To kick off each sailing, welcome drinks are offered in the Blue Note Lounge on the first evening.
On one afternoon during each voyage, tea is offered in the Blue Note Lounge on Navigator Deck. Roving waiters offer hot water and tea bags, while tables overflowing with sweets -- Nutella puff pastries, chocolate cake, scones with jam and cream, cupcakes, carrot cake -- and finger sandwiches are set up on the dance floor in the center of the room.
Cocktail hour is scheduled nightly in the Blue Note Lounge.
Live music, courtesy of the ship's resident band, draws a small crowd nightly in the Blue Note Lounge. On our sailing, it was Richie Rich & 24 Karat Funk, who played everything from oldies to contemporary pop and R&B. Generally, the party seemed to wind down around 11 p.m. A jukebox is available for tunes after the band stops playing, but it's remote controlled, and we had to ask a crewmember for assistance.
On our sailing, given that it was an inaugural, lectures centered on the ship itself. They imparted fun facts and tidbits on shipbuilding. To supplement the lectures, the captain led tours of the ship, which included the room where the bow thrusters are stored, and the executive chef took passengers on a walk through the galley. On regular sailings, locals are brought onboard to play music and offer lectures on the places the ship visits.
Additionally, excellent commentary -- found on all sailings with scenic cruising -- was given by the cruise director and piped throughout the Solaris Deck and Blue Note Lounge as we sailed along the Rhine Gorge in Germany. She talked extensively about each castle we encountered, what it was named, what is was originally used for and what its current function is.
On the night before each port call, a 15-minute port talk is given in the Blue Note Lounge.
Blue Note Lounge (Navigator Deck, forward): This main lounge is the hub of River Voyager's activities. Amusingly, the main accent color is red -- not blue -- mixed with dark browns and golds. Panoramic windows offer amazing views of passing landscapes, and comfy seating abounds via chairs and booths. A centrally located bar offers the usual gamut of beer, wine and mixed drinks for a fee. Whimsical touches include a real working jukebox, fun color-changing lights on the tables at nighttime and lamps that look like trumpets. This is where passengers will find lectures and scenic cruising commentary, as well as a dance floor and complementary live music. Tea is served there, too. (Self-serve tea, coffee, hot chocolate and ice are available there, 24 hours a day.) At the starboard entrance to the lounge, you'll find a small library that consists of a handful of board games and a few shelves of books.
The Cotton Club Lounge (Navigator Deck, aft): White wicker chairs and green booths offer seating in a quiet atmosphere that makes this secondary lounge perfect for reading, playing board games or working on puzzles. It's also where you'll find alternative self-serve light fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On nice days when the upper Solaris Deck is closed, a retractable ceiling and nearly 360-degree panoramic windows turn The Cotton Club into a makeshift sun deck.
The Solaris Deck serves as the ship's sun deck, offering a large number of chairs with tables for alfresco dining, drinking or chatting. There are also plenty of sun loungers -- both shaded and suitable for sunbathing. Cruisers will find a turf promenade deck (designed to look like a cartoonish version of teak) and small jogging track, plus a giant chess set.
In nice weather, the sun deck is a great place to take in the sights on scenic cruising routes. It's also where you're likely to find the captain on his perch in the wheelhouse. As mentioned previously, the wheelhouse retracts to allow for safe passage under low bridges, and the upper deck is closed to passengers.
Smoking is prohibited inside the vessel, but passengers can puff away at a designated area on the Solaris deck.
Midship on Explorer Deck is the reception desk, where cruisers can set up onboard accounts, sign up for meals in The Cotton Club, exchange money and obtain a boarding pass (a piece of paper that lets staff know you're not on the ship) when you go ashore. Across from the reception desk is another desk where you can book shore excursions, speak with the concierge or connect with the cruise director. Across from that desk is a small glass case that serves as the only onboard shop. Items available for purchase include scarves, Vantage-branded children's puzzles, bedazzled pillboxes and Swarovski crystal earrings. The elevator, which goes to decks 1, 2 and 3 (Odyssey, Explorer and Navigator) is found in the same area, as are the main stairs between those three decks. (Although the elevator doesn't go to the Solaris Deck, a hydraulic chairlift is available for passengers with mobility issues.) The ship carries a handful of iPads, which are available for free passenger rental on a first-come, first-served basis. There's no Internet cafe, but passengers wishing to check in for flights or print boarding passes can request assistance from the concierge if they haven't brought their own devices.
The ship replaced its usual salon with a massage room on River Voyager's Odyssey Deck. Several types of massages are on the menu, including Swedish, aromatherapy, reflexology and deep tissue. Prices are slightly on the pricey side; the different massage types range from 60 euros for a 45-minute foot massage to 120 euros for a 90-minute river stone massage. No other services are offered.
A small, stuffy fitness room is located on Odyssey Deck. In it, workout buffs will find three Life Fitness brand machines, including a treadmill, an exercise bike and a recumbent bike, as well as free weights up to 20 pounds (9 kilograms). There's virtually no floor space for yoga or other exercises that require lying down, but there are towels, water and a TV. Two windows provide the space with a bit of natural light, but oddly, the machines face away from them. For runners onboard, a painfully small turf jogging track can be found on Solaris Deck. (Thirty-four laps equal a mile.) No organized fitness classes are scheduled.
No specific facilities or kids clubs are available for younger cruisers, but those interested in local history and culture might enjoy a sailing aboard River Voyager if they're OK with early mornings, early bedtimes and being in the company of older adults. In 2017, Vantage has scheduled a series of family-friendly voyages that will cater to children with special programming and activities based on the ports visited, but River Voyager does not have any of these trips scheduled.