This review covers 7 days on the vantage river splendor from budapest to regensburg on the first part of our danube,main, rhine cruise. We did not complete the scheduled 14 day cruise we joined on june 7 , 2019 due to an accident in the lock at riegensburg germany .we were not informed by vantage about an altered itinerary until 4 days into this cruise although the accident occurred 2 days before we boarded. .
THE DANUBE-MAIN -RHINE CRUISE CROSSES THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE AND USE 66 LOCKS TO ADJUST THE RIVER LEVELS FROM BUDAPEST TO COLOGNE .SHIPS CAN NOT GET FROM THE DANUBE TO THE MAIN RIVER WITHOUT THE 60 MILE LONG DANUBE -AIN CANAL FINISHED IN 1992
Flying into budapest , vantage made a poor arrival experience on the included transfers. we sat in the airport for 90 minutes waiting for a last couple 's late rrival. we missed the port oreintation and captain's welcome sitting in the airport.fianlly a van took us to the river splendor with no access as the ship had removed access across another ship . we stood on the dock with the luggage waiting for crew to fix access to the ship up two levels on another ship to the sundeck and across and down to the river splendor. the other ship doid not allow us to cross through their lobby to our ship. Not so nice welcome.
We were hustled into dinner unwashed for our first dinner. the staff were rude and rushed us as the "kitchen was closing" to select an entree with no other choices. we had an awful first dinner of dried out chicken and tasteless consomme. that first night was awful and a warning. the wait staff rushed us and showed no courtesy to us as late arrivals due to vantage's choice to have us wait at the airport.
we missed having any free time in budapest by arriving at 4;30pm. vantage arranged poor flight choices. our flights were changed less than 48 hours before leaving home from flying directly into budapest to flying through prague and flying with czech airlines. We had a seven hour layover in prague on the day of embarkation. that lost us any chance to tour budapest the first day. then we wasted 90 minutes sitting in the iarport waiting for the vantage transfer to the ship across town.
The river spendor ship built in 2013 was clean and well maintained. the ship accomodates 176 passengers in three levels of cabins with suites on the upper deck, roomy 165plus sq ft french balconies on midlevel and cramped port hole fixed window cabins at lower deck where the crew also sleep. the difference between lower deck and mid deck is worth the $300 per passenger difference. our window on mid deck was about 6 feet wide and opened to fresh air. we were above water level and had great views while the d cabins had minimal view and much of the cabin is below water level!
Our cabin was well designed with two easy cahirs at the window. Twin beds had adequate light for reading and a flat screen tv. Airconditioning was under our contraol and worked well in sweltering 90 degrees in vienna. the built in desk and counter top along the wall across from the beds worked well as also the storage was quite roomy for ou 2 weeks sotrage for hangins and folded clothes. Bed side cabinets held personal items and electronics. the bathroom ahd ample sapce and a glass enclosed shower well designed br space and storage. The amenities were provence occidental and ample supplies. we had 8 bottles to share for 2 passengers. the only missing amenity was a refrigerator which was only in suites. the space in the cabinet for a refrierator was noticeable. there was an ice bucket we needed to fill our selves at the lobby level on mid deck cabin stewards did only cleaning and bed making . No ice, fruit or flowers by cabin staff. The ship accomodates up to 176 passengers .we had 150 passengers with many solo cabins at each level.
Dining had options of the formal dining room with one service for all or a limited menu in the aft deck captain club. tables in the main dining room were for 4- 10 people. Most were for 6 persons suggesting joining other passengers for meals. Unlike ocean cruises this is a limited dining room making sharing a necessary part of travel. Each written menu had annotaitons about allergies of each menu item. this was helpful usually. however as i looked for lactose free items it seemed every item had lactose such as balsamic salad dressing, roast pork and grilled salmon i did not have the usual deserts as all seemed heavy on cream ( cheesecake, ice cream, napolean, tiramasu,) .i had fresh fruit for desert for lunch and dinner.
breakfast was a buffet from 7-9am with omelet chef, lots of fresh fruit, smoothies, bacon, sausage, potatoes , muffins, dry cereals, few donuts, bagels, small pastries, smoked salmon with capers, scrambled eggs, a daily special ( e.g. Eggs benedict) and other breakfast items. Our favorite of egg white omelets was easy to gt each morning with a selction of additives. coffee was served at the table as also tea no soda or other items .on sunday champagne and mimosas were set out at the buffet. early risers had a spare continental choice in the lounge.
