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.
Growing up with a grandfather who was a former tour guide, Martin Kratkoczky feels the same passion today that gives Vantage travelers the best exposure to European history, geography, visual arts music, and religion. Having traveled all over Europe and the United States, Martin says his favorite destinations are Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Poland. These four places are the ones he knows the most through history and family stories. Martin speaks five languages by both studying and traveling—English, German, Czech, Polish, and Slovak. He strives to make your experience on the several trips he directs a memorable one by bringing all travelers together and admiring everything about the things he cares deeply about.
After working in the construction industry right out of college, Renata decided to follow her instinct to join the travel and tourism industry. She joined the staff of an ocean cruise liner, learning as she sailed through the Caribbean — where she fell in love with Key West. Now she looks for the unique history and romantic aspects of each destination from Bonn to Budapest, and shares her expansive knowledge and resourcefulness with Vantage passengers. Renata thrives on making travelers feel comfortable and tackles each request with glee. She’s fluent in English as well as Hungarian and Serbian, her native language.
NEW! CONCIERGE SERVICE GOES ABOVE AND BEYOND
If you have a special desire or personal interest that you'd like to pursue while abroad, you have an inside track: your Vantage Concierge. This new 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, want to track down a bit of your family’s heritage in China, or organize an intimate pub crawl for your multigenerational group of family and friends in Ireland, your Vantage Concierge is just the person to make your travel dreams come true. Simply log in to My Portfolio and submit a request or 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 five business days. For travelers on European River Ships, you can stop by the Concierge Desk (located in your ship's lobby) to make a request if you did not do so prior to departure.
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
Siegbert Schröder (River Voyager)
The son of a cargo ship captain, River Voyager Captain Siegbert Schroder has spent most of his life around boats. Starting out as a ship’s boy in 1982, he eventually learned how to maneuver and handle vessels on his own, becoming a cargo ship captain himself in 1988. He notes that every day brings new challenges on the water, but considers a voyage successful as long as the passengers are enjoying themselves and the water levels are satisfactory. When he spends some rare time on land, Siegbert enjoys soccer and motorbiking.
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.