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7 Vantage Paris Cruise Reviews

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 June 2018
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
Sail Date October 2017
My husband and I took a Vantage Seine River Cruise from Paris to Honfluer, France because many of our friends recommended a river cruise as a great way to see Europe. The state rooms were small but well-organized with plenty of storage. ... Read More
My husband and I took a Vantage Seine River Cruise from Paris to Honfluer, France because many of our friends recommended a river cruise as a great way to see Europe. The state rooms were small but well-organized with plenty of storage. The bathroom was larger than on any previous cruise ships we’d been on and the water in the shower was powerful and easily-adjusted. The service onboard was outstanding, including our cabin attendant, the office staff, the dining room waiters, and the cruise director. The food was very good; freshly-prepared omelets and pastas were available for breakfast and lunch, and a five-course meal was offered each evening. There was also a “lighter fare” menu, but those who selected that said the food was adequate at best. Boarding and disembarking were well-organized and efficient. If we stopped reviewing the cruise here, we would give it a “5.” Perhaps the biggest disappointment were the tours on shore. They averaged about 2-2½ hours, were led by guides of mixed quality, and we had a great deal of free time. On two days, this free time was in very small towns whose museums happened to be closed and which had minimal shopping opportunities. Even the “full-day” at the Normandy beaches was shortened by a 3-hour round-trip bus ride. On a positive note, all activities started and ended on time. If you are seeking a vacation in Europe with all the amenities of America (including a 110v outlet in each cabin), then a river cruise is a good option. However, for those who seek a more authentic overseas experience, there are better options. This was our first river cruise and, despite the excellent service and food, will probably be our last. We have travelled extensively and have been to all seven continents. When we travel, we live on the economy, staying in bed and breakfasts, eating local foods, and struggling with the differences in language and customs. We found that we missed the “uniqueness” of France while on the river cruise. Fortunately, we had been to Paris and Normandy on our own and in a rental car several times before, so do not feel that we missed too much. This part of the cruise, therefore, would get a rating of “1.” If you do choose to take a Vantage river cruise, we have several suggestions: - Despite the information you receive by mail or email prior to the cruise, reconfirm the location of the port with Vantage a minimum of 24 hours prior to boarding. We flew to London for several days before flying to Paris, and hired a shuttle to take us to the port identified in the most recent email from Vantage. Unfortunately, the ship had docked at a different port on the other side of Paris. After a frustrating hour of searching, and an additional cost of more than the original fare, we reached our cruise ship. Vantage did reimburse us the additional fare. - Be prepared for very slow internet service. - If you do not want a full meal at dinner time, pick up fruit, bread, or cheeses at a local shop before boarding. The room service menu was very limited and expensive. - The tour notes that the boat is not handicapped-accessible. Take this seriously. We often had to climb stairs to the deck of another boat in the same dock, walk across and down stairs to our boat, and then up to our deck. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
After 25 ocean cruises, we decided to go "inland" and after hearing some good reviews about Vantage, decided to try them. This was our 2nd river cruise, the first being on Grand Circle. The pre-cruise arrangements were ... Read More
After 25 ocean cruises, we decided to go "inland" and after hearing some good reviews about Vantage, decided to try them. This was our 2nd river cruise, the first being on Grand Circle. The pre-cruise arrangements were handled efficiently, courteously, and all questions handled promptly. Our flight arrangements were very good, non-stop flights from SFO to CDG. When we got to the ship we were greeted and taken to our deluxe cabin. The cabin was very nice, although a bit lacking in drawers. There were 2 tiny nightstands with barely room for the small lamp, and it would have been nice to have a few drawers in it. There were 2 TVs in the room, although you would have to sit on the couch sideways to look at the 2nd one. There was really no need for the two TVs. The tours were handled efficiently and with basically no problems. The tour guides in each port were very good and spoke excellent English. While we