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Author: shatzi

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 55
Trips Taken: 5
Traveler Since: 2009

January 19, 2012

We have only been on river cruises with Grand Circle and have recently signed up for a land tour which includes a few hotels etc.  We were wondering if some more experienced travelers with GCT could give us some insight to land tours compared to the river cruises beside the obvious, of course.  Thank you!

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 469
Trips Taken: 8
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

Traveler Since: 2006

January 19, 2012

That is a very broad question. Can you be more specific about the information that you want, and also mention what land tour you've booked?

I've taken several land tours and they were all different, so don't know how to respond to your question.

You could also read the traveler reviews posted for the trip that you've booked and might find answers.

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 345
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2002

January 19, 2012

Louisa is correct, shatzi, your question is a bit broad. But let me try to give you some impressions from two river cruises and four land tours.

The river cruises obviously stay close to the river, and touring away from the river is usually an optional tour when available at all. Land tours are not so restricted and give you, perhaps, a better view of "life in the countryside". There are also some "must see" tourist sites that are not convenient to the river.

Another difference is that you have to change hotels, more or less frequently, with the land tour while on the river cruise your hotel goes with you. I will compare two of the land tours I have taken with GCT to show how the hotel changes differ. On the tour of Italy, which was called Amalfi Coast and Tuscany when we went but is now reversed, we included the Rome pre-trip extension. We spent 5 to 7 nights in each of three hotels, plus one night back in Rome just before the flight home. So we had only three "check-outs" with which to contend. The contrast was the America's Majestic National Parks tour, with the Badlands pre-trip extension. After about five nights at the same hotel in Rapid City, SD, we went "on the road". Except for three "two-night stays", we changed hotels every day.

There used to be a third option, the extended stay on the Costa del Sol in Spain. There we stayed three weeks in the same hotel room. But that tour has been dropped by GCT for 2012.

Since all of the land tours are different, both in itinerary and in amenities, it's really hard to generalize. But these thoughts are my "basic differences" that come to mind.

Author: candmj

Joined: 9/30/2011
Posts: 10
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 1997

January 19, 2012

Another difference is the meals.  On a river cruise all your meals are on the ship.  Menus for lunch and dinner are generally posted in the morning for all to see.  On a land tour many lunches and dinners are on your own.  Although your tour guide may provide suggestions, you must decide on your own where and what to eat (and pay for the meals yourself).

Author: shatzi

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 55
Trips Taken: 5
Traveler Since: 2009

January 21, 2012

Thank you luisa, Captainlarry, wattsed and candmj for your input.  I figured experienced travelers would write what was "foremost" in their minds about the two ways of traveling, and this you did.  You all have been a great help giving me greater insight to the land tours. 

Author: shatzi

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 55
Trips Taken: 5
Traveler Since: 2009

January 21, 2012

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 469
Trips Taken: 8
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

Traveler Since: 2006

January 21, 2012

I think others gave good responses for you.

One thing about land trips that I recommend is to read the handbook, read the itinerary and read the trip reviews. I've been surprised on a couple of land trips when people complained about long bus rides or changing hotels after a couple of days or "on your own" meals, or having no idea of what to do on a free afternoon.

GCT doesn't try to hide any of the above, it's clear in the day to day itinerary that there will be days of long rides on some days (on some trips) and that there will be free time, sometimes an afternoon on some days. Do some research on restaurants and things to do that interest you before you go and you'll have a great trip.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 886
Trips Taken: 11
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

January 21, 2012

I agree totally with all the comments.  And especially with what Luisa just posted.  I sometimes wonder when I read what people complain about after a trip if they actually read the itineraries and descriptions.  I think a lot of the fun is planning the trip and reading about the places I'll see.

My last trip was land, Ireland to be exact, and I loved it.  My next one is the UK in July, and I expect to love that one too.  I've never taken a GCT trip that I haven't enjoyed immensely.  Or any trip.  But the two next in my Travel Planner are river cruises, and the older I get the more appealing I find the "unpack once" aspect of it.

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 345
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2002

January 22, 2012

I'd like to add another comment as well. I have been pleased with all of the trips I have taken with GCT. While I, too, like the concept of river cruising, my future trips will be chosen primarily on the itinerary, specifically the places visited, and not so much by the mode of transportation. If it were possible, and I don't think it is, that there are very similar trips, one with river ship transportation and one with motor coach transportation, I would choose the ship.

