River Venture, which runs 10-night cruises from Paris north into Normandy, spent the first season after its 2013 launch cruising on the Rhine River. Vantage moved the ship in its fleet to the Seine in 2014 specifically because of its size and ability to dock in Normandy at the port of Honfleur, where the Seine empties into the rough waters of the English Channel.
At 360 feet, the ship is over 80 feet shorter than many of its former competitors on the Rhine, but it also carries as many as 65 fewer passengers. And odds are the 134 passengers the ship does carry will be American on most cruises; over 95 percent of River Venture passengers hail from the U.S.
Onboard River Venture, there's a focus on function over form. Decorations are neutral and largely monochromatic, with browns and beiges and wood accents throughout the ship. The furnishings are simple. The ship's exterior isn't beautiful, and its interior decoration is closer to that of an airport hotel and conference center than a luxury hotel.
But in-cabin conveniences, like a wonderfully spacious bathroom and top-notch entertainment options, make the onboard experience pleasurable. Ultimately, Vantage has thoughtfully and strategically combined a few high-end perks with a mid-grade product to bring the overall experience to a higher standard.
One other positive about our cruise on River Venture was that the line was trialling a "quiet ship" concept, meaning there were very few announcements over the PA system. A spokesperson for Vantage said the trial was a recognition that its clientele doesn't necessarily need to be told what to do "every minute of the day." The move also seems to indicate that Vantage has the ability and the willingness to adapt to its customers' needs.