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Author: kba

Joined: 6/19/2010
Posts: 67
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2009

May 05, 2013

Just returned from the Romance of the Rhine and Mosel.  As usual a wonderful river cruise, an outstanding crew and a gread PD.  However, GCT has apparently introduced non-denominational touring (term used by our PD).  We did not go into any of the cathedrals/churches.  For me, that was a disappointment.  I believe the churches/synagogues/mosques do say something about history and the culture regardless of the denomination/religion.  I did go on my own to most but, had I known about this new "non-denominational" approach I would have planned differently.  Has anyone else experienced this?

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 545
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

May 05, 2013

Wow! What a disappointment that would be. I'm not religious, but always enjoy visiting places of worship, some of which are historical and have beautiful art and architecture.

I'd like to hear from GCT about this policy. Personally I think it's a big loser.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 973
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

May 05, 2013

What?  I've never heard of such a thing.  We've always visited famous/historical religious buildings.  Since GCT tours are supposed to be educational to a great extent, why would they eliminate so much of the history of those countries?

I do remember that most of the Jewish sites were closed when we were in Prague, because it was the beginning of Succoth.  And that most of us took ourselves to the synagogue in Budapest on a Sunday.  There was a museum next door (actually, attached) that had an exhibit of early Chagall that was included in our ticket.

Author: sealionlady

Joined: 8/1/2010
Posts: 128
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 7
Traveler Since: 2001

May 05, 2013

This does seem very odd.  I went to the itinerary for "Christmastime on the Seine" and found this: 

"After lunch onboard, gather at Rouen's Notre Dame Cathedral—a Gothic architectural treasure so inspirational to Monet—for a special Christmas concert".

Perhaps the Program Director misunderstood some memo from Boston. 

 

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 514
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

May 05, 2013

 Such a policy change may be Politically Coreect. but it takes away much of what makes Grand Circle what it is. The company prides itself in exposing its travelers to the local culture. Religion is a major part in this culture, whether it id Christian, Moslem, Jewish, Hindu, Budhist or whatever else. This is a major reason that most people trael with GCT and OAT. I hope that either this PD is mistaken and corrected or that, if it is not mistaken, that the poicly change is reversed. As Catholic Christians, we have visited cathedrals, mosques, temples and synagogues on most of our trips, learning and showing respect for all.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 973
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

May 05, 2013

I don't understand this. 

Just now, I wanted to be sure that I will see the Cathedral in Rouen when I take the Paris to Honfleur Seine cruise, and it's still listed.  But I think we see it on our own if we want.

Then I checked the detailed itinerary for Rhine & Mosel cruise.  It says that in Trier, you see the Basilica built by Constantine and St. Peter's Cathedral.  And if you take the optional Luxembourg tour, you see the Notre Dame Cathedral.  Not just walk or drive by, but go inside.  Didn't you see these?

Pauline

Author: grammyflo

Joined: 3/15/2010
Posts: 176
GCT Trips Taken: 13
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

May 05, 2013

 I dont understand this either, Pauline.  I would have missed, to name a few, the Cathedrals in Moscow, Cologne, Paris, Rouen, the Synagogue in Coptic Cairo, the Mosques there also and all the art, history, and architecture that come with them.  The art alone in these places of worship is worth the tour.  

I await GCT's answer to this puzzlement.  It certainly will affect decisions of future trips.

 

Author: janice!

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

May 05, 2013

kba, thank you for telling us about this. I would like to believe that your experience was an anomaly and not a new policy. Most if not all of my trips to Europe, with GCT and other providers, have included visits to houses of worship. For example, I can't imagine going to Italy, or any of the great cities of Europe, and not visiting any of their magnificent churches. If it is really GCT's policy to exclude them, I will be looking elsewhere for future travel.

As for what is in the itineraries on the website, keep in mind that they are often not updated when changes are made. I've been on trips where changes didn't even appear in the final documents and we didn't learn about the changes until after arrival.

Author: lyn

Joined: 3/14/2010
Posts: 36
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2004

May 05, 2013

Wow, I hope that the PD was mistaken about non denominational touring.  We have never heard of that policy.  We just returned from England, Scotland and Wales (see my trip evaluation) and we toured York Minster with GCT.  No mention of such a policy.  We also were in several other churches with our PD.  I agree, churches of all faiths are of historical value .  I will watch for GCT response to this thread. 

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 429
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

May 05, 2013

Churches and cathedrals were significant parts of both the Great Rivers and the Rhine and Mosel cruises. Churches and cathedrals were very significant during the Amalfi Coast and Tuscany tour and, especially, the Rome extension. And without the churches and cathedrals the Sicily tour with the Malta extension would be hard to imagine. While cathedrals were few and churches were less significant, they were included in all of our tours in the USA and Canada. In the Americas we also observed evidences of Native American worship.

Curious!

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 973
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

May 05, 2013

But, Janice_, this isn't just a change in itinerary.  It's a change in the whole concept of these trips.  True, the religious sites are not the only historical sites we see.  But they play a major part in the history of all these countries.

I would certainly re-think any of the GCT tours if we were not being taken into the famous churches and cathedrals and shown everything there is to see.  I'd feel short-changed.

This has to be a mistake on the part of the PD.