wish we had more time in some of the ports, like Caen, that is probably an individual thing. The things we saw were fabulous and we enjoyed the tours very much. However, the food, I hate to say, was terrible, barely edible. There was a limited salad bar with watery, flavorless dressings. The menus were odd, to say to least - - LOTS of pork with no flavor, fish we never heard of, and always some vegetarian dish. The few things that were always on the menu were not good at all, chicken, "steak" and salmon, and the baked potatoes were about the size of plums. The soups were all watery with, again, no flavor, and the bread was awful. The breakfast muffins were good, and I usually got some muffins and ate those during the day. They tried to be fancy with the menus with things like foie gras which was awful, and sauces that were just bizarre. On a scale of 1-10, would give the food a 2, sorry to say. Another thing we did not like was the fact that they automatically added 20 Euros pp tips per day and just put it on your bill. We have done ocean cruises with butlers and not paid that much. We chose to argue with them to get the figure reduced. They shouldn't add something automatically. Not good customer relations. I certainly wouldn't recommend this for children. The post-extension stay in Paris was at an average hotel, and we made the choice to go to their "illuminated Paris Can Can show." What a mistake. It was advertised as "high energy, women in petticoats, full skirts and black stockings." Nowhere did it say it was basically a topless show with young half naked women gyrating against men, flying in trapezes or on motorcycles. Some people were so offended that they took cabs back to the hotel. The food at this show was terrible. A complete waste of money. As I said, we have only done 2 river cruises, but Grand Circle was so much better and the food was very good. We were extremely disappointed in Vantage. We complained about the Can Can show and asked for our money back and the response was no. Great pre-cruise customer service, but very poor afterwards. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Three of us were flying from Charlotte, N.C. to Paris. I always check in with the airline 24 hours in advance of the flight. Our names were there but the word, in an attractive shade of red, next to our names was: Cancelled. I ... Read More
Three of us were flying from Charlotte, N.C. to Paris. I always check in with the airline 24 hours in advance of the flight. Our names were there but the word, in an attractive shade of red, next to our names was: Cancelled. I immediately called Vantage. The next day we were told we now had the reservations, with only hours to go before our flight left. We were met at the Paris airport and, after a long wait, a coach arrived to take us to the Vantage Venture, located not in Paris but in another city. Boarding was easy and we had a light lunch. The food on board throughout the trip was outstanding. Our cabin was very good with a large bathroom. At a briefing the next day we were told that a lock on the river was not working which meant not going to Paris by boat and the cancellation of quite a few activities including the Paris by Night trip, a nice restaurant and a Can-Can show. Obviously Vantage is not responsible for a broken river lock but it has been un-repaired for weeks and remained so for the next group of passengers. As for the "cruising", there wasn't much except at night when everyone was asleep and awoke to find the boat in another "quaint" town maybe 30 miles away. Vantgage did itself proud on our seeing where our "D" days troops landed. A flower ceremony was held overlooking Omaha Beach complete with our National Anthem and Taps. We could also see the German emplacements which fired on our troops. Then we boarded the coach again which took us directly to the beach itself. This is why I came on this trip. It is an experience and words can not add to it. The boat has an excellent housekeeping staff and everyone was very friendly on the trip. I was worried enough about our return flight home that I talked to the Vantage concierge about it. I was told not to worry about it, that everything was taken care of. Three days later I was still worried about it and checked it out on my Kindle Fire. Again, our names were on the flight and that beautiful color of red beside our names, CANCELED. I took the kindle to the tour director and, perhaps too bluntly, asked her what she was going to do about it! She took down the info and said she would take care of it. Two days later as we were going to another one of those cathedrals on the bus, she received a call that said we had been once more confirmed for seats on the plane. Vantage should clean house on their travel department in Boston. The three of us, along with about 20 other passengers, are members of The President's Club, and were invited to a roped off portion of the upstairs lounge for drinks. Gee, thanks, I needed that. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our 4th Vantage river cruise and 5th Vantage trip. We were disappointed after having loved the first 4 trips. We had the owner's suite on the River Discovery II which was large and beautiful as was the ship in general. As ... Read More
