YOUR CRUISE DIRECTORS
Veronika Hoskova is a native of Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic. She has worked for Vantage for nearly 15 years, and served travelers aboard many of our European river cruise itineraries. “That’s a lot of water under the bridge!” she jokes, but there is one bridge she is particularly fond of: “I am always very much delighted when passengers tell me they loved walking across Charles Bridge in my city, which of course, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world!” Travel with Veronika, and you will have a wealth of knowledge at your disposal about European culture, history, and traditions.
There’s no better way to visit the Netherlands, a country with six official languages, than with someone who knows whereof she speaks, which makes Slavka an excellent choice. She can keep the conversation going in English, Dutch, German, and French (especially useful because Flemish, one of the languages of Belgium, has so many loan words from French); is fluent in Slovak (her native tongue) and Polish; and can even hold her own in Russian. But these are only the tools for her greatest proficiency: sharing knowledge, experience, and friendships with her American passengers, especially when it comes to introducing them to one of nature’s greatest works of art — springtime in the Low Countries.
“What do I like best about leading tours?" Slava asks. "Meeting new people, being every day in a different port.”
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.
MEET THE CAPTAIN
Luzi Valetin (River Venture)
Just in his 20s, Captain Valentin is wise for his years, and loves pursuing the passion he’s had for ships and sailing since his early childhood. Besides having a license to navigate the Venture, he is licensed for small sea ships (but says the Seine cruise is his favorite). He also enjoys leading a team besides steering the ship, so to speak; meeting new people and spending time with family are his other hobbies when not on the water. He’s an avid traveler who’s visited most of the bucket-list destinations in Europe (i.e., Portugal, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, Italy, etc.) and has also sailed on the Rhine, Rhone, Guadalquivir and Guadiana rivers, among others. His favorite memory of sailing with Vantage includes a private visit to the Louvre museum.
Wesley Fontainbleau (River Venture)
Wesley Fontainbleau’s surname may harken back to the area just southeast of Paris, but the Venture captain is all about Honfleur. The Venture’s smaller size versus its competitors means Vantage can sail directly to this charming port city that was the muse of Impressionist painters during in-season departure dates. That’s one of his favorite parts of cruising the Seine, besides the great atmosphere of leading a congenial team, he says. Fontainbleau is all about the joie de vivre of raising a family of two kids with his wife, and says when he’s not sailing he prefers to spend free time at home. His parents were the ones who originally encouraged his marine career, but Fontainbleau is happy to be guiding his own ship, so to speak, these days.
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 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.