At Vantage, we love introducing travelers to new parts of the world and welcoming them with unforgettable enriching experiences – and that includes our employees! Nothing helps them more than being able to meet customers and know first-hand the itineraries and activities that await around the world. Here, Corporate Trainer Rachel Funk shares her experiences on her Vantage river cruise in France.

Q: What did you enjoy most about the trip?
A: I loved how relaxing the trip was, even though each day had plenty of activities. The day-sailing through the countryside was especially nice and I had a French balcony (floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door) in my cabin. The weather in August was lovely and being able to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning with a warm breeze, sunshine, and a beautiful view was a perfect way to start the day.

Q: Had you ever traveled to that part of the world? And how was this time different or especially exciting if it was your first time to this country/region?
A: I was in France previously during the winter, which I had loved because I was able to see the enchanting holiday markets on A Seine River Christmas Cruise. The weather in August was much warmer, and I was able to see parts of France that I’d never visited before. I loved both trips and would go back again for sure!

Q: Had you traveled on an organized tour before?
A: I’ve taken a few – generally much shorter – tours, but mostly I’ve arranged my own travel. I’m a big-time planner, but I have to say it felt incredible to have everything taken care of for once and to be able to trust that it was done right. I felt very relaxed and was able to focus on enjoying myself and making memories and making friends.

Q: What do you think makes Vantage special, after having the opportunity to experience our trips for yourself?
A: For me, Cultural Connections are what make a trip truly memorable. I don’t like to feel like I’m traveling in a bubble, not really interacting with locals or experiencing their way of life. I love to learn about and experience how other cultures live, eat, work and play. Some of the special moments that stood out were a crème brulee-making demonstration, a visit to a local cheese farm in the countryside, and a private organ concert. I think Vantage does a great job of including these types of unique experiences in every trip.

Q: What was the first thing you told your friends or family about when you got home?
A: I couldn’t wait until I got home to share my experiences! I was sending pictures and texts to family and friends and posting stories and videos on Facebook and Instagram throughout the trip. Probably what I shared and talked most about was the food and wine. Wine, chocolate and cheese are three of my favorite things in life, and on the trip I had the best of each that I’d ever had. I still choose French wines and cheeses whenever I have the option on a menu or at a store just because it reminds me of this trip and I loved it so much.

Q: Did you make any lasting friendships with travelers or Vantage co-workers? Why or how?
A: I had an especially wonderful time with Nancy L’Heureux from our Finance department, who was onboard along with her husband. She’s a truly amazing person and we had a blast together, including going out for a couple of runs in nearby parks when the ship was docked. She runs marathons so she quite literally ran circles around me, but she’s one of the superheroes of the Boston office for sure and it’s always great to be able to connect and create those types of memories with coworkers.

Q: What did this trip teach you about doing your specific job function here at Vantage? What were your most important professional takeaways?
A: I think the biggest takeaway was knowing with confidence, and from personal experience, that our trips are excellent. As an employee, that’s extremely important, because working in travel isn’t always easy – there are a lot of things that can happen that are outside of our direct control. Seeing our travelers enjoy the trip so much, from first-time travelers to those who had traveled with us over a dozen times, was very rewarding. So I try to keep that in mind, share that sense of excitement with my coworkers, and make sure I’m doing everything I can to make sure things go smoothly so our travelers can enjoy our trips as much as I do.

Q: What’s your dream destination?
A: I have so many! I’ll be checking off one of my Top 5 with Vantage in September – Machu Picchu, which I’m very excited about. After that, Iceland is at the top of my list.

Q: Biggest surprise about this trip?
A: The food was amazing. I know I mentioned it already but it was stand-out delicious. I’d heard it was good, but hearing and tasting are two different things and I was happy to find that it really exceeded my expectations.

Q: What would your advice be to travelers considering going on the Vantage journey you traveled on?
A: Leave room in your suitcase, or bring an extra one! There’s ample time to shop for unique and memorable gifts for yourself and for your family and friends. Make sure to ask the onboard concierge for tips on where the hotspots are – or for recommendations if you’re on the hunt for anything in particular.