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Author: revstets

Joined: 7/16/2010
Posts: 1
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2004

February 24, 2012

I like the baltic sea cruise, but would like it without Russia.  I have been to St. Petersburg and do not want to expend money for a russian visa again.  I want to visit Riga, Latvia home of my mother before she came to the USA.   The rest of the itinerary was great!   Anyone feel the same way?

Author: captainlarry

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

February 25, 2012

I took the Baltic Capitals + St. Petersburg cruise last summer with NCL. It was not booked through GCT since starting in 2011 the "official" policy of GCT was no more ocean cruises. As long as we took only tours of St. Petersburg that were shore excursions booked through the ship we were covered by the ship's "blanket visa". If there was a visa charge it was embedded in either the price of the excursion or in the overall cruise fare. I do understand that anyone touring independently needed to have a private visa that was more expensive and more difficult to obtain. Those who booked shore excursions with local guides were covered by that tour company's blanket visa, again paying for it as part of the tour cost. I have not thoroughly researched it, but it seemed to me that all of the cruises operating in the Baltic at the time we were there called in St. Petersburg.

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

February 25, 2012

I tend to agree.  My first experience with St. Petersburg was in 2002, and it was the pre-trip extension on a Scandinavian trip that GCT has discontinued for some reason.  We did not have to have Russian visas unless, maybe, there was a group visa that we were not aware of.  That was not off a cruise ship, by the way; we arrived by plane from Helsinki.  And we stayed together the whole time.

Author: captainlarry

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

February 25, 2012

Within a couple of hours after I posted on this thread I received in the mail a survey from GCT. That was my first introduction to what they call "Baltics & St. Petersburg Cruise Tour". Then I noticed it was part of what they call their "New Small Ship & River Cruise Vacations for 2013". So I guess that doesn't count as an "ocean cruise" since they own the ship.

Author: hootie

Joined: 3/7/2010
Posts: 125
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

China, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Transylvania, Bulgaria, Chech Republic, Slavakia, Bratislava, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Crete, Greece, Turkey, Istanbul, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Russia, Tahiti & French Polynesia/Society Islands, Hawaiian Islands, Bermuda, Alaska, Costa Rica, Mexico, United States, Panama Canal, Caribbean (extensively), Canada/Nova Scotia, Canary Islands, Gibralter, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Vatican City, France, Holland, Belgium, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia.

Traveler Since: 2001

February 25, 2012

possible new itinerarys for GCT...

I was thrilled to see/get the survey for additional tours...not so thrilled about some of the high prices.  Some tours were "small ship...50 passengers" so I guess I do have to take that into consideration.  There were some extensions that I liked more than the main itinerary. 

We really enjoy traveling with GC but have already taken most of their trips that interest us.  We've taken 6-8? trips and have only been able to take advantage of our "trip travel credit" I think once. 

I love the christmas market river cruises but we've already done the Danube trip twice and the Rhine trip in 2010.  When I told my husband I wanted to do a christmas markets river cruise again this year (2012), his eyes kinda rolled to the back of his head while his body twitched and he said...let's just say he didn't think a 4th christmas market trip to places we've already been was necessary!!!  Not one to be deterred, I did alittle research and found a christmas market trip by a GC competitor with a slightly different itinerary than theirs.  (It includes Budapest, Slovakia and Prague along with stops in Austria & Germany.)  ALL places we've been to before BUT NEVER DURING THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY.  (GUESS WHO'S GOING ON A  4th CHRISTMAS MARKET TRIP---I WON!!!)  But before I booked this trip, I called GC to see if they had any changes in the works for their christmas itinerary, which sadly, they didn't.  But they did ask about  and make a note of the other itinerary saying they are looking into trip suggestions.  I told them the other company had a trip in the Ukraine & the Dnieper River and she said that is one GC is considering.  I was glad to see it on the GC survey...and the Mekong River trip. 

I'm glad GC looks at travelers suggestions for new itinerarys & hope to see some implemented soon...we have over $400 in credit to use or lose!

Author: jayge

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 143
Trips Taken: 9
Traveler Since: 2004

February 26, 2012

We just received the Questionnaire about several possible new offerings from Grand Circle and are delighted to read that they are considering 3 offerings of the Ukraine area.  One is a river trip from Kiev to the Black Sea and we have been hoping they would make such an offer.

The prices included International air fares.

Since we enjoyed Russia Revealed so much; we look forward to and hope GCT does get enough interest in these trips so they offer them for 2013.

