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Author: robsmom

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

September 15, 2012

Russian tour great. Rhine & Mosel not. Completed evaluation form with list of possible suggestions to improve our disappointing trip. GCT response - form letter "We are glad you enjoyed your trip". Waste of time.they did not bother to read it.

Author: gmechoc

Joined: 5/19/2011
Posts: 27
Trips Taken: 3
Traveler Since: 2011

October 23, 2012

 That's disturbing..i just sent my form in today, guess that was a waste of time..

Author: gmechoc

Joined: 5/19/2011
Posts: 27
Trips Taken: 3
Traveler Since: 2011

October 23, 2012

<p>&nbsp;That's disturbing..i just sent my form in today, guess that was a waste of time..</p>

Author: jayge

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 146
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 2004

October 24, 2012

 Just wondering what you did not like about the Rhine and Mosel trip.  We took it twice and found it great.  We still reminisce looking at the peaceful scenes from the balcony.  The Mosel is much less traveled than the commercial Rhine.  We did all the optionals and taking the Switzerland extension was a highlight of the trip with its optionals was lots of fun.

Author: robsmom

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

October 24, 2012

Ship, food and fellow passengers nice. Tour leader - "Here is another lovely town - This is the main square - Now go shop .- Here is a map of the town, go figure it out. yourself Basically that was it. We were quaint towned out after 3 stops

 

Author: gobuckeyes

Joined: 7/7/2010
Posts: 158
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2005

October 24, 2012
I don’t think it is a waste of time to complete the GCT/OAT customer satisfaction survey. Probably the “We are glad you enjoyed your trip” was just an auto-acknowledgement that they received your survey. My guess is that the cumulative evaluation scores for the tour guides/hotels/restaurants/excursions, etc. are a major factor in the tour guide’s performance evaluation and/or whether GCT/OAT renews the hotel’s contract, etc. I’m sure that they do read them, as they have actually contacted me about some of my specific comments. Now whether they actually act on the individual comments/suggestions is another matter. Most changes undoubtedly do take time though.

Author: sealionlady

Joined: 8/1/2010
Posts: 125
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2001

October 24, 2012

I know from experience that it is worth while to fill out the evaluations; I have been contacted by GCT about some of my comments.  That said:  there does seem to be a problem with guides on the river cruises.  I've been on three (and I do plan on more), but on two of them the guides seem to have been on the job since ten seconds ago. They seemed to be frantically searching for maps and pamphlets, which were always provided late.  I also found that the guides would just say "Here's a cute town ..... go find your way around".   But, of course, I have no way of knowing what they are being paid to do ..... it's possible that I'm juding them too harshly.

Author: jayge

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 146
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 2004

October 24, 2012

Perhaps we have been lucky on our 8 rivertrips beginning about 2004.

We remember our first PD.  On that trip which ended in Budapest in a hotel, she asked if anyone would like to take a boat ride at night along the Danube which was not part of the trip.  About 25 of us wanted to go and she took us to the waterfront, purchased the tickets for us and then, of course, we were on our own.

It was a beautiful evening and this sightseeing boat had an open roof, a TV and served us wine.

As the boat  passed a lighted building, the interior was being shown on the TV (many of the lovely buildings in Budapest are illuminated). During this cruise, there were famous waltzes being played.  It was a night we will never forget, cruising along, viewing the beautiful buildings along the Danube and enjoying music and drinking some wine.  Perfect evening!  Our PD did this on her own. 

On two other trips which also included Budapest,  the Grand Circle ship was docked there, the Captain gave everyone a treat by cruising along the river in the evening while we sat in the lounge enjoying a musical performance by an onboard musician.

We have been extremely fortunate in having all wonderful PD's on our 8 trips.

We have fond memories of each one!

Author: gobuckeyes

Joined: 7/7/2010
Posts: 158
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2005

October 24, 2012

sealionlady (posted)....That said: there does seem to be a problem with guides on the river cruises. I've been on three (and I do plan on more), but on two of them the guides seem to have been on the job since ten seconds ago. They seemed to be frantically searching for maps and pamphlets, which were always provided late. I also found that the guides would just say "Here's a cute town ..... go find your way around". But, of course, I have no way of knowing what they are being paid to do ..... it's possible that I'm juding them too harshly.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think you are being way too easy on your tour guide. Here is what GCT (as posted on this website) says that they will do and I would say this is the minumum that you should expect, i.e. anything less would definitely warrant an evaluation score of something less than exceptional:

Grand Circle Program Directors: A World of Difference

No matter where in the world you venture with Grand Circle, you'll be accompanied by one of our resident, expert Program Directors. All are fluent in English and possess the skills, certification, and experience necessary to ensure an enriching experience.

