From money matters to packing tips, we’ve got all the information you need to prepare for your upcoming Vantage journey. Just click on an item below to read more about it.
What to Pack
You may find the packing information below helpful as you begin to prepare for your upcoming journey.
Bring your iPad, Kindles, and/or smart phones. This way you will have access to city guides, post trip survey and trip information while on tour. This will also allow you to take pictures and communicate with friends and family easier.
To help make your travel experience as smooth and simple as possible, Vantage recommends you limit your luggage to one large suitcase and one small carry-on bag per person. Most airlines now charge a fee for more than one suitcase. Domestic and international carriers currently restrict weight limitations to 44 pounds.
Travel Light [top]
Most travelers pack much more than they really need. We recommend that you start packing a few days before your trip, so you have time to remember everything that you need — and to decide what is essential and what is not. And don't forget to leave room for souvenirs and gifts you may purchase during your trip.
Besides the basic necessities and the items covered below, you'll want to pack sunglasses, a hat or visor, and sunscreen for daytime use. You might also want to bring a small alarm clock, pocket tissues, travel pack of soap powder, needle, thread, safety pins, and personal face cloth. In many countries, your washcloth is considered to be of intimate usage and is not provided by hotels.
Depending on your destination, you may also want to bring insect repellent (we recommend repellent with a high "deet" content). Binoculars are also handy when traveling to areas where flora and fauna may be observed.
Casual Dress [top]
Dress on tour is generally casual and smart casual. Gentlemen may wish to bring a sport jacket. Formal clothing is not necessary, unless you are traveling on an ocean cruise that has formal nights, or on one of our popular President's trips. If you are traveling on an ocean cruise please refer to the attire information for your particular cruise line. Your travel wardrobe should be planned according to the climate of the areas you will be visiting and the length of your stay. Average high and low temperatures for the destinations visited on each Vantage Tour are listed under "Climate". A HELPFUL HINT — plan to avail yourself of the laundry and valet services available at an additional fee.
Warm Clothes [top]
Weather is never predictable so be sure to be prepared for just about anything. You'll want to take along a sweater or jacket for cool evenings. It's a good idea to dress in layers, which will allow you to adjust to changes in temperature.
Rain Gear [top]
We suggest a practical raincoat or waterproof shell with a hood, and/or a fold-up umbrella. The shell could also be worn with other layers in lower temperatures.
Good Walking Shoes [top]
One of the most important items you'll need for any vacation is, of course, comfortable walking shoes for touring. We suggest you refrain from purchasing new walking shoes just prior to departure — it's best to wear a broken-in pair that you know are comfortable.
Pool and Sauna Apparel [top]
On many programs, some accommodations will feature pools. So if you plan to use them, bring along a swimsuit and pool slippers.
Cameras and Film [top]
Be sure to test the working order of your camera before you leave home, and to insure your equipment against loss and damage. It is also important to take along an ample supply of film. Film can be expensive and specific kinds of film may not be available in certain areas. Some airport x-ray equipment may harm valuable film. For utmost protection, film should be packed separately in hand luggage. Also, be sure to bring at least one extra battery for your camera.
If you are using a digital camera, check on how many images you can take on your memory card at the resolution you are using. You may wish to bring along an extra memory card so you will not run out of memory half way through the trip. Bring along the battery charger, but remember you may need a voltage converter. The alternative is to carry a spare charged battery with you.
Please remember that it is not wise to bring valuables with you when you travel. If you decide to do so, please carry them on your person when flying. Make sure to use hotel or ship safe deposit boxes or safes to ensure the safety of possessions that you may want to have with you.
What to Leave Behind [top]
Do not pack aerosol cans; they tend to leak during air travel. Also avoid packing glass bottles; use plastic containers instead. Leave at home any credit cards and checkbooks that you don't anticipate using on your trip; valuable jewelry; brand-new shoes (instead pack your most comfortable walking shoes); and, in general, anything that you would hate to lose.
