2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Biggest surprise on this cruise was the quality of the food. While I usually load up my lunch buffet plate with different options, once I taste I don't finish the dish. But on this cruise, I usually finished my plate. The majority of ... Read More
Biggest surprise on this cruise was the quality of the food. While I usually load up my lunch buffet plate with different options, once I taste I don't finish the dish. But on this cruise, I usually finished my plate. The majority of the food was excellent, much to my surprise. Other than a line for omelettes in the morning, absolutely no complaints. The soups were especially good, both hot and chilled. The ship was spotless and the tours offered were good. The folklore show on board was better than an optional excursion we had paid big $ for. Cabin was larger than many others we have had in the past on ocean going ships. The real entertainment for th is cruise was going ashore each day to experience the ports. The only time one the ship was for meals and sleeping, since the ship sailed at night and we were sightseeing during the day. The one exception was a day sailing through the Iron Gates of the Danube, where they provided commentary about the sights as we sat on the top deck enjoying the view. Thoroughly enjoyed the ship and the ports. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We had a last minute deal which included airfare and was a great value, cost wise. We had 2 days inAvignon,a pleasent town to walk around. As this was the last cruise of the season, some cafes, and galleries were closed,including the ... Read More
We had a last minute deal which included airfare and was a great value, cost wise. We had 2 days inAvignon,a pleasent town to walk around. As this was the last cruise of the season, some cafes, and galleries were closed,including the galleries on Rue Tentulier. St Pierre's chapel was delightful to visit, as was the included excursion to midieval Vienne and the extra cost excursion to the Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct. Pros- The ship has a pleasant and efficient Romanian/Buigarian staff, very good food service and cruise director/tour guide, and cabins are good size. We were upgraded to 417 which is the highest deck and had more closets and storage space and a mini fridge compared to other non suite cabins. Cons- The cabin walls are extremely thin, such that if a neighbor sneezed it was as if they were next to you and tv sound was noticeable. The latter disappeared typically by 10pm when most retired.The walls need to be improved. The river is not that scenic and that interesting to sail, frequently viewing nuclear plants, industrial sites, and trees slightly masking the parallel highways. By comparison the Douro River Vantage cruise we took in August was very scenic - hillside wineries and a few castle ruins. The Avignon stay could have been improved by a nearby visit to Nimes or Aix en Provence. The extra cost Perouges excurision was not worth $79. A tiny hamlet inhabited by about 80 people -sort of a Disney midieval open air museum. The midieve lbuildings are interesting but not as charming to view as those in our included Vienne excursion. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We made a quick decision to book Vantage's Best of Burgundy, Beaujolais, and Provence based on the itinerary, timing, and excellent deal Vantage offered. Because this trip will not be offered by Vantage next season, I've decided ... Read More
We made a quick decision to book Vantage's Best of Burgundy, Beaujolais, and Provence based on the itinerary, timing, and excellent deal Vantage offered. Because this trip will not be offered by Vantage next season, I've decided to focus my review on the ship itself as well as the crew and our overall experience with Vantage Deluxe World Travel. We had limited contact with Vantage after booking because we only had a few weeks before sailing. My one phone call to them to get a few questions answered was handled very well by the representative on the line. Our included air was set up well, with good connection times without any overly long layovers. The River Discovery II is a 4 year old ship that is kept very clean and compares favorably with higher-end (and higher priced) ships of other lines. Staterooms are well conceived, with good showers, ample storage, and a table and chairs set up to enjoy the passing view in our French balcony room. Wifi and a tv with many channels and daily itinerary information added to our enjoyment. The food was excellent. The menu often offered well-executed French specialities such as coq au vin, chateaubriand, and the like. Wine was included at dinner. The lunches also provided menu options as well as a well- stocked buffet. Breakfast was a buffet with an omelet station. The staff was uniformly pleasant, hard-working and efficient. They seemed to enjoy their jobs as well as their interaction with passengers. Both embarkation and debarkation were handled efficiently. We got into our room and had our luggage delivered within minutes. At the end of the cruise, passengers were transferred to the airport at staggered times, based on flight schedules. This resulted in a very easy airport transfer. Based on this experience, we will not hesitate to book another trip with Vantage in the future, and will recommend them to our family and friends. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2016
The service was excellent; the staff worked very hard and were extremely friendly. Everytime, we embarked or disembarked or went to eat, half the staff were there to greet us. They always greeted us with a smile. I never saw an unhappy ... Read More
The service was excellent; the staff worked very hard and were extremely friendly. Everytime, we embarked or disembarked or went to eat, half the staff were there to greet us. They always greeted us with a smile. I never saw an unhappy face on the staff. Every time you asked for assistance, you received the assistance. Restaurant staff were upbeat in bringing you food, making recommendations for your meal, and engaging in conversation with you. The cabin was very clean and spacious. I sometimes left valuable items in the cabin by mistake. No one took them. We received a lot of entertainment provided to us by the staff. The boat is very spacious. It has many recreational rooms. Many of the tour guides were very knowledgeable. The trip was relaxing, enlightening and overall a wonderful time. I am glad I went on this trip; I would go on another Vantage trip. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
I chose this cruise because of the more leisurely pace (10 days instead of 7) for a French river cruise and the availability of single cabins on Vantage vessels. Also the unfortunate downturn in French tourism led to the offer of free air, ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of the more leisurely pace (10 days instead of 7) for a French river cruise and the availability of single cabins on Vantage vessels. Also the unfortunate downturn in French tourism led to the offer of free air, which made the trip more affordable. I also wanted to see the Pont du Gard, which surprisingly few Rhone itineraries offer. The itinerary was very well designed with overnights in both Lyon and Avignon. There was free time in both cities. The guides for the shore excursions were good to excellent. The tour buses were all in top shape. The food was very good and served by a friendly, efficient staff. The Compass Rose dining room is an attractive venue. Breakfast was a buffet with an omelet station. Lunch was all-buffet some days with additional menu selections on other days. Wines at dinner were varied and of high quality. The Captain's Club on the top deck aft offers an attractive casual alternative for lunch and dinner with a lighter buffet menu. The glass roof can be opened but was not, probably because the weather was hot. The Peppermint Lounge is an attractive space to gather. Bar service there was good. Pre-dinner meetings were held there each evening to provide information on the next day's events. Cruise director Jessica Csonka was exceptional, the finest I have seen on a riverboat. She was attentive to those with mobility problems. I was surprised that there were far fewer people with canes (and none with walkers) than I had observed on other lines. The transfers between airport and ship were smooth except one problem that may be beyond the ability of the cruise line to solve. On arrival, getting from the baggage claim area to the bus required a 10-minute walk with no assistance handling the luggage. Likewise, at departure the bus had to park far from the terminal at Marseille airport and the long walk dragging luggage was very difficult for me and others. It would be wonderful if Vantage could transfer the luggage between the airport and the bus in both directions. In summary, it was a very enjoyable cruise with an attractive itinerary on a comfortable ship with fine food, wine, service and staff. I would certainly recommend it. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Booked this cruise because it was deeply discounted, found it to be the bargain of the century. It started out very rocky because of high water and a French air traffic controller strike, but Vantage scrambled and put us up in a lovely ... Read More
