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Author: drv5912nj

Joined: 4/19/2010
Posts: 9
Trips Taken: 13
Countries Visited:

South Africa Botswana Zambia Zimbobwa Australia New Zealand Fiji Egypt Costa Rica Peru Equador Mexico Canada Caribbean Italy France UK Greece Switzerland Crete Phillipine Is Thailand Vietnam Cambodia

Traveler Since: 2001

May 15, 2012

Booked a trip in Feb for a river cruise in aug. Paid waht I felt was a 'fair ' price. Today the exact same trip, dates and all are 500.00 PP cheaper. Guess what, I dont get that price because I booked early and paid early !!! I called and inquired, asked for the difference, nope, no way, I am just out of luck, so sorry. Doesn't matter. Suggest you all wait until the last min to book a trip. DONOT book or pay early, wait for the better deal. I have paid the price, you should not now.

Buyer Beware holds true here.

Author: travelann

Joined: 3/12/2010
Posts: 44
Trips Taken: 7
Traveler Since: 2010

May 15, 2012

So true.. I booked last year for trip this June. Now price is apprx. $200. lower than what I paid. A couple years ago same thing happened, but they had sent me ad for lower price, and, after a great deal of discussion finally gave me the lower  " new " price. But, now they have a little  note saying lowered prices are for new bookings only.  I wlll take my chances for a last minute good deal. My Ireland trip last July was last minute....saved apprx 300.00 plus no cost for trip cancel policy. That was a good deal !!

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 493
Trips Taken: 15
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

May 15, 2012

 We have been on 13 GCT and OAT trips. Sometimes we wait for last minute deals, and sometimes we book and pay early and in cash. If you have a trip that is at the top of your bucket list that regualarly sells out or you only have certain dates available to you, why would you not pay extra to take it? If it is just a trip that you would like to takes sometime, and you are able to go on a moments notice, watch for the last minute specials.

At one point we had 3 trips bought and paid for. In addition to the prepayment discount, you are protected from fare increases and fuel surcharges. We have seen the fares and trip prices go up and fuel surcharges added. We have never had to pay the increase or surcharge. For cruises, we have seen the lower priced cabin that we bought sell out, so, to book at a later date, we would have had to have paid for a higher priced cabin, or changed our date to a higher priced departure.

The reason for the last minute discounts is to sell out inventory that is not selling and to recover fixed costs.If they were to retroactively give the discounted rate to all people who had previously booked, it would not make financial sense. This is standard in most business. There is no inventory more perishible than a seat or room not used, as of the departure date. If the terms of sale guarantee a price based on the date of the reduction, then you are entitled to it and go after it. We have had minor billing issues with them in the past, and they have always been resolved to our satisfaction.

When you are ready to buy a trip, base your decision on the facts at hand and don't get hung up on watching what happens to the price after the purchase, whether it goes up or down, unless the terms of sale indicate that you are guarateed that you will get a refund based on future price reductions. You will just reduce your enjoyment of the trip.

Author: jandb

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 33
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 1999

May 15, 2012

 Nanaandpapa.....

Great words of wisdom.  I posted similar views on this subject a few days ago on the OAT web site. Other reasons  to book early include using your frequent traveler credits (must book at least 60 or 70 days ahead  of time to use the credits),  getting the trip extensions you want, and time to do all the reading about the regions you will visit.  We have taken advantage of last minute deals a few times and special offers other times.  I think it probably all evens out.

We  have two trips booked at this time...one with GCT and the other with OAT.  We leave for the Eastern Europe to the Black sea trip in less than two weeks.  The next trip is in November and has been booked for several months.  

 

 

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 535
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

May 16, 2012

The price difference might even out after you/ve taken several trips, but the OP has not and a $1,000 difference is not insignificant. It's not a good experience for a first trip.

 

Author: tomnat

Joined: 6/4/2010
Posts: 81
Trips Taken: 18
Traveler Since: 2004

May 16, 2012

Some other reasons to buy early: We usually buy early to make sure we get a date with good weather, good flowers, that is not too crowded, etc.

Good weather that is not too crowded, e.g. avoiding the July-Aug. heatwave vacation season in Western Europe, is worth a few more dollars for us.

For most of our trips we probably will not be able to do a return visit; so it is important to us to experience a once in our life trip with good probable weather that is not too crowded, I.e. not to rish being rained, frozen or peopled out. Scheduling our trips using long term forecasts, e.g. weatherbase.com, has worked well for us.

Buying early also has allowed us to use our frequent flyer miles to visit family & friends near GCT/OAT gateway/lower airfare cities, which also saved us some money, as we live in Colorado Springs & Stuart FL in the winter.

As others have said, it is most important to visit places of interest to you while you can.

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 241
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 1995

May 16, 2012

I agree with nanaandpapa and Tomnat, as well.  It's no different than finding the jacket you wanted so badly you paid full price, to see it reduced 40%, then to 70% off while you paid the full price.

