As my title says, this river cruise was adequate for what we paid. We were offered a very good deal and decided to try Vantage. If we had paid full price, I would have been extremely upset. Since we didn't book our flights through Vantage, we were on our own to get to the boat and the information provided was inadequate and incorrect. Our paperwork stated we were to be there no later than 7:00 p.m. and when we arrived at 5:45, we were basically yelled at. We arrived later than we were originally planning but because of inadequate directions, our driver couldn't find the place. The paperwork on board the ship stated we were leaving at 6:00 p.m. - this needs to be sorted out for future guests.
The cabins were fine, nothing special. No complaints except you get one bottle of water the day you arrive and nothing thereafter. Other river cruises we have been on they leave a bottle of water each day when they are servicing the rooms. Found this kind of strange.
The menu was adequate and the food very good. Good variety. The only complaint here is wine is only offered at dinner and I think the staff is told to just allow 2 glasses per person (not full glasses either - just 1/3rd). There was a few times when people at our table had to ask for more wine. I think if you give a tip as soon as you arrive, you are looked after better. The only included beverages were tea, coffee, water and iced tea. If you like to enjoy a cocktail before dinner and wine with dinner (and lunch), be prepared to have a huge bill at the end of your trip. Might be better to find another cruise line where everything is included because even though this one seems cheaper in the beginning, I think once you're finished, you are either paying the same of more for a better calibre of river cruising.
The gratuities are charged to you at the end of your trip and it's not 5 Euros per person per day as some other reviewers stated - we were charged 17 Euros per person per day. The staff were friendly enough but I sometimes felt they favoured travellers who had been with Vantage before or others who may have given tips at the beginning of the trip. I also felt the staff were "unnatural" when talking to you.
The shore excursions were average at best. Some of the guides dragged things out much longer than what was needed because some of the towns/villages really had not too much to offer. There were a couple of places that were absolutely wonderful - great shopping, cafes, restaurants, sweet shops, etc. and Normandy was a great day!
So, as I mentioned above, this cruise was OK for what we paid for it. Asked if we would book with Vantage again and the answer would be No. We would rather go with another company and know our costs upfront. Other river cruises we have been on have been ALL INCLUSIVE including the gratuties. We did know upfront that this was not an all inclusive cruise - our rep told us wine/beer would be included with meals though (the fineprint said "dinner only"). For the price we paid, we certainly would not have expected all inclusive but offering water and iced tea at lunch is just unacceptable and bottled water in your room each day should be a standard.