Snapshot: Vantage World Travel is a wholesaler for international travel and some USA. The main cruise thrust is Europe, while elsewhere Vantage operates mostly full charters of small oceangoing ships (some larger than 300 passengers) and riverboats in North, Central and South America (Galapagos & Amazon), Africa (Egypt), Asia (Myanmar, Cambodia & Vietnam, China), and Antarctica. Here we will emphasize the European river cruises. For oceangoing and river cruises in Europe and other parts of the world beyond Europe, head for the website — www.vantagetravel.com — packed with possibilities, and sometimes difficult to navigate. It is worth persevering as there are so many choices.
Ships & Years Delivered: Vantage-owned fleet: RIVER EXPLORER (b.2016 & 176 pass); RIVER SPLENDOR (b.2013 & 176 pass); RIVER VENTURE (b.2013 & 134 pass); RIVER NAVIGATOR (b.2002/2013 remodeled & 134 pass); RIVER DISCOVERER II (b.2012 & 176 pass); RIVER VOYAGER (b.2016 & 176 pass); for the Elbe: JUNKER JORG (b. 1990 remodelled 2015 & 112p pass); for the Douro River in Portugal: DOURO SERENITY & DOURO SPLENDOR (b. 2017 & 126 pass); and for Russian waterways between St. Petersburg and Moscow ROSTROPOVICH (b. 1981, refitted 2011 & 212 pass).
Passengers: 50 and up with the majority over 70, originating almost entirely from the U.S.
Passenger Decks: 3 and 4 passenger decks with cabins on two or three. Elevators operate between the cabin and public room decks. Some riverboats additionally operate a stair lift to the top open deck.
Price: $$ Expensive
Included features: Shore excursions, beer and wine with dinner, WiFi.
Itineraries: In Europe, Vantage owns and operates a small fleet of riverboats plying the waterways of Belgium and the Netherlands; Seine; Rhine, Moselle, Main, and Danube; Rhone and Soane; Elbe; and Russian rivers. Many river cruises have themes or special interests emphasized such as arts & culture, biking, birdwatching, culinary arts, golf, harvest time (wine), health & wellness, even beer cruises.
Why Go? River cruising is the most convenient way to take in lots of varied sights and the passing scenery while your riverboat acts as the ever-shifting hotel.
When to Go? Cruises operate between March and November, and the early and late months will see fewer crowds but more likely unsettled weather.
Cabins: The large majority of the cabins (averaging 165 sq. ft.) have French balconies where you slide open a door to a railing at the side of the ship. Double cabins have twin or queen-sized beds, and a small number of single cabins measure about 125 sq. ft.
Public Rooms: Typical layouts are a main lounge with bar for socializing before meals, taking in the scenery if the weather is chilly outside and enjoying musical entertainment. The top deck is open with sun protected covered sections and offers a walking track.
Dining: All meals are taken in the main dining room and menus cater to American tastes, plus adding continental Europe choices. If the particular riverboat has an aft-located Captain’s Deck, then the added treat of al fresco dining takes place here in good weather.
Activities & Entertainment: Entertainment aboard in port; ashore: receptions, performances, home visits, lectures and festive special meals.
Special Notes: The line emphasizes that it caters to Americans so you can feel at home when you are away. All announcements and printed materials are in English.
Along the Same Lines: the other major riverboat lines that cater primarily to Americans.
Contact: Vantage World Travel, 1324 East North Street, Greenville, SC 29607. www.vantagetravel.com; 864-233-7703— TWS