What's more, as residents of the regions you'll explore with them, our Program Directors provide the kind of firsthand knowledge and insight that make local history, culture, and wildlife come alive. Coupled with their unbridled enthusiasm, caring personalities, and ability to bring diverse groups of travelers together, our Program Directors ensure that your experience with Grand Circle is one you'll remember for a lifetime.

 

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

October 24, 2012

I've never had problems similar to the ones Sealionlady posted.  I will say that one PD, on the Holland and Belgium in the Springtime tour, was not as "swift" but she wasn't that bad.  Just not as with it as the PDs on the Grand European Rivers or Russia Revealed.  Or on any of the land tours.

BTW, today I received a letter from Harriett and Alan Lewis welcoming me to my "first river cruise."  It will actually be my fourth.  And if I had discovered river cruises earlier, who knows how many I would have taken.

 

Author: judylee

Joined: 8/19/2011
Posts: 14
Trips Taken: 15
Traveler Since: 2000

October 25, 2012

Our recent E. Europe to Black Sea our PD wasn't what we were used to,quite a disappointment, she offered nothing new for us to enjoy, often took us to a town with out a local guide, merely gave us a map & left us to fend for ourselves, this was a Sunday morning and nothing was open.  No info on church services if one wanted to attend, she gave no cell phone number if thre was an accident or problem.Maybe this is a new program for GCT.  Towards the end of trip she interacted more(possibly due to tip time.  No new discoveries such as other PD's buying treats at the market etc.  I in all fairness could not give her a great rating.

Author: oldbog

Joined: 2/6/2011
Posts: 40
Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 1999

October 25, 2012

 We too received the letter saying the cruise we had booked was our first ....not so!   It is a minor thing but does not reflect an attention to detail.  

Author: singsling

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

October 25, 2012

Couple thing:  First, we've been on 9 "counted" trips,  5 of them river cruises.  The 10th trip was in 1995, and GCT says they don't count after 5 years.  We began in 2006.  Not sure Pauline is in this 5 year time frame. Our last river cruise was 2008 to on the Russia and the Volga River (not sure title), just before they started the Russia Revealed cruises. 

Second.  Since the first river cruise we started with GCT in 2006, we have liked/loved every PD.  On the first, we had 2, and one of them was with us on the pre-trip.  All of the other PD's we had more than one on the cruise, sometimes 3-4.  The ones we  had were great.  On the escorted trips, we also have had great PD's.  They just recently in the last few years started the PD emailing each traveler about 2 weeks before the trip.  This last escorted trip to Ireland this past summer, our PD emailed us; we emailed back with some dietary concerns.  Then she called us the day before departure (we were just about to go out the door to a hotel near the airport).  On our return, she also called to see we got back okay.  That is service.  We had only one very unpleasant PD, that was on the Norway Coastal Cruise and Lapland (the Hurtigruten Cruse Line).  Our PD seemed to expect us to know everything just from reading the Travelers Handbook.  She refused to talk loud enough for people to hear, and everyone was nudging each other to find out what she said.  We asked her to use a mic, talk louder, or repeat.  She became disgruntled.  She did not give us enough info on what to expect on the Hurtigrute ship, she did not give the ship's restaurant manager our dietary concerns, she embarrassed my husband for no particular reason by looking at the menu for the evening and approaching my husband at the table of 6 that we were, and asked him "Mr. xxx, tell me, yes or no, can you eat the mashed potatoes? " My husband was going to ask if they were made with milk or cream, but she cut him off and said, "I said answer yes or no."  At t his point my husband got up and left; she treated him like a 6 year old.  The other 4 at the table were dumbfouinded that she treated us that way.  We arranged to speak with the manager outselves, but also before that we didn't want to overstep what she might have arranged with the manager, because he didn't speak English.  Before we got on t he ship she didn't give us any boarding information, and didn't explain how the optional tour activity desk worked.  We loved the cruise, the food, the ship, the ports, but few of us like her.  I did a review of the cruise and mentioned this as well as  in our evaluation after the cruise.  Other than this, we have had wonderful PD; Dina on the Hamburg and  River Elbe cruise (first one) was the very best; we wrote a letter to Alan and Harriet about her.  Our next best was Dee Dee on the Northern Ireland Pre-trip-Ireland in Depth was the  2nd best.  Zoe and her now husband on the Eastern Europe to Black Sea was also great.  There were 3 PD's on that cruise.  The excellent PD's is another reason we choose GCT over others.  We took another company's cruise-tour to Alaska in 1999 and we didn't think that tour director was personable enough, gave us some info on what to do in a town, but most of what we saw we figured out on our own, we had been to most of the ports before. 