Pauline

Author: kba

Joined: 6/19/2010
Posts: 67
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2009

May 05, 2013

Hi All:  Honestly, I am not making this up.  In Trier we saw the outside of the Roman building, now a Basilica (I am not sure of the denomination).   We may have been too early to get inside.   I, (also on my own in Trier), went into the Catholic Cathedral. and also the adjacent church.  Two other incredible Baslicas that I visited on my own were, the amazing hand painted church in Bruges as well as the Cathedral in Strausbourg.  I am not sure whether all of these were Basilcias, Cathedrals or churches.  Nevertheless, I did these on my own not with a PD or local guide.  I traveled into Bruges on 4/10/13 and then the main trip begain in Antwerp on the 13th.  I certainly hope this is not some new "trend" as Grand Circle can count me out if it is.  I have been on several other GCT trips and we have always had guides and gone into the Cathedrals/churches. 

 

 

 

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 429
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

May 06, 2013

For what it's worth, here's what I gleaned from my journal of our 2010 Rhine and Mosel cruise:

In Antwerp we did not tour the 15th Century Cathedral of Our Lady, but the tour guide talked a lot about it as we viewed the exterior. The tour ended in the square in front of the Cathedral so that those who so desired could attend the 12:00 Noon mass.

In Nijmegan we also saw the outside of the cathedral while our PD talked about its history and pointed out the "Devil on a pole" in front of the cathedral.

In Bonn we saw the Jewish enclave as well as the Church of St. Martin. Neither was specifically toured but both were discussed by the PD. On an optional tour we went to Bruhl and toured Agustusburg Palace, the very opulent residence of the Archbishop of Cologne, but it had little religeous significance.

In Trier we viewed the oldest cathedral in Germany and had a very detailed discussion by the local guide, but we did not enter it.

If we saw a cathedral in Luxembourg it did not impress me enough for me to remember it. But the prayer chapel at the American Military Cemetery, and the whole cemetery itself, was a spiritual high for me.

As we walked into Speyer from the ship the cathedral and its surroundings were pointed out and discussed, but our tour of the cathedral was done on our own time and by our own designs.

The Cathedral in Strasbourg was about the most spectacular I have observed. Our PD led us around and then into the cathedral for a guided tour.

In Basil we toured, inside and out, the cathedral, once Catholic but now Lutheran.

In Lucerne (post cruise exension) we toured rather intensely the Jesuit Church of Lucerne as part of the included city tour. Although it is still an active church it is more frequently thought of as a concert hall and tourist spot. It is somewhat unique because of the combination of Baroque and Rococco style.

 

 

Author: grandcircle

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 273
GCT Trips Taken: 0
OAT Trips Taken: 0

May 06, 2013

Hello Everybody -

Thank you for your comments.

Kba, we are sorry to hear about your experience onsite.  We are operating our sightseeing as advertised in our brochures & on our website, i.e. with visits to various historical/religious sights. There have been no changes around this.  Somebody will be contacting you offline to discuss this further.

Kind Regards,

Michelle

OAT Forum Moderator
 

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 514
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

May 06, 2013

 I'm glad to hear that. A change in the cultural, including religious aspect of the trips would definitely take away from their appeal. You can't really understand the people of the world without their religions. 

Author: robsmom

Joined: 9/21/2010
Posts: 34
GCT Trips Taken: 2
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2011

May 06, 2013

Took Rhine &Mosel last year. In most cities PD led us around and gave us history , but did NOT bring us inside most buildings. When possible we had to go back on our "free time" to try & find and then enter. Needless to say, we were not happy .

Author: gaynell

Joined: 8/12/2010
Posts: 151
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2005

May 06, 2013

This has been an interesting thread to read.  Kba, It has occurred to me that perhaps your tour director was just making a bad joke when he referred to "non-denominational touring."  Is that a possibility?  Either that, or whatever personal bias he might have is affecting his itinerary choices! 

We have been in temples, synagogues, mosques, churches, and cathedrals  on our OAT and Grand Circle trips, everywhere from El Salvador to Finland. A mosques in Morocco, temples in Thailand, a synagogue in Istanbul, a sweet, tiny Anglican church in New Zealand, and the wonderful Russian Orthodox churches of St. Petersburg are some I especially remember.  Visiting these sites definitely fits within the company goals (and ours!) of learning about the culture, society, and history of whatever country you are in.

I was at all not surprised to read Michelle's comment that there has been no change in company policy concerning visiting various religious sites.  It appears that you hit a one trip anomaly , and I doubt that you need to be concerned about it happening again.

Author: robsmom

Joined: 9/21/2010
Posts: 34
GCT Trips Taken: 2
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2011

May 06, 2013

I should have added....the other Pd"s took their groups into some buildings, ours did not...Perhaps it was their PD's choice ?

 

Author: kba

Joined: 6/19/2010
Posts: 67
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2009

May 06, 2013

Gaynell and Robsmom:

I believe you are correct.  Perhaps it was a poor choice of words on our PD's part....non denominational touring just doesn't do it properly and I just wasn't "on top" of it and was therefore offended.    Our PD was wonderful and the trip was good.  I would have loved to have been guided through a few of the Cathedrals/Churches, especially Strausbourg (sp)?).  At any rate, I have always had a wonderful experience with GCT.   Somehow
"walking past" is not enough for me.  I will be aware of that in the future. 

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