Electric Current [top]
If you wish to take along an electric iron, razor, or hair dryer, be sure they are adaptable to different currents, volts, and cycles. Most appliances will require an adapter plug and/or an electrical converter/transformer which are available for purchase at most department stores or luggage shops. These kits are available for electrical settings in countries outside the United States. Electric irons are not allowed on Vantage riverboats.
While on Tour
While on Tour
The information below applies in general to Vantage tours.
At the beginning of your tour, a Vantage Cruise Director will conduct an informative briefing concerning the daily schedule, local customs, and the included features of your tour. It is strongly advised that you attend this briefing.
Extending Your Trip
Vantage offers specially arranged pre- and post-extensions on many of our cruise tours. See specific tours for details. In some cases, your Cruise Director that will be on your base trip will be there also on the extension, but not always. On some pre- and post-extensions, there will be a Vantage representative to assist you.
Additionally, if you would like to do some exploring on your own, either before or after your tour, Vantage can help you arrange the details. In most cases, your flights can be adjusted for either an earlier arrival date or a later return date. A non-refundable administrative fee will be assessed, plus any additional costs that may apply to the air ticket and hotel. Transfers to and from your hotel are not included when traveling independent of a Vantage group. Please ask a Vantage Sales Representative for additional details. Note also that some airline contracts may exclude changes to routing.
NOTE: Should you wish to make any changes to your plans to extend your trip, please do so no later than 60 days prior to your scheduled date of departure. Change or cancellation penalties may apply to tickets once they have been issued.
Your Health & Comfort
Vantage wants you to have a safe, healthy, and happy journey. Our tours are planned to combine just the right amount of activity and leisure. For personal medical attention while on tour, your Vantage Cruise Director can refer you to reliable physicians in the cities on your tour.
Please note that Medicare and U.S health insurance are generally not accepted in foreign destinations. If you have an insurance claim, it should be made upon your return to the USA and filed through your health insurance provider or through the Vantage Travel Protection Plan if you have purchased it. Keep relevant receipts and doctors' reports for processing your claim.
Jet Lag Precautions
When you cross several time zones to reach your destination, you often lose many hours of regular sleep. Upon arrival your body must quickly adjust to new sleeping and eating patterns. The result is jet lag. Its symptoms may include fatigue, irritability, and vague disorientation. You cannot completely avoid jet lag but you can minimize it. Here's how:
- Try to sleep on overnight flights
- Avoid heavy eating and drinking caffeine or alcoholic beverages right before - and during - your flight
- Drink plenty of water and/or fruit juice while flying
- Try to stay awake your first day until after dinner
Pace of the Tour
Vantage Tours are planned to provide a well-balanced mix of activities and free time. Certain tours, however, may prove to be more challenging than others, particularly for passengers with physical limitations.
Passengers with physical difficulties or concerns about the pace of the tour should contact their Vantage Customer Relations Representative for tips on which tours best suit their individual needs and abilities. See also Medical Issues, below.
Your Personal Safety
Please keep in mind that in any tourist destination, you need to be aware of your surroundings. We recommend that you use a money protector that can be worn around your neck. Flashy jewelry should be left at home. Never place your camera or purse down, or hang it on the back of your chair. Although incidents of theft and pickpocketing while on tour are rare, it is important to be cautious and aware.
Click here to read important information about travelers with a physical, emotional, or mental condition that may require professional attention or the use of special equipment. "Medical Issues" information also appears in the "Tour Participation Agreement - Terms and Conditions" bound into Vantage catalogs and printed on the back of your invoice.
Vantage makes every effort to reserve only hotels that offer well-appointed rooms and a central location. We remind you that quality of accommodations may vary from destination to destination. Vantage strives to provide the best hotels available that meet our standards of quality. You can check descriptions of the hotels for your chosen trip under Accommodations on the website for that trip.
How We Rate Our Hotels
While some tour companies devise their own ratings systems (based on their particular standards), Vantage ranks hotels based on the industry-accepted classifications published by the Hotel & Travel Index - the travel industry standard.
