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20 Vantage Paris Cruise Reviews

We booked our trip with Vantage 8 months in advance. We were traveling with 2 other couples and we were told there were only 3 cabins available for the cruise we wanted to take which would be close to D-Day. On the ship, we heard similar ... Read More
We booked our trip with Vantage 8 months in advance. We were traveling with 2 other couples and we were told there were only 3 cabins available for the cruise we wanted to take which would be close to D-Day. On the ship, we heard similar stories from other travelers. Vantage keeps their prices low because they don't use travel agents - you book directly with them. Their customer service has improved since 2009 when we traveled to China with them. You no longer have to wait on hold for hours to speak to a customer service representative. We booked the Paris extension and were put up at the Hotel Meridien Etoile. Our plane arrived at 7:30am from the U.S. and we were in our rooms by 11:30am. The hotel is located across the street from the Metro -great for getting around Paris. Headed out to lunch then on to Montmarte, Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, Arc de' Triomphe , shopping at Louis Vuitton (bring your passport if you want a VAT refund). The second day in Paris we booked a dinner cruise (through Vantage cruise director at the hotel) on the River Seine which I highly recommend! See the City of Lights at its finest and see the flickering lights at the Eiffel Tower at 10 while it's sparkling in all it's glory. Sumptuous buffet at hotel with bags out at 7:30am to be transported to River Venture. On the Museum D'Orsay to see exhibits while staff on River Venture is saying goodbye to last cruisers and getting ready for the next one. Arrived on boat at 12:30pm. Cabins were surprisingly spacious Magnifying mirror (3x) in bathroom, I home radio which will charge early model iPhones and iPads. Large screen tv. Large shower for river boat and strong water pressure. Good wifi, Le Occitane products, sewing kits - everything you could possibly need. Dinner was shrimp cocktail, cream of broccoli soup, choice of chicken, halibut - mousse ice cream or cheese plate for dessert. Always a vegetarian choice too. Day 2 - Vernon - everyone is assigned a bus, yellow, blue or green that you board throughout your trip. Depart at 9:15am for Giverny for a guided visit to Monet's house and gardens. Guide was an ex-pat, Lexi, who was most entertaining. Gardens and house were breathtaking, as well as ponds and lily pads. Lunch on boat at 12:15 then at 2pm depart for a home hosted visit. Very informative and fun to see how the French live. She served apple tart and hard cider - and some of her husband's private liquor stash. . . way better than the cider. Upon our return we were supposed to have a walking tour of Vernon but it was cancelled. Another fabulous dinner - sirloin or river trout, tiramisu, always ice cream or cheese plate. Day 3 French lesson for 1/2 hour followed by a lecture on Impressionism. Lunch then a walking tour of Rouen. Lots of stores closed in town because it's Ascension Thursday and most French take a 4-day holiday. Saw where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake and a few French churches. Two hour walking tour, then back to boat for Captains Gala Dinner. Free Drinks during cocktail hour. Dinner was Chateaubriand, followed by Benedictine and an impressive Creme Brûlée. Nice Gypsy Jazz Ensemble in the lounge following dinner. Day 4 Arrived in Caudebec-en-Caux about 8am, departed at 9am for two Abbeys, one was a ruin and the other is still inhabited. Optional tour to Alabaster CoastOne and a half hour bus ride there. Those who opted not to go were given cash by our guide, Ken, to buy cheese and wine for an impromptu party on the top deck. Lots of bakeries, little cafes and cute shops. Supposed to have a pub crawl, but were told there are no pubs to visit. Day 5 LeHavre/Honfleur Vantage claims to be one of the few ships to be able to dock in Honfleur, but the truth of the matter is they have never docked in Honfleur. Dock in LeHavre- 1/2 hour from Honfleur - quaint town with lots of ships, amazing architecture, gigantic farmers market going on - so much to do. We opted not to return to the ship at noon but to stay for lunch in town till 2pm - hundreds of restaurants overlooking the harbor. Returned to ship for an informative lecture on D-Day to prepare us for the Normandy beaches tomorrow. International night for dinner and movie "The Longest Day" complete with popcorn. Day 6 Normandy Beaches Depart at 8:45am for a 2 hour bus ride (wouldn't have been as long if we had docked in Honfluer). Most touching to see the vast sea of crosses of American soldiers who lost their lives in an effort to keep democracy alive. Vantage arranged for a ceremony honoring the people in our group who served in the military. Not a dry eye in the place. Had lunch in a restaurant where they could feed all of us in less than an hour, red and white wine, poached white fish, carrots and rice with a cream sauce and apple tart for dessert. On to Pointe du Hoc where you could see the impact of the bombs, lots of bunkers bringing the war to life. Finished the day at a museum at Arromanches. Lots of French re-enactors in American jeeps and uniforms. Good place for D-Day souvenirs. Guide passed out Madelines (sponge cakes, like twinkles without the cream) for the two hour bus ride back to River Venture. Dinner at 8pm. Day 7 Two hour bus ride to Bayeux to visit the Cathedral of Notre Dame and toured Bayeux Tapestry museum. The tapestry is a woven cloth which tells the story of William 11. Local guide gave us each 15 euros for lunch on our own, then back to ship. Day 8 - Les Andelys 9:30am Apple Tart demonstration by chef. Docked in Les Andelys, a picturesque little town, followed by a walking tour to Chateau Gaillard, a medieval castle, overlooking the town - or you could opt for a gentle walk of the town. Galley tour at 4pm and bus departs at 6pm for LaGrange DeBourgoult, a private reception country estate where we were to have dinner. En route we stopped on a high hill with breathtaking views of the town and a tasting of Calvados. Nice touch Vantage!!! Views of the farm were incredible, we were greeted by the Normandy Folk Dancers who performed complete with accordion and fiddle. Food not great, but I think it gave the staff on the ship a little respite. Day 9 Versailles Lunch at 11:15am due to early departure - bus to Versailles at 12:30pm. Versailles was so crowded, difficult to see much due to massive numbers of people. Made aware of pickpockets and scammers. Returned to Conflans for Captains Farewell Reception - free drinks in the cocktail lounge. Day 10 Coach tour of Paris, including Notre Dame (4th or 5th Notre Dame we visited). Louvre tour not as crowded as Versailles. Mona Lisa was waiting for us. Great guide - only 6 people to a guide which made it very enjoyable. Day 11 Full breakfast starting at 5am. Luggage out of our room by 5:30. Everyone out of their rooms by 9am so they can get ready for the next group who will be boarding at noon. Great trip by Vantage - Staff couldn't have been nicer and Vantage personnel (guides) did everything to make our experience memorable. Wouldn't hesitate to recommend this trip to everyone!!!!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