We book early for the dates, price at those dates, weather (big issue), and type of cabin on a river or other small ship.  We don't like the Prelude deck, too far down.  We don't like below the lounge, and we don't like a balcony room.  With the balcony cabin, you lose about 20-25 sq ft.  of space.  We did the math.   As far as paying in advance, well, I did this math, too.  If I kept my money in the bank, I would only get maybe 1%, to 1.2% on regular savings or money market.  If I pay in advance, I not only use my travel credits,  but I get a 10% discount for paying early.  There have been other discounts I have gottenas well, even though my tour price was not on sale. 

Having lived in Europe in July and August, as well as Japan and  Singapore, I know too well, that the travel season for these places is late July and August.  Who wants to stand in lines or be pushed and shoved by loads of other tourists. 

So there's pros and cons about waiting and finding the cabin area we like fully booked, or finding the higher priced tours are only available when Europe and Asia are also on their vacation and they are higher.  I also found that by planning early I can work with the air dept a lot easier than being rushed to not get the flights I want. 

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
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

May 17, 2012

I travel solo.  And GCT, like all companies, limits the number of solo travelers on any one trip.  If I want to go to a place that interests me, at a time of year when I enjoy traveling (not high summer and not too cold), and on a river trip get the choice of cabin I prefer, I have to book as early as I can.  I am going to the UK in July, and I booked that a year ahead.  I booked a Seine River trip the day the 2013 cruise trips opened.

Author: robsmom

Joined: 9/21/2010
Posts: 34
Trips Taken: 2
Traveler Since: 2011

May 24, 2012

Early booking and guaranteed lowest price is a scam. GCT has had my $ for 10 months. If I booked now I could have saved $640  plus the interest I lost on my $ (regular printed price, not a last min. price). GCT excuse was "You might not get the date you want". Duh! Retired and flexible as to dates.GCT offered no solution to problem. Not ethical behavior.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2007

May 25, 2012

 Discounts are deceiving.  On the surface, it may appear as a last minute discount is actually less than someone had paid, but in reality, it usually isn't.  Because the last minute deal is simply the bottom price of a given trip without concern for date.  When one factors in the discounts that one gets for advance booking, plus prior trip credits, one gets a considerable discount that would not be available to last minute travelers.  For example, we just booked a trip to Nepal with both extensions for November 2013.  What we paid was approximately 20% less than the advertised price.  You're not going to get that on any last minute deal IF a last minute deal is available.  This trip will be sold out even BEFORE the dates are officially announced, in order to give those who pre-booked the trip the opportunity to book.  This trip has still not been made available on the OAT website, and likely won't be until everyone who pre-booked has been contacted and confirmed their reservations.  And that is another reason to pre-book your trip.  When you go to a place where there are few trips, and demand is high, you had better book well in advance, and in fact pre-book your trip.  Such is thecase with Grand Circle's river cruises to Holland and Belgium when the tulips are out in the spring.  If you haven't already booked that trip for 2013, you're not going to go in prime time, if you are going to go at all.  that trip is generally sold out a year in advance, with most of the cabins pre-booked.

For those of you who don't know about pre-booking, Grand Circle and OAT will permit you to pre-book a trip before the dates are announced.  Pre-booking costs $350, is completely refundable if you decide not to go, and holds your price to a small advance over the prior year.  But the most important aspect of pre-booking, is that you get a phone call BEFORE the dates are made available to everyone else, so you are guranteed the date and the trip you want to go.  On trips that sell out fast, THAT in and of itself is the one perk that make everything worthwhile. 

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 535
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

May 25, 2012

The previous two poster's opinions are polar opposite. Certainly, if someone wants a specific date on a popular trip then paying early is worthwhile. However, in Robsmom situation "retired and flexible" it is not.

 

Author: travelann

Joined: 3/12/2010
Posts: 44
Trips Taken: 7
Traveler Since: 2010

May 25, 2012

The $350.00 pre book fee.....does that go towards your trip cost, or is that xtra added onto your cost ??  If xtra, doesn't sound like much of a deal to me.  More money for GCT/OAT.  If someone is flexible with dates, I see no reason to book a year ahead. A big chunk of money ....Last year  I got a really good last minute deal to Ireland. About 400.00 lower than early bookings plus they gave me free travel insurance based on previous trip the same year. That alone saved about 200.00.  I guess it all depends upon your individual circumstances.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2007

May 25, 2012

 The $350 deposit is applied towards your trip cost when you actually book the trip and pay after the dates come out.   When you book, the agent will take $350 off the cost.   If, at any time, you decide not to go, simply call up Grand Circle, tell them, and they'll refund your $350.  And given the goob buy, prior trip credit plus any other credit you may have, you simply will not get a better deal even with so-called 'last minute' deals.

