Horst Rahe must be kicking himself.
Five years ago, the hotelier and founder of Aida Cruises gladly sold his German river cruise business, A-Rosa. The days when money could be made from cruises on the Rhine, Mosel or Danube were over, he thought. Cheap ocean cruises were leading to sinking profits on the waterways.
“Riverboats need at least €800 ($1,010) per passenger for a week of vacation,” Mr. Rahe calculated. “Ocean liners can offer rates of €399 because of their large size.”
But today, A-Rosa, bought and now managed by the Düsseldorf-based private equity investment firm Waterland, is on the verge of a spectacular turnaround.