This is our second river cruise and I think we are hooked. This was an excellent cruise: great boat, great excursions, and good food. Only the disembarkation marred the trip. Pickup at the Airport We had Vantage provide the air fare and ... Read More
This is our second river cruise and I think we are hooked. This was an excellent cruise: great boat, great excursions, and good food. Only the disembarkation marred the trip. Pickup at the Airport We had Vantage provide the air fare and they picked us up at the airport. Had to wait for an hour which was a bit of a bummer. Got to the ship, grabbed lunch, and then walked about our docking area. It was in the Citroen area, about a mile from the Effiel Tower, and a half mile from a Metro station. It's a commercial area with ship docks and a cement factory. Seems pretty safe and with Metro access, you can get anywhere in Paris. The Boat New in 2013, the River Venture spent its first year in German rivers to be close to component manufacturers - a shake down year. Now, it's pretty much running back and forth on the Seine. This is a very good example of what a small footprint boat can be. The rooms are relatively spacious, tastefully done in wood and high quality fabrics, enormous amount of storage, a shower you can fit in, comfortable bed, two 110v outlets, and storage under the bed for your luggage. Great A/C with excellent adjustments. Hair dryer. No irons on boats. In-room safe, but instructions are incorrect. TV had a bunch of movies and international channels, many in English. A note about the 110V outlets: the one in the bathroom won't run a curling iron and it won't fit a night light; the one on the desk is also shaped funny and wouldn't fit a night light. I always carry a small extension cord and this proved helpful for our electronics. Did I mention that they have high-quality WIFI? Nice! Rooms are on the 200, 300, and 400 levels. 400 level also has suites. There is a central area in the boat on the 300 level with the concierge/tour director and main desk. Forward of this is the dining room - above it and forward is the bar/meeting room. On the 400 level on the aft of the boat is the Captains Club, a small dining area (and outside deck) serving limited menus for lunch and dinner. With its outside seating, sunroofs, and some grilled items, it was very popular. On the 200 level is a small fitness room and beauty parlor. The fitness room has a bike, e-trainer, and treadmill, all good quality. Because of the low ceiling, your head will hit the ceiling on the e-trainer if you are over 6 feet tall. A large TV is provided as is a single yoga mat for stretching (thanks Vantage!). Five of us used this room. We had room #301 and we liked the position - right next to the center of action and atrium, but it was not noisy. The Staff Ninety percent of the staff on the shakedown came on along to France - they work well together. The officers and staff are not Vantage, they are contracted as are the tour director and theieceirge. The Captain is not comfortable with English, but if you catch him alone (as we did at breakfast, at his invitation) he is quite personable. The hotel manager has the gift of gab and is the face of the ship. He calls his crew the "beehive" and indeed, they are. Most important to your trip are the tour director and concierge. We had Eva and Virginia respectively. They were both excellent. Their arrangements and interface with us were terrific. Great excursion details the night before and great handouts. The folks that manned the front desk were fine. Vantage has an annoying procedure that you turn in your room card for a paper card when you leave the ship. This is time consuming - other boats have an electonic check out. The front desk will convert your dollars into Euros and also make change - helpful for getting tip money for the guides and drivers. The wait staff in the restaurants were friendly, efficient, and willing to help you out with special needs. The Passengers Almost 100% American with the exception of one or two Canadian couples. Just about everyone was in their 60s-80s and as friendly as can be. We had one family of four generations that included kids. That was Stan Newman's family, a WWII fighter pilot who always wanted to go the Normandy beaches and his family joined him. Google Stan to read about his career. We also had a group of 40 from New Jersey, lots of fun. Many passengers did pre-voyage trips and after voyage trips, sponsored by Vantage. Some did back to back river trips. The Food and Beverages The food was good, not great. We were disappointed that we did not have more French food. Portion sizes were small, which was good because you are getting upwards of four courses each meal. Breakfast was your standard cruise fare with buffet eggs, meats, cereals, fruit, baked goods, juices and yogurts. The omelette station was excellent. Lunch featured another buffet or you could order specials off the menu. Specials were not always up to their standards. Burgers were only fair. All their soups were terrific. You could also have lunch in the Captain's Club. You pay for alcohol at lunch. Dinners were always at 7pm, open seating. Travelling by ourselves, we made a lot of new friends by sitting at different tables. Each night featured new appetizers and three entrees, meat, fish, and veggie. Usually choice of two deserts. Could also order a standard dinner of salmon, steak, or veggie, and standard appetizers and deserts. Beer and wine are complimentary. The beer was German and good. The wines changed every night. If you didn't like it, you had other free options. Nice. Our