This was our 4th Vantage river cruise and 5th Vantage trip. We were disappointed after having loved the first 4 trips. We had the owner's suite on the River Discovery II which was large and beautiful as was the ship in general. As occupants of the owner's suite we were supposed to have been picked up at the Airport-this was verified twice with the Boston office and our flight info was given them.. We were NOT picked up at the airport. The cruise director said he did not have our flight info (and evidently was too unconcerned to check with the office in the U.S.. Previously the strength of Vantage cruises (which they highly touted) was that these large riverboats had 4 cruise directors on board all of which were excellent in our experience- and you were assigned to one of them for the cruise-which was excellent. Now there were no longer 4 directors but only one who didn't lead tours but acted more like a cruise director on a ship-sightseeing tours left to local guides. This was not nearly as good. The director was stand-offish in our opinion and quite pompous. Tipping of the 4 previous directors with whom you traveled each day was optional and we always tipped them generously..Tipping of the one cruise director whom you seldom interacted with was automatically added to your bill unless you specifically arranged to stop it. The same was for the "concierge" who was automatically tipped even though you may never have uses the concierge service. The food was also not up to previous standards-several days courses were served no longer hot or even warm. Even though we were in France the bar did not have Grey Goose Vodka which they could have purchased in any port since it is made in France. We used to love Vantage but the recent policy changes they have made has ended that along with our patronage. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our first River Cruise The boat was very nice. The crew was cordial and very nice. The food and presentation was very good as well. The bathrooms are larger than most ocean going cruise ships. However, we had a room in the back ... Read More
This was our first River Cruise The boat was very nice. The crew was cordial and very nice. The food and presentation was very good as well. The bathrooms are larger than most ocean going cruise ships. However, we had a room in the back end of the ship and could not open the sliding glass door because of the engine fumes and other ships constantly parked alongside. We were most disappointed with the changes from the original itinerary because it was the reason we chose this particular cruise. The ship left from Conflans NOT Paris. Conflans is over an hour bus ride from Paris. So on the departure day, we lost what would have been a whole afternoon in Paris. The guided tour of Vernon was cancelled (we received a letter) and we received no refund (Vantage advertises that the guided tours are worth over $1,000 per couple). The WW2 Caen Museum tour was removed from the original itinerary, and we were never notified (this was one of the reasons we took this cruise). Also, Vantage previously advertised that this museum was the best WW2 Museum in Europe. Dinner in Les Andelys at Commanderie de Templiers changed to lunch, then changed back to dinner at another place, in a beautify setting out in the country. However the dinner was disappointing. The main course consisted of a chicken leg. The other main reason that we chose this particular cruise is because Vantage advertises that they dock in Honfleur, the most beautiful stop on our itinerary. Instead we ended up for 2 days and nights in some God awful back water docking station in LeHavre (an industrial port) with views of containerized shipping cargo, floating garbage, and cranes lifting cargo and working on constructing a building. In doing some investigating on my own, I found out that as of our travel date, VANTAGE had NEVER docked in Honfleur, yet they continue to advertise it. Vantage has recently instituted a new cruise management process where they eliminated the Program Managers in favor of one Cruise Director and one Concierge. This did not seem to work very well. This was our first cruise with Vantage, however, their other “frequent cruisers” with whom we dined, were disappointed as well, and voiced it on more than one occasion. I believe that one cruise director is not able to adequately handle 134 people, and the concierge was no help that we could see. On the side tours that we paid for, a couple of the guides did not speak English very well, and therefore the experience was not good. The