This review is the first of my two Back-to-Back River Cruises through France with Vantage Deluxe World Tours. The 10-day cruise was the start of a 20-day The Treasures of France: A grand River Journey from Normandy to Provence Cruise. The excellent cruise began in Paris and traveled north up the seine River to Honsfleur (Normandy) on the Vantage ship, River Venture.
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 also went to the buffet. For dinner there were several choices but if none were to your liking there were 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 friendly, professional and efficient. Wine, soda and beer are freely available at dinnertime, also. Passengers sit whoever they want and with whomever they want. Dinner is served at 7 pm. Dress for dinner was casual except for the Captain’s Gala Dinner when most men wore jackets. We all enjoyed a local lunch off the boat during our visit to the Normandy Beaches and American Cemetery.
On such a small ship, we became quite friendly with 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. Marie did a suburb job as Cruise director; everyone loved her . Service throughout the ship was excellent from the front desk, to the dining room to the lounges and housekeeping. The passengers were all older Americans and we knew everyone by the end of the cruise.
The ship was lovely and the public areas were quite attractive and comfortable. Our stateroom 307 had a French Balcony and was well appointed. It contained plenty of storage with two wardrobes, deep drawer and shelf space. Two end tables flanked the comfortable bed covered with two fluffy comforters. In addition, there were two chairs, a desk, small glass table and plenty of lamps with good lighting. There was a safe, an ice bucket and hair dryer in the room. The bathroom containing a fairly large shower had a generous supple of 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 cabin steward was efficient, very accommodating and kept our stateroom spotless. As President Club members having traveled with Vantage on at least three cruises, we received a free bag of laundry which was an excellent perk that we all appreciated and used.
I loved that Vantage uses headsets and receivers on shore excursions both optional and included. We saw beautiful cathedrals, chateaus, museums, castles, monuments, quaint medieval cities, towers, abbeys and bucolic country sides along the winding waterways. All excursions were worthwhile and most were included. For me the highpoint was our two nights stay in Honsfleur. As we sailed under the Normandy bridge we received glasses of Champagne to commemorate the event. The medial city is quaint and we docked right in town. From there, we traveled one day up to Normandy for an unforgettable tour of this historic area. In fact every port of call - Vernon, Chalon Sur Saone, Les Andelys, Caudebec-en-Caux. Bayeux/Caen and Roen were equally enjoyable. Unfortunately we could not dock in Paris due to a lock malfunction but we boarded a coach from Vernon into Paris and didn’t miss any sightseeing in this exciting city.
Although very port intensive, the staff found time for some on board activities - a Galley Tour, French Apple Tart Demonstration, Impressionism Lecture and World War II/ Normandy Talk. There were several nights of great entertainment including wonderful Can Can Dancers, a Traditional Folkloric Dance Company, local Jazz Ensemble and the talented Italian singer, Roberto.
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. The cruise exceeded my expectations and I looked forward to the second cruise which I will post later. The only issue that I had was that the guide was late in arriving to meet us in Paris.
Our stateroom 307 had a French Balcony and was well appointed. It contained plenty of storage with two wardrobes, deep drawer and shelf space. Two end tables flanked the comfortable bed covered with two fluffy comforters. In addition, there were two chairs, a desk, small glass table and plenty of lamps with good lighting. There was a safe, an ice bucket and hair dryer in the room. The A/C was adjustable and worked well. The bathroom containing a fairly large shower had a generous supple of 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.
The low rating is because we didn't dock in Paris as scheduled. We had to take a coach to Vernon instead as there was a problem with a lock.
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