Let me begin by saying I chose this cruise for two reasons. One, it had a great itinerary to Normandy. Second, Vantage offers single fares without paying double the cruise price.
I took advantage of a 3 day pre-cruise extension to St. Malo, France on the English Channel. The old walled city of St. Malo is surrounded by a lively beach resort with many restaurants, hotels, and a casino. We stayed at the Oceania Hotel which was ideally located just a 5 minute walk to the old city. We had a full day tour to Mont St. Michele which everyone should visit.
From St. Malo, we traveled to Paris with a stop in Chartres to visit the cathedral and wander around the city. We arrived in Paris and boarded the River Venture. I was pleasantly surprised to find I had been up-graded to a French balcony cabin. My cabin was beautifully decorated with plenty of drawer space and a closet. The bathroom was small but well laid out. The shower was large with a glass door enclosure. The cabin came with bathrobes, slippers, a reusable water bottle (to take home), a large bottle of Evian water, a desk, and a small table with two chairs in front of the French balcony. I loved it!
The River Venture carries 136 passengers. The dining room was on the main deck and the lounge was on the upper deck. There were areas forward and aft where you could go outside as well as topside. My last ocean cruise was on the NCL Breakaway with over 4000 passengers, so being on this river cruise was a nice change. Of course river cruises do not offer the activities that ocean liners offer, so keep that in mind.
We had local entertainers at night and a French Cabaret show one night which was quite lively. There were guest lecturers and we were shown the movie "The Longest Day" the night before we toured the beaches of Normandy where the Allies landed on June 6, 1944. On river cruises, the shore excursions are all included and I enjoyed all of them. There were a few optional tours that you could purchase.
Dining on the River Venture was an epicurean delight. We started our day with a buffet breakfast and omelet station. At lunch we could order off the menu or eat at the buffet. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, fruit, and cookies were available throughout the day. Dinner was elegant and delicious. Each night we had 3 entrees to pick from as well as salmon or chicken which were offered every night. Everything was done perfectly.
The service and the staff on this boat were the best! The cabin stewards, wait staff, front desk, and officers were always polite, helpful, and friendly. There was one stand out and it was Tessa, our Cruise Director. She did an excellent job of taking care of us during our cruise and she did it with a smile always. She is a credit to the Vantage organization.
This cruise enabled me to cross two items off my Bucket List, Mont St. Michele (on the pre-trip extension) and the beaches of Normandy. Our visit to the American Cemetery was an emotional experience with veterans on our cruise placing a wreath at the statue while our National Anthem was playing. After our anthem, they played Taps while we were looking out at the 9387 white headstones of those who had fallen during the invasion of Normandy.
I loved my cabin! The cabin was well laid out with plenty of drawer space and an ample closet. The bathroom had a nice roomy shower with a glass enclosure, a nice size sink with storage area, and ample room for your knees when sitting down on the toilet. There was a desk with outlets and charging stations and ample light to use the hairdryer and in my case a curling iron. There was a table with two chairs in front of the French balcony as well as an easy chair. The décor of the room was beautiful.