favorite meals were: lobster, lamb shank, fettucini cabonara, and eggs benedict. Unlike other cruise lines, you are free to bring alcohol on board the River Venture. And there is an ice machine to cool your beverages. Sailing The Seine OK, I did not expect the beauty of the Seine - big hills with chalk-faced cliffs, surrounded by stunning farmland and picture perfect towns. By all means, try to spend some time on top or on the forward area or on the aft deck. Because of the time zone, it stayed light very late. Intriguing also were transversing the locks, going through commercial areas, and docking at the huge port in La Harve. Kudos to the French who take meticulous care of their homes, business, and commercial plants. The Itinerary and Excursions Cannot ask for a better itinerary of French towns and Normandy WWII beaches - that's why we chose this tour and we were not disappointed. Most excursions were via large, comfortable buses - three buses for our boat, each with its own guide. Eva got everything organized and hopped between buses to see that everything went smoothly. Vernon Our boat was parked right near the center city. Guided tour of Monet's house in Giverney and gardens, including the famous lily ponds. A great tour, if a bit rushed and crowded. A superb gift shop. Look for the seed packages. Some folks signed up for having a bite with a French family and had a great time in the PM. We decided to walk around Vernon and found a cherry festival. It was fun. Rouen It was Sunday and we got up early and went to the 8am Mass at the cathedral. If you are Catholic, you MUST go to a Mass in one of the European cathedrals. (They are all name Notre Dame in France of course). After lunch, we had a guided tour of Rouen. Fabulous old houses, some crowding over the streets. Back to the cathedral for more commentary. Tomb of Richard the Lionhearted (at least part of his body - did you know he was really French). Nice chapel dedicated to Saint Teresa of the Little Flower (my grade school). In contrast to the cathedral, we visited a modern church in the shape of a ship. There, the tour ended and we stopped at the La Terresa brassarie for a drink. Caudebec-en-Caux We visited two Benedictine Abbeys. The first had ruins and a timber newer (and operational) church. The second was just ruins - but it was stunning. Our guide was Olivier, who was excellent. He brought to life the history and dynamics of these ruins. We had an excellent time. That night was formal night with a special dinner. Nice. La Harve and the Beaches of Normandy We were supposed to dock at Honfluer (a nice tourist town) but docked at La Harve instead. We were told that it was because of French bureaucracy. Hmmm.... that put us in an industrial setting 30 minutes farther from our excursions the next two days. (And here I would say, any cruise/boat trip can have issues, so just deal with most of them). An expected bonus was that the Russian cadet training four-master docked near us and we could tour it. We did get some time in Honfluer and it was a nice tourist town. We found the merchandise to be pricey. The restaurants were nice and there was a lot of them. We noticed that no river cruise boats were docked there. Our first day was huge - a two hour trip to the American Cemetery above Omaha Beach. Our guide was Alex (a Brit living on the coast) and he was five stars. I am a fan of WWII history and well read - he told me things I had never heard of before. If you have not been to the Normandy beaches, please go and celebrate those brave men. The cemeteries will make you cry. We had a ceremony where Stan placed a wreath at the cementary and all vetrans joined him. Wow. We walked around the cemetery, then headed to Omaha beach. Strangely silent, it's hard to imagine the death and destruction on 6/6/44. We then headed down the coast for an average lunch (hard to feed 120 folks great food, but they did have lots of wine). Then, off to Pointe du Hoc, where the Rangers assaulted German guns atop 100 ft cliffs. This is one of the few places where gun emplacements are still left. The French removed most of them as they were a blight on their country. Then, we stopped at Arromanches, where the Brits (God bless them) created one of the Mulberry harbors. Still some remnants. We went to the museum which had a Brit film, not that good, skip that and look at the good exhibits. Check out the History Channel for something better. Note: the shops around this area are way overpriced. If you must have a D-Day hat or T-shirt, buy it here. Otherwise, wait until Les Angeles for trinkets. What a day! We passed a countless number of monuments and museums. I would like to go back for a week! If you take this trip, your enjoyment will be enhanced by reading one of the great books on D-Day. My favorite is the one by Steven Ambrose. Read this and you will recognise a lot of the small towns that were involved in D-Day and the battles after that day. Also try the books by Beevor and Ryan. If not, just rent "The Longest Day" based on Ryan's book. Our boat showed the movie topside the night before. Know your history folks... Day Two from La Harve Another long drive, this time to Bayeux. Toured the cathedral and then lunch on our own. Found a wonderful restaurant with pate. Yum. Walked up to the British cemetery and then toured the Bayeux Tapestry. Had lunch at La Petit Normandy (great pate!). If I had to do this day again, I would have skipped Bayeux and toured some more WWII monuments and museums. Some folks took a side trip to Mount St. Michelle, but it was a long trip. One of the days in La Harve gave us an opportunity to walk around. Some of the old dock warehouses were turned into a modern shopping mall with clothing stores, shoes stores, a huge grocery store with wine and beer, and a garden center. This gave us a taste of French life outside of the old cities we visited. Les Andeles OK, I am hooked. This is my favorite French town. It's small, beautiful, and friendly. I'll go back. We had a walking tour way up to Chateau Gaillard, built by Richard the Lion Hearted. It's not a bad hike, 20 minutes, but some of our old folks had some minor problems. They also offered an easy walk just in town. The castle and its history were excellent. Once again, Eva paid for all our admittance. An easy walk down and then we were on our own. We stopped at a patisserie to smell the bread and buy a morsel. Yum! When you leave the main dock, walk towards the town and make a left at the main street. There