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24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
Vantage in Europe Having traveled in Europe several times over the years, a few times with a friend, but mostly by myself, I've gotten to know many countries well speaking only two languages, English and German. For the first time, ... Read More
Vantage in Europe Having traveled in Europe several times over the years, a few times with a friend, but mostly by myself, I've gotten to know many countries well speaking only two languages, English and German. For the first time, because of a recent handicap, I decided to try Vantage Travel for a European River Tour down the Rhine, Main and Danube aboard the River Voyager. It turned out to be a bad mistake. I advised them of my situation, being able to only walk at a slow pace, and questioned them deeply about my being able to participate in all the tours. They told me I would be able. They lied! They actually did about several things, just to get me signed up, which I'll get into. It all started with the sales office, which I called a few times over a few days. The same sales woman told me that there are two groups, a fast group and a slow group. It was all a lie, as there is only one group, a fast group for the first week, no slow group. Obviously, I wouldn't learn that until after I was on the trip, which started on the 10th. She also told me the walks would only be about 15 to 30 minutes, but that was for the fast group, not the slow group, and some of them were longer. And no consideration was given to the people who were slow movers. Probably the second or third time I called them, they told me there were only three spaces left, and that I should sign up that day or miss the trip, and I put it off for another day. It turned out she didn't tell the truth about that as well, as there were over 50 (beds?) vacancies aboard when we sailed. They were always putting pressure on you to sign up and would tell you anything you wanted to hear and more, which was not always the truth. She also mislead me about the total price as she always just kept mentioning the $2199.00, never mentioning the supposedly $500 port docking fees I had to pay until after I decided to be a part of the group to their trip. It was just not the truth to put some pressure on me to book with them. There were a few other things she mislead me about as well, regarding the food and wine. Over all, their company is not one to be trusted. I have never been mislead and lied to in the travel industry, which I have been a part of for over thirty years. I find it rather amazing that anyone would be treated this way whether your in good health or handicapped. It wasn't until I complained to them the evening of the 19th that we were then told there would be a slow guide for the tour the next day, finally, and 20 handicapped people showed up for the tour going the next day, over 10% of the passengers. It's to bad that you have to complain to get them to do what they said they were going to do in the first place. It turned out it was the only slow walk group of the whole tour. And on the walk, a woman with a walker realized she wasn't able to keep up even with the slow group and returned to the ship within about 100 yards. Still early on the walk, the very large man, probably 300 to 350 pounds or more also fell on the cobble street and it took four people to get him up. He also returned to the ship. On the very first tour, of Cologne, it was suggested that it might be best if we didn't take the tour as it was a longer walk than normal, and I didn't go because of being on a plane for so long I wasn't sure of my feet or knees, and didn't want to be a possible problem. The trip turned out to be a very poor tour and experience. I'll go back to doing it on my own from now on. I have to assume everything happened the way it did, because that's the way management told them to do it; no slow guide until they complain about it. When I complained to the front desk and then asked about cab fare to get to town, they didn't really know what it would be into town that night, and I asked them to call and get a correct fare which took forever. By then the shops were closed, and they were closed all the next day as it was Sunday. So only the normal or fast people were able to go into town that evening and enjoy the lights of the town and shop. As it turned out, I really couldn't trust the word of the staff tour guides aboard the ship as well. It was really disappointing, and we still had almost a week to go of a two week trip. Even though we were going through some of the best wine country of Germany and Austria, wines from those countries were only occasionally served, but they weren't of decent quality either. Almost all the wines served with dinner were sub standard, no matter where they came from. I would buy a bottle of wine in town for four euro's, and the people I was dinning with loved it every time, and they didn't want to drink the wine served. Can't blame them. Apparently no one ever tells the company about the poor quality wines they are serving, or maybe they are, and nothing is done about it, so now they'll have their first notice on record. By the way, I write about wines from South Africa to Canada and everything in between. Either they are buying wine for three euro's or less or their wine buyer has no taste buds or knowledge of wine, and only thinks in terms of the cost. About one week out and one person was in a hospital for two weeks with a broken hip after a fall on a walking tour, one had a broken ankle or bone and another huge man took a bad fall and was only black and blue on one side of his body a few days later. All from walking on cobble streets. The Vantage tour guides always seemed to stretch the truth or be incorrect as well. We were to do a pub crawl, which meant visiting several bars, but starting with was to be at a brewery which was almost a stone's throw from the ship. At least that's what it said on the side of the building and that's what the guide told us. But it was only a bar, no brewery; the brewery had moved four or five years ago, and our hospitality staff didn't know that? So there would be no beer tasting, only drinking. And there was no pub crawl, we only went to that one place and had to walk back, hence, no crawl, unless maybe you had a few more beers. But there were other things as well. I don't think I'll ever do another river cruise again, for sure not