Author: hootie

Joined: 3/7/2010
Posts: 125
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

China, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Transylvania, Bulgaria, Chech Republic, Slavakia, Bratislava, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Crete, Greece, Turkey, Istanbul, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Russia, Tahiti & French Polynesia/Society Islands, Hawaiian Islands, Bermuda, Alaska, Costa Rica, Mexico, United States, Panama Canal, Caribbean (extensively), Canada/Nova Scotia, Canary Islands, Gibralter, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Vatican City, France, Holland, Belgium, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia.

Traveler Since: 2001

February 26, 2012

wattsed...

I like repeating the Christmas markets because I like browsing/SHOPPING.  My husband dislikes them for the SAME reason! 

We've been fortunate to have traveled to many places.  But we have only traveled 8 times with GC...nothing with OAT.  The smaller groups could be advantageous.  Although I think I am adventurous, it's the "adventure" in OAT that scares me.  I would love to visit alot of places they go but my doctor has issues with me going to high altitude locals (Tibet, Machu Pichu), consistently high/hot temperatures (deserts, Mekong River...& I'm not wild about spiders/BUGS!), or alot of strenous walking as I am not as "light" on my feet as I once was & have stress induced ashma, I also get seasick very easily (Galapagos).  So, I am somewhat limited...WHEN I pay attention to his wishes!!!  All of the above are still on my bucket list but I would not want to be sent home by a program director IF I did run into trouble with a PORTION of a trip.  I know I can't walk 50 miles a day or rock climb a mountain, but how do I really know higher altitudes will render me useless if I've never tried it???  I know GC has the same "send home" policy but I think OAT might be more of an enforcer.

If you find someone willing to pay for your trips, see if they'll pay for me too!!!  I take good pictures!

hootie

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

February 26, 2012

Hootie, I'm with you.  OAT used to have some trips that I thought I'd be able to handle, like the barge trips in areas of France.  The Camargue, for instance.  But they don't do them anymore.  So, like you, I've had to eliminate the OAT trips from my list.  At my age and with various physical limitations, I know I'd be the first person sent home. 

More than 20 years ago, I went up the railway to the top of Pike's Peak.  I'd been in Denver for a week before that and had no problems with the height and thought I'd be acclimated.  But I found that I had to sit down the entire time we were at the top.  I have slight asthma and a chronic bronchial condition, so heights and a lot of dust are out of the question.

Too much humidity isn't good for me either, so that lets out some of the tropical places.  What a drag!  If I knew then what I know now, I'd have started traveling on these tours long before.

Author: hootie

Joined: 3/7/2010
Posts: 125
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

China, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Transylvania, Bulgaria, Chech Republic, Slavakia, Bratislava, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Crete, Greece, Turkey, Istanbul, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Russia, Tahiti & French Polynesia/Society Islands, Hawaiian Islands, Bermuda, Alaska, Costa Rica, Mexico, United States, Panama Canal, Caribbean (extensively), Canada/Nova Scotia, Canary Islands, Gibralter, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Vatican City, France, Holland, Belgium, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia.

Traveler Since: 2001

February 26, 2012

Pauline....AND....wattsed.................

Pauline...I've noticed in this & past posts that we have alot in common...do you think we may be ralated???!!!???

 

wattsed...

thank you, thank you, thank you!!!  Instead of typing my nickname, hootie--you typed HOTTIE.  I like your way much better!  

Take note that I don't have a picture of myself on this site.  NOW, I probably never will.  I don't know how to do it & right now my husband is laughing too hard to see straight!

hootie

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

February 27, 2012

Hootie,

I agree with Ed, you sound like a hoot (I recall your posts on your China trip) and I hope I'm on a trip with you sometime. Your husband sounds kind of hootie too.

I noticed Ed's "Hottie" and laughed. Ed has a sense of humor too and I didn't know if it was deliberate or a typo.

Traveling with you, your husband and Ed would be even more fun.

Author: sealionlady

Joined: 8/1/2010
Posts: 102
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2001

February 27, 2012

If you want an easy, wonderful OAT trip please think about the "Safari Serengetti".  It's not at altitude, not humid (at least not in November), no long, arduous hikes, and very comfortable hotels/tents.  Great food, too.

The downside:  getting to Tanzania.  However, if you do a "breakaway" in Amsterdam (stay one night in a hotel) you'll pretty much eliminate jetlag. 

As an added attraction, the shopping is fun.  The hotels all have wonderful gift shops with locally-made products. 

Here some great photos of the trip, posted by an OAT traveller (used with thanks to Richard Richmond).

 

Author: hootie

Joined: 3/7/2010
Posts: 125
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

China, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Transylvania, Bulgaria, Chech Republic, Slavakia, Bratislava, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Crete, Greece, Turkey, Istanbul, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Russia, Tahiti & French Polynesia/Society Islands, Hawaiian Islands, Bermuda, Alaska, Costa Rica, Mexico, United States, Panama Canal, Caribbean (extensively), Canada/Nova Scotia, Canary Islands, Gibralter, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Vatican City, France, Holland, Belgium, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia.