are a couple of nice shops with quality merchandise and good prices. Also, a nice brassarie to have a capacino or beer (Le Cafe du Petit Andeley). Try a beer you have never heard of - you will be rewarded. That evening, we left our boat (it moved down to Vernon) and we bussed to a large farm where we had dinner in a barn with folk dancing. Um, not my cup of tea. Food was mediocre and two hours of the same song sung different ways was painful. Better off to buy your dinner in Les Andeles and stay on the boat. One positive part of this side trip was that we drove up to the castle so those that did not walk up could see it. On the way we passed a 1959 Buick convertible and a shop specializing in older American cars. Go figure.... Conflans This is near Paris where the Seine and the Oise rivers meet. A blue collar town with boat crews. They were having a festival of the boats and they paraded the boats and had lots of land stuff to do. Lots of fun to walk around and see how the French enjoy themselves. Paris Back to the same docking as when we first joined the boat. We have been there before and seen the major sites. We went to the Metro, got a one-day pass (about 6 Euros), visited three museums, and found a restaurant we visited 14 years ago. A great day. By all means, be adventuresome and take the Metro - it's cheap and easy to use - lots of walking however. Our concierge had great maps and advice. For a great time, try the Arts and Meiters Museum. On Board Lectures etc - French lesson - Lecture on impressionism - Lecture on D-Day - Showing of the movie "The Longest Day" - Nice tour of the kitchen by the head chef - Virginia has lots of good handouts and maps at every stop Entertainment - nice piano guy in the bar all the time - other guest musicians brought in, including a woman who sounded just like Edith Piat - skits by the staff which were pretty good Disembarkation This did not turn out well. We departed on Monday and the French rail strike was already two days old. Folks that normally taking the train to the airport drove. Our bus should have taken 50 minutes but it took three hours. Traffic was gridlocked everywhere. We missed our flight. I fault Vantage for this. They were well aware of the strike and were actively working to schedule bus trips for those who were scheduled on rail to other destinations. They should have scheduled the airport trips earlier. To Vantage's credit, they had a rep at the airport who booked us into a hotel near the airport, paid for that, and paid for the E200 extra fee for missing the flight. One poor chap was separated from the Vantage rep and ended up paying full fare to get home. Don't know if he was reimbursed. This incident was preventable and has soured me somewhat on Vantage.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
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
Our Seine River cruise with Vantage had everything we were looking for. Our stateroom and meals were comfortable, clean and inviting and the meals were varied and met all our needs. My wife is a diabetic and facilities were available for ... Read More
Our Seine River cruise with Vantage had everything we were looking for. Our stateroom and meals were comfortable, clean and inviting and the meals were varied and met all our needs. My wife is a diabetic and facilities were available for refrigeration for her meds and the menu, with Healthy Options met her needs in selecting foods that her diet demanded. But we were there for the chance to see some of the culture of Normandy and the history there. All the overnight stays were in sites which offered us chances to become involved in the Impressionist art scene, historic abbeys and cathedrals, sites with historical references to the Vikings, the conquest of William of Normandy, and artifacts related to Richard the Lionheart. The more recent history involving the D Day Invasion and other World War II sites are also there. The day at the Normandy Beaches and the American Cemetery were enhanced by our guide Richard who was excellent. The little towns of Vernon, Giverney, Les Andlys, and Honfleur were picturesque and made you feel like you had stepped back into the past. Our trip to Etretat was very interesting. Top all this off with Paris, Versailles, and the Louvre and what more could you ask of a trip to France. My wife took over a thousand pictures. How much price can be put on sailing into Rouen and see the Cathedral lit up at night, watching the Eiffel Tower twinkle from the top deck of the ship, just being to step back into the past and walk down streets lined with half timbered buildings? This trip was all we were looking for. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We just completed a French river cruise, Chalon-sur-Saone to Avignon, aboard ms River Discovery II owned by Vantage Travel of Boston MA. Our experience was extremely poor and would not and could not recommend Vantage Travel to anyone. ... Read More
We just completed a French river cruise, Chalon-sur-Saone to Avignon, aboard ms River Discovery II owned by Vantage Travel of Boston MA. Our experience was extremely poor and would not and could not recommend Vantage Travel to anyone. The average age on the boat was in the mid-eighties, we had two legally blind travelers, about a dozen with walkers, and about 50 with walking canes, few had Parkinson’s, others had dementia, we even had a bi-polar traveler. Yet the elevator was out of order during the entire cruise, no attempt was made by the company to repair it or assist the handicapped folks on the stairs. I am aware of six (6) passengers that fell down the staircase and needed external medical treatment. Vantage Travel should have known that it is a floating nursing home and the elevator safe operation is top priority. The food on board was basic American; we did not have a single French meal during the 10 days on board. Even the pastries were American; donuts and cup cakes. One positive note, we did have wine with dinner; it was not as good as Trader’s Joe but I am sure Vantage selected the best wine one can purchase for under $2 per bottle. The above two items are just the tip of the iceberg; we will never again travel with Vantage Travel - an irresponsible company that should not be in the travel business. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We were looking forward to a great vacation, but: During the first three days we had no hot water in our room and had to shower in ice water. On day four the problem was repaired by a local plumber, why did it take so long? The ... Read More
