Do not book with vantage travel!!!

Old Apr 22nd, 2023, 08:39 AM
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Do not book with vantage travel!!!


1. Last May 2022, we booked a cruise "AMAZON RIVER CRUISE: Manaus to Nassau". Two days before Christmas, on our "Portfolio" which we have to initiate as opposed to notifying us by email, Vantage states they are changing the cruise to "Passage to the Caribbean" totally removing the Amazon River. We asked for a refund and were told there would be a 65% penalty! They claimed that the dock in Manaus was unusable and our passengers would be unable to use the tenders. A lie as other cruise ships continued to visit Manaus.

2. We booked our air with Vantage; finally in January they posted our flights. We were told they would be ticketed February 11. They were not. We called and were told February 25. American cannot upgrade a flight until it has been ticketed; by the time our flights were ticketed, we were on a wait list.

3. The cruise was now from Belem, Brazil to Nassau with five (5) days at sea. The Ocean Explorer is a small ship holding 160 passengers, 7400 GT. Due to its small size (good for the Amazon!), it gets bounced around in the Atlantic. The pool had a leak so was unusable. Entertainment was a single piano player, a few lectures, a movie and a few trivia or bingo games.

4. Our first stop was to be Devil's Island. "Access to visitors is strictly forbidden on the now uninhabited territory. The currents are so strong that no ships are allowed to dock here; it is unsafe for visitors.Jun 6, 2019" Instead they dropped us off at Isle Royale using Zodiacs (far more unstable than tenders!) and there was no tour. Bait and Switch!

5. The schedule had us stopping in Trinidad, which was NOT on our itinerary. Vantage removed St. Lucia, which many had wanted to visit. We learned that even the Captain did not know that
St. Lucia had been removed from our schedule!

6. Whenever we called Vantage, we could be on hold for over two (2) hours listening to the same few songs over and over. When we did get through, the personnel either did not know the answer
or gave an incorrect answer. Or referred us to another department with the same results.

7. We tried emailing Vantage; we received a response that they had received our correspondence but no other results or communications. No explanations.

8. The result: we overpaid for a cruise we did not book but were forced to take or lose a lot of our money. Most of the other passengers had similar stories and were very disgruntled.
Gazelda is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2023, 01:44 PM
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Welcome to Fodors -- you do realize that just about every cruise line has similar terms/conditions that itineraries and ports of call can be changed without notice.

janisj is online now  
Old Apr 22nd, 2023, 02:39 PM
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Their reviews on Consumer Affairs, the BBB and cruise critic are abysmal. The BB gives them an A+ rating though if you read the actual reviews the comments paint a different picture.

Ports and itineraries can change though to advertise a stop that has not be accessible in three years is outright misleading and deceptive.

I agree that such a small ship in the Atlantic could be rough. We had rough seas in the So. Pacific on a much larger ship, the 30k ton Tahitian, now the Ocean Princess and that was pretty rough.

I would not have minded stopping in Trinidad vs. St. Lucia. There could have been logistical reasons for that.

Their lack of responsiveness to you post cruise is very disturbing to me. I think anyone would have a legit right to be upset about being ignored.

We've taken 18 cruises, all on ocean going vessels and a few times there were issues and it took persistence to push things up but eventually we were rewarded with acceptable compensation.

We once booked air thru the cruise line but never again. Princess gave us a price before they released the itinerary so it was ORD-SLC-LAX- Papeete. Same coming back too. Live and learn. Always better to know what you buy before you pay and basically take care of it yourself.

I agree with your assessment.

Last edited by jacketwatch; Apr 22nd, 2023 at 03:02 PM.
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Old Apr 26th, 2023, 03:16 PM
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Vantage, once good, now in the cellar!


Since 2012 we have gone on three EXCELLENT cruises with Vantage: Antarctica, Passage to Eastern Europe (Danube), and the Russian Rivers from St. Petersburg to Moscow. All were well-organized and included high-quality guides, lecturers, and shore excursions.

Our experience with Vantage changed abruptly starting in 2019, when we booked “Passage to the Amazon from Manaus to Rio. In 2020, we received word that the trip had been moved to 2021, and Rio had been replaced with several stops in the Caribbean. The new dates didn’t work for us, so we rebooked the trip for the spring of 2023. In so doing, we lost our free international airfare, and had to ante up more money, which also increased the cost of insurance.