Furthermore, there are some trips that you will NEVER get unless you pre-book.  Our trip to Nepal, is one of them.  Another which comes to mind, is the Holland/Belgium cruise in spring, at prime tulip viewing dates.  You may be able to get a later deal for the beginning of the season( when the tulips are not likely in bloom yet ), or the tail end( after they've died ), but you simply aren't going to get the trip which will enable you to see what you want to see because of the brief window.  Ditto for trips to Africa in the dry season, and for trips consistent with the Northern Migration.  So simply being flexible because one is retired is a poor reason tonot book a trip to see what you want to see, because there is a limited window of dates.

And BTW, I recalculated our savings by pre-booking our Nepal trip.  I originally said 20%; it was closer to 25%.  You're not getting that on any last minute deal.  So be flexible if you want; you swtill may be waiting for the trip for a long time.  The pre-booking option Grand Circle/OAT offer is an excellent way to get your trip at the lowest price and be sure you're going to get it.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
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

May 25, 2012

As I posted, I have to book early since I travel solo.  I am retired, and I suppose I could say I'm flexible.  To the extent that I can choose the time I want to go, instead of being subject to work vacation schedules  I want to go where and when is most convenient for me.   I had such a thrill when I did the Holland and Belgium river cruise, arriving at Keukenhof at the best time to see the flowers and place my order, that going earlier or later would not have been the same.  After I would have read about everyone else's enthusiasm, I would probably have felt I had wasted my money.

And I don't pick my trips on the basis of cost.  Except that GCT offers the best deal for solo travelers.  And that's why I travel with them, as opposed to similar tours offered by other conpanies.  So for this kind of traveling, I will stay with GCT.  A few hundred dollars I might save by booking later and probably getting a less desirable date or cabin doesn't weigh very much against the total.

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

many

Traveler Since: 1999

May 25, 2012

While I don't doubt that it is necessary to pre-book some trips, I don't believe this is true for the Holland and Belgium trip. I used the Dates and Prices option on the GCT website to look at availability for this trip in April of 2013. While the space for singles is limited, there appears to be space available for doubles on all decks for most, if not all, the departures next April. 

Author: rosemarynj

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 34
Trips Taken: 5
Traveler Since: 2010

May 26, 2012

I agree with OP as the same thing happen to me with our trip.  The price went down in January and we had booked in November for a trip in late MAY.  I agree with the posters who say that Last Minute deals are to fill space and are understandable but this is not a last minute price decrease.  We have taken advantage of these and booked only a month in advance as we are also flexible with dates.  When you book 7 months in advance and trip goes down two months later and still 5 months before trip, I feel GC should give price difference.  The OP booked in advance and trip is still not for 3 months - it is not a last minute change in price.  I feel if the price goes down more than 60 days before trip, GC should honor the new price for everyone on trip. Also, more than 60 days in advance, your trip credits can be used so you still get price decrease and credits if you wait till 60 days before trip.  I agree with OP don't book early if you are lfexible with dates.   I also got the same response from GC - too bad!

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2007

May 26, 2012

 We have found that one never gets a better deal than if one books early.  The further out you book, the more your prior trip credits are worth.   When one takes those into consideration, the last minute deals do not give one the lowest price; earlier bookings do, with pre-booking giving you the greatest discount, PLUS insuring that you get the trip on the exact dates that you want.  to be sure, some people don't care about taking leftovers in terms of cabins, or not being able to take a trip with a pre or post trip extension( as last minute deals frequently preclude ), and if you're willing to wait for something which may nevercome up, great.  But if you want to go on a specific trip, and you want to go at peak times, then the further out you book, the better your price will be.  Many people with a number of trips know this, and use this information to get the best price AND the dates and accommodations they want. 

Author: travelann

Joined: 3/12/2010
Posts: 44
Trips Taken: 7
Traveler Since: 2010

May 26, 2012

As I said in prior posting...to each his own. As a retiree money is important. And, since I have been lucky to have traveled most of the world   ( including tulips in peak bloom ) I am not concerned when I travel.  A river cruise , which I have never done , would be great no matter when. And when I see a trip I booked early go down in price significantly, I get a little annoyed. Especially when they bombard me with mailed ads on how I can save 400.00 on a trip I booked early becuz they said I would save by booking early. And when you call to take advantage of this new advertised low price  they have so nicely alerted you  ?????       Sorry new bookings only ! 

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 535
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

May 26, 2012

Travel credits allow a 5% discount for a full year. I don't see any need to book early to use them; I never have. But then, I'm never locked into only one date either.

I'm with Ann -- to each his own.

 

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

many

Traveler Since: 1999

May 26, 2012

You have to travel within a year of the return date of the trip for which you earned a Frequent Traveler Credit in order to get the full value. So if you booked a trip more than a year in advance, you would not be able to apply the full value of a credit which you earned from a previous trip. The maximum savings of the Good Buy Plan is 10% if you book at least a year in advance. Unless the price of the trip increases after you book, I don't understand how it's possible to get a better price by booking more than a year in advance. There certainly are good reasons to book early but being assured you get the best price doesn't seem to be one of them.

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