Lunch was a written menu choice of appetizer, soup, salad, entree and desert. Salad was a buffet self serve choice. the tomatoes from eastern europe were luscious and the best part of lunch on the river splendor. Every day had a hamburger/ cheese burger or hot dog with fries option. entrees might be pork loin, salmon trout, monte crisco snadwich. generally snadwiches were poor as the bread did not have meat to cover it. four cheese sandwich had one cheese not covering the thick bread. One couple sought fish and chips at the captain's club aft and got fish with no fries? the menu was posted online and in the lobby in advance each day. rarely was the list encouraging. the best lunch was a bavarian buffet with lots of wurst and a roasted suckling pig. lunch beverages were coffee, tea, iced tea and water. soda was 4.2 euros per glass. Wine and beer were priced by the glass from the bar menu
Dinner was a set affair with printed menus at a specific time. usually we had a port talk at 6:40pm and dinner at 7pm. the written menu had one or two appetisers, two soups and 2-3 three entrees and two deserts. if one appetiser listed it was served to everyone unless the diner declined. soups included either a cold soup ( e.g. Starwberry) , a cream root vegetable soup and a consomme. Most soups were not to my taste and i stopped trying. I usually love soup but not on this sailing. too many cream of root vergetable soups, including palsify . entrees ranged across pork, chicken and beef. On the river splendor the fish was rock fish, salmon trout, halibut and perch. no shell fish or shrimp. No scallops. no lamb. everynight the alternative manu on the back of the form menu wer a grden salad with chef's choice of dressing, caesar salad, chicken breats, sirlon steak, and grilled slamon. these alternatives were served with a baked potatoe and stemed vegetables that often were over cooked. the baked pottoes wer smal but yummy with butter. We chose most nights to share one of these alternatives salads and entrees while sampling one of the strange entrees and appetisers. the best entree of the time on the river splendor was the schnitzel which was pork well cooked and seasoned deep fried filet of pork. The veal tenderloin served one night was tasteless and a small portion. at dinner there were choices of paired wines, cold draft beer or unlimited soda. The wines shifted nightly. deserts were attractive with regional specialties, everynight icecream and everynight cheese displays. each night the staff placed alrge selection of cheeses with crackers for guests to choose their favorites in any quantity. i opted for the sliced fresh fruit which was usually slim slices of melon and occasioanl strawberry.
On this cruise diet, i lost about 2 pounds over 2 weeks.
Entertainment was minimal with a piano player during dinner we could not hear. He played during the cocktail time in the lounge and after dinner in the lounge. of course dinner took about 2 hours . Everyone was tired from jet lag and walking in the ports so few lasted for after dinner piano music or the juke box for dancing one night at 9pm there was a oompah band of five young musicians in lederhosen who got off before leaving the port. Good music.
The lectures generally were inserted at quiet times in the journey and were sleep inducing. a charming 91 year musician came to talk of his 38 years playing in the vienna philharmonic/symphony .as a canadian expatriate he expressed joy in the music scene in vienna. we had an excursion in vienna to the kursalon salon for a small orchestra concert of strauss and viennese music with some duo singling and a dancing duo. We had been to the same performance in 2015 on a bus tour. this was less hazzled as vantage reserved only for our group in the hall which would hold over 500 people and we were 150 passengers.
Service was surprisingly spotty. we had dining room staff with limited english one vietamese server was rude and abrasive. Damanding an orde r within 60 seconds of being seated. several eastern european servers smiled but did not understand english. most were not trained in service and reached across 1-2 people to serve rather than walk around a table. Reaching across guests was routine. The tables were well spaced and did not require reaching. we waited long for beverages at dinner and often the server forgot and took our order to another table. these servers were not on tips/ commission for alcohol beverages like on ocean ships. they forgot to serve.
