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River Venture Cruise Preview
on the River Seine
March 2014:While our cruises are usually
ocean-going voyages, we’ve stepped out of our comfort zone once
again to experience a second river cruises with Vantage Deluxe
World Travel. This time we were aboard River Venture for its
4-night Inaugural Seine Sailing. After settling in, we easily
fell in step to the casual comfort that cruising on European
Once underway, it was apparent why river cruising throughout the
world is one of the travel industry’s fasted growing segments.
Unlike a bus tour from city to city, River Venture was our home
for the journey and we unpacked once while our vessel delivered
us to intriguing destinations. Shore excursions, included in the
fare, were scheduled around meal times and we were free to dine
on board or try the local cuisine ashore. For the more
adventurous, bicycles were provided for independent touring—and
a bit of a workout ashore, although there was also a small gym
on River Venture. Need a manicure or haircut? Again, that was no
problem as there was a “one chair” beauty salon on board as
Is a river cruise the best choice for you? We weren’t certain
after our first trip, but our second one convinced us—it’s the
only way to see the parts of the world where the big cruise
ships can’t venture.
The River Venture
Launched in 2013, River Venture carries only 134 passengers with
36 crewmembers to care for them in comfort and a style that I
call “boutique elegant.” Smaller and more intimate than some of
the other boats on European rivers, she measures 360 feet in
length with three interior passenger decks and an open air
Solaris Deck on top.
At Home On Board
Accommodations range from staterooms for single
travelers at 125 square feet with a twin bed to double
staterooms at 165 square feet with either a French balcony—a
feature found on 78% of accommodations—or a picture window.
Suites, either a Deluxe Suite at 250 square feet or the Owner’s
Suite at 330 square feet, offer the ultimate in personal space
and amenities on board.
We found our category C stateroom 328 to be a restful retreat,
although we honestly didn’t spend much time there as we found so
much to do elsewhere. While a compact space, it was efficiently
laid out with a small sitting area and table alongside an
extremely comfortable double bed. Along one wall, a vanity/desk,
a second chair, and ample storage in a dresser with four large
drawers and enclosed shelves rounded out the cabinetry. Above
the dresser a large flat-screen television featured an
infotainment system featuring international news channels, a
music station, and movies on demand. Two closets were ample for
our wardrobe and would have held much more than we packed.
In all categories, a hair dryer is provided and US and European
plugs are located alongside the vanity desk, which also featured
a clock radio that doubled as an iPod/iPhone docking station.
Bottled water was also provided upon our arrival. An ice machine
just down the passageway was available to fill the ice bucket.
As expected, bathrooms were also compact; however, they are more
than large enough for one person’s use at a time. A surprisingly
generous sized shower had a glass door—no steaming up the entire
bathroom during a hot shower and no shower curtain to cling to
your limbs. L’Occitane de Provence amenities lined the glass
shelf above the sink. Enclosed storage for our own toiletries
below the sink was also more than large enough. One of our
favorite features was one we have at home—a shaving/makeup
mirror with a magnifying side that extended above the sink.
In addition to more space, all suites naturally feature French
balconies and a larger sitting area with table, a mini-bar,
bathrobes and slippers for use on board, and upgraded amenities.
The Owner’s Suite is particularly plush, featuring a sitting
area adequate for four with a dining height table, a U-shaped
desk area, a separate vanity, a spacious bath with tub and
shower, and storage galore. Room service is also a suite-only
River Venture Lobby
Latitude 52⁰ Lounge
Public Spaces Only steps away from any accommodations
location, River Venture’s public areas are light filled and
The triple-height lobby is where the reception and
hospitality/concierge desks are found. Two display cases are
filled with River Venture logo items, jewelry, and accessories
for purchase at reasonable prices
On Deck Two are the gym and beauty salon. Forward on Deck Three
is the Compass Rose restaurant, which also features a buffet
area for breakfast and lunch.
Deck Four contains the most public spaces. Forward is the
Latitude 52⁰ Lounge and bar where cocktail receptions, lectures,
cooking demonstrations, and evening entertainment are on tap.
Along one side of the lounge entry is the complimentary
refreshment station featuring coffees, tea, hot chocolate, and
fruit around-the-clock; a small library with books and board
games is located inside the other entry. Forward and through the
lounge an open air veranda with wicker chairs and tables
overlooks the bow.
Aft on Deck Four is the Captain’s Club where casual meals are
served and another refreshment station is located. Overhead, a
glass roof floods the room with light and can be retracted when
the weather is fair. All the way aft is another outdoor veranda
with tables and chairs for dining and it’s also where menu items
are grilled—burgers, chicken, hot dogs, and sausages at lunch
and steaks at dinner.
Atop River Venture is Solaris Deck, the sun deck with loungers,
tables and chairs beneath shade awnings, a deck chess set, a
jogging/walking track, and of course the ship’s wheelhouse.
