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Author: kenanella1947

Joined: 8/5/2013
Posts: 5
Trips Taken: 0

September 17, 2013

I was disappointed to find that the 3 above segments have been eliminated on our upcoming trip,

The Panama rail trip has wonderful reviews on Tripadvisor.

Was safety an issue on the zipline?

Does anyone have any info on why the trip has been altered?

 

 

Author: sealionlady

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

September 18, 2013

 Please check the traveler's review section on the Panama trip.  It seems the zip-line was cancelled because of safety issues with the contractor.  The train ride has been eliminated from the on-line itinerery.  

If you are contemplating this trip, please take a moment to read the reviews.  

Author: grandcircle

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 243
Trips Taken: 0

September 18, 2013

Hello Kenanella1947 -

Thank you for your comments. 

We removed the zipline due to safety issues.  It's actually been closed & it will remained closed until further maintenance is done.  The train was removed due to traveler feedback.  Travelers had indicated their post trip surveys that the 5am wake up call or not being able to check into the hotel before the Farewell Dinner (depending upon which direction they were traveling) was too hectic.   Portobelo was removed due to weather issues.  Strong winds often kept us from being able to offer the water activities as advertised.

I hope this helps.  If you have additional questions, please contact me at gctforummoderator@gct.com.

Kind Regards,
Michelle
GCCL Forum Moderator
 

Author: kenanella1947

Joined: 8/5/2013
Posts: 5
Trips Taken: 0

September 18, 2013

 Thank you for the responses.

I can see from the earlier spring reviews that other travellers were surprised by the changes in the itinerary.

As long as the changes are based on client feedback and the substitutions made have been positively received, i will not fret about it.  

I can see no reviews on line based on the Panama trip past June, 2013.  But I will keep checking.

Author: noseycat

Joined: 5/18/2012
Posts: 41
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2007

September 19, 2013

As a follow-up to the June 2013 review (mine): GCT later made another substantial financial adjustment to the two of us (I cannot speak for other travelers). We are even more satisfied with GCT's handling of the situation, and with our own personal satisfaction with the trip. 

Remember, this is group, not individual, travel, and when things go a little awry (as they sometimes do), it can be more difficult to work around the problem.  The best-laid plans of mice and men...

Recommendation: go and have a great time, regardless!

Author: gobuckeyes

Joined: 7/7/2010
Posts: 152
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2005

September 19, 2013

WOW...... it looks like GCT just replaced the Portobelo visit, the zip line tour, and the train ride with a visit to a jewelery shop. If GCT did that to me I'd ask for financial comsensation too.

Just curious; Hey Michelle (GCCL Forum Moderator), did everyone on the tour get some compensation or just those that complained?

Before (from 2013 brochure):

mnhs.jpg

After (what is currently on GCT's website):

Day 10
Gatun Locks/Resprosa jewelry shop tour

Disembark the Discovery this morning before arriving at Gatun Locks Visitors Center to learn about modern-day expansion of the canal.

After lunch on your own, you’ll visit Reprosa jewelry shop, famous for its reproductions of pre-Columbian art and jewelry. Tour the shop and admire how artisans bring these ancient "treasures of Panama" to life in finely-wrought silver and gold.

This evening, check into your hotel before gathering with your fellow travelers to reminisce over a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant in the Old Quarter.

 

Author: noseycat

Joined: 5/18/2012
Posts: 41
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2007

September 19, 2013

Point of clarification: We (my wife and I) DID NOT complain and DID NOT request compensation.  I cannot speak for others.  GCT's financial adjustments were unsolicited and came as complete surprises.  The adjustments certainly were appreciated, but in no way were expected.

GCT made what I thought were exceptional efforts to deal with an unfortunate situation: the lightning strike that temporarily disabled the ship.  I doubt that any organization or person has the ability to control lightning.

The strike disabled the ship's computer and related equipment, and the necessary repair parts and technical support personnel had to be brought in from Costa Rica.  It is my understanding that the anchored ship was prohibited by the Panamanian canal authorities from moving until the repairs had been completed, tested, and approved.  The Canal folks there take extraordinary pride in safely and efficiently operating the Canal, and are unlikely to jeopardize their most valuable asset.

