In October of 1983, Henry Lewis launched his dream of providing an untapped segment of the travel marketplace with high quality, high value accommodations on well-managed tours. Reaching out to seniors, Lewis reasoned that energetic mature travelers would have an appreciation for educational cultural experiences that offered access to local people throughout the world.
The visionary entrepreneur couldn’t have been more correct. With river cruising growing in popularity, combined with the rapidly increasing market of “baby boomer” travelers, Vantage Travel is sailing along like never before.
Today, Vantage offers over 60 itineraries to more than 80 countries on every continent and it is the company’s privately owned fleet of deluxe river ships that is capturing the imagination of many travelers.
Vantage will add two new ships in 2013. In essence, the ms River Splendor and ms River Venture will be floating limousines with lengths longer than a football field and a variety of five-star amenities.
The River Splendor will be slightly larger than the River Venture with a capacity of 176 passengers compared to 134. Both will have similar characteristics however, with each ship featuring deluxe suites ranging from 250-square feet to 330-square feet and regular staterooms at 165-square feet. A new feature is a number of 125-square foot rooms catering to individuals traveling alone.
Both ships boast balconies on 78% of their cabins. The staff to passenger ratio is approximately 1 to 4, resulting in extremely high personal service.
All meals are included during the cruises. Dinners are single seating with a variety of European and American cuisine.
Breakfast features a huge selection of pastries, cereals, cheeses and meats each day. There is also a station for freshly prepared eggs in any style or omelets filled with your choice of ingredients.
Each lunch and dinner offers a selection of at least three entrees which are typically specialties of the region. There is also a large soup and salad bar.
If entrée selections are not to your liking, the chef will specially fix something that suits your palate. Lighter fare, such as hamburgers and sandwiches is also available.
Travelers with special needs, such as gluten free diets, can consult with a nutritionist who will not only make suggestions while aboard ship but also give you information about what and what not to eat while you are ashore.
Among other standard amenities are private bathrooms with showers, plugs for men’s razors, hairdryers, a
Borrowing from their sea-going sisters, river ships have perfected most of the best aspects of the larger ships while highlighting other features that their glitzy relatives cannot, or do not, provide.
Personalized service and comfort are a primary factor in choosing a river over an ocean. With less than a 200 passenger capacity, travelers can easily meet other travelers and get to know staff members without the “last round-up” sensations of sailing with 3,000 others.
While you may never see or do everything a floating city on the high seas has to offer, it doesn’t take long to become oriented to a river ship
Unlike ocean cruises, river tours include many, if not most, shore excursions. In addition, in most ports of call on a river, destinations are accessible to the ship, allowing passengers to come and go more easily than with an ocean voyage.
On-board entertainment may be more polished and professional at sea, but performers who visit a river ship are extremely talented locals who provide insights into the cultural aspects of a region or a country.
Vantage’s corporate philosophy is to offer a cultural connection with each area on an itinerary. Most of the entertainment features dancers in traditional costume or musicians who range from chamber music to folk music or anything in between. Most enjoyable however, is the genuine appreciation the performers seem to have for their audiences.
Henry Lewis took river cruising even further with several additional innovations for Vantage Travel. Recognizing the need to tap a growing niche market of travelers who were seeking ways to see the world without breaking the bank for a once-in-a-lifetime trip, Lewis reasoned that retiring seniors had the time, energy, desire and resources, provided prices were reasonable, to explore the globe. With those thoughts in mind, the
Vantage sells tour programs directly to the traveler, allowing the company to save customers 20 to 30% because there are no travel agent commissions. The concept isn’t popular with travel agencies, of course, and who can blame them, but the benefit to the traveler is 5-star travel at a 4-star price. (http://www.vantagetravel.com/)
Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in
- Melk Abbey along the Danube (Photo: Jane Taylor)
- High view of Prague (Photo: Jane Taylor)
- Castle on the Danube (Photo: Jane Taylor)
- Medieval half-timbered charm (Photo: Jane Taylor)
- Blossoms on fire (Photo: Jane Taylor)
- Time to duck in Bruges (Photo: Jane Taylor)
- Floral highway (Photo: Jane Taylor)
- Tiptoe time in Holland (Photo: Jane Taylor)
- Holland's countryside (Photo: Jane Taylor)
- Along a canal in Bruges, Belgium (Photo: Jane Taylor)
- A sea of red during tulip time (Photo: Jane Taylor)
- Artisan at work in Holland (Photo: Jane Taylor)
- Beauty in bloom in Holland (Photo: Jane Taylor)
- Captain's Club Lounge on Discovery II (Photo: Vantage)
- Standard cabin with a balcony view (Photo: Vantage)
- River Discovery II (Photo: Vantage Travel)
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