Deluxe/Moderate Deluxe ***** Outstanding accommodations in every way, offering superior service, facilities, and location.
Superior First-Class ****+ Above average accommodations, with many special amenities, including more restaurants, shops, and usually a fitness center.
First-Class/Moderate First-Class **** Comfortable, well-equipped standard rooms with private bath, attractive public areas, and amenities.
Please Note: In some areas where the hotels aren't rated, it's often due to the fact that the hotel may be too new, too remote, or too small. However, the hotel where you stay has been inspected and approved by Vantage personnel.
At Vantage, we count individuals from all walks of life and all religious denominations among our customers. Although we do not offer religious services on our travel programs, services may be available in the cities and towns you visit while on tour. Your Vantage Cruise Director can advise you when religious services are available. Please keep in mind that not all religious denominations have a presence in every travel destination. We cannot guarantee the availability of religious services.
Shopping for local merchandise is always a part of the travel experience. We are aware that local guides do recommend shops on their tours. Always keep in mind that a purchase is between the buyer and the seller. Always keep receipts and credit card copies. Shipping should always include insurance in the event of breakage. Iit is best to check with your credit card issuer for any insurance that may be included when you use your card.
Sightseeing & Cultural Connections
Vantage offers a variety of included sightseeing tours and special cultural events to enrich your travel experience and bring you "closer to the world." Our tours are specially designed for Vantage travelers. They let you feel the atmosphere, gain a cultural understanding, and become a part of the area you are visiting. They include all transportation and the services of expert local guides.
Vantage makes every effort to provide the right balance of both included activities and time for exploring on your own. We've found, however, that many of our passengers prefer an additional guided activity in lieu of free time. For that reason, some of our tours may include a limited number of optional tours and activities, which you may choose to take at a moderate fee. In no case do we replace an included sightseeing tour with an optional tour. Optional tours are strictly voluntary, providing you with the opportunity to visit an attraction that you may not see otherwise.
All hotel taxes and hotel service charges are included in the tour price. If airport arrival and departure taxes apply, they are payable in cash at the airports and are not included.
All transfers between airport and hotel/pier are included in conjunction with Vantage air and tour packages and will be via private transportation. Travelers purchasing their own airline tickets will be responsible for their own transfers to and from the airport/hotel/pier based on the itinerary.
Each Vantage cruise tour is planned with two criteria in mind: It must be to an interesting destination and the tour must offer good quality at an exceptional value.
Although everything is planned well in advance of your departure, our ultimate goal is to ensure that each departure is enjoyable, interesting, and safe. Therefore, the day-by-day itinerary provided for each travel destination is subject to change depending upon local conditions. If any significant changes occur in advance of your departure, Vantage will notify you by phone or by mail. If changes occur while on tour, your Vantage Cruise Director or local representative will notify you.
Your Vantage Cruise Director/Local Representative
During your tour you'll be accompanied on tour by an experienced Vantage Cruise Director. You will also benefit from the insights of expert Local Representatives and tour guides. Both your Cruise Director and Local Representative can provide suggestions on the best restaurants, shops, and local sights; will help coordinate optional tours and excursions; and assist in any manner possible.
Vantage Hospitality Desk
For your convenience, a Vantage Hospitality Desk will be available daily during scheduled hours at many of the hotels on your itinerary (staffed by an experienced team of local travel professionals or by your Vantage Cruise Director). The desk hours vary, depending on your daily scheduling. Tour members will be advised of the desk hours during the briefing held upon arrival at most hotels.
We include tipping for all meals that are included in your package, all porterage and tips for local guides and drivers. Tips are not included for your Vantage Cruise Director, your driver if he does the entire trip or any maids or other personnel in hotels, ships or trains.
What does my Reservation Deposit Guarantee?
