Riverside Ravel Review

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Palm Court lounge on Riverside Ravel (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Seahorse Suite on Riverside Ravel (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Indoor swimming pool on Riverside Ravel (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
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Editor Rating
Very Good
Chris Gray Faust
Executive Editor, U.S.

Riverside Ravel has good bones: The 114-passenger ship was custom-built for the defunct river arm of the original Crystal Cruises luxury line. The current owners, Riverside Luxury Collection, took over Riverside Ravel in 2023, making few changes and hiring back many of the Crystal staff.

A German luxury hotel company, the Seaside Collection, backs Riverside, and so it makes sense that the vibe onboard is more hotel-like than you find on your average river cruise. There are no forced port talks in the lounge before dinner, for example. Tables in the dining room are set up for couples and small groups, and you’re never forced to sit with strangers.

The hotel spirit extends through the experience. Unlike other luxury river cruise lines like Tauck, Riverside doesn’t necessarily hold your hand. The ship has onboard concierges to help navigate its shore offerings; the rooms also come with butler service, although we found this to be less helpful than the regular housekeeping steward. There’s no real “cruise director,” or organized entertainment like you find on a luxury river line like Uniworld, either. Instead, expect your evenings to consist of leisurely meals; the after-dinner crowd at the bar is fairly sparse.

As with most luxury cruises, quite a bit is included in your Riverside Ravel fare – at least if you’re North American. Alcoholic drinks (with the exception of premium selections), at least one shore excursion in each port, gratuities, Starlink WiFi, an in-room mini bar, room service and transfers are all part of the fare.

Riverside Ravel Itineraries Center Around France’s Rhone River

Riverside Ravel sails on the Rhone River in southern France. Typical itineraries begin in Lyon and end in Avignon. Unlike many river cruises, Riverside Ravel sails itineraries of different lengths, as opposed to the standard week-long river cruise. That makes it easy to jump on the ship for a four-night cruise if you’re traveling elsewhere in France or Europe.

Port stops on a weeklong itinerary include an overnight in Lyon, an overnight in Arles, an overnight in Viviers and a stop in Tain L’Hermitage. We were a bit surprised that we were bussed to Avignon from nearby Chateaunuef-du-Pape; it meant that our time in this highlight along the route was limited. We were also surprised that none of the excursions offered took us near the famed Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct bridge that is considered a symbol of Provence.

Our advice: There is so much to see and do along this route for wine lovers, foodies, history buffs and art lovers – plus anyone who loves to shop – that you might want to add some time on the front or back end of your trip.

Riverside Ravel Deck Plans Include an Indoor Pool and a Top Sundeck with a Bar

Riverside Ravel whispers luxury, more than screams it. Public rooms are attractively decorated, with marble and chrome. The Palm Court lounge is one of our favorites on any river ship, with floor-to-ceiling windows that extend into a partial glass ceiling that lets light stream in.

The indoor pool area at the back of the ship is another pleasant public space. Surrounded by loungers, the pool is big enough for a few friends to cool down, and the space also has bottled water and a faux fireplace feature. You really wouldn’t come here to work out, however; there is a small gym, with a few cardio machines, mats and weights, on the first floor.

Riverside Ravel has one of the best top sundecks in river cruising, thanks to a “pop up” bar. It makes the top deck a more convivial place to gather. Riverside Ravel also has shaded outdoor sofas, plush lounge chairs and tables for a drink or a nosh. Once per sailing, the ship holds an outdoor BBQ on the top deck, complete with prawns, tomahawk steaks and suckling pig.

Another feature of Riverside Ravel is that only decks 2 and 3 are used for passengers; there are no “aquarium class” rooms at water level (instead, this real estate is used to house crew). The laundry is also down on the first floor, along with a small spa for massages and facials.

An elevator runs between decks 2 and 3. Since the main staircase between decks is a somewhat tight spiral one, plenty of people chose to use it, rather than squeeze past others. This staircase can sometimes cause a bottleneck after or before excursions, when lots of people are coming and going, or before dinner when many people head down to the Waterside restaurant.


Fantastic food and wine; well-appointed cabins; airy lounge; pop-up bar on top deck


Shore excursions and onboard communication are disorganized; no onboard programming

Bottom Line

A good choice for more independent travelers who don’t like port talks or communal dining.


Passengers: 110
Crew: 80
Passenger to Crew: 1.32:1
Launched: 2023


Included with your cruise fare:

  • Main dining room; Bistro at breakfast and lunch; room service

  • Unlimited beverages (in all-inclusive package)

  • Shore excursions (in all-inclusive package)

  • Gratuities

  • Wi-Fi

  • Transfers to and from airport

  • Self-service laundry

Not included with your cruise fare:

  • Spa services

  • Vintage Room; Bistro dinner (some fares)

Fellow Passengers

Who Is On Board Riverside Ravel?

Riverside Ravel aims to draw primarily North Americans with its all-inclusive offering. That said, the line is working up different fare structures, including a la carte pricing that is more in line with how Europeans travel.

The short itineraries that Riverside Ravel offers are meant to appeal to Europeans seeking a quick break or international travelers who have a river cruise as part of a longer holiday. On our sailing, passengers from the U.S., Canada and Germany were represented.

There are no solo cabins on Riverside Ravel. However, the smaller cabins carry no single supplement in 2023 and 2024. The ship does not hold meet ups of any kind.

The elevator onboard only goes between decks 3 and 2, making it difficult for people in wheelchairs to get to the top deck or down below for the laundry.

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