Traveler Since: 2001

February 28, 2012

luisa....AND.....wattsed....

luisa...

you never know, maybe one day we will all be on the same trip...pity the poor PD who tries to keep us in line!!  My friends & husband of course, all think I am going to cause an international incident some day...I have issues!!!

hootie

 

wattsed...

I'm liking your style more & more Ed...you could be in charge of keeping the non-shoppers seated & quiet...duct tape should take care of both!  Your wife can go with me...I'll teach her the joys of picking something up, studying it for flaws, considering the price, haggling with the vendors (or as my friends say I do) terrorize the vendors, then either get it or just walk away.  Time, Ed, all of this takes TIME.  I may just buy a stun-gun to hurry things up...what do you think?!?

HOTTIE

Author: hootie

Joined: 3/7/2010
Posts: 125
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

China, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Transylvania, Bulgaria, Chech Republic, Slavakia, Bratislava, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Crete, Greece, Turkey, Istanbul, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Russia, Tahiti & French Polynesia/Society Islands, Hawaiian Islands, Bermuda, Alaska, Costa Rica, Mexico, United States, Panama Canal, Caribbean (extensively), Canada/Nova Scotia, Canary Islands, Gibralter, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Vatican City, France, Holland, Belgium, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia.

Traveler Since: 2001

February 28, 2012

wattsed.

There's a saying...if you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.

My husband says that I'm not all bad...only 90%!!

hottie

Author: kba

Joined: 6/19/2010
Posts: 64
Trips Taken: 5
Traveler Since: 2009

February 29, 2012

Hootie (aka Hottie), Pauline, Luisa, Ed:

I hope we are all on a trip together. What fun that would be.  I love it that everyone is so honest.    I too have "breathing issues" and some of the trips are no longer possible for me but I woud sure be willing to give it a try if I were not afraid I would be sent home.  Maybe GCT could have a "breathing difficulty" tour to Machu Picho, the Galapagos and all the other places we would like to travel.  Have any of you been to Africa?  How strenuous is that?  I would also love a trip to Mongolia-Siberia and to Eastern Turkey.  I see lovely trips from National Geographic and Travcoa but they would use up two years of my travel money. 

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

February 29, 2012

We'd have a great time!  We could support each other up and down the stairs and over the rough spots, encourage each other to shop until we dropped, and have a million larughs.

Anyone else going to the UK in July?

Author: kba

Joined: 6/19/2010
Posts: 64
Trips Taken: 5
Traveler Since: 2009

March 01, 2012

Hi Pauline...

I am going to huff and puff from Paris to Normandy in September.  Honestly, it can't come soon enough?  Anybody else planning that trip? 

Author: captainlarry

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

March 01, 2012

Interesting the twists and turns this thread has taken. Started as a request for a Baltic Sea cruise without Russia. That led to a discussion of GCT's Small Ship Cruising survey. The activity level of various tours was then discussed. And now it seems to be the formation of a future travel group. It's taken on the tone of a cocktail party conversation.

Regarding the activity level of the tours, I can say that the First Mate and I have actually lost weight during each of our GCT tours. The food is good and plentiful, and we did not hold back on our indulgence. But we tried to see everything and do everything, so we did a lot of walking. But I think the only excursion i would not take again is the tour of Marksburg Castle. It was a grand tour and a meaningful experience, but the number of steps, rough-hewn and irregular, that one is required to climb was hard for us, and we were in better physical condition than most of our fellow tourists. In fact, for us, coming DOWN the steps was harder than going up. I don't want to discourage anyone from visiting Marksburg Castle -- it is a "must see". But once was enough. If you go take your time and tread carefully.

We have another couple with whom we have traveled on six of our eight GCT tours, as well as a couple of other sea cruises. It is fun to have others with whom you have a connection traveling with you. When we were in the departure gate at Heathrow waiting to fly to Burssels, a lady walked up and said, "I know you!" This couple, on out Romance of Rhine and Mosel cruise, had also been with us on our Alaska Cruise/Tour a year earlier. Even though we were not "buddies" in Alaska, we were while on the ship.

 

Author: hmvahey

Joined: 6/20/2011
Posts: 1
Trips Taken: 19
Traveler Since: 2001

March 01, 2012

My wife and I have taken 17 trips with GCT and OAT. We have explored Europe and the Middle East.  One empty spot in our travels is Portugal.  We recently noticed that Uniworld Travel has a boat cruise through  the Douro River Valley in Portugal and Spain.  Has GCT considered this trip and has anyone else expressed interest?  We would be interested in this type of travel experience.  Harry and Regina

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