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Sail Date: June 2019
We went from Bucharest to Bonn Germany. Wanted to visit the lower river mainly. We have visited most of the ports from Buda - Pest to Bonn. We arrived in Bucharest on June 24 2019. There was much confusion at the airport about waiting ... Read More
We went from Bucharest to Bonn Germany. Wanted to visit the lower river mainly. We have visited most of the ports from Buda - Pest to Bonn. We arrived in Bucharest on June 24 2019. There was much confusion at the airport about waiting for more connecting flights to arrive, before we were taken to our hotel in Bucharest. This process took over 2 hours with a Vantage rep, who was also confused about how to get our luggage down several flights of steps to a designated area were the bus could park. No assistance or help from anyone. This was very difficult for most of the passengers. No carts or luggage handlers available to assistance after having a 14 hour flight to Romainia. Also one must consider the average of these travelers is 70+ Once at the hotel things improved & were much better organized. Next morning a quick city tour & a bus ride down to Brasov, which was about 2.5 hours. Transylvania is beautiful & we enjoyed our stay in town during our 4 nights. Touring days were long, as we returned to Brasov each evening. The last day we would tour locally & then meet the boat outside of Burcharest to the northwest about 1.5 hour drive to embark on the next 16 days on the river. Arriving at the boat was quick & simple. Cabins were ready & finally we could hang-up all of our clothes & not use the suitcase for the next 15 days... The River Voyager is Vantage's newest boat built in 2016. The cabins are modern & good size with a french balcony. The showers are large & well appointed including a hand held shower head. The theme is jazz throughout the boat. Funny tho... I did not hear any Jazz background music during the entire voyager. We took most of the optional excursions & all the included ones. Most were very good with local guides. Nuremberg was a very poor tour & extremely short on time. This is not the local guides fault, but a decision made by Vantage. ( Change this ) The Medieval City needs much more time to be explored. Food is subjective: Thought most of the dinners were very average lacking quality & taste. Few spices used, most items seemed very bland. Breakfast is a buffet & lunch sometimes. Many choices & happy with these offerings. Wine & beer served at dinner. For my taste the wine were of poor quality & did not represent the countries we were traveling thru. Also felt the pours were small & not too often. Service is slow up in the lounge before dinner. Need more servers & 2 bartenders. No service on the Sun Deck. They need a mini-bar service especially on full cruise days. Laundry service is adequate, but expensive. The cruise director & his assistant were excellent. Crew is friendly & officers & captain engaged with the passengers. The on board entertainment was good with classical music & dancers performing their specialties. Finally... overall cruise was good. Weather cooperated most days. Passengers are well traveled & friendly. Due to some outstanding service by housekeeping, one bartender, the head waiter & assistant, along with the piano player, we tipped extra to these individuals. Our trip from Bonn to Frankfurt for the airport was almost 2 hours on the bus. We boarded at 5 am for 10:15 departure back to the USA. This made for a very long travel day. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
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 ... Read More
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. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Many of the locations were interesting, including Honfleur, and the Giverny,the Normandy Beaches,American Cemetery,Pointe du Hoc, and 2 1/2 days for Paris explorations. One excursion included a visit to a working farm which talked about ... Read More
Many of the locations were interesting, including Honfleur, and the Giverny,the Normandy Beaches,American Cemetery,Pointe du Hoc, and 2 1/2 days for Paris explorations. One excursion included a visit to a working farm which talked about cheese makingbut did not include a demonstration or show cheese being made or stored--nota wise use of 2 hours. Food service was efficient and lthe menu had several daily main choices. Unofrtunately, with one exception, the half dozen or so culinary demonstrations were heild in the small Captains Lounge in the rear of the ship and not in the Main Lounge. Giiven the smaller location, the demonstrations were limited to a maximum of 25 people. If you were not in the 25, you were given a priority to attend the next demonstration. So for many a highlight of the cruise was not frequently available. The Paris river port locations and thier nearby RER stations within 1-4 miles of the Eiffel Tower could have been better pinpointed to facilitate explorations. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
We chose this cruise to experience the varied ports and wines along the route. We were not disappointed. We saw a lot of different sights and history. We visited the Luxembourg Memorial Cemetery which was truly an moving experience. ... Read More
We chose this cruise to experience the varied ports and wines along the route. We were not disappointed. We saw a lot of different sights and history. We visited the Luxembourg Memorial Cemetery which was truly an moving experience. The Rhine gorge was spectacular. The Mosel River views were beautiful. the crew was very attentive. The captain was welcoming and personable. We had to make a quick change to avoid the low water condition on the Rhine. That meant that we missed one port. Vantage and the Captain made the necessary adjustments in the itinerary. All of the passengers agreed and that made our cruise a little special. But we were able to see another port more fully. The captain even made a special effort to illuminate the towers of the Bridge at Remagen when we passed them at 11:30pm. That is the kind of attentiveness from the Vantage personnel that makes them a cut above others. I would take this cruise again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Biggest surprise on this cruise was the quality of the food. While I usually load up my lunch buffet plate with different options, once I taste I don't finish the dish. But on this cruise, I usually finished my plate. The majority of ... Read More
Biggest surprise on this cruise was the quality of the food. While I usually load up my lunch buffet plate with different options, once I taste I don't finish the dish. But on this cruise, I usually finished my plate. The majority of the food was excellent, much to my surprise. Other than a line for omelettes in the morning, absolutely no complaints. The soups were especially good, both hot and chilled. The ship was spotless and the tours offered were good. The folklore show on board was better than an optional excursion we had paid big $ for. Cabin was larger than many others we have had in the past on ocean going ships. The real entertainment for th is cruise was going ashore each day to experience the ports. The only time one the ship was for meals and sleeping, since the ship sailed at night and we were sightseeing during the day. The one exception was a day sailing through the Iron Gates of the Danube, where they provided commentary about the sights as we sat on the top deck enjoying the view. Thoroughly enjoyed the ship and the ports. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2018
Little pricey... Ship and crew were very good, clean boat, represented themselves and the company professionally. Room cleaning needs some improvement but room was very adequate and usable. The shore trips were outstanding and had ... Read More
Little pricey... Ship and crew were very good, clean boat, represented themselves and the company professionally. Room cleaning needs some improvement but room was very adequate and usable. The shore trips were outstanding and had excellent guides, don't think they can improve any on this one. Lots of "dock side" time. Think it just is due to Lock reservations. :Lots of side by side docking with other boats/ships.\, bummer for viewing. Main restaurant service is served everybody at one time so u wait for each course. No big deal, just is. Before/arrival day/s (Basil) was a disaster. Wast of money, joke. On the other hand, Bruges, Belgium is a must do. I have never used this cruise company before and probably will not again. I found it hard to communicate with the sales rep's as each time I called I got a different person and each one said they will fix the problem and then referred you to the web site, ya right. The phone "hold" time is incredible, sometimes an hour or more. Number one objective, Get The Money! Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Wanted to visit Budapest and Vienna on a land tour so with the extra ports, seemed to make sense (we are not interested in organized bus tours, but having the same room every night is appealing). While the tours and tour guides were good, ... Read More