Booked this cruise because it was deeply discounted, found it to be the bargain of the century. It started out very rocky because of high water and a French air traffic controller strike, but Vantage scrambled and put us up in a lovely hotel for the first night, and we boarded the ship after the regularly planned excursion on day 2. The River Discovery II is a beautiful ship with an excellent crew. As with other river ships, the rooms are a bit small but this had plenty of storage area and a nice bathroom. Service was outstanding in all parts of the ship, particularly the dining room. (I'd like to know just how much wine I drank - they never let you empty your glass without refilling it.) The cabin staff, too, was remarkable: our room was meticulously maintained throughout the cruise. The food was consistently excellent, as was the entertainment. Like other river cruises, the entertainment was minimal and local, but the entertainers were very talented. Shore excursions were very educational and not too physically challenging; on occasion there would be multiple options to allow the more fit passengers to see more but with greater effort. There were two optional (extra-cost) excursions offered, but one was cancelled due to the heavy rain that preceded our cruise. The other, a visit to a medieval village, was well worth the price. My only disappointment in this cruise was in the frequency of low bridges. Unlike the Danube, Rhine and Douro, the option to sit on the sundeck and watch the world go by was very limited. There is a lower open deck, but it is small and often rather crowded. The scenery on the Rhone and Saone is less majestic, though, so more emphasis is placed on activities. One unexpected aspect of this cruise was the number of repeat passengers, many of whom consider my 30 cruises to be just a start. The majority of the very experienced traveler felt that Vantage, and this cruise in particular, offers exceptional value. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
I understand that Vantage cannot control flooding of rivers and the subsequent need to adjust itineraries. That's why I emailed them a couple of days before our departure to ask if they anticipated any problems due to the recent high ... Read More
I understand that Vantage cannot control flooding of rivers and the subsequent need to adjust itineraries. That's why I emailed them a couple of days before our departure to ask if they anticipated any problems due to the recent high water levels in France. They reported that we would board in Lyon, rather than Chalon-sur-Saone, but otherwise the trip would go as planned. My reason for asking was that my husband and I are both elderly, and we specifically chose this trip because, as a river cruise, we could get on and off the ship at our leisure at each port, rather than joining lengthy walking tours with which we have difficulty. If Vantage had honestly said that river levels had been high, and that they could not predict whether our itinerary would be affected, we would have asked to reschedule. (I hope they would have allowed us to do so, but I'm not sure.) As it turned out, we boarded at Chalon-sur-Saone, and were unable during the trip to get as far as Lyon, due to being unable to get under 2 bridges. Consequently, each day we were bused to a destination and given a tour. This did not work out well for us. The bus rides were tiring, and we could not enjoy the walking tours, due to our difficulty in keeping up with the group. Our alternative of remaining with the ship was unsatisfactory, as we remained docked at Macon for most of the trip (right next to a construction zone). On the last day, we were bused to Marseille so that we could board our flights out of Marseille the following day. After a 5-hour drive, we arrived in Avignon and were offered a walking tour. Too tired to join the tour, we sat in a sidewalk cafe, sipping wine, and people-watching for nearly 3 hours. We boarded the bus and continued to Marseille where we arrived at a nice hotel for the night, but the dinner they gave us was a disappointment: a small salad, a main course of pasta in pesto sauce (no meat), and a dessert. I'd like to commend the staff for providing great service while on the ship. Also, the meals on board were quite good. They provided wine and beer at dinner each no at no extra charge. There was some good local entertainment on the ship, and there would have been more had we been able to reach some of the scheduled ports. The staterooms were very well laid out, and they were very clean. But this could not make up for the lack of honesty on the part of Vantage. This was the 5th trip we have taken with them. Unfortunately, it will be our last. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
I've only been on one river cruise in Germany. It was a lovely trip, leisurely sailing past castles, villages and pretty countryside with a guide assigned to a small group of about 25 of us for the entire trip. It made you feel safe ... Read More
I've only been on one river cruise in Germany. It was a lovely trip, leisurely sailing past castles, villages and pretty countryside with a guide assigned to a small group of about 25 of us for the entire trip. It made you feel safe and adventurous at the same time. Vantage did not provide this experience. The rivers were swollen hence the ship moved twice, once about 20 miles downriver and back spending the entire time in the small town of Macon France, a bedroom community of Marseilles. Several passengers called before the trip to make sure we could sail, they were told we could, not true. While Vantage could not predict the weather they were well aware of the river situation before we arrived in Europe. Many of the criticisms I offer do no reflect on the river situation, but the companies response to customer service and making amends for a bad situation. All trips begin with the transportation, which Vantage arranged. When we purchased the trip we were told not to be alarmed about or itinerary or call every time it changed, but instead wait until a closer to the actual cruise. Three weeks before our departure I called about the flights, especially the return flight - Marseilles to Paris - a layover, Paris to Atlanta A FIVE HOUR LAYOVER and then a four hour flight to Phoenix...more than 24 hours. I was told: 1. they had no record of who sold us the trip, 2. I shouldn't have waited so long even though I was told to call nearer the trip date , 3. that no representative would tell us to wait, 4, that a supervisor would call us back 5. that we could change for $300. on each end, etc.,..the bottom line I never heard from customer service again, despite several calls. In fact when I pointed out I was traveling with three 80 year plus individuals I was told "well since they are that old they probably will appreciate the extra time"! The flights themselves were fine except that I requested an aisle seat on the longer flight legs as I am diabetic and claustrophobic. I was given a middle seat on both 8 hour plus flights and a window seat on the 4 hour flights. I called the airline and got an aisle seat on the outbound flight for free. On the way home there were no free aisle seats left so I made a minor upgrade and paid $78.00 to get an aisle seat. Aisle seats would have been available had Vantage travel asked at the time of purchase. After our long flight we arrived in Lyon. We waited in the terminal for over 3 hours for all passengers. We then walked approximately four blocks dragging our luggage to the bus. The good news my two disabled friends were taken by wheelchair to the bus along with our other two traveling companions, the bad news, no one told my companions that I had to wait in the terminal with the others. They were frantic about my whereabouts and were in process of going to the airport police for help, reassuring them would have been one call to the driver, a thing that wasn't done, even after I talked to the welcome people about my concers. . After the long flight and long wait we then got to take a two hour bus ride to the ship in Macon France, a small bedroom community of Lyon. Once on the ship we found the accommodations quite pleasant, larger than my previous experience, comfortable and well kept. We opted for a small window for economy sake. It let in light but no real view, which was just as well as we were port side and spent the entire trip looking at a graffiti strewn wall or the neighboring ship which we had to walk over the top floor to get to port making for many steps up and down for the elderly passengers. When our positions were reversed the other ship had an escort through our lobby. The swollen rivers kept us in Macon for almost the entire trip We got to see France by bus. Needless to say this cut our time at our destinations short, very short in many cases allowing for no free time. Each drive would have it's own local guide and while quite adequate we never got the personal feeling that we were looked after. I personally had to go looking for part of our group when they separated from the tour. The guide never missed them despite the fact we were led to an enclosed room for a wine tasting...we had to pound on the door so the proprietor could come up from the wine cellar twenty minutes into the presentation to let us in ...no one noticed the absence of four people. Except for two occasions we had to be bused back to the ship in time for lunch. Only once was the alternative given to stay in town and catch a second bus to allow for more free time. On the two occasions that we were too far to make it back to the ship we were allowed 20 euros for lunch, which sounds generous but it wasn't. The one lunch was on a Sunday, all but three restaurants were closed so the food was almost impossible to get and still get catch the bus. The second lunch was a 40 minute break a truck stop on the way to Avignon with snack and microwave food and no place to sit. The food ranged from two nice dinners "the Captains celebration" and the Farewell dinner to barely adequate. Two alternative choices were available, but the one time I opted for a baked potato as a side it was spoiled and tasted tained and the hamburger at lunch was unrecognizable as meat. Breakfast was standard buffet fare, unvarying for the entire trip not even dressed up with some local bakery. Lunch was really awful. Soup with lovely clear broth, but hardly anything else. Turkey spinach bean soup is an example, no turkey, four beans and two strips of spinach. Ham and cheese, something no one can ruin, was two large slices of bread, one thin slice of ham and cheese...steak sandwich, less than one thin slice of roast beef with canned onion strings and very few of those. The final day the lunch main