Vantage, and I'll tell you why. The walking tours are generally boring and dull as all you have to do is listen to someone telling you things that you'll never remember because you can't relate it to anything visually. And they throw a lot of unimportant stuff at you just to keep you busy listening. Whatever they tell you, you won't remember the next day. Your always outside of buildings 80 or 90 percent of the time, never inside to see the things that will leave an impression on you. You end up wasting a lot of time, partly because some people are late, some guides just like to talk and don't want to take questions. You always spend a lot of time on the bus. Things are not very efficient in Vantage. I even spoke to one of the VP's that happened to be aboard, Carol, and she told me they are aware of the problem with fast/normal speed groups and the requirement for slow speed groups for handicapped people. But they haven't done anything for years, and they won't. They just want to book you on board and then forget you. If that is their attitude, they shouldn't even book any handicapped people on board. She just ignored the fact that the lady I mentioned which I spoke to lied to me, obviously just to get me booked. She ignored the fact. Her lack of concern just reinforced what I assumed earlier. And most of the people resented the brain washing attempts by the directors, by having the passengers keep telling them everything was EXCELLENT just about every time we had a meal or we returned from a tour or some other experience. They would make us say it was EXCELLENT by shouting back to them every time they questioned us about how good something was. I thought the brain washing was in very poor taste. Even the Russians could have done a better job of that. My cabin was on D deck, or below the water line, and because of that there was a smell in the room, it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't nice either. There was also a water or fluid leak from around the toilet or the wall behind it twice, and that may have been part of the problem. I had been in a couple on upper deck rooms and here was no smell like that. I would like to get a refund from Vantage because of the deception used to get me on this trip and other negative things that were experienced on this trip. None of the slow walkers should have been on the trip, and the accident and fall rate indicates that. I never would have signed up for the trip had I been told the truth. Jerry Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
I wanted to see the old cities of Europe and not have to move from hotel to hotel. My friend recommended Vantage and we unknowingly booked the same cruise. It was the most relaxing vacation I've ever taken. I hope to take a Vantage ... Read More
I wanted to see the old cities of Europe and not have to move from hotel to hotel. My friend recommended Vantage and we unknowingly booked the same cruise. It was the most relaxing vacation I've ever taken. I hope to take a Vantage cruise every second year to different destinations but I would even take this cruise again. Water was so calm that we didn't know when we were moving - the most relaxing vacation I've ever taken. I loved that there were only 160 passengers so that it was interesting to meet a varied group of travelers and have meals with very nice people. Met some new friends too. The boat was kept very clean, inside and outside. Service was exceptional and the best food I've eaten in a two week period. Loved that they were so flexible in providing food from the café menu in the restaurant so when the menu got a little too fancy for me I could order a grilled steak or salmon. There was no shortage of excellent and fresh food and a good menu variety. I'm a believer in Vantage. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
I've only been on one river cruise in Germany. It was a lovely trip, leisurely sailing past castles, villages and pretty countryside with a guide assigned to a small group of about 25 of us for the entire trip. It made you feel safe ... Read More
I've only been on one river cruise in Germany. It was a lovely trip, leisurely sailing past castles, villages and pretty countryside with a guide assigned to a small group of about 25 of us for the entire trip. It made you feel safe and adventurous at the same time. Vantage did not provide this experience. The rivers were swollen hence the ship moved twice, once about 20 miles downriver and back spending the entire time in the small town of Macon France, a bedroom community of Marseilles. Several passengers called before the trip to make sure we could sail, they were told we could, not true. While Vantage could not predict the weather they were well aware of the river situation before we arrived in Europe. Many of the criticisms I offer do no reflect on the river situation, but the companies response to customer service and making amends for a bad situation. All trips begin with the transportation, which Vantage arranged. When we purchased the trip we were told not to be alarmed about or itinerary or call every time it changed, but instead wait until a closer to the actual cruise. Three weeks before our departure I called about the flights, especially the return flight - Marseilles to Paris - a layover, Paris to Atlanta A FIVE HOUR LAYOVER and then a four hour flight to Phoenix...more than 24 hours. I was told: 1. they had no record of who sold us the trip, 2. I shouldn't have waited so long even though I was told to call nearer the trip date , 3. that no representative would tell us to wait, 4, that a supervisor would call us back 5. that we could change for $300. on each end, etc.,..the bottom line I never heard from customer service again, despite several calls. In fact when I pointed out I was traveling with three 80 year plus individuals I was told "well since they are that old they probably will appreciate the extra time"! The flights themselves were fine except that I requested an aisle seat on the longer flight legs as I am diabetic and claustrophobic. I was given a middle seat on both 8 hour plus flights and a window seat on the 4 hour flights. I called the airline and got an aisle seat on the outbound flight for free. On the way home there were no free aisle seats left so I made a minor upgrade and paid $78.00 to get an aisle seat. Aisle seats would have been available had Vantage travel asked at the time of purchase. After our long flight we arrived in Lyon. We waited in the