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Author: janbee

Joined: 7/22/2013
Posts: 6
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 0

March 02, 2014

Months ago, husband and I booked & pre-paid the Russia Revealed, Moscow to St Petersburg trip, along with the post-trip to Talinn &  Helsinki, departing USA July 24, 2014. We did not book the pre-trip to Kiev.  With all the turmoil and political unheaval currently with regard to Russia/Ukraine, we are now seriously re-considering going on this trip. Is anyone else experiencing our concerns? We purchased the travel insurance and are wondering if we would receive a full refund if we cancel this trip altogether now, or if we should simply cancel this trip and book something else with GCT.  Any comments? Are any others concerned about traveling to Russia this year or should we just wait and see what  happens in the next few days? Weeks? Months?

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 977
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

March 02, 2014

If you purchased the insurance through GCT, there is a cancel for any reason clause.  That will not give you your money back.  It will give you a voucher good for travel within a year (I think it's a year).  That comes directly from GCT, not from TripMate.  And the voucher is good for any of their trips.  That said, July is 4 months off, and things could change.  But if you're considering canceling because of reasons other than safety, such as philosophical differences that have recently come to light, you could make your decision now.  I enjoyed the trip when I took it in 2010.  But I wouldn't go now.

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1999

March 02, 2014

 If you cancel your trip at least 30 days before depature for the reasons you described, you would get a refund of part of the trip cost and the remainder in travel credits. The amount of the refund depends on how soon you cancel and is explained here. Everything you need to know about cancellation is explained in the materials you received after you reserved the trip. I'm not familiar with options for transferring to a different trip but it may also be explained in the materials. The best thing for you do is to call GCT as soon as possible with your questions before you try to make a decision on what to do. 

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2007

March 03, 2014

 We have the Russian River cruise with the pre-trip to Kiev booked for late July.  We were never afraid of going to Kiev, because we felt that the circumstances were overblown by the media and that tourists would not be much affected by the turmoil.  We had been in Nepal recently when the Maoist parties called a boycott of the upcoming elections, and a strike against all transportation.  Despite the fact that the local media reported violence and killings, we had no problem getting anywhere and saw nothing which could be described as untoward.  We felt the same for this trip and refused to be frightened out of taking our trip by the media.

However, there is a new wrinkle now.  Western Nations, including the United States are discussing a host of other measures, most of them economic and trade related, however, we have heard through informal sources that it is possible one of those 'punative' actions could be al cap or stop issuing U.S. visas to Russian citizens.  Should this happen, it is likely that Russia will retaliate in kind.  If the situation escalates to that, it will be impossible to get a visa, and the entire trip will be down the drain.  Obviously, if it was impossible to get the visas, the trip would be cancelled and money refunded, but what, if any accommodation would be made for clients to register for another trip in short order, if they want, and what accommodation would be made for transfering any good-bye credits to the new trip, at the level they were granted for the potentially cancelled Russian trip?  Given that, it might be in Grand Circle's interest to permit us to obtain, and assist us in obtaining the necessary letter of introduction from their Russian wholesaler so that we could get the visas now, on our own and thus 'save' the trips they had scheduled.  We believe there will be no violence, as does our government, and given that, isn't it in both Grand circle's and our interests to make certain that their scheduled trips go off as planned, and not have to refund money?

Author: rio

Joined: 4/5/2011
Posts: 14
GCT Trips Taken: 8
OAT Trips Taken: 7
Traveler Since: 1997

March 03, 2014

 While I have great confidence in OAT's awareness of political situations and the company's concern for the safety of its travelers, we chose to cancel our reservation for Ukraine & Moldova the day before final payment was due.  This was the same day the news was leading with pictures of Kiev in flames.  I might have taken a wait-and-see approach had we not been in that 14-day grace period, but nothing has happened since in that part of the world to make me regret the decision.  OAT/GCT was very helpful in helping us find an alternative trip and transfer all our deposits and credits.  I think you have to check your personal comfort level with uncertainty.  We wanted to be sure we had a trip scheduled in May and are looking forward to Ireland including a pre-trip to Northern Ireland, where "the troubles" are no longer an issue of major concern.

Author: mmerhoff

Joined: 9/18/2011
Posts: 7
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

A lot of my travel has been "work related" but I have been to Europe. I did a "heart of Europe" tour eons ago. In addition, I've been to Hungary (2), Rome (1), Paris (1), London (2).

Traveler Since: 2012

March 14, 2014

I'm reading the posts and candidly, I am more concerned that no one from GCT has made any public statement about this issue nor have they issued any communication on this matter.  I booked my trip in Russia in May 2013 and I'm supposed to go on the Pre-Trip to Kiev starting on June 22nd.  And since I like to really be able to see the City and want to have time to rest, I'm scheduled to fly to Kiev on June 19th and arrive on June 20th.  I called GCT several weeks ago but frankly got no relevant information.  About 10 days ago, I got the Visa application.  I called that company and learned that obtaining the Visa will take at least 30 days.  Thus, I must make decisions by mid May at the absolute latest.  I'm now attempting to determine my "options".  I realize that GCT is a business but communication would be "nice".  We ALL need to plan on whether to go on this trip or not!