course was pork neck bones...need I say more. The crew really worked hard under very trying circumstances. The kept up a game attitude and except for several of the chauvinistic waiter attitudes, were outstanding. The ship had plenty of ice and a water purification system which kept even a water snob happy. There was very little entertainment...once a small local group, once an accordion player, a staff skit, a movie and a talk or two. This would have been fine had you been docked anywhere you could go out for the evening, but this was not to be. Do I think Vantage could have done better, yes. They could have arranged better entertainment since we had no where to go, even games if they had to. They could have allowed lunch in town, even had their chef pack a decent picnic lunch, so we could have had more time at our destinations. They could have offered some financial reimbursements. They could have paid for an "in town" dinner. I'm sure there were many things they could have done to mitigate a bad situation. The highlight of the trip was the Marseille extension. They cut the Avignon trip short to get us as a group in a night early for dinner in Marseille...even that was only pasta, no meat sauce, two bottles of wine for eight people and a small desert. Those of us staying for the extension were moved to our hotel, L'Hotel Dieu, which was excellent... a short walk to old town, our own guide Florence who couldn't have been better, Lovely sight seeing tour, boat ride on our own and a nice hotel provided breakfast. The final leg was every nightmare that we anticipated. Marseille airport parking for buses is over two blocks from the terminal in a gravel lot. There is no assistance with luggage. My three eighty plus people pulled their luggage. My friend with a shoulder injury took one of her suitcases and I, a heart patient, took mine and her carry on. After about a half hour the guide finally noticed we were missing and came back and helped us. The flights themselves, despite my reservations about Delta, were pleasant. We sat in Atlanta and watched 5 flights depart to Phoenix while killing 5 hours waiting for flight. I personally will never travel with Vantage again. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
We were waiting for a good last-minute offer from GCT (the only other river cruise line we'd used) when this Vantage cruise popped up at a price we couldn't refuse. From beginning to end, things went smoothly. Sure, the flights ... Read More
We were waiting for a good last-minute offer from GCT (the only other river cruise line we'd used) when this Vantage cruise popped up at a price we couldn't refuse. From beginning to end, things went smoothly. Sure, the flights from Phoenix are long and arduous, but that's the downside to any European travel, and they were uneventful, as one would want. Check-in was smooth and we were escorted to our room by a cheery and informative crew member. The room was impressive -- large enough, with ample drawer and closet space, a gleaming bathroom with great shower and L'Occitane de Provence products, and hey, is that free bottled water?! Yes, AND a water bottle for each of us to take on tours. We'd have paid a bunch on another line for that. Minibars aren't our thing, so we put those items aside and used the little frig for our personal stash of Diet Coke. The French balcony was perfect -- lots of view through those large windows and a chance to get fresh air while cruising with the door open. Going through locks, you can see there's not an inch to spare, so a balcony with seating would only have cramped the room. We were happy with this arrangement. Card keys worked well. Captain's Club was a short distance away, so we had easy access to ice, coffee, tea, and fresh fruit 24/7. Plus, it's a nice quiet place to hang out and read. A little library at the other end kept us stocked with Sudoku puzzles and reading material. One evening after a long day, we felt more like staying in the cabin, where we could access free movies and there was a decent selection of new and old. Tours were organized by color cards, easy to understand, and great to be with different people each tour. The buses were always quite new and comfortable. Umbrellas were provided to passengers who didn't bring one and at the end of the tour, there was always iced tea and a steamy cloth for freshening up. How thoughtful! Our tour guides, every one, were fantastic -- funny, informative, and fluent in English. Their French accents were so delightful I could have listened all day. Tours went to appropriate historic and cultural spots in each city, always worthwhile. We didn't take any of the optional tours, and still had plenty of sightseeing to occupy us. One afternoon we explored Lyon using the bikes they keep on board. They weren't superb bikes, but usable for what we were doing. Another day we asked about using public transportation and got good information from the concierge. Besides the tours, we were treated to some sessions on board: a great cheese tasting with samples of four local cheeses purchased at the market the day before, talks about the history of Roman occupation of southern France, and a galley tour, always one of my highlights. I must mention that we enjoyed free wifi (not always fast, but available), chocolates on the pillow, the excellent service in both cabin and dining room, vegetarian options at most meals, a young captain Jeremy who must be extremely capable to ease the boat through those tight locks without ever kissing the sides, the casual on/off at each port, NOT having a photographer stalk us to sell inane photos, and NOT having to pay extra for nearly anything. We thought the daily tip fees were a bit high, but we did get excellent service. The ship was immaculate, all the time, though we never saw staff cleaning the public areas -- overnight fairies at work? One last thing -- the average age of the passengers on this cruise was about 65, and that made a huge difference to us. We met more couples who were active, engaged, and conversant in many topics. (The average age on the GCT river cruise was about 80. I hope to be traveling when I'm 90 too, and then might favor GCT.) There was some incentive to finish a customer survey before we disembarked, which we did, but we forgot to mention many of these positive aspects of cruising with Vantage, so I hope they monitor the reviews and take note of the great impression they are making. We'll go again as soon as we can. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
We went on the "Best of Burgundy, Beaujolais & Provence" cruise at the end of March. It was my 12th cruise, but first river cruise. Pros: A few. Ship is attractive. Crew very personable and efficient. Itinerary was very ... Read More
We went on the "Best of Burgundy, Beaujolais & Provence" cruise at the end of March. It was my 12th cruise, but first river cruise. Pros: A few. Ship is attractive. Crew very personable and efficient. Itinerary was very appealing, much better than a Viking cruise that covered much of the same territory IMHO. Excellent food and wine, and the omelet lady, Irina, had everyone smiling every morning . . . or at least on those days when we were actually one the ship. Cons: Where do I begin? Oh yes, right at the beginning. When we made our reservations, we were told to sign up for "My Portfolio." Which we tried to do, for 10 consecutive days, receiving an error message each time. Finally, I called Vantage, told the agent of my problem. He promisd to create accounts for us. Three days later, still no account. Called again. Another agent promised to create accounts, and, hooray, he did. But things went downhill after that. My middle name is Cecil, but someone gave it to Air France as Cecile. Air France said they couldn't correct it, Vantage would have to do it. Three calls to Vantage never got it corrected, although I was promised after each call that it had been corrected. Vantage blamed the correction (which was never made) for my inability to check in on line the day before departure. I think the actual reason was that they changed the confirmation number for the first of four flights, leaving the other three flights the same. Next problem. Air France left my luggage in Paris, despite the fact that they have five hours to get it from Alanta flight to the flight to Lyon. Vantage did handle that well, having the clothes I was wearing laundered and ready the next morning. For for a couple of days after that, everything was great, And then, like most (maybe all) of the passengers, we found we had no hot water. After three days, we were told we would have to leave the ship so that problem could be fixed. So we had a three-day bus tour instead of the river cruise we had signed up for. I was more forgiving of that situation than most others seemed to be until I read Cruise Critic reviews revealing that the ship had the same problem not only the week before, but last year, and it apparently wasn't repaired until the situation became critical. I do have to give Vantage some credit for getting us to every stop on our itinerary, and even adding a day in Marseillie, but the meals when we were off the ship weren't remotely as good as those on the ship. And packing an unpacking, and living out of a suitcase for three days wasn't what I planned. Could it get any worse? Well, yes. The captain put the ship on autopilot as we headed for Avignon, and the autopilot did not know that construction was taking place in the river. The ship bounced off some rig (couldn't get a very good view of it), turned had left and slammed into the riverbank. The crew managed to free the ship after about 45 minutes, and thankfully there was no serious damage. My "value for the money" rating takes the problems into account, Had things gone smoothly, I would have given it a 5 instead of a 1. Read Less
29 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
Vantage River Discovery II for the Best of Burgundy cruise Mar 24/April 1, 2016. Pre-trip Air: Despite Vantage having our seat preferences on file and that we travel together (we have different last names), our initial booking did not ... Read More
