The original cruise was called "The Heart of Brazil and the Amazon." However about a month before we were to leave, we received an email from Vantage that the embarkation city was changed to Belem. No explanation or reason was given. This took away nearly all of the Amazon - the focus of the cruise - and we did not see any of the Heart of Brazil, only the coast. We tried to call and ask what happened but no one would pick up the phone. When we finally did get someone, he said he had no idea why either, but that we could cancel and get a voucher for another cruise. Meanwhile we found many complaints on line about Vantage's deceptive practices. During the Pandemic, some 90+ year old customers were offered vouchers for a future cruise, but later when they could no longer travel and asked for a refund, they were offered a voucher instead. There were many complaints about Vantage not refunding anyone's money - it didn't matter if Vantage canceled a trip or the guest canceled. No one can get their money back.
There were 87 of us about the Ocean Explorer and the vast majority were angry about the changes, especially about not being given any truthful explanation. Once on board, we asked the Captain and he said he had no idea why the itinerary was changed. Tour guides would often get off the bus and be way ahead of the group while elderly passengers were still getting off the bus. There was only one shore excursion option at each port. Either take that tour or stay on the ship. Most places we were taken to see churches and passed through many slums.
The ship store and the Spa were both closed the entire trip, Out of 4 treadmills in the gym, only 2 worked. The food was fair at best. We have been on a total of 34 cruises over many years. The Vantage cruise was by far the absolute worst. Along with many friends we made on board, we all believe Vantage is in financial trouble. For the daily tips at the end, many people's credit cards would not go through, leading us to believe that credit card companies are getting too many disputes so they simply won't accept charges by Vantage. An announcement was made about charges not going through and to see if you could borrow somebody else's credit card. Yeah, like that's going top happen!! Word to the Wise - Do not ever book a trip or cruise with Vantage Deluxe Travel. It is far from Deluxe and all they will do is lie to you, if they even answer the customer service phone number. The day after we returned home we got a phone call from the sales department offering us a discount on another trip. You can bet my husband gave the guy an earful. Our recommendation - Stay away from this company!!
Cabin was very nice.
Our cruise portion of the trip ended at Rio. The Marriott Hotel was very lovely and convenient. Fun to watch all the people on the beach. The tour bus took us to Christ The Redeemer early in the morning because larger ships would be arriving and it would be crowded. Even though we arrived early, it was still very crowded - wall to wall people. That night we were taken to a Brazilian Steak House for dinner. Large salad bar, lots of meats on the skewers. We have been to the same type of restaurant on Norwegian Cruise Line and the meats were much more tender.