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1999

March 14, 2014

Per a post on the OAT discussion forum, the Ukraine and Moldolva trips have been cancelled through June. See http://www.oattravel.com/legacy/community/travel-forum.aspx?g=posts&t=4970. It seems to me they should know by now what they are going to do about the Kiev extension. Don't waitt for them to be proactive. .Call them tomorrow and keep calling until you get a satisfactory answer. 

 

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 524
GCT Trips Taken: 12
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

March 14, 2014

I would not assume that GCT has made a decision  at this point on what they are doing. We were in similar circumstances on a planned China & the Yangtze in 2003 with the SARS epidemic. Conditions kept worsening in China as our date approached, until China essentially shut down the country to international tourism. It was about 3 weeks before our planned departure. This was to be our second GCT trip. Egupt & the Eternal Nile was our first, a year earlier. We were in frequent communication with GCT as the time approached. I don't remember who was initiating the calls. About 3 weeks before departure, the trip was cancelled. As I had already planned the time off, we scheduled another trip with GCT, the Blue Danube for approximately the same dates. We were quite satisfied with the way GCT handled it. They issued a refund for the price difference promptly. The only money that  we lost was for the visa. There have been similar, but less major problems in China lately with the Tibet issues. Some departures have had to substitute for Tibel and others have made the trip as planned. They are sort of between a rock and a hard place. Whether they cancel or don't cancel, there will be dissatisfied ciiustomers. I believe that they are waiting to know more what the situation is. I agree that they should be communicating with the booked travelers, but I doubt that they have any firm answers at this point.

We ended up getting to China a couple of years later, after another cancellation, this time for medical reasons.

Author: dgevry

Joined: 9/4/2010
Posts: 68
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 1
Traveler Since: 2010

March 15, 2014

I also believe that Grand Circle is waiting to see how the situation in the Ukraine develops in the next month or so.  I know it is anxiety-provoking to sit and wait.  We were scheduled to leave on their Egypt trip on February 12, 2011.  The riots broke out on January 25th, and after watching the violence escalate for 2 days, we called GCT. We were told they were monitoring the situation and our trip was still scheduled to go.  My husband wanted to cancel, as we had bought the insurance.  I suggested we wait because I really thought GCT would cancel and it would be better if they canceled vs us. GCT notified us on January 30th that the trips were canceled for the next few weeks, and soon after the Egypt trip was permanently canceled.  We were very pleased with the cancellation options they offered.  Since we booked a replacement trip, our insurance money and frequent traveler credits were transfered to the new trip and we were given an additional discount. Of course, with Egypt we were planning to get the Visa at the airport, instead of through PVS.  The referendum in Crimea is scheduled for tomorrow, and I expect events of the next few weeks will help GCT make a decision.  I feel confident that GCT would never jeopardize the safety of their travelers, nor give them a substandard trip. I sympathize with you and wish you the best.

Diane

Author: mmerhoff

Joined: 9/18/2011
Posts: 7
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

A lot of my travel has been "work related" but I have been to Europe. I did a "heart of Europe" tour eons ago. In addition, I've been to Hungary (2), Rome (1), Paris (1), London (2).

Traveler Since: 2012

March 16, 2014

I appreciate all of the responses.  And I do understand that the situation is very "fluid."  But, I do wish that Grand Circle would communicate with us.  I fully expect ALL trips to the Ukraine to be cancelled for months if not permanently.  My bigger concern is the potential that our government will block visas for Russians and the Russian government will retaliate and stop issuing visas to US citizens.  Or, our government will block all travel to Russia.  And they have the right to do this!  If this happens, then all of the people currently booked on these trips will immediately "flood" the other trips.  Being single, I'm already researching all of the GCT trips and there are NOT a lot of trips that have single space available during the time I "slotted" for this trip,  So I have got some big decisions to make very very soon!

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 524
GCT Trips Taken: 12
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

March 16, 2014

In many cases, the number of reservations available for singles increase as the date comes closer. One person in a room is better than none.  You can get an ides of what may become available by checking the last minute specials, which are unsold slots as the date approaches. Of course destinations requiring visas require more lead time than those that do not, so, if the cancellation is to close to your planned departure date, they won't be available.

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1999

March 16, 2014

According to a post on the OAT forum, they have cancelled the Kiev extension for the Baltics trip. I wonder why they haven't done the same for this trip. 

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 524
GCT Trips Taken: 12
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

March 16, 2014

Janice_,

All 3 trips, this and the 2 OAT trips show availablity as of July. Apparently, they have cancelled all departures and/or extensions to Kiev prior to then.

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1999

March 16, 2014

OK, I'll repeat my previous recommendation to mmerhoff. Don't wait for GCT to contact you; call them. 