Vantage River Discovery II for the Best of Burgundy cruise Mar 24/April 1, 2016. Pre-trip Air: Despite Vantage having our seat preferences on file and that we travel together (we have different last names), our initial booking did not have our preferred seats and did not have us sitting together. It took a call to flight services at Vantage to get the seating corrected. We were initially routed through Brussels. Because of the airport closure, the day before departure Vantage did re-route us through Frankfurt and did maintain our seating preferences and seating together that time. Arrival at airport: On prior Vantage and other company cruises, we were met at the airport. Our bags were taken to the bus for us by porters. And we were escorted to the bus. Upon arrival in Lyon we picked up our bags and stood around looking for a Vantage person. We were told that a Vantage person would be waiting in the baggage area. A group of us could not find one. We finally decided to leave the baggage area through a no re-entry exit and around a corner found a Vantage person in another hall. We were then led down a long hall to an elevator dragging our bags with us. At the top of the elevator we went down another hall past armed guards and around a corner. Then we were faced with a really long walkway that led to another down elevator. Then we walked yet another hall and exited to an outdoor plaza which we had to cross to get to the bus. We hauled our luggage the entire way. It was a difficult process. This was a big lack of service by Vantage and should be remedied. Ship: Very plain and basic ship with little personality. The ship had a major hot water problem. We were told they did not know why it was happening. . Vantage had to know about that maintenance issue before we boarded. Actually they did. There are reviews on-line that the ship had the hot water problem in March 2015 for 3 days before a plumber was called to work on it. And there is an on-line review for the first cruise of 2016 (the one before ours) that they had hot water problems from boarding for days before the crew sought outside help to repair. Really? The ship was launched in 2012 and has had multiple hot water issues? Why was the ship not overhauled during the off-season. Why did Vantage even load the second cruise of the year (ours) knowing they had a major hot water issue on the prior cruise? The River Discovery II clearly has an issue with its hot water system. We were not told that we would have to leave the ship and go to hotels until Sunday evening March 27, yet one of the Lyon hotels said they knew on Friday the 25th, our first day on-board, that we would be coming to the hotel. It was very hard to believe the “stories” ( some fellow passengers used the word “Lies” ) being told to us daily. My first hot water shower on the ship was on Friday, April 1, the 8th day of the trip. We were told we would have two nights in a hotel in Lyon and two nights in a hotel in Marseille, while they worked on the ship. We had to close out our ship accounts then, and again when we departed on April 4. We had a 4 hour bus ride to Marseille arriving at the hotel at 6pm for a 7pm dinner. When we got our bags we unpacked and dressed for dinner. At dinner we were told the ship had been repaired and we had to have our bags out at 7am the next day. So after dinner we had to go back to the room and pack again. Marseille was sold to us as a major advantage as it was not on our tour. But we lost a day of free time in Lyon and other features of the original trip. The hot water issue involved three more packings and three more un-packings. And it added a bus ride to Lyon, a 4 hour bus ride to Marseille, and a two hour bus ride back to the ship from Marseille. On the way back from Marseille to the ship, two of our bus drivers were stopped and given tickets while we sat in the hot bus for about twenty minutes. When we arrived back at the ship from Marseille, there were three plumber repair trucks parked alongside. Then we learned that not all cabins had hot water yet. At the next port there was another plumber repair truck parked alongside. Captain: This is not an April fool’s joke. On April 1, 2016, the River Discovery II rammed into the concrete side of the Rhone River and scraped along stopping with the bow hung up on shore, then the stern swung around with the current and hung up on some metal shore equipment resulting in the ship stuck bow and stern on the opposite sides of the river, blocking the entire river. It was attributed to the auto pilot which was interfered with by an underwater cable. Really? Nobody even noticed the ship headed towards the shoreline? There were TWO Captains on board! A great number of the passengers saw it happen and all the others felt the impact. This ship makes the same trip every ten days and they did not know that could happen? One crewman was going through the halls agitated and saying “rookie Captain” repeatedly. We were told to remain calm, it was a minor incident. Really? Is it minor to have your ship stuck and blocking the entire river shore to shore? Another ship had to stop dead in the water as it could not pass by us. Neither Captain could stand up and talk in English to the passengers during the tour. Crew: The crew did not seem well trained or managed. The Hotel management of the ship was not good. The Hotel Manager was not very effective in his communications to the passengers and seemed to have difficulty expressing his thoughts, and managing the staff. Food and bar service were inconsistent with slow service. Buffets (particularly scrambled eggs for breakfast), often had empty items with delays refilling them. The standard response when asked was ”it is coming.” There seemed to be no anticipation that offerings were getting low and should be replaced. The food was generally good. There seemed to be a lot of tension among the crew. Various crew members expressed their unhappiness with the ship’s issues and the disembarkation of all passengers. They most likely lost at least thirty percent of their compensation from passengers. A bright spot was the staff assigned to maintain cabins. They did their jobs very well and were always cheerful, despite being recruited to lug passengers bags down the halls when we disembarked and again when we re-boarded. Tour Director and Concierge: both were hard working and tried to make everything go as smoothly as possible in a very difficult situation, with a lot of disgruntled passengers. Tours: Bus transport was generally OK. One bus had little air conditioning and was very hot despite repeated complaints from passengers. Two buses were pulled over by police and ticketed making passengers wait in hot buses for about twenty minutes. One bus had an issue, perhaps not un-kneeling, and scraped the front of the bus on the pavement, delaying our departure from the hotel in Marseille. Our bus could not make a turn in Marseille and they had to pick up and move cars to make the turn. The local guides were for the most part good. The cities and sites visited were fascinating. Hotels: ( Why am I even having to talk about hotels? ) Both hotels in Lyon had problems. People were stuck in elevators at one hotel. The other hotel had very small elevators that would only take about 4 people at a time. The tub/shower in our Sofitel room was extremely slippery and dangerous. Breakfast the first day at the Sofitel was in their regular breakfast room. I think our group size somewhat overwhelmed them. The second day we were in our own room as a group. Breakfast at the Intercontinental was a little chaotic. It was difficult to get items stocked and difficult to get staff to bring coffee, etc. Previous Vantage Cruises: This is my third cruise with Vantage. The second one was on a Hurtigruten ship that Vantage did not operate. It was well run and well maintained. The first one was on the Tulip and Windmill cruise. On that cruise the public bathroom on the ship was locked and unavailable the entire cruise. Almost every passenger became ill during the cruise (including us), some becoming ill on the last day on board. We found out that on the ship’s cruise before ours, the ship’s Captain and most of the crew had been ill. It would seem the ship had not been sufficiently decontaminated before we boarded. Another maintenance issue by Vantage. Two for two on ships they operated. River Cruise? One advantage of a river cruise is the fact that you do not have to pack and unpack multiple times. The hot water issue ruined that concept and added three days off the ship, two hotel check-ins and checkouts, three more suitcase packings/unpackings, three more long bus rides to our trip, an additional disembarkation and having to close out our ship account, and another embarkation and re-establishing our ship account. I can understand having to go to hotels for high or low river water levels on a river cruise. It is unacceptable to have to go to hotels for a known maintenance issue. And this was my first ship wreck. This Vantage trip failed as far as the ship is concerned. Food and bar service were not smoothly executed, and often delayed. The bus transfers were not good. The hotel stays were not good. The packing and unpacking were not good. The daily tours were great. The sites visited were fantastic. The local guides were good. The concierge and the tour director were terrific in managing all the unexpected events and in dealing with a shipload of disgruntled passengers. The cruise as planned is a memorable journey and one to enjoy. The cruise as it happened was not so good. This was not the trip we bought. Surprisingly, Vantage has made no offer of any compensation to passengers because of their lack of maintenance of the River Discovery II and the diminished value of the cruise. Vantage should acknowledge their shortcomings on this cruise and provide some compensation to everyone who was on the cruise. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