Wanted to visit Budapest and Vienna on a land tour so with the extra ports, seemed to make sense (we are not interested in organized bus tours, but having the same room every night is appealing). While the tours and tour guides were good, the onboard experience was lacking. We are frequent travellers (every two to three months since retiring six years ago) and experienced cruisers (50+,including one Viking river cruise on Elbe). On first trip with a travel provider, I always choose lowest pricing/category to gauge the experience/service offered to these guests. Theory being, if experience at this level is wonderful, higher levels should be WOW! Then we know if we want to travel with them again. Unfortunately, while the crew members were polite, general service and their response to requests was non existent (not really sure if Suite guests got better service/response). 1) Bike requests- we reserved before sailing but no need to reserve, always seemed to have some available. We used them twice. First time in Vienna and had to go through several before we found some that were usable — inflated tires, functioning keys, helmets with proper straps, etc. The second time we requested them and had to wait quite awhile for them to be brought outside and they were quite dirty —we cleaned them. 2) Outside areas— unfortunately, this cruise sails through 66 locks and multiple bridges. Everything on the sundeck has to be put down so no one was allowed up there. That left the front, enclosed sitting area which is small, hot and always full and the very small back area outside the Captain’s Club which was not pleasant due to exhaust. We had the cabin with non opening windows but this ship has no cabins with balconies, only French balconies which are just floor to ceiling windows; I asked people in these rooms and they said the views (and air) were limited. In any case, there was no outside area to relax in. 3) Entertainment onboard- there was no regular entertainment, the evenings we were sailing so there was nothing to do. One reason we thought this river cruise would be fun/interesting was that we would be docked in the evenings and go off the ship (we did this on Viking) but this particular cruise schedule was such that this was Impossible. There was entertainment three times: a dancing couple trying to get a party going (we left after about 20 minutes), a German singing group (great fun and enjoyable) and a solo songstress (good voice but kind of an odd act). The onboard lectures were quite interesting. 4) Dining— this was the most disappointing aspect of this trip. I am not sure why people rate the dining well. While the kitchen did seem to concern itself with presentation (always pleasant looking dishes), - ingredients for the most part were lower quality and sparse (thin, grisly steak, a shrimp appetizer consisted of baby (canned?) shrimp, tiny serving of salmon (maybe two bites?), steamed vegetables consisted of one small broccoli piece, one tiny cauliflower florets and one SLICE of carrot. —all cold, etc. -service was limited and extremely slow (we had to wait 30-40 minutes between courses, one time 45 minutes between soup and main course — only four of us at the table) -nothing was hot, even soup sometimes was only lukewarm, had to send lasagne back to be microwaved(?— quality kitchens do not microwave to heat up, they ensure just in time preparation, even for large groups), butter did not melt on potatoes or veggies and, once, our table companions requested coffee, the server said it was cold and brought it anyway — didn’t even offer to make a new pot. The guest went to the coffee machine in the lounge and brought back two coffees(service??). The buffet food was never hot, not even warm. We rarely ate lunch on the ship because of this, if we did, we made sandwiches and we got into the habit of making just toast for breakfast;however, they did have one person making eggs to order which we did do a couple of times with our toast. — special requests/substitutions weren’t honoured, I.e. I asked to hold potatoes but give me double vegetables (not done), my husband asked for a piece of salmon to be added to his beef plate (not done), I asked that a dish be served without the risotto advertised with it - no substitution, just not give me the risotto (not done) After the first meal, we spoke to the maître d’ and asked each server when we placed our orders to ensure that our food be served hot (we changed tables regularly to see if the new server could respond to our requests —did not happen). We started to eat dinner in the Captain’s Club because the grilled foods were literally hot off the grill but, again, limited servings. Frankly, the best meal we had was off the ship at the German bbq lunch that was included (this was the most fun experience provided by the ship). This trip was very disappointing and with so many options available, I will not travel with them again. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
This is a review of our second Vantage European River Cruise entitled “France Culinary Delights: Paris to Normandy” (MS River Venture, 13 days, June 2018). We took our first river cruise last year with Vantage (Majestic Rivers of ... Read More
This is a review of our second Vantage European River Cruise entitled “France Culinary Delights: Paris to Normandy” (MS River Venture, 13 days, June 2018). We took our first river cruise last year with Vantage (Majestic Rivers of Europe: Castles, Cathedrals & Fairytales, Budapest to Amsterdam, MS River Splendor, 15 days, June 2017) and rated it five stars. This cruise (2018) was barely three stars. For the following reasons, we felt this cruise was well below what we experienced in 2017: • The River Venture was originally due to depart Paris at 6:30 pm (according to the Daily Program), but for some reason it left around 4:00 pm. That meant that several passengers who flights arrived after the ship left Paris had to get their own transportation from the airport and catch up with the ship. Several of these passengers stated they had to pay for this (around 200 Euros) and then Vantage reimbursed them. • The Cruise Director, Concierge, and front desk staff would hardly do more than their job. There was no going beyond and above. The hairdryer provided by Vantage in our room died half-way through the cruise and when I went to the front desk for a replacement, I was told they did not have any (the Captain apparently had some on order). Nor did they have any US to European electrical adaptors. Another passenger and I had to go to a store while in port and buy our own European hairdryers. Also, there was a couple we became friends with that had booked their flights and travel insurance through Vantage. His bag did not make it to Paris from Atlanta on Delta/Air France. They are also some of the passengers who flights arrived after the ship departed Paris. His bag made it to the CDG Airport the next day, but Vantage (specifically the Cruise Director) asked that he be allowed to communicate with Delta/Air France to get the bag delivered to the ship. Let me say that the passenger did not get his bag until arrival back home in the US after the cruise. Not sure what the Cruise Director was telling Air France, but somehow Air France decided not to make it their problem anymore and sent the bag back to Atlanta without every attempting to deliver it to the cruise ship. The only thing that Vantage did do was laundry what clothes he had and/or brought during the cruise at no cost. • We barely saw the Captain of the ship (the first night of the cruise during the ship’s safety briefing, the Captain’s Gala dinner, and maybe one other time). He seemed arrogant and full of himself. I believe he only had one Captain’s table (during the Captain’s Gala Dinner). In fact the Captain’s Gala Dinner was moved to Tuesday, June 19, 2018 while we were docked in Rouen, France. According our Travel Documents, the Captain's Gala Dinner was originally scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2018. I believe the Captain made this change because Rouen is his hometown and since we were staying overnight there, the crew had a night off. Since Tuesday, June 19, was also the same day we were having a 5-course French lunch at the La Couronne Restaurant in Rouen (which was a major highlight of this trip), we had two huge meals in one day...very poor planning!!! Plus, we saw several of the crew members (including the Captain) drinking at the bar in the Can Can Lounge during the local entertainment (Roberto the best Crooner in Town). I would not think this was proper behavior for the Captain and/or the crew. (Note: the Captain on the 2017 cruise was wonderful…we saw him allot and he had at least 4 Captain’s Table during the cruise.) • Many people on this cruise (including us) were wondering why this cruise was titled "France Culinary Delights." The only real French food we had was at the La Couronne Restaurant in Rouen. We loved all the food on the 2017 cruise and the only food on this cruise that were equally good were the starter course and the desserts. Breakfast was decent with an omelet station. Although, I ordered the “Egg Cloud” breakfast special one