We were looking forward to a great vacation, but: During the first three days we had no hot water in our room and had to shower in ice water. On day four the problem was repaired by a local plumber, why did it take so long? The reception desk could care less that we and others had no hot water. The front desk said that she is not getting paid enough to worry about the passengers. Why is she there and at that position. The elevator did not work during the entire cruise. Most passengers were elderly (nursing home type) with various medical issues. Some were unable to get around the boat, some required assistance by other passengers. A few fell down the steps and required medical attention. The front office did not assist them in any form; they don't care. During the entire trip we never had a French meal, it was cheap American kitchen. On Captain night only the first 76 passengers (out off 168) had lobster; why? The wine served with dinner was the best wine under $2 one can find; it was not as good as Trader Joe's. We called the Boston office from the boat to report the problems; as on the boat, no one cared in the home office. That much for traveling with Vantage, the tour company from hell. Read Less
Sail Date March 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 review is the first of my two Back-to-Back River Cruises through France with Vantage Deluxe World Tours. The 10-day cruise was the start of a 20-day The Treasures of France: A grand River Journey from Normandy to Provence Cruise. ... Read More
This review is the first of my two Back-to-Back River Cruises through France with Vantage Deluxe World Tours. The 10-day cruise was the start of a 20-day The Treasures of France: A grand River Journey from Normandy to Provence Cruise. The excellent cruise began in Paris and traveled north up the seine River to Honsfleur (Normandy) on the Vantage ship, River Venture. Food on board was delicious; the presentation was artistic. Breakfast was always a buffet with a few different items each day. Lunch was also a buffet but most days you could also order off the menu. I always ordered the delicious chilled soups and pasta dish when available and also went to the buffet. For dinner there were several choices but if none were to your liking there were entrees always available such as Salmon, Chicken, a vegetarian dish and Steak. Our party of four was completely satisfied with the food offerings. The service was always friendly, professional and efficient. Wine, soda and beer are freely available at dinnertime, also. Passengers sit whoever they want and with whomever they want. Dinner is served at 7 pm. Dress for dinner was casual except for the Captain’s Gala Dinner when most men wore jackets. We all enjoyed a local lunch off the boat during our visit to the Normandy Beaches and American Cemetery. On such a small ship, we became quite friendly with the entire staff including the senor officers. My husband thought that this was the best thing about the cruise. It certainly added to our enjoyment. Marie did a suburb job as Cruise director; everyone loved her . Service throughout the ship was excellent from the front desk, to the dining room to the lounges and housekeeping. The passengers were all older Americans and we knew everyone by the end of the cruise. The ship was lovely and the public areas were quite attractive and comfortable. Our stateroom 307 had a French Balcony and was well appointed. It contained plenty of storage with two wardrobes, deep drawer and shelf space. Two end tables flanked the comfortable bed covered with two fluffy comforters. In addition, there were two chairs, a desk, small glass table and plenty of lamps with good lighting. There was a safe, an ice bucket and hair dryer in the room. The bathroom containing a fairly large shower had a generous supple of shampoos, conditioners, soaps, shower gels and body lotion. The towels were fluffy and replaced as needed twice daily. The only thing missing was a mini fridge. Our cabin steward was efficient, very accommodating and kept our stateroom spotless. As President Club members having traveled with Vantage on at least three cruises, we received a free bag of laundry which was an excellent perk that we all appreciated and used. I loved that Vantage uses headsets and receivers on shore excursions both optional and included. We saw beautiful cathedrals, chateaus, museums, castles, monuments, quaint medieval cities, towers, abbeys and bucolic country sides along the winding waterways. All excursions were worthwhile and most were included. For me the highpoint was our two nights stay in Honsfleur. As we sailed under the Normandy bridge we received glasses of Champagne to commemorate the event. The medial city is quaint and we docked right in town. From there, we traveled one day up to Normandy for an unforgettable tour of this historic area. In fact every port of call - Vernon, Chalon Sur Saone, Les Andelys, Caudebec-en-Caux. Bayeux/Caen and Roen were equally enjoyable. Unfortunately we could not dock in Paris due to a lock malfunction but we boarded a coach from Vernon into Paris and didn’t miss any sightseeing in this exciting city. Although very port intensive, the staff found time for some on board activities - a Galley Tour, French Apple Tart Demonstration, Impressionism Lecture and World War II/ Normandy Talk. There were several nights of great entertainment including wonderful Can Can Dancers, a Traditional Folkloric Dance Company, local Jazz Ensemble and the talented Italian singer, Roberto. I highly recommend this Vantage river cruise. Vantage was the only company that offered this combination of two Back-to-Back river cruises through France for a total of 20 days in France. The cruise exceeded my expectations and I looked forward to the second cruise which I will post later. The only issue that I had was that the guide was late in arriving to meet us in Paris. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Five previous wonderful trips with Vantage. This was very disappointing. First, after a very long wait at the airport to be taken to the ship, we had a terrible two hour bus trip to Vernon. Told that "stuff happens" and the ship ... Read More
