This trip was with Vantage Deluxe World Travel. Grand European Sojourn Bucharest to Bonn on June 23 2019.
Since we live in the Phoenix Arizona area, we experienced a very long flight from Arizona to Romainia. Several transfers with reasonable lay-over times to get to Romainia. We used Vantage for airline routes which was better than what we found on our own. Arriving in Burcharest I was very tired due to not sleeping at all on any of the flights. When we finally reached the airport, customs was a breeze & retrieved our luggage headed for the exit. A Vantage representative was waiting for us & gave directions for our transportation to the hotel. As we had to wait for other connecting flights it took over 90 minutes to finally board the bus & no help with our luggage. This process was a disaster with all the arriving passengers upset & tired. Vantage should have handled this much better. The groups arriving at this time were going on a pre-extension excursion by land to the Romainia town of Brasov for the next 4 nights after a short day & evening in Bucharest.
The Aro Palace Hotel in Brasov was excellent with a great location in easy walking distance to the center of old town. Town has it's historical sites, with many restaurants, churches, & bars. The food was very good, the atmosphere lively, servers friendly & spoke good English. Town was very busy with many travelers from North America & all of Europe.
Our excursions were mostly out of town & through the countryside. Our group consisted of about 70 people loaded in 2 buses. Our local guide Vio was very informative & friendly throughout the entire time all 4 days. He offered us many things we could do on our own, restaurant suggestions,& some local sites we should visit. Group was split up with 2 local guides used the entire time while in Brasov. Both guides were excellent. After a short tour on the last morning we headed to Bucharest & the port to embark on the riverboat to begin the cruise. This process was very smooth & we were quickly in our cabin with our luggage. We organized our clothing with suitable storage & plenty of closet space. Super bathroom & a large shower bigger than any I have experienced on ocean cruises. Cabin had a small french balcony so we could open the glass door & experience the scenery & fresh air. Then the next day we would visit Rouse, Bulgaria. Itinerary as follows:
Donji Milanovac Serbia
Danube River Sailing
The last port Cologne,after a full day's visit is a 2 hour bus ride to Frankfurt early the next morning to catch the plane home.
This is a very port intensive trip with lots of walking on each excursion. Everywhere was interesting with it's own unique adventure. Some ports offered as many as 3 choices from Vantage for the day. You always have the options for DIY trips in port. Group size is usually around 25 people with headsets. Dress is casual & comfortable. No shorts in the dining room for dinner. Most travelers usually wore the same outfit for dinner as they used on the excursion. No formal nights, however most dressed better for Captain's Dinner or a special event only 4 nights during the entire trip.
Captain & crew were very friendly. Front desk was exceptional in handling your requests & informing us of any changes. Housing keeping was the absolute best. Food average with many buffets & several choices. Some dinners were great, but mostly average. Servers seemed over-whelmed with too many tables to handle at dinner. Beer & wine is served & included with dinner only. If you want more than one glass of wine, you must request it. None of the alcohol was free flowing. The rest of the crew was very good in handling the boat & moving passengers on & off the boat. Total passenger count was 176. The cruise director & his assistant did a nice job engaging with the passengers & their needs. Never to busy to answer your questions.
Finally: This was a wonderful trip. Mostly good weather & enjoyable entertainment brought on board in the evening to perform in the lounge. We also enjoyed the piano player who played nightly on the cruise. It became obvious that some passengers should not have taken this trip due to their mobility issues & missed some very interesting sites. My single complaint is this: With all the cruising on the river & spending most of my time on the sun deck enjoying the weather, there is no place to obtain a water, coke, or adult beverage. You had to walk down to the lounge to obtain any of the items & return to the upper deck. Absolutely no service on the sun deck. Why ??? Think Vantage is missing an opportunity to sell more beverages. Since there is no alcohol package, I thought prices were high. All purchases were in Euros & same high price as the mass market cruise ship lines. This did not slowdown my purchasing but did make it rather inconvenient. We chose this trip because we have never visited Eastern Europe or further east than Budapest. We learned much history, current Russian interference in several of these countries, more about food, music, dance & customs. We found the locals to be friendly & helpful. Most of the young people were excited to practice their English when speaking with us. Most of the areas visited now realizing the value of tourism. Vendors were not pushy & really appreciated any purchases made. This added greatly to the overall pleasures of this trip. Our age is early 70's & in good health with no mobility issues. Strongly suggest you exercise, get in shape, & can walk 2-4 miles when on land.
Not quite a suite, but better than the veranda cabins we have had on Celebrity or Princess. Note you cannot walk out on the French Balcony, you will still be seated in your cabin.