Author: janbee

Joined: 7/22/2013
Posts: 6
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 0

March 18, 2014

DILEMMA UPDATE: After lengthy debates, while anxiously watching all the events unfold over the past month, hearing the comments from others and after a lengthy conversation with Grand Circle, we decided to cancel our pre-paid summer 2014 Russia Revealed trip with the extension to Talin & Helsinki. Fortunately, we were able to schedule an alternative GCT trip with similar dates this summer on the GCT Great Rivers of Europe with the Prague extension. We were informed that we will receive a refund for the difference in costs. We also decided to forego the GCT-provided air transportation and make our own air travel arrangements for this alternate tour.

Although we are terribly dissappointed that we will not be visiting Russia; Talin, Estonia; and Helsinki, Finland, we feel this was the best option for our own peace of mind. 

We are fully aware that this is a personal decision and are grateful for GCT's responsiveness to my inquiries and their assistance in helping us to choose an alternative tour; nevertheless, we feel that GCT should have made at least SOME contact with all the booked travelers for the "Russia Revealed" & Kiev extension tours.  At a minimum, a call, letter or email informing us that they were at least watching the situtation and would keep us advised, would have at least eased some of our concerns and given us the benefit of knowing they were keeping our interests in mind. 

Side Note: We had purchased the GCT-offered Travelers' Insurance for the Russia trip but if we cancelled our trip we would still forego a substantial amount. The "Cancel for Any Reason" was quite misleading....guess I should have read the fine print more closely. Lesson learned.

Now, have lots of questions and will be planning our time on this new trip..which we're now really equally excited about!

A HUGE THANK YOU to all those who posted replies and comments to my original "Dilemma" post. Happy & safe travels to all!

Author: kristenc

Joined: 4/26/2012
Posts: 77
GCT Trips Taken: 2
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

Europe, Russia

Traveler Since: 2012

March 18, 2014

I think you will love, love, love this river cruise! Unpack once and move easily from place to place. It's a delightful way to travel, even if all you get is a brief introduction to each area. Enjoy!

Author: mmerhoff

Joined: 9/18/2011
Posts: 7
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

A lot of my travel has been "work related" but I have been to Europe. I did a "heart of Europe" tour eons ago. In addition, I've been to Hungary (2), Rome (1), Paris (1), London (2).

Traveler Since: 2012

March 19, 2014

Janice - your advice is very sound.  As I noted previously, I was going to Kiev in mid June and then on to Russia.  After checking ALL of the GCT trips this past weekend, I found a total of 5 GCT trips available for similar dates.  I can't afford to wait to see if more singles "open" closer to my date and as you advised, I'm not willing to "wait” to see if and when GCT contacts me.  Long story short, I called GCT on Tuesday afternoon and cancelled the entire trip.  I "changed" to the Romance of the Rhine & Mosel with the pre-trip to Bruge.  By doing this, I did NOT lose any money.  At first, the representative wasn’t sure that I’d get the “good buy” discount that I had gotten for paying in full last May but she later contacted me to say that the discount would transfer to the new trip.  In my case, I’m actually paying a little more but am not unhappy!  And the rep I was with was really good.  I'm disappointed about Russia but it will be there for a potetial future trip!

As jbaltrym noted if you simply cancel our trip, you lose – at a minimum - the cost of the travel insurance.  And I think I’ve heard (but have not verified) that GCT has an administrative cost.  By changing to another trip, the policy cost that I paid was “credited” to the new trip.  The "Cancel for Any Reason" can be misleading.  Heck all of these policies can be misleading.  I don’t like having GTC make my airline reservations and was going to get separate “travel insurance” for my ticket UNTIL I looked at several policies.  I found that civil rest is excluded as a reason to cancel.  And by the way jbaltrym – I took the Great Rivers of Europe cruise last year.  I was on the Adagio and the crew was super.  I had a wonderful time.  The glassblower who has his shop is Wertheim was great!

Margaret

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1999

March 19, 2014

Janbee and Margaret, thanks for giving us updates on your plans. I'm glad you were able to make alternative arrangements and not lose any money. Enjoy your travels.

Author: dnevares@caribe....

Joined: 8/17/2013
Posts: 2
GCT Trips Taken: 2
OAT Trips Taken: 0

March 19, 2014

Hi. am booked on the May 29 Russiia departure. We are a group of 4. I talked today to Grand Circle and we are planning to hold our reservation and wait. Last  year two of us were in Istanbul during the protests at Istanbul and several cities, and we did not hava any problem. We hope that by June it will be safe to travel to Russia. 

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 558
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji. Ireland

Traveler Since: 2006

March 20, 2014

As stated in the "terms and conditions," there is a $300 fee to "cancel" a trip. Apparently, If you transfer to another trip you do not pay any fees. I don't think it's stated in terms. There is a post on the OAT forum by a six-time traveler who wants to cancel and is upset because of the cancellation fee. This situation has come up before, and I think is one of the reasons that prompted the recent requirement to sign the terms and conditions. I doubt that there is travel company that does not charge a cancellation fee and some charge an "administrative" fee to transfer to a different trip.

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