We chose this Easter-time Cruise that was marketed as the "Religious Highlights of Burgundy, Beaujolais & Provence". However, the itinerary was changed to the "Best of Burgundy, Beaujolais & Provence with a ... Read More
We chose this Easter-time Cruise that was marketed as the "Religious Highlights of Burgundy, Beaujolais & Provence". However, the itinerary was changed to the "Best of Burgundy, Beaujolais & Provence with a significant change to the shore excursions, without us ever being notified! In addition, the previous Vantage tour we took sent us a detailed brochure several weeks prior to the start date. This did not happen on this cruise. Afterwards we were told that we were expected to go to the website, even though that was not explained prior to the trip. Vantage booked our air, but unfortunately, it resulted it us arriving on-board as the initial briefing was wrapping up and we never obtained then information. This was supposed to be a 10 night cruise aboard ship, with us unpacking and packing one time. It wasn't! Due to sloppy maintenance, we arrived on board without hot water in the cabins! After 3 nights of these unsanitary conditions we were evacuated as a German engineering contractor came on board. We spent 2 nights in a Lyon hotel and 1 night in a Marseille hotel. The hotels were very nice. However, for my sight impaired wife they were tortuous, having to continuously navigate unfamiliar locations as well as pack and unpack 2 additional times. However, the food at both hotels was excellent and much better than we received on board. For 2 days we were docked to a Viking boat and walked through it boarding and disembarking. It was eye-opening to see the difference in professionalism of the crews. Viking always had a ship's officer observing who was coming on board and departing. No such security was evident on the RD II, only an occasional deck hand was evident. Another example of the unprofessional crew occurred on April 1st. That afternoon we departed our port and shortly thereafter ran aground on a sand bar. The Captain's excuse over the PA was Autopilot error! Where was the officer of the deck? We were truly lucky that some of our elderly passengers were not on the stairway or off balance on board when the collision occurred. Perhaps the final insult that day was during the Captain's Reception and Dinner. He didn't have the courage to attend! We did not have any entertainment offered. Upon return home, we completely our cruise survey and repeatedly tried to reach a supervisor in Vantage via letter, phone and email to express our disappointment. We were not successful. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
In my 40 plus years of travel I'very got to say this trip with Vantage on the Discovery II was the worst. From the start when we arrived at the Lyon and met the Vantage rep. There was no porters. Everyone had to drag there ... Read More
In my 40 plus years of travel I'very got to say this trip with Vantage on the Discovery II was the worst. From the start when we arrived at the Lyon and met the Vantage rep. There was no porters. Everyone had to drag there luggage thought the terminal up 2 elevators and across and elevated walk way to our bus. A 15 minute plus walk, many older people required assistance for some of the younger folks on the tour. We arrived at the boat in Chalon-sur-Saone after a 2 hour bus ride and check in was quick. It was early enough for my wife and I to take a quick walk around town and stop and get some money at an ATM. Before leaving the boat we stop at the tour desk to get any information about the town and what there was to see. Person at the desk did point us to an ATM and gave us a map with a walking tour highlighted on it. After returning back to the boat and our room, we discovered that we had no hot water or heat in the room. Checked with reception desk and they looked surprised to hear we had no hot water or heat in our cabin (214) and they would have some check it. We later heard from many other passengers during dine that they to didn't have any hot water. Next day was the same, no hot water, and a stop at the reception desk the crew continue to be surprised we still was having issues with the hot water. It wasn't until the 2nd evening on the boat that one of the senior staff admit there was a problem with the hot water. The solution was going to require us to leave the boat for 4 days while they made repairs. So what was supposed to be a relaxing cruise along the river turned into a business tour. The first 2 nights we spent in Lyon at a hotel outside the main tourist area which require a shuttle bus ride if you wanted to go into town. The food at hotel was OK, but no choice, only one option was available and no where the quality of on the boat. Food was served in a dark (on windows ) conference room , nothing compared to the views from the boats dining area. So for 4 days and 3 nights we lived off the boat. In this time off the boat we found out that the hot water issue wasn't a new problem and the boat had experienced the same problem the cruise before us and that Vantage had booked the hotel's before we ever got on the boat. Finding this out really upset manyof the pessangers, feeling that the crew has done nothing but lie to us the whole time. So after 4 day off the boat it was announced the the boat was fixed and we would be returning to the boat. But to the surprise of many of us when we return back to the boat and was reassured that things were fixed, hot water was sporadic in most cabins. Work crews continued to work on the issue everyday while we were off the boat touring. Ino the 7 night'so on the boat my wife and I had a total of 3 showers were there was hot water for the total shower. On day 8 as we were cruising down the river the captain ran the boat aground. The boat scraped along the shore for a couple hundred feet before stopping. The boat was completely blocking the the river, bow on one shore and stern on the other, stopping all river traffic for almost an hour before the crew was able to straighten the boat and get it moving again. I was announced that this was a minor incident, but a lot of the crew admitted that this was a first for them. There was many other incidents on this cruise but above are the major ones. Most people on the boat were very disappointed and unhappy with the constant lying from the staff. So after 2 notes to Vantage customer service over 2 weeks ago, absolutely no responses. I am sorry to say this will be my last time traveling with Vantage if this is how they treat there customers. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
Vantage did excellent on planning each aspect of our trip. Flight arrangements were great, and the Vantage person was there to guide us at France, and take us to our bus..A few people. were complaining of a 15 minute walk to the bus, lack ... Read More
Vantage did excellent on planning each aspect of our trip. Flight arrangements were great, and the Vantage person was there to guide us at France, and take us to our bus..A few people. were complaining of a 15 minute walk to the bus, lack of "porters" to help with luggage. Get real. How much walking did you do on the tour and could handle it. Possibly, you brought too much luggage along! We were upgraded to another room, and while others were upgraded, they still complained. Some people are never happy. Yes, we did have a hot water issue on the boat, and did the rumors ever fly. The management did awesome to accommodate us, as I would never have wanted to be in their shoes. They had to get us off the boat for 3 nights to get it fixed. They offered complimentary tours, normally 78.00 a person, and had us stay in exceptional hotels. The Intercontinental Dier in Marseilles, was so wonderful. Meals were great in the hotels. That hotel was a 5 star and what a treat for us! Mediterranean Sea was awesome, and we wouldn't have seen it, if we hadn't had a hot water issue! I don't know what all the whining and complaining was about on accommodations and meals. Yes, sometimes things happen on a trip, that I'm sure Vantage Travel didn't want to happen, but they handled it extremely well. We totally loved it, and complaining by some people wasn't about to ruin our vacation. Tours were exceptional, as well as tour guides. Definitely would travel Vantage River Discovery II again. I'm writing in, as it seems the only people that comment are the unhappy, complainers, rather than the ones that thoroughly enjoyed the trip! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
The trip was really two parts- booking and then the cruise itself. Booking and customer service after booking was awful. Everything got screwed up: names, air deviation schedule, beginning port, all took more time than they should have ... Read More
The trip was really two parts- booking and then the cruise itself. Booking and customer service after booking was awful. Everything got screwed up: names, air deviation schedule, beginning port, all took more time than they should have to correct. Agents were almost to a person, unhelpful. Principal complaint was when we booked air deviation for Marseilles planning to arrive three days early with my daughter who would not be on the cruise. We planned on staying in Marseilles and meeting the tour on sailing day at the airport as we took our daughter for her homeward flight. Late in the game we were told no transfers although we paid extra for deviation. Cruise line stated it was policy. Off to a poor start. We were upgraded to the Columbus Suite which was great. Few details: TV worked only for music, but not a problem. Overall service on the ship was very good and they generally accommodated my wife's special needs. Food was good but about like other river lines. On board activities were limited because of tours but evenings had several entertaining performers. Public areas were the Peppermint Lounge forward and the small Captain's Lounge off the stern. Very little service there. Frankly, I found the itinerary and passing scenery pretty boring. We loved Avignon where I was an 18-year-old GI in 1946, and also Lyon. But passing scenery was very industrial and lots of nuclear plants we were told. We took only two tours, not realizing the tours were mostly pretty strenuous, but those tours were excellent with a high point an organ concert in an old medieval cathedral. Our air arrangements were adequate with two stops and short connection times but we managed with wheelchair pushers who knew the shortcuts. Having sailed on 4 Viking river cruises and one AMA, I would rate Vantage below those two, primarily because of the initial attitude of customer service. Another factor didn't bother us, but a number of cabins, even suites had no hot water on the whole trip, and it was the first trip of the season. Also, tips are deducted and are 20 Euros p/p, which was too high. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