guides also “lost” many of the people on the tours. In Versailles ($199 for 2 people) we finished the tour with only 5 people out of 24, and at the Lourve ($170 for 2 people) we finished with just 7. We paid $8000, for 2 people (for a lower level cabin) excluding the airfare and side trips. The pre-cruise 3-day in Paris (not really 3 days, since you arrive in the afternoon of the first day, and transfer to the ship at 11am on the 3rd day) was too expensive for what we got for $1200 (per couple). Two nights in a hotel, the tour of Museum De Orsay, one dinner and 2 breakfasts, and transfer to ship. We had to pay for our own transfer from the airport to hotel because we booked our own airfare. TIPPING: Instead of having just one Program Manager to tip, we now had to tip both the Cruise Director who had to split her time between 3 buses (because there are no longer any program managers), and a Concierge who did not seem to have much value. We were also told to tip guides and bus drivers everyday, even on the side tours that WE had to pay VANTAGE an exorbitant amount of money for, e.g. Versaille = $199/couple, The Lourve = $170, per couple. There was too much pressure about Tipping. At the end of the cruise, I witnessed the Purser chastising a single lady passenger because he thought her tip for the crew was not enough. In fact, I heard him tell her: ”This tip is for 40 people, it is not enough”….Totally inappropriate…… Others told me of similar experiences. On the morning we left for home, there were traffic problems so we got to the airport late. THERE WAS NO VANTAGE PERSON TO MEET US AT THE AIRPORT AS PROMISED. The driver dropped us at ARRIVALS instead of DEPARTURES. An older couple were completely lost and had to be guided around by another passenger who almost missed her flight. WOULD I TRAVEL WITH VANTAGE AGAIN: MAYBE. Since I have had no prior experience with Vantage, maybe they can fix these issues. I know that their “frequent cruisers” are hoping that they do. The trip was more expensive with all of the add on’s than we were expecting. VANTAGE automatically added to our bill 5 euros per day from each of us for both the Cruise Director and Concierge. We had the option to change it, but it was embarrassing to do so. Additionally, they asked for 10 euros per person per day for the crew (200 euros per couple = $272). Then we had to tip in 4-5 euros per day for the guides and drivers. We felt that these tips for the side trips should have been covered by Vantage, especially the side trips that we had to pay for ourselves. Also, it felt like we spent more time on buses that on the boat. CRUISE DIRECTOR: We felt that Vantages recent change to one Cruise Director and one Concierge, from assigned Program Managers (usually at least 3) assigned to separate groups, is not working. We felt that our Cruise Director was OVERWHELMED. - Too many people to take care of (134). FEEDBACK ON CONCIERGE: Never used her for side trips (and she does not leave the ship on the side trips to help the Cruise Director). PACING OF ITINERARY: VERNON/GIVERNEY - Very nice tour. It was very crowded. Very hard to move around and stay with the guide. ROUEN -- This was a nice tour CAUDEBEC -- The was also a nice tour. HONFLEUR/NORMANDY – Honfleur was the most beautiful town that we visited. HOWEVER, instead of the 2 days that we were originally told we would spend here, we only spent one morning BECAUSE Vantage could not dock there. They notified us by mail shortly before departure. We docked 20 miles further away in LeHavre. This deprived us of exploring that beautiful town and port of Honfleur, and made the trip to the Normandy Beaches about a 2 hour bus ride each way. We did not have enough time to see everything at the cemetery and at Pointe-Du-Hoc, where the Ranger came ashore. LES ANDELYS -- Chateau Galliard was nice, but dinner onshore was a chicken leg CONFLANS -- We were on our own (both times since we boarded there instead of Paris). Not much to see, as it is a very small town. We took the side trip to Versailles from here. Versailles was very crowded, the pacing was bad, the guide was hard to understand, and lost everyone in the crowds but 5 of us. This was particularly disturbing because we paid $199 per couple for the tour. PARIS - The city tour by coach was nice. SIDE TRIP -The guide at the Lourve spoke bad English and again lost almost the whole tour group by the end of the tour (there were 7 people left at the end). This place was also very crowded (could not get anywhere near the Mona Lisa). The pacing was very bad. This tour was $170 per couple. Concluding, Europe is very crowded this time of year and we have decided not to return to Europe during summer holiday again. We feel the crowds will be much less during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall)   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
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