Vantage in Europe
Having traveled in Europe several times over the years, a few times with a friend, but mostly by myself, I've gotten to know many countries well speaking only two languages, English and German. For the first time, ... Read More
Vantage in Europe
Having traveled in Europe several times over the years, a few times with a friend, but mostly by myself, I've gotten to know many countries well speaking only two languages, English and German. For the first time, because of a recent handicap, I decided to try Vantage Travel for a European River Tour down the Rhine, Main and Danube aboard the River Voyager. It turned out to be a bad mistake.
I advised them of my situation, being able to only walk at a slow pace, and questioned them deeply about my being able to participate in all the tours. They told me I would be able. They lied! They actually did about several things, just to get me signed up, which I'll get into. It all started with the sales office, which I called a few times over a few days. The same sales woman told me that there are two groups, a fast group and a slow group. It was all a lie, as there is only one group, a fast group for the first week, no slow group. Obviously, I wouldn't learn that until after I was on the trip, which started on the 10th. She also told me the walks would only be about 15 to 30 minutes, but that was for the fast group, not the slow group, and some of them were longer. And no consideration was given to the people who were slow movers. Probably the second or third time I called them, they told me there were only three spaces left, and that I should sign up that day or miss the trip, and I put it off for another day. It turned out she didn't tell the truth about that as well, as there were over 50 (beds?) vacancies aboard when we sailed. They were always putting pressure on you to sign up and would tell you anything you wanted to hear and more, which was not always the truth. She also mislead me about the total price as she always just kept mentioning the $2199.00, never mentioning the supposedly $500 port docking fees I had to pay until after I decided to be a part of the group to their trip. It was just not the truth to put some pressure on me to book with them. There were a few other things she mislead me about as well, regarding the food and wine. Over all, their company is not one to be trusted. I have never been mislead and lied to in the travel industry, which I have been a part of for over thirty years. I find it rather amazing that anyone would be treated this way whether your in good health or handicapped.
It wasn't until I complained to them the evening of the 19th that we were then told there would be a slow guide for the tour the next day, finally, and 20 handicapped people showed up for the tour going the next day, over 10% of the passengers. It's to bad that you have to complain to get them to do what they said they were going to do in the first place. It turned out it was the only slow walk group of the whole tour. And on the walk, a woman with a walker realized she wasn't able to keep up even with the slow group and returned to the ship within about 100 yards. Still early on the walk, the very large man, probably 300 to 350 pounds or more also fell on the cobble street and it took four people to get him up. He also returned to the ship. On the very first tour, of Cologne, it was suggested that it might be best if we didn't take the tour as it was a longer walk than normal, and I didn't go because of being on a plane for so long I wasn't sure of my feet or knees, and didn't want to be a possible problem.
The trip turned out to be a very poor tour and experience. I'll go back to doing it on my own from now on. I have to assume everything happened the way it did, because that's the way management told them to do it; no slow guide until they complain about it. When I complained to the front desk and then asked about cab fare to get to town, they didn't really know what it would be into town that night, and I asked them to call and get a correct fare which took forever. By then the shops were closed, and they were closed all the next day as it was Sunday. So only the normal or fast people were able to go into town that evening and enjoy the lights of the town and shop. As it turned out, I really couldn't trust the word of the staff tour guides aboard the ship as well. It was really disappointing, and we still had almost a week to go of a two week trip.
Even though we were going through some of the best wine country of Germany and Austria, wines from those countries were only occasionally served, but they weren't of decent quality either. Almost all the wines served with dinner were sub standard, no matter where they came from. I would buy a bottle of wine in town for four euro's, and the people I was dinning with loved it every time, and they didn't want to drink the wine served. Can't blame them. Apparently no one ever tells the company about the poor quality wines they are serving, or maybe they are, and nothing is done about it, so now they'll have their first notice on record. By the way, I write about wines from South Africa to Canada and everything in between. Either they are buying wine for three euro's or less or their wine buyer has no taste buds or knowledge of wine, and only thinks in terms of the cost.
About one week out and one person was in a hospital for two weeks with a broken hip after a fall on a walking tour, one had a broken ankle or bone and another huge man took a bad fall and was only black and blue on one side of his body a few days later. All from walking on cobble streets.
The Vantage tour guides always seemed to stretch the truth or be incorrect as well. We were to do a pub crawl, which meant visiting several bars, but starting with was to be at a brewery which was almost a stone's throw from the ship. At least that's what it said on the side of the building and that's what the guide told us. But it was only a bar, no brewery; the brewery had moved four or five years ago, and our hospitality staff didn't know that? So there would be no beer tasting, only drinking. And there was no pub crawl, we only went to that one place and had to walk back, hence, no crawl, unless maybe you had a few more beers. But there were other things as well.
I don't think I'll ever do another river cruise again, for sure not Vantage, and I'll tell you why. The walking tours are generally boring and dull as all you have to do is listen to someone telling you things that you'll never remember because you can't relate it to anything visually. And they throw a lot of unimportant stuff at you just to keep you busy listening. Whatever they tell you, you won't remember the next day. Your always outside of buildings 80 or 90 percent of the time, never inside to see the things that will leave an impression on you. You end up wasting a lot of time, partly because some people are late, some guides just like to talk and don't want to take questions. You always spend a lot of time on the bus. Things are not very efficient in Vantage. I even spoke to one of the VP's that happened to be aboard, Carol, and she told me they are aware of the problem with fast/normal speed groups and the requirement for slow speed groups for handicapped people. But they haven't done anything for years, and they won't. They just want to book you on board and then forget you. If that is their attitude, they shouldn't even book any handicapped people on board. She just ignored the fact that the lady I mentioned which I spoke to lied to me, obviously just to get me booked. She ignored the fact. Her lack of concern just reinforced what I assumed earlier.
And most of the people resented the brain washing attempts by the directors, by having the passengers keep telling them everything was EXCELLENT just about every time we had a meal or we returned from a tour or some other experience. They would make us say it was EXCELLENT by shouting back to them every time they questioned us about how good something was. I thought the brain washing was in very poor taste. Even the Russians could have done a better job of that.
My cabin was on D deck, or below the water line, and because of that there was a smell in the room, it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't nice either. There was also a water or fluid leak from around the toilet or the wall behind it twice, and that may have been part of the problem. I had been in a couple on upper deck rooms and here was no smell like that.
I would like to get a refund from Vantage because of the deception used to get me on this trip and other negative things that were experienced on this trip. None of the slow walkers should have been on the trip, and the accident and fall rate indicates that. I never would have signed up for the trip had I been told the truth.
Jerry Read Less