After several successful Vantage cruises we booked a French River Cruise on the Discovery, its first 2016 voyage. That was our mistake. From the start of the cruise much of the ship had, at best, very sporadic hot water. Only after days ... Read More
After several successful Vantage cruises we booked a French River Cruise on the Discovery, its first 2016 voyage. That was our mistake. From the start of the cruise much of the ship had, at best, very sporadic hot water. Only after days of washing in nearly frigid water did the ship's crew seek outside help and the problem stumped the experts apparently plaguing the second set of guests as well. Additionally, the highly touted television system with movies on demand and live cameras from various parts of the ship was a total non-performer as well. Our cabin, a top deck, mid-ship cabin, even had peeling wallpaper This excuse for a five star ship stands in stark contrast to the newly christened ship VNtage touted the same week in USA Today. In fairness, the Vantage River Venture, our home for the later part of our trip met the standards we have come to e peat from the company. We will continue to recommend the Vantahe European operation but warn you to be cautious of the Discovery II. Unfortunately we did not check reviews showing similar problems early in the 2015 season. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
This was our first river cruise with Vantage, a smaller operator not in the advertising mainstream like Viking. Perhaps that is how they keep their prices down, and give more value for the money spent. The ship was fairly new (3 yrs) and ... Read More
This was our first river cruise with Vantage, a smaller operator not in the advertising mainstream like Viking. Perhaps that is how they keep their prices down, and give more value for the money spent. The ship was fairly new (3 yrs) and in excellent condition. The lounge and dining rooms are spacious, and the cabins are what we expected small, yet enough room. Dining was good to excellent, with some outstanding menus (Rack of Lamb, Lobster) to chicken and pork on other evenings. The included wines were very good (and I like wine) there is no need to "Buy" a higher end wine that is offered. Dining service at dinner was a bit slow, as a waiter and assistant are assigned 6-7 tables, so you will have to call them over when you need more wine, or try to get something else. We thought we would be treated a little more "special", however as on most cruises we have been on, they are a little overworked. The cruise director (George) and the Concierge (Maya) were outstanding, never ever making you feel that you were imposing on them even were they were obviously very busy. The only disappointment was the evening entertainment, which was only on some evenings and was just not good. The only exception was a group called LeStrada- they were excellent. The itinerary (southern France) was wonderful, we loved the choices. We chose this cruise with Vantage based on three main reasons: Price, Reviews and 10 days instead of 7 on most lines. We are glad we did, as the pace was slower, never rushed, and had more free time at each location. I would not want to do this cruise in 7 days. I would recommend Vantage and use them again. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
This 10-day cruise was the second of the 20-day back-to-back Treasures of France: A Grand River Journey from Normandy to Provence Vantage River Cruise. We sailed down the Saone and Rhone Rivers visiting the ports of Chalon Sur Saone ... Read More
This 10-day cruise was the second of the 20-day back-to-back Treasures of France: A Grand River Journey from Normandy to Provence Vantage River Cruise. We sailed down the Saone and Rhone Rivers visiting the ports of Chalon Sur Saone (overnight,) Tournus, Macon, Lyon (2 overnights,) Vienne (overnight,) Viviers/Avignon (2 overnights) and Tarascon, (overnight.) We flew home from Marasilles, France. After a five-hour coach ride from Vernon, France that included a stop for lunch compliments of Vantage, we arrived at our deluxe ms River Discovery II, a 179 passenger, 46-crew riverboat docked in Chalon Sur Saone, France. The boat entered service in 2012. Our staterooms were ready immediately and staffers carrying our luggage escorted us to our rooms. We enjoyed light refreshments in the Captain’s Club. Then, we explored the charming town and its attractions on our own, within walking distance of our boat. A Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party followed by safety, ship and port briefings with the Captain, Hotel Manager and Cruise director were held in the Peppermint Lounge. After dinner, we unpacked and took a stroll outside. The ship was lovely and the public areas were quite attractive and comfortable. Our French Balcony 165 sq, feet Stateroom #307 (same number as our previous cabin) was well appointed. It contained plenty of storage with two large wardrobes, deep drawer and shelf space. Two end tables flanked the comfortable bed covered with two fluffy comforters and additional pillows. Two chairs, a desk, small table (with ice bucket and complimentary bottles of water daily,) wall artwork and plenty of lamps with good lighting completed the decor. There was a safe and hair dryer in the room. The bathroom containing a large shower had a generous replenished supple of high quality shampoos, conditioners, soaps, shower gels and body lotion. The towels were fluffy and replaced as needed twice daily. The only thing missing was a mini fridge. Our very friendly cabin steward, Kevin was efficient, very accommodating and kept our stateroom spotless. Nightly chocolates on our pillows were a nice touch as was the elephant towel animal one night. The boat has complimentary ship-wide Wi-Fi. Coffee, hot chocolate and ice are available at conveniently located 24 hr. machines. Complimentary bicycles are available for passenger use in ports. The boat has an elevator or a hydraulic lift chair between decks for passengers with special needs. Unfortunately, the riverboats are not wheelchair accessible due to the width of gangways in European river ports. We did have one wheelchair bound passenger and the staff accommodated him nicely to his satisfaction and that of his aide. There are no medical facilities on board although there is an AED defibrillator. As President Club members, having traveled with Vantage on at least three trips, we received a laundry allowance, which was an excellent benefit that we appreciated and used. Our food on board was delicious; the presentation was artistic. Breakfast was always a buffet with a few different items each day. Lunch was also a buffet but most days you could also order off the menu. I always ordered the delicious chilled soups and pasta dish when available and went to the buffet. Spaghetti Carbonara was a standout for me. For dinner there were several delicious choices in addition to the standby entrees always available such as Salmon, Chicken, a Vegetarian dish and Steak. Our party of four was completely satisfied with the food offerings. The service was always very friendly, professional and efficient. Complimentary wine, soda and beer are freely available at dinnertime. Open Seating Dinner in the elegant Compass Rose Restaurant is served at 7 pm. The Captain’s Club has alternative lighter dining by reservation. This more intimate dining area has a retractable roof and beautiful views of the river. President’s Club members and Owner’s Suite and Deluxe Suites passengers may use in-room dining. Special meal requests are honored but must be received prior to sailing. Special occasions are celebrated in a grand way at dinnertime. Dress for dinner was casual except for the Captain’s Gala Dinner when most men wore jackets. We all enjoyed an included local lunch off the boat on our port stop in Tournus. Although very port intensive, the staff found time for some interesting onboard activities A Galley Tour, Wheelhouse Tour, Introduction to French Language and Culture Talk, French Waterways Presentation, Cheese, Wine and Bread Presentations (with tasting and sampling,) Santons (local high quality figurines -not a buying opportunity) Lecture & display and a Silk Painting Demonstration. The Crème Brulee Presentation and tasting was fun with recipes hand out afterwards. Guest lecturer Olivier Pachot gave an interesting lecture on France Today that evoked many questions and comments by the packed audience. There was some outstanding entertainment on board including the extremely popular, Gypsy Night, dancer and musicians, the wonderful classical recital with La Strada, a lively French Evening with accordion music, and energetic dance music with the “Party Band.” One night we also had “The one and only ms River Discovery II Crew Show“; another night a movie was shown. A popular and fun activity was the after dinner Pub Crawl in Avignon with our lively Cruise Director, George and Concierge, Maya. The highpoint for me and for many others was the scenic sunset sail with commentary into the magnificent city of Lyons. We all gathered in the Peppermint Lounge, aft deck or the Captain’s Club to photograph the sights along the way. On such a small ship, we became