access, 12-person dining room aboard the Riverside Mozart

Mozart is the first river ship launched by Riverside Luxury Cruises, a new cruise line and the sibling brand of Seaside Collection hotels. There is another ship coming this year, too: the Riverside Ravel. The ships are former Crystal river boats, placed back into use after the company’s bankruptcy in early 2022. While Mozart will sail the Danube, Ravel will bring passengers along the Rhine, Rhône, and Saône. Three more ships, Debussy, Bach, and Mahler, will be added in 2024, bringing the total to five — but for now, the first two will begin to officially sail in April.

Cabin bedroom with balcony on Riverside Mozart river cruise

Courtesy of Riverside Mozart

Cabin interior living room on Riverside Mozart river cruise ship

Courtesy of Riverside Mozart

Our itinerary sailed from Budapest to Vienna, a path Mozart will continue to take. From my stateroom — a Riverside Suite outfitted with a king-size bed, bidet, and palette of ocean and foam — I watched the wind pull the curtains out the French balcony door the first day, letting them billow in the breeze to announce our departure from Budapest. 

A few moments later, I was up in the Cove Piano Bar on the third deck looking for directions to lunch. 

“The basil and I are going to Blue,” the bartender said, referring to both the plant he was holding and the grill restaurant at the back of the boat. “Would you like to walk with us?”

I followed him up to the Vista Deck, the top of the ship. We took a route past the onboard herb garden, alongside early growth of rosemary, lavender, sage, and yes, that basil.

We walked from the bow to Blue’s spot at the stern. From this viewpoint atop the boat, you can see another aspect of Mozart that makes it truly special. The ship is double-wide, 75 feet across. While that may keep it on the Danube because of an inability to head through most locks, it also allows for every room to have a king-size bed; a fitness center with two rooms and Technogym equipment; one of the largest spas on a river ship today, complete with a hot tub, pool, lounge area, massage treatment rooms, and changing rooms with steam rooms and saunas; and a salon. 

The extra space also allows for an exemplary culinary program. The kitchen is double the size from other river boats — and so is the amount spent on food. Pasta and bread are made from scratch on the boat the day you eat it. And the menu changes daily, pulling inspiration (and wine selections) from the local ports of call. 

Interior dining salon with plush seating and gold accents

Courtesy of Riverside Mozart

In addition to Blue and the Vintage Room, Mozart’s dining options include the Waterside Restaurant, with daily gourmet a la carte meals; the Bistro, which turns into a tapas restaurant in the evenings; and the pop-up rooftop barbecue grill and bar (literally pop-up, it lowers into the deck for bridges). The true gourmands can take a break in the Connoisseur Club, where cigars and whisky are the stars. It’s like walking into an enormous humidor. 

“Wellness, wine, design, and space to move around,” Jennifer Halboth, the CEO of Riverside Luxury Cruises, told me. “That’s Riverside.”

Ship upper deck bar seating

Courtesy of Riverside Mozart

It’s also a family affair. Mozart has no passenger age limit and offers conjoining rooms. So, parents staying in one of the 14 expansive multiroom luxury suites on the boat could join to one of the 67 other rooms, where a nanny and children could stay. That’s perfect for the demographic Riverside is targeting: late 30s and early 40s, those with young families who are potentially short on time but love to experience new things. The itineraries themselves can be linked together, allowing for a cruise as short as three days or as long as 14 or more. Essentially, you and your family can build your own river vacation, using Mozart or one of the other ships as your floating boutique hotel. 

It’s just another way Riverside is full of surprises. As I was drinking a milkshake (banana nutella, in case you were wondering) at the Bistro, I overheard another passenger sum up the Mozart experience after locating the ice cream station: “There’s always something new I’m discovering on this ship!”

Mozart’s cruises start at $856 for three nights.

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