Riverside Ravel is one of five river cruise ships acquired by the newest river cruise line, Riverside Luxury Cruises. In 2022, the line, which is part of the European-owned Seaside Collection hotel chain, bought the former Riverside Mozart from the original Crystal Cruises, which collapsed earlier in the year. Riverside went on to acquire the four "Rhine Class" vessels in the former Crystal fleet -- Crystal Ravel, Bach, Mahler and Debussy. The 106-passenger Crystal Ravel has been renamed Riverside Ravel and will debut on the rivers of southern France in May 2023.
Custom built in 2018 for the former Crystal Cruises, Riverside Ravel carries a lower number of passengers than ships of a similar size. With just 55 cabins, the additional space has been used for larger public areas and passenger amenities. This includes a greater number of dining options than you would usually find on a river vessel.
The main Waterside Restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, provides a combination of a buffet and waiter service. The smaller Bistro, inspired by European coffee houses, serves an early-bird breakfast, followed by specialty coffees, pastries, sandwiches and burgers throughout the day. In the evening, it becomes a tapas restaurant for passengers that prefer a lighter dinner, with menus featuring regional ingredients. The Vista Grill is situated on the sun deck and is an al fresco lunch venue on nice days. The top deck is designed so the wheelhouse is situated right at the front of the ship, leaving space for the grill and a pop-up bar.
A standout feature for a riverboat is the Vintage Room, which seats up to 10 passengers. The intimate venue serves gourmet dishes paired with wines.
The social heart of the ship is the Palm Court lounge, with floor-to-ceiling windows and, unusually, a glass-paneled roof that makes the room particularly light. Other onboard facilities include a glass-enclosed indoor swimming pool, small gym, massage room and a self-service passenger laundry. There is an elevator to all floors except for the sun deck which is accessed by stairs.
There is butler service to all cabins, which range from 188 square feet to a pair of two bedroom suites that measure 759 square feet and sleep up to four. The master bedroom has a king-size bed facing the window and a walk-in closet. All staterooms have panoramic balcony windows which slide down halfway to create the feel of a veranda without being able to step outside. All staterooms also benefit from 24-hour room service.
Riverside Ravel will set sail from Arles on its maiden voyage for Riverside on May 14, 2023. Passengers can choose from a four-night sailing, disembarking in Lyon, or a seven-night cruise to Chalon sur Saone.
The ship will sail on a variety of 3- to 11-night cruises on the Rhone and Saone sailing through famous wine regions including Burgundy and Provence. Ports of call include the French "gourmet capital" of Lyon -- often including an overnight stay -- Avignon with its landmark bridge and vast papal palace, Arles, where Vincent van Gogh lived and painted many famous works including "The Langlois Bridge at Arles" and the coastal Camargue wetland which provides a wild natural habitat for its distinctive white horses, black bulls and abundant birdlife.
The ship is 443 feet long and carries 106 passengers at full occupancy with around 80 crew members.