morning and could not even cut it with a knife (I sent it back). The hot soups were nothing but broth with no taste or seasonings (exception for the french onion soup we had only one night, but it wasn’t anything to write home about). The cold soups tasted like watered down fruit yogurt. We called the nightly fish entrée “two bite fish” (very small portions and very hard to find on your plate). If we ordered a cheeseburger or hamburger and fries for lunch (takes an extra 15 minutes), we were hassled by the wait staff by them telling us “the kitchen isn’t going to like this.” Several evenings when I wanted to order from the standard every night menu (chicken, steak, or salmon), I was pressured to order one of the evening specials. The Captain’s Gala Dinner was good. • Some of the staff and food issues on this cruise maybe contributed to the fact that I found out that the MS River Venture would not be sailing again for another 6 to 8 weeks. I was told by the Concierge that everyone onboard our cruise had to be off the ship by noon time on disembarkation day. When I asked why, they told me that the ship was repositioning. I asked where it was repositioning too and did not get an answer. I thought this was odd since the Vantage website stated that all the cruise sailing dates for this cruise were “Sold Out.” I found out from other passengers that several cruise sail dates in May and July 2018 had been cancelled. In talking with some of the dining room staff, they were leaving the ship in Paris and heading back to their home countries. I am thinking that Vantage has a lot more competition in the Europe river cruise market and is cutting back. Maybe the ship staff was not given any notice about the cancelled ship sailing dates. This might contribute to the staff attitudes and not wanting to do anything for the passengers. And maybe the bad food was the Chef trying to get rid of anything they had onboard. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2018
We sailed on the Serenity in April, 2018. We cruised with Vantage. The trip began with two nights in Madrid. Then we were bused Salamanca for lunch and a walking tour before proceeding to Vega du Terron, Spain where we embarked. As soon as ... Read More
We sailed on the Serenity in April, 2018. We cruised with Vantage. The trip began with two nights in Madrid. Then we were bused Salamanca for lunch and a walking tour before proceeding to Vega du Terron, Spain where we embarked. As soon as everyone was on the ship, we took a short ~10 minute cruise to Barca d Alva, Portugal. It turns out that it’s a lot easer to load luggage at Vega du Terron. While most Douro cruises run from Porto to Porto, Vantages cruises are one-way, from Vega du Terron to Porto or vice versa. Most Douro cruises do the same excursions: Castelo Rodrigo, Mateus Manor, Avessada Winery, Lamego, etc. So I won’t dwell on these, but focus on the ship. Ship The Douro Serenity was launched in 2017, and is a beautiful ship. Like most ships on the Douro it is owned and staffed by Douro Azul. Both Vantage and Riviera lease the ship, and Douro Azul operates the ship for Portuguese cruisers. It has a steel-gray exterior rather than the traditional white, and has a very sleek look. The public areas are nice and comfortable. We stayed in a Junior Suite. The 237 sq. ft. cabin was comfortable and quiet. It had a balcony, but we didn’t use it that much. Despite being a large cabin, it seemed a little tight at times. We were a little frustrated that Vantage discriminated with the soaps and toiletries. Only President’s Club members (at least 3 previous Vantage trips) got the L’ Occitane toiletries. Food We’re not foodies. We found the food to be good, but not great. It’s on a par with food we’ve had with other river cruises. Service in the restaurant and bar was always excellent Tours/Excursions Douro cruises differ from typical European river cruises in that they don’t tie up to a town where one might take a walking tour. The ship docks, and cruisers board buses to be taken to sites of interest—typically bus rides are 1 hour or less. The same Douro Azul guides conducted tours at every stop. They lived in Porto and would either commute to and from the ship or stay in accommodations along the way. All of the excursions were interesting, although we encountered some harsh weather in early April. Of course, the Douro can be unbearably hot in the summer. You’ll pass some spectacular scenery on the bus going to or from the excursion destinations, so if you’re a photographer, you should take a polarizing filter to avoid glare from the glass bus windows. The only extra-cost optional tour we took was the Toledo excursion from Madrid. We highly recommend a visit to Toledo. Post Cruise Lisbon Disembarkation from Porto was staggered in 30 minute intervals. This allowed the buses to make rest stops and town visits without overwhelming facilities. We stopped for lunch at Nazaré. Unfortunately, the first bus arrived before the restaurants opened, so they either ate very quickly or not at all. We also stopped at the old town of Obidos and had time to stroll around the old town. Vantage chose the Pestana Palace as their Lisbon hotel. While the hotel is not close to the downtown area, it is a gorgeous facility. The main building (restaurants and common spaces) is an old mansion. Vantage offered a bus tour on the first full day in Lisbon with the normal stops. We were treated to the delicious pasteis de Belém pasteries at the monasteries. For those who wanted to spend the afternoon downtown, they were dropped off with a couple of pickups scheduled later in the afternoon. The second day was free for cruisers. The third day cruisers were transported to the airport to head home or participate in the optional extension to the island of Madeira. Trip Interrupted On our first day in Madrid I noticed blood in my urine, and we decided to cut the trip short. Vantage CD Eleuterio worked with us to reschedule flights and had a taxi ready to take us to the airport the next morning. So we missed our last day in Madrid and the Madeira extension. Long story short I had a softball-sized tumor on my right kidney. The tumor and kidney were removed two weeks after we left Lisbon, and I’m now cancer-free with a promising prognosis. Vantage really performed well in helping us deal with the situation. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We chose this Cruise for the itinerary and the price was attractive. We were actually a bit dubious because we hadn’t heard of Vantage, but we were thoroughly impressed with the vessel, the staff, our accommodations and the quality of ... Read More
We chose this Cruise for the itinerary and the price was attractive. We were actually a bit dubious because we hadn’t heard of Vantage, but we were thoroughly impressed with the vessel, the staff, our accommodations and the quality of the tours. The food was very good, not quite the gourmet offerings of another River Cruise we took, but satisfying, especially for what we paid. Bar drinks were extra, but reasonably priced and our bartender made great drinks and remembered our preferences. Our stateroom was modern, clean, well laid out and comfortable. The social scene shut down at 9:30 or so, but we chalked that up to the long dark nights of winter. The tour guides that were provided for us locally were outstanding in every port of call. Personal audio transmission devices were provided for our use and we were kept up to date with daily itineraries. We would sale with Vantage again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
7 day Danube from Budapest to Regensburg We were met by well-identified Vantage people at the Budapest airport. The transfer to the ship was swift and enjoyable, and included commentary on the sights we were passing. The River Voyager ... Read More
7 day Danube from Budapest to Regensburg We were met by well-identified Vantage people at the Budapest airport. The transfer to the ship was swift and enjoyable, and included commentary on the sights we were passing. The River Voyager is a beautiful ship; we were warmly welcomed aboard and shown to our cabin within minutes. Our luggage was already there. River cruise cabins are, of necessity smaller that those on ocean ships. Our cabin (lowest deck, lowest category) was very well designed and appointed. The bathroom larger and nicer than many ocean versions we’ve seen. Service and food were excellent. Everyone, including the crew and 168 passengers got on famously. Vantage seemed to really want us to appreciate where we were and what we were seeing, so the lectures, tours and guides were outstanding and included. The only charges on our shipboard account after a week were a small bar bill (beer 4.10, wine 5.30) and the daily gratuities. Note that no gratuity was added to bar tabs, the daily rate covered it. Excursions were: Bratislava, short church recital; Vienna, Christmas markets, concert, Lipizzan horses, Liechtenstein City Palace; Linz, full day in Salzburg; Passau, city walking tour (lots of hills!). All of these excursions were included in the cruise fare. We have done quite a few ocean cruises, but this is only our second river cruise and our first experience with Vantage. A thoroughly delightful experience. We will be traveling with Vantage again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2017