Solaris Deck is the only spot on board River Venture where
smoking is allowed at tables where ashtrays are provided.
Something that fascinated us on our river cruises is that the
entire wheelhouse can be lowered into a space on the deck below
when the boat passes beneath low bridges. At those times the
railings and awnings are also lowered and chairs and table
collapsed. During those periods, River Venture passengers who
wish to sit outside find the forward and aft verandas
particularly pleasant—they are not spaces found on all river
There are presently no computer stations for passenger use on River
Venture—Vantage found that the majority of passengers bring
along their own devices to utilize the complimentary ship-wide WiFi.
However, each Vantage river ship will have several iPads
available for passenger use (they can be requested at front
desk) and there will also be a computer available for those who
have not brought along their own devices.
River Venture Compass Rose Restaurant
Captain's Club Grill
Dining An early risers breakfast for passengers
overcoming jet lag is available in the Latitude 52⁰ Lounge and
Captain’s Club. Compass Rose restaurant is the ‘formal’ dining
option aboard River Venture for all meals on an open seating
basis—dine with whom you please. Full breakfast and lunch are
served in a combination buffet/table service style and dinner is
totally table service. The daily program features lunch and
dinner menus for the Compass Rose restaurant, with appetizer and
soup selections and at least two entrees, including a vegetarian
choice. Local dishes are also featured as are choices for health
conscious diets. Complimentary wine is served with dinner on
French river cruises, as well as those in Portugal and Asia. For
all other river cruises, wine is served at the Captain's Welcome
and Farewell dinners.
While onboard dress is casual, jeans and shorts are not
permitted in the restaurant at dinner. For Captain's Welcome
and/or Farewell dinners, men may wish to wear a sport coat, and
women might choose a dress or nice pant outfit.
A casual option for lunch and dinner is offered in the Captain’s
Club where the buffet features fruit, salads, soup and hot and
cold selections. Aft on the terrace you will find the grill
where a variety of meats and poultry might be on the fire at
lunch and steaks and stir-fry are just a sample of the dishes
prepared to order at dinner. Due to its popularity, reservations
are required for dinners in the Captain’s Club, but an
effort will be made to seat you if you fail to make a
reservation. Tours Included in each port, complimentary shore
excursions are led by knowledgeable local guides and range from
escorted walking tours from the dock to sites in town to locales
further away that are reached by coach. Audio headsets with
receivers insure that participants don’t miss any of their
Before leaving the boat, passengers turn in their room keys at
the reception desk and receive a “boarding pass” and color-coded
tour card that corresponds to their guide’s paddle or coach
window card. Tables beside the gangway have complimentary
bottled water—much appreciated during time ashore. Upon
returning, just hand in the cards and retrieve your room key
from reception. There are no additional security procedures
necessary—no passing through metal detectors and running
personal items through an x-ray machine. The process is very
civilized. Go ahead and bring that bottle of French wine or loaf
of bread on board, no one will stop you.
Vantage’s river voyages also include Cultural Connections, which
enable passengers to experience firsthand the culture of the
region they are visiting by sharing a meal in a local’s home,
attending a concert ashore, or sampling local wines or culinary
River Venture Aft Deck
Independent exploration is always an option when a scheduled
tour doesn’t interest you or free time is available on the
schedule and Vantage’s new Concierge Service can help guide your
way and give directions to restaurants, shops, and museums
ashore. The concierge can also arrange private tours and make
reservations. Working hand-in-hand with the ship’s cruise
director, the concierge is often present at nightly port talks
in the lounge to answer questions about the next day’s port call
and tours. The River Experience Where’s your riverboat? Berths for docking in
some ports of call are limited in number and you might find that
to reach your vessel you have to pass over or through another
vessel. It isn’t uncommon for riverboats to “raft” together in
For the mobility impaired, River Venture has a small elevator
that reaches all interior decks. To access the Solaris Deck
there is a lift chair. A passenger on our cruise used a scooter
and crewmembers assisted with getting it ashore for him. Another
passenger with a walker was also assisted on the gangways.
That leads us to the level of service onboard. In a few words,
it was personal and caring. No matter where we were—in public
rooms or on outside terraces or the Solaris Deck—crewmembers
were always just steps away to fulfill orders for beverages or
assist in any way. In addition, there is a Captain's welcome
reception on all cruises, with canapés and complimentary drinks.
We discovered that for the most part our fellow passengers were
well traveled seniors who travel in groups, but a young family
with three delightful and well behaved children was also
enjoying the cruise. Our advice, if you wish to include your
children and grandchildren on your river cruise, would be to
examine their interests and lifestyle. For instance, an infant
or toddler probably would be out of place, but inquisitive
youngsters and teens would likely be delighted with a riverboat
cruise. First of all, there is a fresh place to see every day
and complimentary Internet on board for them to share their
travels with their friends back home through social networking.