Five previous wonderful trips with Vantage. This was very disappointing. First, after a very long wait at the airport to be taken to the ship, we had a terrible two hour bus trip to Vernon. Told that "stuff happens" and the ship was too wide to get through a lock to Paris. A narrow lock was open, but the wider one was broken. Viking and AMA ships were in Paris, the Venture was not. I agree that stuff happens, but the lock had been broken for a few weeks, and still may be. Should have notified us that we were not going to be parked in Paris, so no evening strolls, no Van Goh museum, so nice meals. Had we been notified, I would have rescheduled. Very annoying, particularly since the staff barely apologized. Then, while parked in Vernon twice (heading west, then on the return) we were not even given an informal walking tour of this lovely town. Plenty of history (Rommel's base after D-Day, 12th century fortress, etc. I had to learn about the town by following around a Viking tour-guide. In the past, the tour directors would have taken the initiative to walk us around. The new system of a cruise director and concierge is terrible. Bring back the three cruise guides. Another change is amazingly cheap. Rather than offer bottles of water when leaving ship for a tour, we were told to bring one of the TWO we were given each evening. Two pint sized bottles of water. The hotel manager and tour director were indifferent to customers. The two meals that we were given off site were awful! One meal in a converted abbey was about 45 minutes away, and the food was barely edible. Entertainment was nice. The other off site meal was during the Normandy tour and while we were in a lovely coastal town, they chose an awful, ramshackle place with inedible food, creaky stairs to a second floor vacuous room with cheap wine. A much better idea would have been to give us each 20 euros so we could have had a lovely meal at one of the street cafes facing the nice harbor. On the bright side, the onboard meals were the best on any of our cruises. The wait staff and room porters were terrific. I contacted the director of customer service in Boston, and my complaints were not answered until I emailed Mr Lewis. I was then told that they were going to notify booked passengers who were not going to be based in Paris of that fact. I wonder if they have. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This 10-day cruise was the second of the 20-day back-to-back Treasures of France: A Grand River Journey from Normandy to Provence Vantage River Cruise. We sailed down the Saone and Rhone Rivers visiting the ports of Chalon Sur Saone ... Read More
This 10-day cruise was the second of the 20-day back-to-back Treasures of France: A Grand River Journey from Normandy to Provence Vantage River Cruise. We sailed down the Saone and Rhone Rivers visiting the ports of Chalon Sur Saone (overnight,) Tournus, Macon, Lyon (2 overnights,) Vienne (overnight,) Viviers/Avignon (2 overnights) and Tarascon, (overnight.) We flew home from Marasilles, France. After a five-hour coach ride from Vernon, France that included a stop for lunch compliments of Vantage, we arrived at our deluxe ms River Discovery II, a 179 passenger, 46-crew riverboat docked in Chalon Sur Saone, France. The boat entered service in 2012. Our staterooms were ready immediately and staffers carrying our luggage escorted us to our rooms. We enjoyed light refreshments in the Captain’s Club. Then, we explored the charming town and its attractions on our own, within walking distance of our boat. A Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party followed by safety, ship and port briefings with the Captain, Hotel Manager and Cruise director were held in the Peppermint Lounge. After dinner, we unpacked and took a stroll outside. The ship was lovely and the public areas were quite attractive and comfortable. Our French Balcony 165 sq, feet Stateroom #307 (same number as our previous cabin) was well appointed. It contained plenty of storage with two large wardrobes, deep drawer and shelf space. Two end tables flanked the comfortable bed covered with two fluffy comforters and additional pillows. Two chairs, a desk, small table (with ice bucket and complimentary bottles of water daily,) wall artwork and plenty of lamps with good lighting completed the decor. There was a safe and hair dryer in the room. The bathroom containing a large shower had a generous replenished supple of high quality shampoos, conditioners, soaps, shower gels and body lotion. The towels were fluffy and replaced as needed twice daily. The only thing missing was a mini fridge. Our very friendly cabin steward, Kevin was efficient, very accommodating and kept our stateroom spotless. Nightly chocolates on our pillows were a nice touch as was the elephant towel animal one night. The boat has complimentary ship-wide Wi-Fi. Coffee, hot chocolate and ice are available at conveniently located 24 hr. machines. Complimentary bicycles are available for passenger use in ports. The boat has an elevator or a hydraulic lift chair between decks for passengers with special needs. Unfortunately, the riverboats are not wheelchair accessible due to the width of gangways in European river ports. We did have one wheelchair bound passenger and the staff accommodated him nicely to his satisfaction and that of his aide. There are no medical facilities on board although there is an AED defibrillator. As President Club members, having traveled with Vantage on at least three trips, we received a laundry allowance, which was an excellent benefit that we appreciated and used. Our food on board was delicious; the presentation was artistic. Breakfast was always a buffet with a few different items each day. Lunch was also a buffet but most days you could also order off the menu. I always ordered the delicious chilled soups and pasta dish when available and went to the buffet. Spaghetti Carbonara was a standout for me. For dinner there were several delicious choices in addition to the standby entrees always available such as Salmon, Chicken, a Vegetarian dish and Steak. Our party of four was completely satisfied with the food offerings. The service was always very friendly, professional and efficient. Complimentary wine, soda and beer are freely available at dinnertime. Open Seating Dinner in the elegant Compass Rose Restaurant is served at 7 pm. The Captain’s Club has alternative lighter dining by reservation. This more intimate dining area has a retractable roof and beautiful views of the river. President’s Club members and Owner’s Suite and Deluxe Suites passengers may use in-room dining. Special meal requests are honored but must be received prior to sailing. Special occasions are celebrated in a grand way at