Locations included were what we wanted to see. Felt that the price was right. Really wanted a more relaxing trip and this fit the bill. We stayed in a suite and they include free laundry service, limited mini bar, full size bathtub and ... Read More
Locations included were what we wanted to see. Felt that the price was right. Really wanted a more relaxing trip and this fit the bill. We stayed in a suite and they include free laundry service, limited mini bar, full size bathtub and a double sink! What a treat! The staff was wonderful, the food was great!! Not lobster and caviar, but really good food...including wine/beer at dinner. We have also been on a Viking cruise and loved it...I was very scared that this ship wouldn't be as good as the Viking cruise...it sure was! We traveled with another couple and the husband got sick right after we boarded the ship. The staff took very good care of him. I agree that the age of passenger is older than Viking, but that wasn't a problem. Loved that they had a pillow selection! I sleep with a buckwheat pillow and they had one of them available....wow ,didn't expect that! We ended up booking another of cruise less than a month after we returned. Can't wait for the next adventure!! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We chose this cruise as we had cruised from Amsterdam to Budapest previously and thought it would nice to go the other direction from Budapest. We signed up for both the pre-cruise to Warsaw and Krakow and the postcruise to Romania ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we had cruised from Amsterdam to Budapest previously and thought it would nice to go the other direction from Budapest. We signed up for both the pre-cruise to Warsaw and Krakow and the postcruise to Romania and Transylvania. (Dracula, you know). I had to call their offices twice as they had us leaving on the wrong date, and we would, in the first case, have missed the whole pre-cruise, and in the second case, missed the first day. The lady at their office said they had some kind of automated scheduling program. Guess they need to get that fixed. One couple who was on the pre-cruise ended up flying into Budapest - right day, wrong city. They were rescheduled but had to pay a baggage fee, as it was no longer an international flight, as well as a taxi, as there was no one to meet them in Warsaw. Good luck on getting a refund on that, if I can believe previous traveler's reviews. The pre-cruise involved two whole days of bus travel. One day from Warsaw to Krakow, and one from Krakow to Budapest. The day of travel from Warsaw did allow us to visit Auschwitz. Very heart wrenching - especially the children. The cruise was just a typical river cruise. Nothing terribly exciting. The usual home visit, cathedrals, excessive time allowed for shopping and "hanging out". The food was, however, better than on our previous two river cruises. Even the sirloin steak was tender. Cabins were typical - 165 sq ft. Bed, small table and two chairs, bathroom with shower. Our cabin did have a refrigerator, which was nice, so we could put our pop, etc in it. We had an "A" French Balcony cabin, so that explains the refrigerator. On these cruise ships, I don't know why they don't just put in floor to ceiling windows and forget the balcony. Its worthless, as you can't go out on it, as it's only about 8 inches wide. Post cruise we went to Dracula's Castle. Actually Queen Maria's castle, and built way later than Dracula. Still interesting. But we did get to see where Dracula did live. It's now a restaurant. Also The Parliament Building. Its the largest Government Administrative Building after the Pentagon. 4 million sq ft! I enjoyed that. Also the Romanian food. Definitely related to Greek cuisine. Would say the post-cruise was better than the pre-cruise. Staff was helpful and accommodating. Oh - most of the younger people in Eastern Europe speak English. Its required starting in first grade. So that's nice. I'm afraid many Americans do not speak a second language. Not that it would be Romanian anyway. And yes - the staff pressured everyone to put EXCELLENT on their reviews. They said, if you think it was good, but maybe it was ALMOST EXCELLENT, then mark excellent. Well, I question that. Are we to compare to just river cruises? Or ANY cruise we've been on. Lets face it, a river cruise can't compete with Seabourn. They had a port talk every night. Some lectures, sometimes by the cruise director. Folk dancing, the usual river cruise entertainment. Nothing to write home about. The use of pan pipes was interesting, but of course those originated in Greece, though we think of them relative to the Andes. All in all, as I sometimes say, I'm glad I went, but I won't go back. Note; We got a reduced rate as we went in November, when the weather was already chilly. Make sure you take you scarf and gloves if you go in the late fall. And a warm coat. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
A couple of things first. Checked Paris for embarkation but it was actually Vernon which is about an hour south of Paris but not on the list. Secondly this trip was supposed to consist of two parts, the cruise itself and the pre cruise ... Read More
A couple of things first. Checked Paris for embarkation but it was actually Vernon which is about an hour south of Paris but not on the list. Secondly this trip was supposed to consist of two parts, the cruise itself and the pre cruise excursion I booked to the south of France which comprised 5 of the 12 actual days of travel. Both were purchased thru Vantage and thus are reviewed together. As to the cruise portion, getting picked up & eventually dropped off at De Gaulle went very smoothly. The cabin itself as noted below was fine but a word to the wise, if you happen to have a problem with stairs as I do you might ask for a cabin on a higher deck as the elevator is small and slow but certainly did work. Not a criticism just, a tip to make things smoother. The food was fine, this is not an ocean cruise so the amount of the food etc. is not excessive but it was sufficient and tasty. The ship had a comedy show, a revue, a singer and a crew show and all were done professionally (except the crew show which was done great gusto and was a delight) and were entertaining if not outstanding. Service in both the food/drink area's as well as the cabins was excellent as were the cruise director Nadia and her assistant Ioana. The main thrust of the cruise portion of this vacation was Normandie and the visit to Omaha Beach, The American Cemetery and the surrounding area was handled extremely well and respectfully. With the exception of Rouen all the ports were fairly small towns and the touring & sightseeing was handled very well and in fact an art aficionado would have been quite delighted. As for the pre-tour, the title of this review says it all. Vantage unilaterally cancelled the pre cruise portion purportedly due to an insufficient number of participants. I have never simply had a tour cancelled, for weather, hurricanes and a Tsunami yes, but participation, never! I am a seasoned world traveler and used to travel companies that honor their contracts and before September of 2017 never had a tour cancelled even when there were only 2 people. (Here there were supposedly 3) Making this even worse was the fact that they waited until the end of September to cancel this pre-tour leaving no real time to make other arrangements. Additionally if you look at their one sided contract which is probably not enforceable in NYS as a contract of adhesion the penalties are quite one sided. Had I cancelled the day before Vantage cancelled I would have forfeited as a penalty my entire payment of almost $2,300-. Vantage on the other hand advised they owed nothing and only after I raised the roof did they offer $250, an offer I didn't even bother to reply to. Finally, as odd as it sounds another cruise company, Royal Caribbean, also cancelled part of a cruise I purchased from them also in September of 2017. However that cruise does not sail until April 6th of 2018 so they gave lots of notice. Their explanation was/is self serving also but at least they bent over backwards to make the loss of 13 days palatable. They of course offered to cover any cost of changing your air arrangements if they were already made, mine were not. They also reduced the price of the other 3 legs of the cruise by 50%. As they cancelled approximately 1/3 of the planned trip this seems fair whereas Vantage Travel cancelled almost 40% of a trip at the very last minute and basically snubbed their nose at the consumer. Vantage is in the business of doing cruises, in fact if you contact their office in Boston they actually appear operate a number of river cruise lines such as Vantage and Emerald Waterways as well as some ocean cruises under the name of Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours. A word to the wise, while the cruise lived up to expectations you might wish to make any pre or post excursion plans thru a more reliable company that will actually run the excursions once they accept your reservation (and money) Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