quite friendly with all the passengers and the entire staff including the senor officers. My husband thought that this was the best thing about the cruise. It certainly added to our enjoyment. George did a suburb job as Cruise director; he was everywhere and always available for conversation or help. Service throughout the ship was excellent from the front desk, to the dining room, the lounges and housekeeping. The passengers were mostly older Americans with some younger passengers as well. Complimentary Quiet Vox Audio Headsets were perfect on all the sightseeing tours. Most tours - 17 between the two cruises including those on coaches were included. Not only were they worthwhile and educational, they were just plain fun and we looked forward to them daily. I took two exceptional optional tours to Pont du Gard in Avignon ($65) and the Medieval Village of Perouges ($59.) in Lyon. Our most unusual tour was a visit to a local goat farm that included a wine tasting with goat cheese. Visiting the Pope’s Palace and taking the Secrets of Avignon were other highlights as was our city tour in Lyon. We saw beautiful cathedrals, chateaus, castles, vineyards, quaint medieval cities, towers, abbeys and bucolic countrysides as we sailed along the winding waterways. Maya, our competent Concierge was on board to help passengers handle individual arrangements or dinner reservations in each of the town. How did this cruise differ from the previous one? Well first, the weather was warmer and sunnier as we headed south. We did more daylight sailing. There was more wine tasting, too and visits to vineyards. Of course, the cities differed and we passed through 14 locks as we navigated the rivers. Both cruises were equally rewarding. I highly recommend this Vantage river cruise. Vantage was the only company that offered this combination of two back-to-back river cruises through France for a total of 20 days in France. By combining the two cruises we saved $789 per couple than if purchased separately. Both cruises exceeded my expectations and I looked forward to a future trip with Vantage Deluxe World Tours. My one disappointment was that the included ride on the famous TGV high-speed train to Dijon & guided walking tour for our connection between the two cruises did not materialize and hadn’t been done for at least three years. Vantage needs to remove this from its literature. Using the Smart Pay Plan, we saved 10% off the cost of our cruise. Vantage offers the lowest price per day of all the river cruise companies that we compared. Passengers receive a 5% Travel Reward that may be used on a future trip. Vantage will add the newest luxurious 6-star ship, ms River Voyager in 2016. If you have not taken a river cruise, I hope that this review motivates you to consider one. There are different river cruise companies to choose from and from what I heard talking with passengers from the different boats, all are excellent. Remember that river conditions may affect your cruise. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
This was our 4th Vantage river cruise and 5th Vantage trip. We were disappointed after having loved the first 4 trips. We had the owner's suite on the River Discovery II which was large and beautiful as was the ship in general. As ... Read More
This was our 4th Vantage river cruise and 5th Vantage trip. We were disappointed after having loved the first 4 trips. We had the owner's suite on the River Discovery II which was large and beautiful as was the ship in general. As occupants of the owner's suite we were supposed to have been picked up at the Airport-this was verified twice with the Boston office and our flight info was given them.. We were NOT picked up at the airport. The cruise director said he did not have our flight info (and evidently was too unconcerned to check with the office in the U.S.. Previously the strength of Vantage cruises (which they highly touted) was that these large riverboats had 4 cruise directors on board all of which were excellent in our experience- and you were assigned to one of them for the cruise-which was excellent. Now there were no longer 4 directors but only one who didn't lead tours but acted more like a cruise director on a ship-sightseeing tours left to local guides. This was not nearly as good. The director was stand-offish in our opinion and quite pompous. Tipping of the 4 previous directors with whom you traveled each day was optional and we always tipped them generously..Tipping of the one cruise director whom you seldom interacted with was automatically added to your bill unless you specifically arranged to stop it. The same was for the "concierge" who was automatically tipped even though you may never have uses the concierge service. The food was also not up to previous standards-several days courses were served no longer hot or even warm. Even though we were in France the bar did not have Grey Goose Vodka which they could have purchased in any port since it is made in France. We used to love Vantage but the recent policy changes they have made has ended that along with our patronage. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
We were looking forward to a great vacation, but: During the first three days we had no hot water in our room and had to shower in ice water. On day four the problem was repaired by a local plumber, why did it take so long? The ... Read More
We were looking forward to a great vacation, but: During the first three days we had no hot water in our room and had to shower in ice water. On day four the problem was repaired by a local plumber, why did it take so long? The reception desk could care less that we and others had no hot water. The front desk said that she is not getting paid enough to worry about the passengers. Why is she there and at that position. The elevator did not work during the entire cruise. Most passengers were elderly (nursing home type) with various medical issues. Some were unable to get around the boat, some required assistance by other passengers. A few fell down the steps and required medical attention. The front office did not assist them in any form; they don't care. During the entire trip we never had a French meal, it was cheap American kitchen. On Captain night only the first 76 passengers (out off 168) had lobster; why? The wine served with dinner was the best wine under $2 one can find; it was not as good as Trader Joe's. We called the Boston office from the boat to report the problems; as on the boat, no one cared in the home office. That much for traveling with Vantage, the tour company from hell. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
The ship was very nice, had the best crew. We lucked out on our first cruise with Vantage we got what we thought one of the best rooms onboard. This is a very laid back company, nobody is in a hurry to do anything. The tours are not all ... Read More
The ship was very nice, had the best crew. We lucked out on our first cruise with Vantage we got what we thought one of the best rooms onboard. This is a very laid back company, nobody is in a hurry to do anything. The tours are not all paid for. They never get around to leaving until 9 or after. Walking is a must. Some of the most historical places we didn't get to see. We had 172 onboard, we were all bused one right after another lined up in generally 4 buses. Guess the only thing to see is grape vines, and more grapevines. We did get to go to a goat cheese factory, which we got to sample, with more wine. If you like layed back cruises, and lots and lots of wine, this is the cruise for you. The people on the cruise couldn't have been better, and the food was good. The only thing wrong was the temperture. We thought the air-conditioner was turned off about 12 then turned back on about 5. Over half of the passengers got colds and coughed, thank goodness we took plenty of cold medicine, which we shared with all. The people got hot in the night, and caught colds. We asked the crew, they said no, but it probably was computerize control. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
Since our only visit to France had been on an ocean cruise stop in Cannes, we wanted to get a better feel for the country, the culture, and the history (oh yes, and the wines!). The cruise traveled from the Mediterranean to the Normandy ... Read More
Since our only visit to France had been on an ocean cruise stop in Cannes, we wanted to get a better feel for the country, the culture, and the history (oh yes, and the wines!). The cruise traveled from the Mediterranean to the Normandy Coast, with Paris in between. What more can you ask for? Along the Rhône, Saône, and Seine rivers we stopped at numerous towns and cities for (included) excursions of towns such as Avignon, Perouges, Dijon, Giverny, and Honfleur. Most notable were excursions to wineries in Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Beaune, and the Pont du Gard and the Normandy D-Day landmarks and American Cemetery. The entire journey required two different riverboats, but the connection was something special as well. The included connection was from Dijon to Paris aboard the TGV, or Train à Gran Vitesse, France's high-speed train. What a pleasure to sit in power reclining seats and travel over 200 mph in smooth, quiet comfort. The real beauty for us is the way Vantage takes care of everything, from handling our luggage at the airport to escorting us through the Paris train station. There are no worries about catching a ride, how to get to a sightseeing attraction, or even "where are the restrooms?" QuietVox headsets are provided for all excursions, so you can comfortably hear your English-speaking guide even if you're half a block away. all excursions are divided into groups of 20-30 guests, so crowding is not an issue. Dining is superb, and the chefs go out of their way to provide local delights as well as traditional American fare. An example: "Rack of lamb with Dijon mustard crust, rosemary potato gratin, and ratatouille Provencale". Make no mistake, this is NOT a cruise for children (there were none on our voyage), but adults will find it very relaxing and most interesting. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