dinnertime. Dress for dinner was casual except for the Captain’s Gala Dinner when most men wore jackets. We all enjoyed an included local lunch off the boat on our port stop in Tournus. Although very port intensive, the staff found time for some interesting onboard activities A Galley Tour, Wheelhouse Tour, Introduction to French Language and Culture Talk, French Waterways Presentation, Cheese, Wine and Bread Presentations (with tasting and sampling,) Santons (local high quality figurines -not a buying opportunity) Lecture & display and a Silk Painting Demonstration. The Crème Brulee Presentation and tasting was fun with recipes hand out afterwards. Guest lecturer Olivier Pachot gave an interesting lecture on France Today that evoked many questions and comments by the packed audience. There was some outstanding entertainment on board including the extremely popular, Gypsy Night, dancer and musicians, the wonderful classical recital with La Strada, a lively French Evening with accordion music, and energetic dance music with the “Party Band.” One night we also had “The one and only ms River Discovery II Crew Show“; another night a movie was shown. A popular and fun activity was the after dinner Pub Crawl in Avignon with our lively Cruise Director, George and Concierge, Maya. The highpoint for me and for many others was the scenic sunset sail with commentary into the magnificent city of Lyons. We all gathered in the Peppermint Lounge, aft deck or the Captain’s Club to photograph the sights along the way. On such a small ship, we became quite friendly with all the passengers and the entire staff including the senor officers. My husband thought that this was the best thing about the cruise. It certainly added to our enjoyment. George did a suburb job as Cruise director; he was everywhere and always available for conversation or help. Service throughout the ship was excellent from the front desk, to the dining room, the lounges and housekeeping. The passengers were mostly older Americans with some younger passengers as well. Complimentary Quiet Vox Audio Headsets were perfect on all the sightseeing tours. Most tours - 17 between the two cruises including those on coaches were included. Not only were they worthwhile and educational, they were just plain fun and we looked forward to them daily. I took two exceptional optional tours to Pont du Gard in Avignon ($65) and the Medieval Village of Perouges ($59.) in Lyon. Our most unusual tour was a visit to a local goat farm that included a wine tasting with goat cheese. Visiting the Pope’s Palace and taking the Secrets of Avignon were other highlights as was our city tour in Lyon. We saw beautiful cathedrals, chateaus, castles, vineyards, quaint medieval cities, towers, abbeys and bucolic countrysides as we sailed along the winding waterways. Maya, our competent Concierge was on board to help passengers handle individual arrangements or dinner reservations in each of the town. How did this cruise differ from the previous one? Well first, the weather was warmer and sunnier as we headed south. We did more daylight sailing. There was more wine tasting, too and visits to vineyards. Of course, the cities differed and we passed through 14 locks as we navigated the rivers. Both cruises were equally rewarding. I highly recommend this Vantage river cruise. Vantage was the only company that offered this combination of two back-to-back river cruises through France for a total of 20 days in France. By combining the two cruises we saved $789 per couple than if purchased separately. Both cruises exceeded my expectations and I looked forward to a future trip with Vantage Deluxe World Tours. My one disappointment was that the included ride on the famous TGV high-speed train to Dijon & guided walking tour for our connection between the two cruises did not materialize and hadn’t been done for at least three years. Vantage needs to remove this from its literature. Using the Smart Pay Plan, we saved 10% off the cost of our cruise. Vantage offers the lowest price per day of all the river cruise companies that we compared. Passengers receive a 5% Travel Reward that may be used on a future trip. Vantage will add the newest luxurious 6-star ship, ms River Voyager in 2016. If you have not taken a river cruise, I hope that this review motivates you to consider one. There are different river cruise companies to choose from and from what I heard talking with passengers from the different boats, all are excellent. Remember that river conditions may affect your cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
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 the first time with Vantage. From the customer service to the final flight home everything was perfect. The crew was just so wonderful. They couldn't do enough for you. Our Cruise Director Marie was superb. The food was ... Read More
This was the first time with Vantage. From the customer service to the final flight home everything was perfect. The crew was just so wonderful. They couldn't do enough for you. Our Cruise Director Marie was superb. The food was very,very good and the Chef most accommodating. I am an old Director of Catering and I have seen a lot of kitchens in my day. His kitchen was spotless. I was very impressed. The ship was most comfortable. Being an older person river cruising is a great way to travel. The ship is your hotel. The towns along the way were so picture perfect and Normandy was most stirring. We all cried at the memorial service. We were in Paris the day before that awful shooting so, of course, our families were worried. Vantage made sure they called every family to let them know we were on our way and all safe and sound. That is what I call customer service....good job Vantage I have booked two more trips. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Just returned from Paris after a wonderful cruise. The meals ,service,and attention to the the travelers was excellent . We had cruised with most river cruise companies in Europe before and we can say Vantage compares with the best . ... Read More