Why would I want to go to France and eat Costco food for 3 meals a day? We started bringing our own bread & dessert as these are particularly wonderful in France. What a shame to have missed out on fabulous fresh fish that we saw at ... Read More
Why would I want to go to France and eat Costco food for 3 meals a day? We started bringing our own bread & dessert as these are particularly wonderful in France. What a shame to have missed out on fabulous fresh fish that we saw at many of the ports. Instead, we ate frozen strips of fish in 2 ounce portions (we could ask for a second piece, but sometimes with complaints from the servers). The first 2 ports were all closed up on the days we were there. We had way too much time in the departure/return port of Conflans where there is nothing of interest. We were in Normandy on the first day of scallop season. Unfortunately, the 175 of us were in a little restaurant having our lunch of fish (which was actually the best meal of the entire trip). The sole tour director, Sebastian, had his hands full with this many people. He did a fantastic job, but he was overworked. There were 2 injuries during our trip all due to the extremely large group sizes trying to hear the different local guides and walking on uneven pavement unable to see where one is stepping. One woman broke her finger on her fall. This is definitely a penny pinching organization. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
Arrival in Basel was a bit convoluted, something that could have been avoided if Vantage had told us in advance to exit our baggage claim into Switzerland. This caused some delay as some travelers were wandering about seeking transport to ... Read More
Arrival in Basel was a bit convoluted, something that could have been avoided if Vantage had told us in advance to exit our baggage claim into Switzerland. This caused some delay as some travelers were wandering about seeking transport to the ship. It was one of the few weak spots in the trip. We were welcomed to the ship with lunch while cabin preparation was being completed. Food service was excellent and provided by an engaging young staff. Meals were varied and attempted to meet local fare. We did not have a meal I did not like and especially came to love the daily soup options. The ship was the nicest of the ships we have been exposed to in seven Vantage cruises. It is fairly new and it showed. Our cabin was larger than previous ships although clothes storage was a bit of a challenge. Our cabin attendant was excellent and friendly. Laundary service was particulary efficient. One small negative was the absence of a piano player onboard. In his place was a jukebox and some local entertainers, nice but more limited. The daily tours were interesting and I learned a great deal, for me an important standard for a cruise. I now wonder how I have missed the excellent German wines for so long. Both the Moselle River and Luxembourg were new to us and we were move at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and loved the Moselle Valley. Our dock spots were often away from our destinations but that s partly due to the size of some places visited. I can’t this of a tour I did not enjoy. This was a vey good trip, Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We choose this cruise because we had friends who were going, had enjoyed previous river cruises, and had never visited northern Portugal. Our trip was part of a Vantage tour and we had enjoyed a couple of other Vantage tours with less ... Read More
We choose this cruise because we had friends who were going, had enjoyed previous river cruises, and had never visited northern Portugal. Our trip was part of a Vantage tour and we had enjoyed a couple of other Vantage tours with less fellow travelers. We failed to realize that the cruise included very little cruising time, which meant that almost all tours were bus tours and all 125 cruisers were going to the same place every day. The number of fellow tourists was a bit overwhelming! The Douro valley is beautiful and the places we visited were lovely no doubt. The Douro Serenity does not seat guests for dinner, so the worst part of the trip was the daily "dinner dash" to get a table for you and your traveling companions. We were only 4! The bar also could not handle 125 passengers with one bartender. He did get a bit of inadequate assistance from the dining room staff in the hour prior to dinner. The food in the dining room was very good. We did enjoy seeing all the vineyards and tasting port wine and other wines of the region. We enjoyed going through the many locks on the river. The Douro is narrow, so boats can not cruise after dark, they must stay in a port, so often there were opportunities to go ashore for a drink, dinner or just some exercise. The weather in late September was still quite like summer. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
This was our ninth Vantage World Travel voyage, and our fourth Vantage European river boat cruise. Our past experiences had been excellent and we expected the same to be true of this one. Sadly, Vantage no longer offers the same quality as ... Read More
This was our ninth Vantage World Travel voyage, and our fourth Vantage European river boat cruise. Our past experiences had been excellent and we expected the same to be true of this one. Sadly, Vantage no longer offers the same quality as in the past. Formerly, there were four program managers to take care of guest needs. That equated to one program manager for every 44 passengers, assuming the ship was full. Now they have only one for all 176 passengers. They also have a concierge, who is really a program manager in training. One day Jessi, our program manager, spent 2-1/2 hours pointing out from the bridge the castles on either side of the Rhine. Then, she scurried down to the lounge to do her port talk. She was fantastic, but, in my opinion, overworked. The food quality also has become inconsistent. There were some memorable dinners - excellent rack of lamb, pork tenderloin Wellington, and beef tenderloin. But while presented beautifully, most meals were not memorable - at least when compared with past cruises. But, on a positive note, there were many choices available. And the soups, every lunch and dinner, were fantastic. They used to have a piano player in the lounge every afternoon and evening; they now have a juke box! Now that I've listed the disappointments, here are the positives: We arrived in Amsterdam at around 7:30 AM and were on the ship by 8:45, having breakfast. Our suite was ready by 10:00. The ship is immaculate. The crew, every one of them, was superb. Friendly, hard-working, and eager to please. Program manager Jessi was especially great. The lounge and dining rooms were large and comfortable. The Cotton Club rear lounge served as an alternative restaurant, and the food there was always good. On board entertainment was good - one night a three-piece German band (as a tuba player, I was disappointed there was no tuba; only a guitar, accordion, and clarinet/sax player. But they were entertaining.) Another night a French singer/accordion duo - they were fun. There was also an on-board wine tasting, German lesson, and an EU lecture. All ok . . . but a past highlight was the crew show; there wasn't any. Port and shore excursions were good, but many of us thought the walking tours were too long. We did appreciate the home-hosted kaffe klatch, and the lunch on our own in one port, where we were given 30 euros per person to spend. Overall, a wonderful trip, but Vantage has lost its adVantage over other river cruisers by cutting costs and services. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We booked our first European river cruise with Vantage Deluxe World Travel at the end of January 2017. We selected their June 27 to July 12, 2017, 15-day river cruise entitled “Majestic Rivers of Europe: Castles, Cathedrals & ... Read More