This cruise line has been little reviewed on Cruise Critic. Vantage is in an expansion phase but is sometimes forgotten in a market dominated by big cruise lines such as Viking. My wife and I are very itinerary focused and all of the stops ... Read More
This cruise line has been little reviewed on Cruise Critic. Vantage is in an expansion phase but is sometimes forgotten in a market dominated by big cruise lines such as Viking. My wife and I are very itinerary focused and all of the stops on this cruise were new to us. We took their French Waterways: Beaujolais and Burgundy cruise. We were slated to to fly in to Marseille and take a shuttle to Tarascon. There was a change and we were taken directly to Avignon where we spent our first three days. The main difference between Viking and Vantage is that Vantage cruises take 11 days staying extra days in port while Viking cruises cover the same ports in eight days. When you consider the long flight to Europe it makes more sense to have a longer stay than an eight day cruise. The Vantage cruise has competitive pricing and is only sold directly through their website or office in Boston. We were informed that the average age of a Vantage traveler is 60. For this cruise it was closer to 70. I see old people, wearing shorts, and lots of them! Vantage highlights that they cater to an American customer and the food/service reflect that focus. A typical day is stopping at a port, taking a city excursion (overview) from 9:00 a.m. to noon, lunch on the ship, and afternoon free time to further explore the port on their own. Most excursions are included in the fare but there may be additional extra excursions at additional cost. Audio Vox systems are used for excursions which make listening to the guides much easier (although they are not much help with the heavily-accented French guides). The greatest strength of a cruise of this nature is the opportunity to be immersed in the French culture. Fine foods, delicious wines, visiting small villages off the beaten path, and expert guides helps one to better understand the unique French contributions to our world. Food choices are limited but adequate. The service throughout the cruise was exceptional as all crew members are very focused on your satisfaction. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
After 11 trips with Vantage (plus some with other lines) , all of which were great, we finally met the worst cruise ever. The elevator was broken and not fixed for the entire trip. Many travelers were using canes and walkers and had great ... Read More
After 11 trips with Vantage (plus some with other lines) , all of which were great, we finally met the worst cruise ever. The elevator was broken and not fixed for the entire trip. Many travelers were using canes and walkers and had great difficulty going up and down the stairs numerous times daily. Others (as the average age was probably 70+ also had problems navigating the boat. In addition, the Bulgarian chef did not know how to cook. Most lunches were the same sandwiches and pasta for the entire trip. Most dinner entrees were inedible. Salt prevailed in all soups and dishes. There was a concierge on board who did absolutely nothing. There used to be 3 or 4 guides on board (one per group) now there was only one person leaving the entire shore excursions to local guides with no Vantage personnel to assist. Now what really was unacceptable was that we were the longest (most travelled with Vantage) persons on board. We never had a response from Vantage management regarding our concerns that we provided on the form at the end of the cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
Having been on 13 ocean cruises, we decided to try a river cruise. I researched on CC and decided on a southern France itinerary then started research on the various companies. Summer '13 was a good year to do that with all the ... Read More
Having been on 13 ocean cruises, we decided to try a river cruise. I researched on CC and decided on a southern France itinerary then started research on the various companies. Summer '13 was a good year to do that with all the flooding in northern Europe. My mantra became "A true measure is not what happens when things go well, but when things go bad". Our choices came down to AMA & Vantage. I contacted both by e-mail. Via AMA, I received an e-mail from an online travel agent (??), while directly from Vantage I received a "Personal Travel Guide attachment. We found the guide very helpful as a starting point to develop questions & it brought up things we hadn't thought of. In the meantime, I continued to receive e-mails from the online travel agent asking me to call them re: AMA (?) and we watched the online videos on the Vantage website plus continued to read remarks on CC about both companies. We called Vantage in August with our questions we had developed from the guide and in a few days booked with them. We added the pre & post extensions to the French Waterways - Paris & Barcelona. After looking at Vantage's airfare offer, we booked our own and our own travel insurance. We eventually received a catalog from AMA. When we arrived in Paris, we were taken to the hotel with a Vantage transfer we purchased earlier - a bit of a cost, but easy for jet lagged guests arriving from Seattle. Vantage's City Host met us at Le Meridien Etolile (not in the center of Paris, but close to a Metro stop and walking distance to the Arc de Triumph). She spent the morning trying to get us in our rooms early - before 3pm. There was 42 of us. Buffet breakfasts were good, fast service and the 2 included dinners were pretty good. Included tours - all day bus tour of Paris & the Louvre. We didn't sign up for the extra cost of the Versailles tour, but did so for the extra cost of the "Illuminated Paris with Dinner & Cabaret". The cost was worth the show - the food was ok, plenty of wine and champagne poured, but we did NOT see any illuminations! One night we went on our on via metro (easy) near Notre Dame to a Rick Steve recommended restaurant - Tastevin. Great food! After 4 days, we left Paris on the fast train for Dijon (tour included) & to embark on the MS River Discovery II at Chalon sur Saone. Thinking back, I realize our Cruise Director was on the train with us and in Dijon - meaning, he was available to us before boarding the boat. Also our City Host stayed with us until we embarked. Personnel exchanges were seamless - there was always someone from Vantage available (except for the flight to Barcelona). The MS River Discovery II is beautiful and fairly new. First night's entertainment was simple but enough for a long day; a violist & guitarist duo. By the end of the cruise there was a more lively group for entertainment (Gypsy Night) and we found ourselves dancing around the room. Meals onboard were very good - typifying the region - generous with wine - French Chardonay & Cabernet Sauvignon. Other wine & alcohol was available for purchase. My husband stopped looking for goodies onshore as the desserts were just as good or better onboard. We did splurge on lunch in Lyon since it is know for it's food. Our tour guide for that day recommended a street to choose a restaurant - it did not disappoint. We had delicious turbot and asparagus salad. Port tour highlights - learning about the regional French wines (one of my goals & it was accomplished), petting baby goats, tasting goat cheese, taking the extra cost Medieval Village of Perouges tour (worthwhile), a tour guide singing "Ave Maria" at the hilltop chapel in Vienne (goosebumps, it was so good), and the Pont du Gard tour that included the walk through the top of the aqueduct (as seen on Vantage's online video). After a bit of a delay at the Marseille airport for Barcelona (Baggage handlers sorta on strike? - the Concierge from the ship was with us at the airport), we arrived in Barcelona. Now we saw a Vantage City Host in action. Somewhere between the plane and our arrival at the Le Meridien Barcelona hotel (right off the famous La Rambla), one of our fellow guest lost (or it was stolen) her neck wallet that included her passport, credit cards and Euros. Eventually the City Host accompanied her to the US Embassy on Monday morning. Again, the breakfast buffet was good and the included dinner was better than the one in Paris. Our problem was one of the dinners on our own. If you want good Spanish food, you need to leave the La Rambla area and eat no earlier than 8:30 which we should have done - oh well, next trip. The Spaniards eat around 9pm. Included tours - Morning bus tour of Barcelona and an excursion to Monteserrat Monastery. Not enough signed up for the optional Figueres tour (Salvador Dali) and it was cancelled & refunded. On our own and arranged with the hotel concierge, we went to La Sagrada Familia - beautiful! We shared a taxi with others from our group. To leave Barcelona, the City Host arranged our taxi to the airport - we didn't buy a Vantage transfer. One other note: Vantage has switched from Program Managers to one Cruise Director and a Concierge. The two worked as a team. Previously guests were divided in 4 color groups each with a Program Manager and you stayed with that same group the whole cruise. Now you are assigned daily to a group - one day green, next day blue, etc - and you meet more people this way. My husband did say he might have liked it being the same group - I like the mix-up. And the Cruise Director goes on all the excursions so he is available to talk to. We thoroughly enjoyed this first river cruise (definitely more in the future) and found Vantage very good. Read Less
River Discovery II Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 2.6
Public Rooms 5.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 3.0 2.7
Family 2.0 2.7
Shore Excursion 5.0 4.0
Enrichment 5.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 5.0 3.2

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