River Discovery II Cruise Review by cshoema
- Sail Date: May 2016
- Destination: Europe River
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.
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