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

October 25, 2012

I don't understand what that 5 years means.  My first trip was in 1999, my second in 2001, my third in 2002.  And so on.  There were trips in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.  We had to cancel a fall trip in 2007 and a spring trip in 2008 due to my friend's cancer.    I started again in 2010.  The total is 10 trips.  Some people have taken more than 20 trips.

Author: robsmom

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

October 25, 2012

In defense of our tour leader, she knew a great deal about history, way of life, etc. She was always available,to chat  and mingled day and night with passengers.

In contrast, our Russian tour leader was great about history and had suggestions and directions for every place we visited. But, God forbid you spoke with her while walking past her at dinner or on ship. But there was so much to see and do that we did not need her assistance.

I guess the problem on the Rhine & Mosel was that I did not do my usual homework, thinking that our tour leader would have suggestions. I am not saying that sights and castles along the weren't lovely, but it would have been nice to see more than town squares.

This is only my opinion. I had suggested that GC make sure their leaders have suggestions for museum etc.  But, GC never responsed , and sent me a "Glad you enjoyed your trip" letter.

 

Author: singsling

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

October 26, 2012

Pauline:

We, too, got that letter yesterday, and my husband's remarks when he read it, were just like yours--we've been on 5 river cruises, the last one last year, 2011.  Can't imagine what they are thinking.  About the 5 years,  I'm just saying like it was told to me when they said to me when I was booking a trip--"I see you've had x number trips with us, thank you."  I always correct them and mention the one in 1995, and they tell me it doesn't count, that they don't go back that far, they usually don't go back 5 years.  That is what they tell me on the phone.

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

October 26, 2012

"This is only my opinion. I had suggested that GC make sure their leaders have suggestions for museum etc. But, GC never responsed ..."

It's my opinion too, especially since there is so much free time on the trips now. Some of the extensions don't offer anything more than breakfast and a walk or two so we need to know what is available. 

I've been on trips where the PD, or someone in the office staff has put together folders with maps, information about the country and area and lists of things to do and see, which is very helpful.

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

October 26, 2012

On the Ireland in Depth trip in 2011, our post trip in Dublin included a couple of walking tours with the guide we had for those few days and an optional trip to that fishing village (name slips my mind) with a stop at Malahide Castle.  He also supplied us with a two-day pass on the hop-on-hop-off bus and made sure we were ready for our transfer to the airport.

During the pre-trip in Kiev, we had our PDs for the Russia Revealed trip with us.

It varies.  Sometimes, you do have the PD.  Sometimes, it's a local guide.  Sometimes, there's someone at a desk that says GCT, and there really there to advise.

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

October 26, 2012

Singsling, I still don't understand the 5 years.  At GCT events, they ask how many trips people have taken.  I got a bouquet of flowers last time, because I stood up for 10 trips.  Some people have taken over 20 trips.  On the forums, they state the number of trips people have taken.  Somebody was confused.

Author: jayge

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 146
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 2004

October 26, 2012

Sometimes we need to remember the nice things we experience on our trips with Grand Circle.

This happened aboard the Rhine and the Mosel River trip this June.

I was certainly pleasantly surprised when the young lady assigned to our cabin to take care of the beds, cleaning, etc. on our trip this summer asked me "which spray products or cleaning products are you allergic to?"  I asked her how she knew I had such sensitivites and she told me it is in the records she had.

I certainly felt impressed that Grand Circle would take such excellent care!

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