We booked our first European river cruise with Vantage Deluxe World Travel at the end of January 2017. We selected their June 27 to July 12, 2017, 15-day river cruise entitled “Majestic Rivers of Europe: Castles, Cathedrals & Fairytales” that began in Budapest, Hungary and ended in Amsterdam, The Netherland. Here is an overview of our experience(s): • BOOKING: We called and booked through Vantage Customer Service (located in Boston, MA). The booking process went very smooth and we were immediately assigned our cabin on the MS River Splendor (Category B, French Balcony on Forward Middle Deck, 165 sq. ft.). • CUSTOMER SERVICE: Whenever I contacted Vantage over the next couple of months with various questions/concerns, the people I spoke with in Customer Service were always friendly and very helpful (except for one person). Most of the information is on their website and in your MYPORTFOLIO. • AIRLINE FLIGHTS/AIRPORT TRANSFERS: We arranged for our own airline flights to Budapest and from Amsterdam, but did buy the Vantage Airport Transfers ($120.00 r/t per person). • TRAVEL PROTECTION PLAN: We did not buy Vantage’s Travel Protection Plan, but did buy it through another source at a much lower cost. I understand now that effective July 1, 2017, Vantage has a new Travel Protection Plan with lower cost and increased benefits (check their website for more details). • ARRIVAL IN BUDAPEST: Our flight from Amsterdam to Budapest was delayed almost an hour and I sent an email to Maya, our cruise ship concierge, to let her know our flight was delayed and to please relay this information on to the Vantage airport representative. When we arrived in Budapest, the Vantage Rep was waiting for us and got us to the shuttle that took us to the ship. Upon arrival at the cruise ship, Maya meet us and escorted us onboard where the rest of the cruise staff greeted us. Because of the delay, we missed the Welcome and Safety Briefing, but a cruise member immediately got us to our assigned cabin and briefed us. • RIVER CRUISE SHIP: We cruised on the MS River Splendor, which was designed exclusively for the American traveler with a passenger capacity of 176. o SMOKING: There is no-smoking throughout the interior of the ship. A designated smoking area is on the open-air Solaris Deck. o HANDICAP ACCESSIBILITY: The elevator is located in lobby near the concierge desk (accessible to all interior floors). A hydraulic chair lift is located outside on one side of the ship to access the open-air Solaris Deck. We never took the elevator or the chair lift, but saw other passengers utilizing it all the time. o COMPASS ROSE RESTAURANT: This is the main dining room located on the Explorer Deck (forward middle deck) and there is no seating plan, so you can dine with whomever you choose. Most tables are set for six to eight people (round or rectangle tables) with a few tables for four people (Captain’s Table is set up for 10 to 12 people). Each table has white table linens, fine crystal/dinnerware/silverware, and fresh flowers. Climate control is very pleasant if you set near the windows and a little less noisy than in the middle of the room. The restaurant is closed whenever a service is not in progress. o CABARET LOUNGE: The lounge is located on the Navigator Deck (forward upper deck), is opened 24/7, is where the bar is located (open from noon to the last guest retires), where tea, coffee, and hot chocolate are available around the clock, and where all port talks and entertainment happens. Early Risers’ Breakfast is available here from 6:00am-7:00am. It is also where you can relax, read a book from the library, or meet fellow passengers, or play a game of cards. Entertainment onboard features local performers coming aboard in select ports, plus there is a jukebox and a grand piano. o CAPTAIN’S CLUB: The Captain’s Club is located on the Navigator Deck (rear upper deck) and is where you can enjoy healthy spa cuisine and other lighter choices, buffet-style. While seating is open during the day and for lunch, reservations are required for dinnertime. We ate lunch a couple of times, but found it on the warm side and preferred the variety of food in the Compass Rose dining room. We did not eat any dinners here. o SOLARIS DECK: The top observation deck is where you will find the walking/running track, as well as chase lounges and table and chairs. o FRONT DESK/CONCEIRGE: Located on the Explorer Deck (forward middle deck). This desk was usually staffed with at least one person, but most times there were two people. o FITNESS CENTER: The fitness center is located on the Odyssey Deck (middle lower deck). It is outfitted with a treadmill, stationary bike, step machine, and free weights. We did not use it, but did notice many passengers who did. o MASSAGE STUDIO: Available onboard, but we never signed up for any treatment. The massage therapist did perform light stretching exercise several mornings in the Cabaret Lounge (free to passengers).• • DAILY PROGRAMS: Each day there is a port talk about the next day activities and each evening a daily program for the next day is left on your bed during turn-down service. The program provides times for all activities, as well as Concierge Suggestions for the port or onboard activity. • FOOD: There are 41 meals included during the river cruise (14 breakfasts, 13 lunches, and 14 dinners, including Captain's Welcome and Farewell Dinners and one meal ashore). o BREAKFAST: Breakfast had a time range (usually 7:00am to 9:30am). Usually buffet self-service style that included an omelet station, cheeses, fruit, all types of breads/muffins /pastries, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, bacon, sausage, some type of potato, pancakes/waffles/crepes with special sauces, several types of cereal, etc. Early risers’ breakfast is available in the Cabaret Lounge from 6:00am-7:00am. o LUNCH: Lunch normally has a start time (not a time range). It was either menu service (with buffet salad bar) or full buffet self-service. There was always a variety of proteins, vegetables, salad, dessert, and many days included a special station (pasta, thai, salmon wellington, stuffed pork tenderloin, etc.). There were at least 3 favors of ice cream every day. We loved the Salmon Wellington (went back for seconds) and will be trying to make it at home. Note: You can enjoy a Light Lunch Buffet in the Captain’s Club Lounge, but this buffet does not include the same variety you will get in the Compass Rose dining room. o DINNER (includes free wine, beer, and soft drinks): Dinner has a start time and if you are very late, you might not get any food. A normal dinner menu was usually 4 courses (appetizer, soup, entrée choice, and dessert). The Captain’s Welcome & Farewell Dinners were 5 or 6 courses. We give the food at least 4-or 5-stars. Chef Irvan and his staff were experienced and presented delicious and fresh food every day. • PORT EXCURSIONS/LOCAL TOUR GUIDES: o LEAVING AND RETURNING TO SHIP: To leave the ship, you must pick up a card (the size of a business card) from the front desk/reception that has your name and room number on it. Upon returning to the ship, you must hand the card back in. The card is placed back in your room slot so the crew knows you are back onboard. (Note: When leaving and returning from an excursion, you might have to walk through or over another cruise ship that is at the same port. Some cruise ships will not allow passengers from another cruise ship to walk through their lobby, thus making passengers walk up and across their top deck and back down to gain access to their cruise ship.) o YOUR COLOR FOR THE DAY: Passengers are divided into groups of 20 to 40 to accommodate for either the motor coach transport or walking tours and assigned a specific color. Passengers are given a color card before leaving the ship which helps them locate their assigned bus or local tour guide sign. o HEADPHONES AND RECEIVERS: Vantage uses QuietVox audio system for port excursions. The color you are assigned for each day/tour is also used to activate your receiver. o CITY MAPS: There were always maps available at the Concierge Desk for every port we were in. o BUSES: There is no assigned seating on the buses…first come, first serve. Sometimes you are allowed to leave items (i.e., jacket, umbrellas, backpacks) on the bus while you are on an excursion. Buses are locked in this situation. • BIKE RENTAL: We recommend that you do not rent a bicycle ($150.00 per person for the entire cruise). The ship has complimentary bicycles and helmets that you can sign out in port. We found little opportunity to ride the bikes in any ports unless you want to miss a port excursion. • PRE/POST-TRIP EXTENSIONS: We did not opt for any pre- or post-trip extension offered by Vantage. If we do a river cruise again, we will probably arrive a day earlier (to adjust to the time change) and maybe leave a day later. • RIVER LOCKS: During this river cruise, we went through 66 river locks (16 on the Danube, 16 on the Rhine-Main-Danube-Canal, and 34 on the Main-Rhine). Locks are a very interesting part of river cruising. For example, the lock width along the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal is 12 meters, so all ships can have a maximum width of 11.40 meters, which leaves exactly one foot of space to the right and left when a ship enters a lock. Our crew was excellent at entering the locks without bumping the walls. • LAUNDRY SERVICES: Laundry service is available onboard for a service charge. We did not use this service, but talked to several passengers who did. Pieces of clothing had shrunk or were ironed when they requested it not be ironed. The cost (in Euros) for various items: men’s or ladies’ shirt (E3.50), men’s or ladies’ pants/jeans (E6.00), men’s or ladies’ underpants (E2.00), ladies’ bra (E3.00). • GRATUITIES GUIDELINES: o CRUISE DIRECTOR/CONCIERGE/SHIP STAFF/CREW: For non-suite passengers there is a gratuity of 17 Euros per passenger/per day (20 Euros pp/pd for suite guest). This amount is pre-charged to the passenger’s credit card at the beginning of the cruise and can be adjusted at the end of the cruise or modified to cash gratuities. Our gratuity charge for 2 passengers for 15-day cruise was 476.00 Euros. We choose not to adjust at the end of the cruise, but did give