Just returned from Paris after a wonderful cruise. The meals ,service,and attention to the the travelers was excellent . We had cruised with most river cruise companies in Europe before and we can say Vantage compares with the best . We always felt safe given the recent terrorism situation in Paris. We had wonderful tours and many extras. The employees we had contact on the ship were very friendly and service oriented .The tour director, the concierge the waiters in the dinning room everybody onboard contributed to our memorable experience. The cabins and the ship was kept clean. We joined every activity that was offered. We were fortunate to be able to take the Paris extention free of charge. For entertaiment we had twice Roberto Colleta a high level entertainer, he was wonderful . We feel we needed a pianist for pre and post dinner music. We traveled with another couple , also seasoned travelers they agree with above mentioned comments. As a result we will be doing the Gateway to Eastern Europe sometime this year Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
After a horrid experience on the Discovery II we were frankly more of a mind to simply go home than to continue onto the next ship on our trip, The River Venture. Vantage showed good judgment in chartering buses for travel between ships ... Read More
After a horrid experience on the Discovery II we were frankly more of a mind to simply go home than to continue onto the next ship on our trip, The River Venture. Vantage showed good judgment in chartering buses for travel between ships after recent events in France and the trip went smoothly. Simply put our experience on the Venture was comparable to prior Vantage experiences and helped ease the frustration of the first half of the trip. Our first thought was that the ship was spotless, the first briefing both interesting and extremely detailed with all necessary information. The hotel manager, Restaurant manager and a server all greeted us happily from earlier travel on the River Splendor. Both the food and service were solid with the Restaurant Manager running an efficient and engaging staff and pitching in himself where necessary. Our server team was superb and engaged us in friendly conversation throughout the trip. Imagine our surprise to find a cabin that had both the promised tv system and unlimited hot water. Cruise director Anna Maria proved a master at executing in face of surprises like a labor stoppage. She was solid and served as a solid role model for a new colleague. The hotel staff was friendly and efficient even to the point of collecting boarding passes at the gangplank a novel and effective new service. The onboard entertainment was fun even though I was a draftee during the dance show. It was among the best we have encountered on a cruise. In short after a horrid experience on the first half of our trip, this ship and its crew have convinced us to give Vantage another shot. I would urge you to watch this staff and learn from them but keep them intact as a team. They did you proud. Read Less
Sail Date March 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
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
Let me begin by saying I chose this cruise for two reasons. One, it had a great itinerary to Normandy. Second, Vantage offers single fares without paying double the cruise price. I took advantage of a 3 day pre-cruise extension to St. ... Read More
Let me begin by saying I chose this cruise for two reasons. One, it had a great itinerary to Normandy. Second, Vantage offers single fares without paying double the cruise price. I took advantage of a 3 day pre-cruise extension to St. Malo, France on the English Channel. The old walled city of St. Malo is surrounded by a lively beach resort with many restaurants, hotels, and a casino. We stayed at the Oceania Hotel which was ideally located just a 5 minute walk to the old city. We had a full day tour to Mont St. Michele which everyone should visit. From St. Malo, we traveled to Paris with a stop in Chartres to visit the cathedral and wander around the city. We arrived in Paris and boarded the River Venture. I was pleasantly surprised to find I had been up-graded to a French balcony cabin. My cabin was beautifully decorated with plenty of drawer space and a closet. The bathroom was small but well laid out. The shower was large with a glass door enclosure. The cabin came with bathrobes, slippers, a reusable water bottle (to take home), a large bottle of Evian water, a desk, and a small table with two chairs in front of the French balcony. I loved it! The River Venture carries 136 passengers. The dining room was on the main deck and the lounge was on the upper deck. There were areas forward and aft where you could go outside as well as topside. My last ocean cruise was on the NCL Breakaway with over 4000 passengers, so being on this river cruise was a nice change. Of course river cruises do not offer the activities that ocean liners offer, so keep that in mind. We had local entertainers at night and a French Cabaret show one night which was quite lively. There were guest lecturers and we were shown the movie "The Longest Day" the night before we toured the beaches of Normandy where the Allies landed on June 6, 1944. On river cruises, the shore excursions are all included and I enjoyed all of them. There were a few optional tours that you could purchase. Dining on the River Venture was an epicurean delight. We started our day with a buffet breakfast and omelet station. At lunch we could order off the menu or eat at the buffet. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, fruit, and cookies were available throughout the day. Dinner was elegant and delicious. Each night we had 3 entrees to pick from as well as salmon or chicken which were offered every night. Everything was done perfectly. The service and the staff on this boat were the best! The cabin stewards, wait staff, front desk, and officers were always polite, helpful, and friendly. There was one stand out and it was Tessa, our Cruise Director. She did an excellent job of taking care of us during our cruise and she did it with a smile always. She is a credit to the Vantage organization. This cruise enabled me to cross two items off my Bucket List, Mont St. Michele (on the pre-trip extension) and the beaches of Normandy. Our visit to the American Cemetery was an emotional experience with veterans on our cruise placing a wreath at the statue while our National Anthem was playing. After our anthem, they played Taps while we were looking out at the 9387 white headstones of those who had fallen during the invasion of Normandy. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
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
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
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
Sail Date October 2018
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