Author: boleta

Joined: 10/1/2010
Posts: 13
Trips Taken: 9
Traveler Since: 2002

March 15, 2012

We have taken both river cruises and land tours and prefer river cruises.  Once one is on the cruise ship, you unpack once, all of your meals (unless you are on an optional tour which includes a meal) are on board the ship, you have a safe in which to place your valuables, and one can go to their room whenever he or she wishes.  On land tours, you can be on a bus all day, get into a city late at night, have to be up at the "crack of dawn" to place your suitcases outside your door, and then onward to another city by bus.  Normally, these land tours do not stay in places more than one or two days.  You are living out of a suitcase.  You don't have the security of a safe in your room and your meals can or cannot be included each day.  Then you might have a problem on who sits where on the bus.  If you have an excellent Program Director, he/she will make sure seats on the bus  are changed each day.  If your Program Director is mediocre, you could have a problem with seating because there are some who hoarde the front seats every day, which of course, is not fair to the other passengers.  So, as you can see, we prefer cruising instead of land tours.  

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 886
Trips Taken: 11
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 15, 2012

My, you must have had terrible land tours! 

First, hotels quite often have safes in the rooms and, if they don't, most hotels offer free security for your valuables.  By that, I mean your return plane tickets, extra cash and your passport (I carry a copy for casual use).  I don't travel with any jewelry but a few costume pieces.

I've never traveled on a bus all day, arrived late at the hotel, and had to be up early in the morning to leave.  Not on any GCT tour and not on any other I've taken.

And, rarely, have there been problems with seating on the buses.  We had a lengthy discussion about that a few months ago.  Sometimes, seats are assigned and we move one or two rows each day.  Sometimes, seats are not assigned; however, if people suffer from motion sickness and prefer to sit in the front, they are given the opportunity.  As well as those who have trouble moving up or down the aisles.  Most people are very nice about that.

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 469
Trips Taken: 8
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

Traveler Since: 2006

March 16, 2012

My land tours experience has been similar to Pauline's. The only time I recall getting up "at the crack of dawn" was the OAT Egypt tour when we had a boat ride across the Nile for a sunrise breakfast before going to the Valley of the Kings; it was an exceptional experience.

GCT usually plans two or three nights in hotels. Of eight trips I don't recall any where we arrived late and left early the next day. As far as living out of a suitcase, I agree it's nice to unpack once, but I pack outfits in large plastic bags so take out what I need for the stay; I never totally unpack and repack. When there are no safes in the room I lock my passport and whatever valuables (I never take expensive jewelry) in my suitcase and have never had a problem with that. Porters deliver and pick up the luggage and I think the earliest I've ever had to put it out was 7:15 am.

On the Crossroads of Turkey trip, we had some long bus rides, but the scenery was beautiful and we made interesting stops and had time to walk around, take photos, etc.. There was one one-night stay but we arrived in late afternoon and left after breakfast the following day. 

Some of the trips required early mornings for the flights home, but that could occur on cruise trips too.  

I have not taken a cruise so don't know, but on the diagrams, the cabins look very small as do the beds, but maybe that's just the river cruises.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 886
Trips Taken: 11
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 16, 2012

I've taken three river trips on GCT  -  Holland and Belgium in the Springtime, Grand European Rivers, and Russia Revealed.  On the last one, I traveled solo so the size of the cabin was not an issue, and the cabins on the Russia trips are slightly smaller than on the European rivers.  With a couple of exceptions. 

On that trip where we ended in Moscow, we were all rousted out fairly early in the morning so that the crew could get everything cleaned up for the next groups that were arriving in late afternoon.  Those of us with flights out in the afternoon were taken to a central parking lot near some of the churches, the river and a large gift shop with excellent bathrooms.  The bus stayed there for a couple of hours, which would have been fine except that it was raining which didn't help much for picture taking.

My next trip, in July, is England, Scotland and Wales.  And that will probably be my last land tour.  Since I travel solo and am at an "interesting" age, I doubt if I'll be up for too much packing and unpacking.  And that's where the river cruises will come in handy, with the unpack once.  It's very enjoyable sitting in the lounge and watching the scenery go by, and taking as many shore excursions as possible.

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