Then on December 20, 2022, we received a very impersonal email saying that we should check a message in “My Portfolio. The name of the trip had been changed to Passage to the Caribbean, and no longer even mentioned the Amazon, other than half a day’s boat ride at the mouth of the river. Conveniently (for Vantage), this message came too late to cancel without paying a 65% penalty! (Note: Never use Alianz travel insurance as it is affiliated with Vantage and covers very little, and at great expense) The reason for the change, we were told, was that the dock in Manaus was damaged beyond use. It didn’t take much research to find that during our travel dates, nine cruise ships were scheduled to dock there, one being the Vantage Amazon Journey on 2/29/23 and another on 3/11/23. We were also told that we, and many of the passengers, were too old to use the tenders to shore!!

“Positives” of our 20-day cruise on the Ocean Explorer

· Probably a “negative” from Vantage’s point of view, but with only 88 passengers (on a ship with a capacity of 160, although we had been told it was “sold out”) we got to know a lot of really nice and interesting people.

· The “lead” crew (Cruise Director, Concierge, and a couple of lecturers) were well aware that a lot of passengers were very angry at Vantage for a variety of reasons. They worked hard to keep us happy! There were bingo games and trivial pursuit, and some very good lectures, but beyond that, this was a small ship where passengers had to make their own fun.

· The wait staff, cabin attendants, and the staff in general were unfailingly attentive and friendly.

· There was almost daily entertainment from an excellent and versatile pianist.

· Although we didn’t use the spa, it was attractive, and attended by a very friendly woman. The gym was roomy and had good equipment, although two of the four treadmills were out of service for the entire trip.

· Several of the brief tours of distilleries and herb gardens were well done, with guides who gave good information and made sure we could all hear them.

· The scenic railway in St. Kitt’s was a real highlight. Our guide was excellent. The visit to Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park was also very good, although it didn’t include the tour that was promised in our itinerary.

“Negatives” of our 20-day cruise, 16 days of which were on the Ocean Explorer, a small ship

· Several excursions were “optional” (i.e. at extra cost). We don’t remember any extra charges on our other Vantage cruises.

· Seven of the sixteen days were “at sea,” where we could enjoy “days of bliss and relaxation” and “indulge in the amenities of our elegant small ship.”

· The “amenities” consisted of 3 bars, 2 hot tubs, and a nice library with very few books – most appearing to have been donated by previous passengers. Many days with nothing to do.

· The pool was empty and non-operational. This is not a new problem, judging from other reviews over the past several years.

· On days at sea, our itinerary included “optional” wine and whiskey tastings, a multicourse Chef’s Table Dinner, or an exclusive wine-pairing dinner. We never encountered anyone who opted to pay for these “experiences.” They just weren’t done.

· Our itinerary included St. Lucia. This was omitted (apparently without notifying the crew), and Trinidad was substituted. This apparently threw us off by a day, because at several ports, it was apparent that they weren’t expecting a cruise ship to arrive, and so a number of vendors weren’t open.

· Our itinerary also included Devil’s Island, French Guiana. Devil’s Island has been totally closed to visitors since 2019, which perhaps should have been researched by Vantage. Instead, we went by Zodiac to the nearby Isle Royale, where we did our own walking tour instead of the tour we had been promised on Devil’s Island.

· Several bus tours had driver/guides who were very difficult to understand, sometimes because of their accents, and sometimes because the sound system wasn’t very good. These bus tours were mostly “drive-bys,” with little opportunity to get out of the bus and do a bit of exploring. Sometimes attractions were quickly pointed out from the bus, and other things were skipped altogether – for example, the “exotic animal encounters at Aradastra Gardens.

Our bottom line is that we paid nearly $20,000 for a lackluster cruise that would have cost us about a third of that on other cruise lines – and despite having sent messages, emails, and letters, no response of any kind from Vantage. “Best customer service in the industry”! What a joke. Vantage has no customer service. CAVEAT EMPTOR! BEWARE!! Read the reviews at Cruise Critic, BBB, and other travel sites.

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