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.
Vantage travelers often compliment George Bihoi's "wonderful bedside manner," which is no surprise, since he has a Master's degree in Health Care and Human Resources. His other credentials include certification as a national guide with the Romanian Ministry of Tourism, and as an official translator with the Romanian Ministry of Justice (highest certification available in the field.) But perhaps his best qualification to lead you along the Main, Rhine, and Danube rivers is his deep appreciation for the opportunity to discover new worlds. He credits his mother with that, since she was an English teacher who made sure her son knew what was behind the Iron Curtain long before it fell. Says George, "By 1989 when the revolution came, I was ready to open up to the newly discovered democracy. It's been 12 years for me leading tours and I can safely say that each time I go back to a place, I find something new and exciting worth sharing with our visitors." Among his favorite places to share are the Iron Gates and Transylvania, especially in fall and spring. A true man for all seasons, George still helps out in the emergency room of a Bucharest hospital when not on tour.
As a child growing up in Bucharest, Bogy loved to tag along when his bus driver father drove travelers on tours all over Romania. “It was love at first sight, traveling and discovering new places and people.” Bogy went on to study history and finance, earning an MBA and working for international hotel chains such as Hilton and Crowne Plaza. Now he is back doing what he loves best, “Getting to know different people, sharing my knowledge, treating everybody as I wish to be treated when I am on holiday.” One of his favorite holiday destinations is Transylvania, with its “gorgeous nature and unspoiled lands, the medieval castles, UNESCO sites, and the special atmosphere.”
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 LECTURER
Dr. Markus Urban
Dr. Markus Urban was born in 1976 in Würzburg, on the Main River. He became a Nuremberger at the age of five, and studied history at the University of Erlangen and also at Kalamazoo College in Michigan. His experience guiding travelers on tours of Nuremberg — including the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds, Palace of Justice (scene of the Nuremberg Trials), and the old medieval town — dovetailed perfectly with his doctoral studies, and in 2006 Markus obtained his Ph.D. with a thesis on the “Function and Perception of the National Socialist Party Rallies in the 1930s.” He developed the first series of onboard talks for Vantage river cruise ships and continues to work on academic projects. His latest book is on the Main-Danube Canal, published in 2013.
Germany in the 21st Century – Changes and Challenges with Dr. Markus Urban
Winning by an absolute majority, Angela Merkel sailed into her third consecutive term as supreme Chancellor in September, 2013. But it will be anything but smooth sailing for Germany to stay its course as the dominant economy and political powerhouse of the European Union. Join Dr. Urban and learn how Germans feel about current issues, and the future.
The Rhine-Main-Danube Canal with Dr. Markus Urban
The completion of the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal (RMD) in 1992 made it possible, for the first time in history, to travel by ship from the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea all the way across Europe to the Black Sea. The RMD stretches for 106 miles between Bamberg and Kelheim, enabling the transport of more than 6 million tons of goods a year — not to mention our own beautiful river cruise! Come learn the story behind this engineering marvel.
"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 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.
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.