EXPERTS TO SERVE YOU, SHIP TO SHORE
During your cruise you’ll be well taken of. Your Cruise Director will provide briefings about upcoming ports, coordinate social and cultural activities on board ship, and generally make sure that your experience is the best it can be. Your onboard Concierge can provide expert advice and assist with special requests, be it on-shore restaurant reservations to spa appointments to event tickets and more. And to guide your included shore excursions, we’ve selected the best regional experts. If your program includes a land stay (or if you have chosen an optional extension), you will also enjoy the services of a City Host at your hotel, who can help you plan your exploration.
CRUISE DIRECTORS MAKE YOUR TRIP "SMOOTH SAILING"
Your Vantage river cruise will be led by a seasoned Cruise Director whose job it is to see to your comfort and satisfaction. Think of him or her as your onboard “host,” the person to turn to with questions about your itinerary, updates on the day’s activities, reservations for optional tours, and so much more.
Renata, born in Novi Sad, Serbia, says that becoming a Cruise Director is one of the most rewarding and exhilarating ways to see the world and learn about a country’s history while sharing your love of travel with people just like you. She stresses that you can’t do this job if you don’t like people: “You have to love and care about people, enjoy their company, and get on with everyone. That is the nature of the job.” In her free time, Renata likes to read and learn more about the places she visits. For her, “work” means being part of someone’s happiest holiday memories, and she works hard to provide her travelers with a memorable journey.
NEW! ENHANCED COMPLIMENTARY WORLDWIDE CONCIERGE SERVICE
If you have a special request or personal interest you’d like to pursue during your journey, your Vantage Concierge is here to help. Even better, this new and complimentary service is available to all travelers — no matter what cabin category or flight class you’ve reserved (making us the best among other deluxe travel companies!).
Whether you want to plan an anniversary party, track down a bit of your family’s heritage in China, secure restaurant reservations in Paris, or organize an intimate pub crawl for your multigenerational group of family and friends in Ireland, our Concierge service can make your travel dreams come true.
Plus, Concierge service is available before or during your journey. Simply log in to MyPortfolio, submit a pre-trip request to Concierge@vantagetravel.com, or call 1-888-982-6824 and you'll have your answer from our Concierge within two business days. Travelers on our European river ships can also stop by the Concierge Desk (located in your ship’s lobby) to make a request during your journey; for land adventures and small ship cruises, your Adventure Leader or Cruise Director doubles as your onboard Concierge.
GET THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM LOCAL LECTURERS
Meet Edith Kudlak
Edith Kudlak was born in Vienna, Austria in 1938. In 1955 she spent one year in Springfield, Missouri attending high school as part of an Austro-American student exchange program. She met Edward Kudlak in 1957 when he was a student of music in Vienna and they married and moved to Montreal, Canada in 1959. Edith and Edward have two sons, Michael, born in 1960, and Eric in 1965. The Kudlak family moved back to Edith’s birthplace in 1972 after Edward Kudlak was hired as a violist by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Edith was very active in community affairs, teaching English, etc. and also accompanied her husband on many trips with the orchestra. In 1990, she completed a two year course and exam to become a certified tour guide for Vienna and Austria, and since then has been sharing her knowledge and love of Austrian and especially Viennese history, music and culture with tourists from all over the world.
"Musical Vienna" with Professor Edward Kudlak
Welcome to the city of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Mahler, Bruckner, Schonberg, and so many others! More than any other city on Earth, Vienna boasts a vast classical music heritage, and Professor Edward Kudlak is the ideal host to enhance your appreciation of it. Born in Montreal, he studied at both McGill University and the Vienna Academy of Music before becoming concertmaster for the Academy Orchestra, Haydn Orchestra, and Vienna Baroque Ensemble. He was first violin for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, then joined the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Vienna Philharmonic. Professor Kudlak is widely recorded, has founded several chamber groups, and has received many awards, among them the Mozart Interpretation Prize, and the Distinguished Service Medal from both the city of Salzburg and the Republic of Austria.
Meet Krisztina Bánfy
Born and raised in Budapest, Krisztina Bánfy studied both in Hungary and the U.K., earning degrees in teaching, English language, and literature, as well as in hotel and tourism management. Fluent in English, Hungarian, and German, and speaking some Russian, she has spent the past 25 years working in both education and hospitality, including 13 years as an English teacher. Even when she was most busy teaching, she kept traveling as much as possible. Since 2003, she has focused exclusively on her passion for her country as a tour guide. “I'm fond of traveling so I think I’m in a very lucky position because my job is also my hobby,” she says. ”Let’s explore my city together! Not only will you see the beautiful sights, but you’ll have a look at the everyday life of the people living in Budapest.” From Christmas traditions to favorite delicacies, she has plenty to share and says, “I’m quite sure you will like this lively metropolis!”
MEET THE CAPTAINS
Gábor György Czakó (River Splendor)
Having worked on ships since 1986, River Splendor Captain Gabor Gyorgy Czako aims to make his cruises safe, smooth, and comfortable for all his passengers. “We’re at our best when the boat travels so smoothly the travelers can’t tell if we’re sailing or we’re docked,” he says. A native of Hungary, Gabor, a married father of three, received his captain’s license in 1999, and loves viewing the scenic natural beauty of the region all along the river route. When he’s not at the helm of the River Splendor, Gabor relaxes with his family or participates in paragliding, running, and skiing activities.
Chef Stefan Vasile Florin
If you ask Stefan Vasile Florin to sum up his love of cooking, one theme runs through his every word: passion. Stefan has been cooking with passion since 1999 when he began his culinary training. He brought his skills in traditional and international styles of cooking to a 5-star hotel in Bucharest, where he expanded his knowledge and refined his craft. “My every intention is to cook with passion and make the guest want to come back for more,” he says. “For that, you need a strong team that works together seamlessly and shares the same commitment.” One experience that tapped into that passion occurred in a Bucharest fine dining establishment specializing in Asian cuisine. Diners were able to choose their own fresh fish from an aquarium and watch as he procured the “locally sourced” food and prepared their meal. It provided a lesson in the importance of fresh ingredients that he carries with him as chef on the River Splendor. “I love having the opportunity to turn fresh quality products into creative, innovative, and delicious dishes,” he says.
View our sample dinner menu
REGIONAL EXPERTS IN EACH PORT
No one knows a destination better than an insider, so in addition to your Cruise Director, you’ll enjoy the services of experienced regional experts in select ports 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 on this island get by? Why are local fishing boats painted a certain color? What is the most popular local dish? Your regional expert is eager to bring it all alive for you — in fluent English.