several of our favorite servers in the dining room a separate envelope with additional gratuity. o PORTERAGE: Included for ship and hotels. o LOCAL GUIDES/REGIONAL EXPERTS: 2 to 3 Euros per person per day for each. If the guide was good, we gave them between 2 and 4 Euros. o LOCAL DRIVERS: 1 to 2 Euros per person per day. • CRUISE SHIP STAFF & CREW: The passenger-to-crew ratio is 4-to-1. The crew is English-speaking and very friendly. o CAPTAIN: Captain Peter was very nice. We saw him all the time: greeting passengers leaving and returning to the ship, during the Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Reception. He even rode with us to the airport in Amsterdam after the cruise to catch him flight home for holiday. o CRUISE DIRECTOR: Veronika Hoskova was our cruise director and was absolutely fabulous. She was from Prague, Czech Republic and spoke at least 4 languages. I don’t know when she slept, because she literally was everywhere, all the time. She was very knowledgeable about each port and its history. She was truly a delight to be around…always very happy and really to help. o CRUISE CONCIERGE: Maya Pashpurova was our cruise concierge. Maya was good at taking care of any special request the passengers might have and assisting Veronika. o RESTAURANT/LOUNGE STAFF: The staff was wonderful…from Gina the Hotel Manager, Caitlin the Restaurant Manager, to the Chef and his staff, to the wonderful waiters/servers (especially Mihai and Galina). Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We recently sailed the River Splendor on MAJESTIC RIVERS OF EUROPE:CASTLES, CATHEDRALS & FAIRYTALES cruise, a 14-day river cruise mostly following Germany's Romantic Road with castles visible and viewed on land. The ... Read More
We recently sailed the River Splendor on MAJESTIC RIVERS OF EUROPE:CASTLES, CATHEDRALS & FAIRYTALES cruise, a 14-day river cruise mostly following Germany's Romantic Road with castles visible and viewed on land. The ship's cabins are basically the same size on 3 decks with the exception of the suites on the highest deck and the D cabins on the lowest deck which lack a french balcony and have a small window about the size of a small porthole just above the water line. Food service and wait staff were excellent. Our waiter,JARO, serve witha smile and graciusness and wine poured endlessly. Guided tours were interesting. However, the tour to Heidleburg required 2 hours of driving in each direction and viewing not themost interesting castle ruin that had been modified several times over the last centuries. Anoptional tour to Rothenburg was in lieu of spending a morning in Wurzburg; however, we did spend an hour at the end on return to the ship at the fortress in Wurzburg. A planned tour to Koblenz was skipped was eliminated because of a passenger hospital emergency that required deviationfrom routing and a medical evacuation that was handled well; however, we were docked in Koblenz and had sufficient time to walk around the old town which appeared quite charming. We had onboard entertainment in the evenings on 3 occasions; musicians came onboard playing local music, costumed dancers were cheery,and there was a glass blowing exhibiti. We ventured thru 78 locks which required closing down the top deck for 2 days. The CruiseDirector, Bogey,and his assistant Maya, were hands on, intimately involved in the cruise details, and made for an enriched cruise experience. Maya was an assistant on our Douro River cruise. Unfortunately, the cruise was marred by an apparent Vantage policy of overbooking within 90 days of departure or sooner on substanitally reduced deals likethe one we purchased. This was our third Vantage river cruise in 18 months. We were bumped from a June 2016 Douro River cruise and, fortunately, since our air was booked with Vantage,and our flexibility, we were rescheduled to July 2017, provided a substantial discount, and given an upgraded C cabin on thetop deck rather than the middle deck that had been assigned.. Vantage reps advised that Vantage had overbooked 12 cabins. The cruise itself was excellent. We reserved this Majestic Rivers cruise 1 1/2 months prior to departure at a reduced price. Our invoice assigned a cabin and expressly stated "C321 or better", a speciic cabin with a french balcony on the top deck. One week prior to departure, a Vantage rep called my wife who was at a gym and advised that we were being bumped to a D cabin on the lowest deck,, which turned out to be D 213, with the "porthole". My wife was at the gym and could not speak with him so she asked the rep to call me. Aside from the small porthole like window, because they are on the lowest deck and the window can not be opened,dT he D cabins are damp and small items that are washed take much longer to dry out. I was told incorrectly by that the rep explained everything to my wife. In fact, nothing was explained, and I was told that nothing more could be done. I called Vantage and spoke with their Travel Manager of 18 years who rudely stated that overbooking was endemic to the industry, and if I chose to express my concerns publicly,so be it. Our rate was adjusted by $600 for the difference in cost between our assigned C 321 cabin and an unspecific D cabin and discounted by $200 apparently for the incovenience of being overbooked. We emailed President Heny Lewis and received no response to our concerns prior to departure. We emailed the Travel Quality Department and was eventually advised that the Travel Manger with whom I had spoken was working on it and would do his best to restore us to a C cabin with a fernch balcony, as originally invoiced, paid for, and epressly reserved. and assigned. We never heard further from either the Quality Dept or the Travel Manager. Unaswered is the question of how a travel company overbooks a specifically assigned and reserved cabin,i.e. our "C 321 or better" reserved and invoiced cabin and bumps passengers in favor of other passengers--a form of discrimination. When we boarded the ship in Budapest, we asked the cruise director if our C cabin was available and were advised that the ship was fully booked and that we were assigned to D 213. The cruise director was truly concerned abouta problem that was not of his doing. As a result of the cruise director expressing to Vantage our ongoing and unaswered concerns, a few days later we received a bottle of champagne. As it turns out, 3 other D cabins were resided in by 3 other couples who also had been overbooked and bumped. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
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 ... Read More
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. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
I chose this cruise when it popped up on Travelzoo at a very good price for a single solo traveler. I was able to upgrade to a double Juliette balcony mid ship cabin for a bit more than the advertised rate. When the date I reserved was ... Read More
I chose this cruise when it popped up on Travelzoo at a very good price for a single solo traveler. I was able to upgrade to a double Juliette balcony mid ship cabin for a bit more than the advertised rate. When the date I reserved was cancelled I was called and given the choice for a (better for me in retrospect) date two months later in May, this for perfect weather. I was offered an upgrade to the top ship level just prior to the cruise at a very reasonable rate which then moved me up,to the top of the ship and included a mini fridge. Only one bottle of gratis water was offered for the week surprisingly. Not so luxurious, kind of cheap Vantage. Man up! Nadia, Trip Diector Extroirdinaire welcomed me warmly as I stepped on to the ship in Conflans. I had been in Paris for three days prior to embarkation and had a driver booked through my hotel take me to the ship location on the Seine an hour outside of Paris. I had the phone number of the ship from Vantage so so he was able to be directed perfectly. It was seven days of great food, excellent tour stops, marvelous nightly entertainment and an overall atmosphere of passenger delight. I met up with three other like minded ladies as well as several couples and we dined together for most meals. The ship kitchen tour was such fun, as were the Calvados/cheese tasting and the French Culture lecture. Very important to me was the leisure time that was built into the itinerary with one major off ship activity daily and lots of day time cruising on the Seine. It's possible to be run off one's feet with too many off ship tours so each day feels like a marathon, which I've experienced on two of my four river cruises. That might be good for some, just not me. At this point I like to relax, watch the scenery, enjoy the on ship lectures and such and not feel rushed. A little disconcerting on this ship was how thin the cabin walls were, something I had not experienced on three other cruises. Unfortunately on one side of me were the Loud Couple, some of their activities were not those that should be shared. Vantage is a supporter of the Boston Boys & Girl's Club and had invited 26 high achievers from the local high schools to be guests on this cruise. It was delightful to watch them soak it all in and discover the world outside of their immediate environment. Staff on board were all highly professional at all times. My cabin was immaculate although I wish the sheets on the bed didn't have the "sand paper" feel. What's up with that? I lobed being able to open my small door to hear the river sounds as we sailed. Gratuities at E17 a day, suggested by Vantage, I felt were fair, given the excellent service provided. Those that preferred wine at lunch had it billed to their cabin. The regional wines included at dinner each night were just enough for me and plentiful on request. Cocktails before and after dinner were fairly priced although the house champagne was a tasty bargain at E3.50 a glass, my choice. I had rented a wi-fi device in Paris and for the cruise so I could keep in daily touch with family. It worked unfailingly on the river when the ship wifi was not accessible and I was able to share it on several occasions to others needing timely access. My seven days aboard were fabulous and I look forward to another Vantage cruise in the very near future. Read Less