Payment of your initial deposit holds your spot on your journey. However, it does
not guarantee the price of your trip. Participation in our Smart Pay Discount Plan
can save you up to 10% on your Vantage
trip AND it ensures that the land, cruise, and international airfare portions of
your trip will not increase. This includes 100% guaranteed protection against most
additional taxes (does not include entry fees or arrival taxes), fuel surcharges,
and currency fluctuations, from the moment you pay in full under the terms of Vantage's
SmartPay Discount Plan. If you do not participate in our SmartPay Discount Plan,
all prices are subject to change.
When is my Final Payment due?
Final payments are due 90-120 days prior to departure, depending upon the program.
Can I extend my final payment due date?
Unfortunately, we are unable to extend any final payment due dates because of our
vendor contractual obligations.
What is an E-Check?
ECheck is a commonly used term to refer to an online payment method via electronic
check from your bank account.
What are the benefits of paying via E-Check?
Paying by E-Check
is fast, easy and 100% secure – and there is no fee involved. Plus, paying by E-Check
with our SmartPay Discount Program, you can realize hundreds of dollars in savings
right away. When you compare those savings to the frequent flyer miles you might
earn when you pay by credit card, you come out on top for two reasons: first, you
enjoy your savings right away, whereas frequent flyer miles need to be accumulated
over time before you cash them in; second, frequent flyer miles have restrictions
How do I make payments via an E-Check?
It's easy to set up E-Checking on My Account. Have your checkbook handy and simply
go to the Make a Payment screen and follow the instructions provided. Please note
that E-Check payments appear on your invoice immediately but take 2-3 business days
for your bank to process.
What is the SmartPay Discount Plan?
The SmartPay Discount PlanSM
allows our travelers to receive a discount by paying for their trip in full before
their final payment due date. The further in advance of the final payment date you
pay, the greater the discount. Just as important, you’ll guarantee your price against
price increases resulting from currency fluctuations, fuel costs, and other unanticipated
How can I take advantage of your SmartPay Discount Plan?
You can only take advantage of our SmartPay Discount PlanSM
when paying by E-Check.
Paying by E-Check
is fast, easy and 100% secure – and there is no fee involved. All you need is your
checking account number and bank routing number, both of which are printed on your
checks. 50% of your trip’s total cost must be paid by check. Payments made inside
of 60 days prior to departure will not qualify.
Can I pay by credit card and still take advantage of your SmartPay Discount
While we do accept credit card payments, you can only take advantage of our SmartPay
Discount PlanSM when paying by E-Check, unless part of your payment is made by credit
card and at least 50% of your total payment is paid by E-Check.
How do I redeem my Vantage Credit Voucher?
Vantage credit vouchers should be mailed once you receive your first invoice. Any
overpayment that results from the credit voucher will be refunded to you, if applicable.
How do I cancel my trip and how long will it take for me to receive a refund?
If you must cancel your trip, you should contact our Customer Concierge Staff department.
Refund requests must be made in writing – indicating the reason for cancellation
– and received by the respective final payment due date to avoid additional cancellation
Vantage realizes that most people who cancel their reservations do so out of real
necessity. Nevertheless, there is a non-refundable administrative fee of $300 per
person for each program you cancel. This low fee covers only our costs of reservation
maintenance or cancellation.
Payments made to your credit card will be refunded as a credit to that card. Payments
made by check will be refunded by check. Payments paid by electronic check will
be refunded electronically. Please allow 35 days for refunds to be manually verified
and processed by our accounting department. Please refer to the Tour Participation
Agreement for your program's cancellation fee schedule.
Why does it take just one day to charge my credit card at the time of booking
but 30 days to refund it in the event of cancellation?
After you book a trip with us, we process charges within 24 hours in order to hold
and confirm your reservation quickly for you. Because refunds are processed manually
by our accounting department, we require a 30-day processing period to assure utmost
I was just reviewing my invoice online and noticed a discrepancy. What should
Please contact us
and we will
attempt to resolve the situation as soon as possible. To help expedite matters,
you should print out your invoice and have it handy when you contact us.