What more can I say other than the title of this review. This was my first river cruise and though I have been on many large ship cruises this was my first on a small ship and the first on a river. Actually this Grand European River Cruise by Vantage far exceeded my expectations. I thought I would be bored on a small ship without all the facilities of an ocean liner but to my surprise this was one of the best experiences I have had on any ship. Starting with the staff. They were friendly, helpful, and very professional. Every activity was well planned out (both on board and on shore) and for the most part included in the price of the voyage. There were very few "Optional" tours. When we had to tour by bus they were of the highest caliber with local guides that were excellent.
The ship with about 130 passengers was just the right size. Our cabin had plenty of closet and drawer space for our clothes. Our cabin, while only 150 square feet, my wife and I never felt cramped. With its low draft, our ship had no trouble making the trip from Cologne to the Black Sea. The larger ships used by Viking were not able to make it to Passau due to low water levels and a deeper draft. We watched as their passengers were loaded onto buses with their luggage to be transferred to ships further down river.
The food on the ship was varied and tasteful with a number of menu choices. When we ate on shore during an all day tour, the restaurants they brought us to were very good.
While on board the ship every staff member provided excellent service (and they did it with a smile!). The Program Director was excellent (she was even there at 3 AM in the morning to see us off for our flight home making sure our arrangements were okay). Her Port Talks each evening were interesting and informative. She was always available to help if you needed it.