If you have a special desire or personal interest that you'd like to pursue while abroad, you have an inside track: your Vantage onboard concierge. This new service (the most comprehensive in river cruising today) is available on all river cruises in Europe and Southeast Asia. Whether you need a limo for a night on the town, directions to the best wine shop, or tickets to the local soccer game, you can send a pre-trip request to Concierge@vantagetravel.com up until two weeks prior to departure and you'll have your answer from our overseas Concierge within 5 business days. Once you're on board, just stop by the Concierge Desk (located in your ship's lobby), or call your Concierge from your cabin: just dial the extension shown on your Onboard Interactive television system and in the Directory provided in each cabin.
Meet George Bihoi
Although he was born in Romania, George's bilingual high school taught French as the second language, so his fluency came early. Later, while living in Paris during his university years, he fell in love with the city's vibrancy, history, and culture — all of which he enjoys introducing to Vantage travelers. Over the years, in addition to leading French river cruises with Vantage, George has taken more than 50 trips to France, during which he discovered the wonders of French cuisine. And, while his favorite meal is coq au vin served with a lively Beaujolais, he's especially fond of some of France's nearly 250 varieties of cheese. "Alongside wine and bread, cheese is the country's culinary holy trinity," says George. "I'm more than pleased to share this with travelers as we cruise." Vantage travelers often compliment George Bihoi's "wonderful bedside manner," which is no surprise, since he happens to have a master's degree in Health Care and Human Resources. Beyond his love and knowledge of all things French, perhaps George's best qualification is his strong desire to give travelers the opportunity to discover new worlds..
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Impressionist Painters with Angelique Semrin
The Impressionist style is so universally beloved today, it’s hard to remember that once upon a time, Monet’s waterlilies, Boudin’s Deauville seascapes, and Renoir’s pensive ladies were considered revolutionary. Inspired by Japanese art, the new media of photography, and the social and technological changes sweeping Europe at the end of the French Second Empire, the Impressionists gave us a completely different lens through which to view the world. Explore that world with Angelique Semrin, whose family roots in Normandy give her a personal sense of the land that inspired so many of France’s greatest Impressionists. Angelique received her official licensure as a national guide and interpreter from the French Ministry of Tourism, and studied archeology and the art history at the Pantheon Sorbonne University in Paris.
World War II & the Normandy Invasion with Nigel Stewart
When the film crew for Ken Burns’ documentary "The War" needed a subject matter expert to guide them through Normandy’s WWII history, they turned to Nigel Stewart – as have many Allied veterans and their families, the U.S. Secretary to the Army, the present 101st Airborne, the Sikorsky Helicopter group, and a recent Congressional party. Now you, too, will go behind the scenes with him in a presentation that reveals the dramatic and moving stories behind D-Day – the largest amphibian invasion in world history – and the many other operations associated with the Normandy invasion.
Born in Lancashire, England, in 1965, Nigel moved to Normandy in 1992 with his Franco-British family, shortly after completing an M.A. Distinction in fine arts. He has studied WWII since childhood and began working in 1999 as an accredited freelance Normandy guide. He has recorded the narrative for several films produced for area museums, and has also been part of the interpretive guide team for the visitor center at the Normandy American Cemetery above 'Omaha' beach. He is currently involved in a book project entitled ‘Gentlemen Soldiers’ with the photographer Gregory Wait.
“I have been with many tour guides, but Nigel’s explanations were unquestionably the most perceptive, thought provoking and touching I have ever experienced. His words evoke painting-like scenes and vignettes, and were actually quite emotional for me. He showed our group a different way to think about war and history, especially the subjectiveness of experience in times of trauma and chaos.” – traveler Michael Aneglovich
Chef Igor Oluic
Curiosity, passion and discipline are what drive Igor Oluic to create dishes on the River Venture that he describes as "modern and easy on the eye." After completing his work in culinary school, Igor offered his expertise to restaurants in his home town of Belgrade, Serbia. He then spent three years on ocean ships before settling in to the more intimate atmosphere of Vantage's river ships in 2007. He has long understood that creating the perfect dish for world travelers requires intense commitment and a desire to "work when the rest of the world is not working." Yet he harbors a supreme love of the kitchen and of all the ingredients that fuse together to make dining on Vantage ships a special experience, from fresh herbs like basil, rosemary, and thyme to the Mediterranean seafood that he loves so much. Lucky for Vantage travelers, he is always trying new recipes and new techniques.
REGIONAL EXPERTS IN EACH PORT
No one knows a destination better than an insider, so in addition to your River Cruise Director, you’ll enjoy the services of experienced Regional Experts in each port during your included tours. Their deep command of regional history will certainly enrich your viewing of important attractions. But our “insiders” go a step beyond, sharing insights on behind-the-scenes aspects of local culture that ordinary tours usually overlook. How do families in this town get by? What is the legend about this cathedral? What do the decorations on a particular house mean? Your Regional Expert is eager to bring it all alive for you. All are fluent English speakers, and you won’t miss a word of their commentary as we provide complimentary audio headsets.