Crystal’s River Cruise Ships Sold to Start-up German Cruise Line

Crystal Cruises river cruise ships
Crystal's river cruise fleet has been sold to a German start-up cruise line (Riverside)

Published Jan 10, 2023 3:59 PM by The Maritime Executive

Crystal Cruises’ river cruise ships are being sold resolving the fate of another piece of the former Genting Hong Kong fleet. The river cruise ships have been laid up for a year since the financial collapse of Crystal Cruises and its parent company Genting Hong Kong and were not included in the previous sale of the Crystal Cruises brand and its two large, ocean-going cruise ships.

Reports from Germany indicate that the four 443-foot vessels built by MV Werften for Crystal in 2017 and 2018 are being sold to a newly formed brand called Riverside Luxury Cruises. The river cruise company is the offshoot of the Seaside Collection, a German company that owns and manages boutique hotels in Europe and the Maldives. Their goal is to start a luxury river cruise brand.

Plans for Riverside were announced in October 2022 when the company purchased the Crystal Mozart, the first of Crystal’s river cruise ships. The Mozart, a well-known vessel, had been acquired in 2015 and was used to launch Crystal’s river cruises in 2016. She was joined by the four newly built ships, Bach, Ravel, Mahler, and Debussy, to build out Crystal’s river program. Reports indicate that Riverside has now acquired the four newer ships which will again run alongside the Mozart.

The Mozart was originally built in 1987 and sailed for many years with the German company Deilmann Cruises. When she was built, with a length of 395 feet and a 75-foot beam, she was the largest river cruise ship, a title she would hold for nearly 30 years. She was designed to operate on the Danube capable to navigate the river from Passau in Germany to Budapest in Hungary.

Crystal refurbished the Mozart which has accommodations for approximately 150 passengers. Among her unique features is an indoor swimming pool. Riverside had previously announced that they would start operations in April sailing the Danube with the Mozart.

The four smaller vessels measure 443 feet in length and were designed to fit through the locks on the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal and navigate central European rivers. They were built at a cost of approximately $18 million each and carry 110 passengers in luxury accommodations.

“We are thrilled by the expansion of our fleet to include these storied vessels,” said Gregor Gerlach, founder of the company. “This acquisition allows us to expand our itinerary offerings, showcasing a level of space, personalized service and elegance not found with any other river cruise line.”

They plan to restart the newly renamed Riverside Ravel operating on the Rhône and Saône from Burgundy to Provence, while the newly renamed Riverside Debussy will also cruise on the Rhine between Amsterdam and Basel. The remaining two vessels will return to service in 2024.

The sale of the river cruise ships completes the disposition of the Crystal fleet, leaving only two larger cruise ships previously operated by Dream Cruises to be resolved. Genting Hong Kong’s World Dream cruise ship was recently offered for sale in an auction run by the court in Singapore. Reports are indicating that the ship failed to attract bids while the older Explorer Dream cruise ship remains laid up in the anchorage at Port Klang, Malaysia.