Our cabin stewards were seen in the halls. they exchanged used towels and straightened beds early each morning ( 7-8:30am) . Little other signs of their prsence could be seen. no ice. Sometimes they removed used glasses and plates. more often they left a glass with some water in it. They returned during dinner to turn down beds, leave a chocolate and leave the next days written program.
We were suprised at the service gratuity that was posted as 18 euros per person per day to be shared by the 47 crew, officers and office staff. that would mean $81 usd per day per cruise staff . That seems pretty rich a gratuity for every kitchen staff, dining steward cabin steward, and dishwasher! that's $1134usd per staff for our 14 day cruise. we did not have 4 star service . i asked for a reduction in the gratuity charge and still felt i was paying more than reasonable for the service i received. vantage must not be paying the staff to assume these gratuity rates for the service we got. rudeness! Waits. Minimal service.
Buffets for two meals a day. Yet paying $ 81 usd per dining stewrad.
The ports for the river splendor were standard for a danube-main-rhine cruise. Budapest, Vienna, Krems/Stein, Passau, and STOP
Before we left home, a viking ship rammed the wall of a lock on the danube -main canal and severely damaged the gate on the lock at riegenburg ,germany . After 4 days on this ship we were informed we would need to pack up and leave the river splendor ship in regensburg .our luggage would be delivered to the vantage river voyager in nuremburg to continue our 14 day itinerary. those voyager passengers would transfer to our cabins on the river spendor to continue their itinerary to budapest. we would do a 90 minute bus trip tpo nurembery and not lose our excursion schedule. inconveneince was all we were told was ahead. we were told we were going to the same cabin number on the next ship. not true we changed to the port form the starboard side. some guests got shifted to the lower deck from c cabinswith french balconies , six foot windows to d-cabins with high port hole windows and below water level sleeping. sadly vantage did not put the solo travelers in c cabins to the smaller d cabins but sent couples . solo travelrs paid the 1/2 fare for a double cabin as the couples paid! the second half of this cruise is reviewed under river voyager.
Vantage includes most exucrisons as part of the basic fare. that meant city guides in budapest, vienna, and passau our cruise director tried a new strategy in passau of grouping the tour groups by effort. One group was for power walkers( active) , most groups were standard pace and one group was slow pace for those on walkers or mobility limits. The concierge maya assigned us to our color groups eachmorning. that was a great idea unless a local guide got stuck behind the slow group and would not move on! each day we were assigned our guide by color. we used the whisper speaker system for our tours to hear our guide in our ear as we walked in buildings and along the streets. since there were only 150 passengers on this cruise the concierge knew everybody quickly. a stop at "krems" was a new ship stop duirng the wachau valley day. it was not really krems but the smaller older town of stein which was closed when we arrived. Only one of the three churches was open and few shops or anythng in the town of stein. Not a good choice for a stop.
At most of our formal ports we had an excursion for 90 minutes to 2 hours and then returned to the ship for lunch. then we had about 2 hours to return to the port city for touring on our own. in passau we were given a tour and then escorted to the cathedral for a 12 noon organ concert on the largest organ in the world ( 7 700 pipes). Some passengers stayed in town afterwards we went back to the ship for lunch and had a leisurely walk back into town in the afternoon to shop, visit other churches and the cathedral empty of the concert crowd. our afternoon walk arounds proved a most enjoyable part of our river cruise in vienna, passau and later on. . by our late arrival we missed the walkaround time in budapest while others visited the cathedral,central market and other sites on the first day. our boat shifted its dock overnight so we never saw the nighttime lights of budapest due to the deadly crash at the margaret bridge of a viking ship corkscrewing a 89 foot tour boat killing 30 passengers and crew.
