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 ... 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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