terminal for over 3 hours for all passengers. We then walked approximately four blocks dragging our luggage to the bus. The good news my two disabled friends were taken by wheelchair to the bus along with our other two traveling companions, the bad news, no one told my companions that I had to wait in the terminal with the others. They were frantic about my whereabouts and were in process of going to the airport police for help, reassuring them would have been one call to the driver, a thing that wasn't done, even after I talked to the welcome people about my concers. . After the long flight and long wait we then got to take a two hour bus ride to the ship in Macon France, a small bedroom community of Lyon. Once on the ship we found the accommodations quite pleasant, larger than my previous experience, comfortable and well kept. We opted for a small window for economy sake. It let in light but no real view, which was just as well as we were port side and spent the entire trip looking at a graffiti strewn wall or the neighboring ship which we had to walk over the top floor to get to port making for many steps up and down for the elderly passengers. When our positions were reversed the other ship had an escort through our lobby. The swollen rivers kept us in Macon for almost the entire trip We got to see France by bus. Needless to say this cut our time at our destinations short, very short in many cases allowing for no free time. Each drive would have it's own local guide and while quite adequate we never got the personal feeling that we were looked after. I personally had to go looking for part of our group when they separated from the tour. The guide never missed them despite the fact we were led to an enclosed room for a wine tasting...we had to pound on the door so the proprietor could come up from the wine cellar twenty minutes into the presentation to let us in ...no one noticed the absence of four people. Except for two occasions we had to be bused back to the ship in time for lunch. Only once was the alternative given to stay in town and catch a second bus to allow for more free time. On the two occasions that we were too far to make it back to the ship we were allowed 20 euros for lunch, which sounds generous but it wasn't. The one lunch was on a Sunday, all but three restaurants were closed so the food was almost impossible to get and still get catch the bus. The second lunch was a 40 minute break a truck stop on the way to Avignon with snack and microwave food and no place to sit. The food ranged from two nice dinners "the Captains celebration" and the Farewell dinner to barely adequate. Two alternative choices were available, but the one time I opted for a baked potato as a side it was spoiled and tasted tained and the hamburger at lunch was unrecognizable as meat. Breakfast was standard buffet fare, unvarying for the entire trip not even dressed up with some local bakery. Lunch was really awful. Soup with lovely clear broth, but hardly anything else. Turkey spinach bean soup is an example, no turkey, four beans and two strips of spinach. Ham and cheese, something no one can ruin, was two large slices of bread, one thin slice of ham and cheese...steak sandwich, less than one thin slice of roast beef with canned onion strings and very few of those. The final day the lunch main course was pork neck bones...need I say more. The crew really worked hard under very trying circumstances. The kept up a game attitude and except for several of the chauvinistic waiter attitudes, were outstanding. The ship had plenty of ice and a water purification system which kept even a water snob happy. There was very little entertainment...once a small local group, once an accordion player, a staff skit, a movie and a talk or two. This would have been fine had you been docked anywhere you could go out for the evening, but this was not to be. Do I think Vantage could have done better, yes. They could have arranged better entertainment since we had no where to go, even games if they had to. They could have allowed lunch in town, even had their chef pack a decent picnic lunch, so we could have had more time at our destinations. They could have offered some financial reimbursements. They could have paid for an "in town" dinner. I'm sure there were many things they could have done to mitigate a bad situation. The highlight of the trip was the Marseille extension. They cut the Avignon trip short to get us as a group in a night early for dinner in Marseille...even that was only pasta, no meat sauce, two bottles of wine for eight people and a small desert. Those of us staying for the extension were moved to our hotel, L'Hotel Dieu, which was excellent... a short walk to old town, our own guide Florence who couldn't have been better, Lovely sight seeing tour, boat ride on our own and a nice hotel provided breakfast. The final leg was every nightmare that we anticipated. Marseille airport parking for buses is over two blocks from the terminal in a gravel lot. There is no assistance with luggage. My three eighty plus people pulled their luggage. My friend with a shoulder injury took one of her suitcases and I, a heart patient, took mine and her carry on. After about a half hour the guide finally noticed we were missing and came back and helped us. The flights themselves, despite my reservations about Delta, were pleasant. We sat in Atlanta and watched 5 flights depart to Phoenix while killing 5 hours waiting for flight. I personally will never travel with Vantage again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2014
This was our first river cruise but definitely not the last. We were impressed with the helpful , friendly staff. The regional food was outstanding. Having everything included is a great feature. When sailing you always see something - ... Read More
This was our first river cruise but definitely not the last. We were impressed with the helpful , friendly staff. The regional food was outstanding. Having everything included is a great feature. When sailing you always see something - on that trip the scenery is SUPER! My husband has a difficult time getting around, but the staff made sure to steer hime in the right direction to make it is easy as possible for him. The tour guides in the various cities were easy to understand and vary knowledgeable. The ship was very clean. Sailing on rivers is like sitting in you living room - no rough waters!! Read Less
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