We enjoyed this river cruisae. we were far more active and walking than we had expected. we dressed casually all of the time and chose smart casual for the captain's welcome dinner. no dressy clotes are necessary. Good walking shoes are essential with all the cobblesstones in the walking. A heat wave had come to hungary and we had temperaturs into the 90's. in our 7 days on the river splendor we had no rain.
We transferred after regensburg to nuremburg via bus. we closed our accounts with vantage and returned our keys nd boarding passes to the river splendor. we had to start all over on the river voyager boarding it in nuremburg. The front desk staff on the river splendor were very rigid and sent us off eager to leave them. the hospitality was lacking at the front desk . the luggage transfer was quite orderly to send us off to the river voyager.
WE liked this cabin as it was very well designed. WE had two armchairs at the six foot wide floor to ceiling French balcony window. The counter and desk along the long wall of the cabin was useable while allowing easy transit past the two separate twin beds. Stroage was ample with suitcases under the beds. Two closets with hanger space and lots of drawers and shleves for our casual clothes. Bathroom ample with turnaround space and grab bars in the shower with glass door and good drainage No ventilation in the BR but we always bring a deodorant spray for odor control.
Panoramic tour from our river boat moored out of the city to see Parliament buidldings, cathedral and the downtown with time out of the bus at the Fisherman's Bation and St Mathias church. walk around time after climbing up the hill to the bastion. No time in the city or in BudaView All 85 Highlights Tour Reviews
Included with city guide. Panorama tour of Vienna until reached bus park. Then walking tour across Vienna to pass St Stephan's platz, Hofburg and walking through the Hofburg with finally reaching the Lictenstein Palace for a private tour for 12 guests at a time. the updated airconditioned Lictenstein palace was a gem. The rooms reflected Viennese culture and artistry. The docent was cheerful adn informed in our tour. The bus returned us to the cruise ship about 2 miles out of town for lunch. .
The cruise line included a shuttle back to the city in the afternoon to wonder on our own for about 90 minutes.View All 169 City Tour Reviews
Inclued tour on cruise . Afternoon on a sunny day with time to enjoy the gardens and a personalized tour for about 12 passengers with whisper commentary through the public rooms. Guide knew the palace wel with hisotry and sotries. he guided us well from the crowds and we enjoyed this tour. Schonbrunn has been updated since my last tour years ago. Shiny and clean Gardens well maintained crowds spaced to allow enjoyment o fthe palace.View All 179 Schonbrunn Palace Reviews
The river boat had an unscheduled 90 minute stop at Krems which put the boat at the smaller Stein. We walked about this town with few shops open One of the three churches was open for visits. The locals stated the real town of Krems was about 1 mile or two from where the boat anchored. WE enkoyed the smaller town but wondered what Kews was really about??
Included with cruise was a walking tour ending in St Stephens cathedral with an organ recital This is the largest organ in the world with 7700 pipes. The concert was well designed with seats in the middle of the Cathedral.The 30 minute organ concert was rich and memorable. The crowd enjoyed the music for 20 minutes and then started figeting and wlaking out. we enjoyed the the music to the end. WE enjoyed visiting the cathedral later without the crowds. Beautiful restoration after WWIIView All 112 St. Stephen's Cathedral Reviews
Our city tour guide was weak walking us to the overflowing Danube blocking a walkway he headed us to! He spent too much time in the back allies and looking at flood levels
The walking tour missed going through the modern parts of the city including St Paul's church and the nice shopping district. Our guide missed the Jesuit church also which we visited on our aftenoon return WE saw more on our own walking the Dom platz and seeing the major sights found on a map.View All 218 Walking Tour Reviews
The walking tour of REgensburg emphasized it ancient history. The people of the town saved the stain glass of the cathedral form the wars. St Peter is seen in the cathedral allegely 110 times. WE looked and saw him with keys and a rock and other symbols. The old town is charming Our boat stopped outside the town as the end of our cruise with the River spendor ended here. WE stayed overnight for those eahger to go backinto town. We found two ventures into town in the morning and afternoon enough to see the best of the tow. it is a university town with charm and easy shopping. Nice old churches.