33 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We choose this cruise over a year prior based on price and three day add on in Paris. We should have cancelled when Vantage changed the date of the cruise after we made our final payment and acted like they were doing us a favor by giving ... Read More
We choose this cruise over a year prior based on price and three day add on in Paris. We should have cancelled when Vantage changed the date of the cruise after we made our final payment and acted like they were doing us a favor by giving us an alternative date. With Vantage it was a constant upsell for zero quality. To be fair the toiletries were nice. However, the A cabin,one step below a suite was old, the beds were lumpy and the sheets were a glorified sleeping bags. Meals were very regimented and quality were poor. Onion soup was consume with three croutons and no cheese. Lunch was at 12 or 1230 and ended 45 minutes later. Dinner was 7pm sharp and by 830 you were being shooed out of the dining room. The menu was inflexible,with the chef explaining that all recipes were from corporate and could not be deviated from. The food had no flavor and requests for extra seasoning or any seasoning was not honored. The tours were dragged out in many cases to justify the guide's existence. The Normandy day at a restaurant was no menu one dish and food so poor (fish fillet rice and vegetable mush with no flavor). when I complained the cruise director said that it was only restaurant in area and if I could not eat the food,too bad. The only time there was any warmth from crew was when they would emphasize importance of service charge. The stops were poorly scheduled so many places closed or nothing was open. No activities on ship and it was lights out by 930pm. Pick up involved circling the airport for two hours to await another plane Well it will be lights out for me with Vantage,never again Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We have sailed on over 40 ocean going cruise ships. Typically 3 times a year, and 10-15 days at a time. We prefer Celebrity and approximately half of or total cruises have been with them. We like he Solstice class ships, and generally ... Read More
We have sailed on over 40 ocean going cruise ships. Typically 3 times a year, and 10-15 days at a time. We prefer Celebrity and approximately half of or total cruises have been with them. We like he Solstice class ships, and generally book those if at all possible. That said as a baseline for our sailing experience, we have always wanted to experience a European river cruise but have been put off by the high per day cost, and unknown ports/cities they visit for the most part. An email from TripAdvisor led us to the Vantage River Voyager that is the subject of this review. First impressions are, the ship is clean and well kept. It's fairly new, so that was not a surprise. The greeting staff was pleasant, in general the entire staff were nice. The cabins are slightly smaller than a balcony on Celebrity, but adequate. I need to add that we sailed from Ft. Lauderdale on the Celebrity Silohouette for 14 days to get to Amsterdam for our Vantage cruise. The smaller storage & closets on the Vantage ship were able to accommodate our belongings, but not as easily as bigger ships. We did not expect or have any entertainment except an occasional (2-3 instances) solo performer. Breakfast was probably the best meal of the day, with omlets, & eggs cooked to order. Lunch was a buffet, and a limited menu to choose from. Dinner was pleasant with wine and beer included. The choices were usually appetizer, one soup, 3 entrees, and 2 desserts. Very few of these items were memorable, but I'm a fussy eater and probably spoiled by Celebrity exposure. There are several reasons this review is only 3 stars. To begin, most of the ports visited had little to offer as far as a local attraction, and in about 2/3 of them, if you didn't go on the included tour, the ship was typically docked beyond walking distance to anything else. I suspect the outlying docking accommodations are less expensive for Vantage. Frequently when we were bussed into the town close to our ship, there were vacant docks all over the area that we could have docked at. This was evident time and time again. Another issue was the ships' WiFi service was quite slow, and for at least the last 1/3 of the trip either out of order or barely usable and irregular. I kept asking what was wrong and why didn't we have service, but never got an explanation. Finally, the worst incident occurred a few days before the end of the trip. When we got up one morning, the toilet in our cabin would not flush. It turns out, the whole ships' system was not functioning in any cabin or public restroom. It remained out of order apparently all day. We left for the day on an excursion. Upon our return at dinner time, they had restored service, but I heard the public toilets were filled to the brim by passengers. I pity those who did not leave the ship on the excursion. We enjoyed parts of this trip, and got to see areas we would not have visited otherwise, however, I will not be booking another river cruise any time soon. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We recently did back-to-back cruises with Vantage - Normandy, France and then Belgium to Amsterdam. Before reading on, please know that we had a wonderful time on both cruises. The food was amazing, tours informative, cabins comfortable ... Read More
We recently did back-to-back cruises with Vantage - Normandy, France and then Belgium to Amsterdam. Before reading on, please know that we had a wonderful time on both cruises. The food was amazing, tours informative, cabins comfortable and the crew of both cruises did everything they could to make sure everyone had the best experience possible. HOWEVER, the initial reservation process to book two cabins on each cruise was excruciatingly slow and disorganized and took over 1.5 hours. We made our reservations 5 months in advance. Two and a half months out, Vantage called to say our first cruise had been cancelled because they couldn't fill it. Then, THEY ONLY OFFERED US $250 EACH for the inconvenience of our having to change airline reservations to reverse the order of our cruises. (The air fare rate we got was hundreds of dollars less per person than the rate Vantage would have charged.) The airlines (Icelandair), however, would not simply make a change because we were booking two completely different cities because of the beginning/ending of the cruise locations as well as changing dates; we were asking to be ticketed for an entirely different trip. So, we had to purchase completely new tickets (NOT with Icelandair!) and the $250 from Vantage was NOTHING! We were very dissatisfied with this offer but the "Customer Service Manager" said that was the best they could do and that our other option was to just cancel and they'd refund our cruise money. Wasn't that nice? We ate the losses we couln't really afford and tried to keep a positive attitude. (Discovered that OTHER passengers were refunded $800 for rebooking airfare for a cancelled cruise!!!) Critical information from Customer Service right before the cruises was completely incorrect: Firstly, the port in France to find the cruise (there is more than one Conflans); then the phone number we were supposed to call to find the cruise port in Antwerp. Other guests had the same problem. Inexcusable. If you are able to put experiences with a disorganized home office and, many times rude, unfriendly administrative staff, you'll most likely have a positive and memorable cruise with Vantage. I was prompted to write this review because today I received a catalog and was interested in another cruise with a good rate for this year. I called to get more information and was spoken to so condescendingly that there is absolutely no way we will go on another Vantage trip. I will be happy to pay extra to another company who treats its potential clients with courtesy and respect. Read Less
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