GCT provided other activities to compensate for the inconvenience: we went by van to Portobelo to tour the city and visit the old fortifications that Captain Henry Morgan and his men attacked and plundered; we took a successful wildlife walk; we toured the Gatun Locks expansion project (one of the highlights of the trip); we had a wonderful folklore dance performance; and perhaps other things, too--I have slept since then.

As I mentioned earlier, the zip line was cancelled for the safety of the group--the vendor's maintenance seemed to have been unsatisfactory.  I seriously doubt that anyone would want to take a chance on such a ride.

Instead of the train ride, we saw the same scenery from our vans.

The jewelry workshop provided an in-depth demonstration of the lost-wax method of gold and silver casting.  We found it fascinating.  

All in all, this was a wonderful trip for us, and we have no complaints.  The trip, like the other GCT/OAT trips that we have taken, made us very happy (traveling) campers.

 

Author: gobuckeyes

Joined: 7/7/2010
Posts: 152
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2005

September 19, 2013

1. There are 2 other traveler reviews on the GCT website on this tour where the travelers were dissatisfied with the fact that GCT elinimated two "Exclusive Discovery Events" (i.e. zip lining and the Panama Railway Train) and Portobelo. Unfortunately both travelers indicated that they would not recommend the trip, (see below):

a. "Being history buffs we looked with anticipation to the train ride and the town of Portobello. They were both cancelled due to being late for the farewell dinner. Not a good reason. This was just the beginning of things we couldn't do such as the cancelled zip line.

If GCT took the money paid into these cancellations and paid for the aerial tram ride that most of us took at the Gamboa Rain Forest Resort that would have been well received."

b. "It wasn't until we received the final documents that we realized that the Panama Railroad trip had been eliminated, though it had been heavily promoted and pictured in the prior advertising literature. Many others in the group also expressed their chagrin at the elimination of the train ride. At our first group meeting we learned that the zip line in the rain forest had been eliminated."

2. I stand by my original post. I feel that asking "what GCT's policy on this issue is" is a legitimate and valad question. However, I'll rephrase my question (i.e. eliminate the word "complain"):

Apparently there are cases where GCT compensates a traveler when GCT eliminates some significant activities on the trip after the traveler has already booked and paid for the trip. 

Michelle (GCCL Forum Moderator), in cases like this (above) does everyone on the tour get (or at least get offered) the same compensation or just those that brought the issue to GCT's attention via comments and/or a trip report, etc.? 

 

Author: grandcircle

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 243
Trips Taken: 0

September 20, 2013

Hello Gobuckeyes -

Thank you for your question.

When we need to replace an advertised feature, we do our best to provide an equal or better feature in its place.  

In general, there are many factors that go into making a decision around compensation.  This type of decision is made privately and on a case by case basis directly with the traveler or group of travelers. 

Kind Regards,
Michelle
GCCL Forum Moderator
 

Author: nancyf

Joined: 4/26/2010
Posts: 155
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

43 of the 50 United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, England , France , Italy , Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Africa (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe. South Africa), Israel, Canada, the Carribbean, Peru, going to Egypt & Jordan in February 2011 ( canceled due to the unrest there, but I will take this trip later!), China, Russia, Kenya, Turkey, Greece, Malta, Sicily.

Traveler Since: 2007

September 20, 2013

Before I went on the Old World Prague and Blue Danube trip last May, GC called that we would have one less night on the boat due to some kind of scheduled maintenance in Linz, and would have to spend the night in Linz in a hotel. Was told that we would get compensated monetarily for that when we got back from the trip. Sure enough, the monetary compensation was credited to my credit card (the way I had paid) a short while after that. In talking to a few people on the trip, we all got the compensation.

Author: kenanella1947

Joined: 8/5/2013
Posts: 5
Trips Taken: 0

November 05, 2013

 Has anyone else noticed the latest review on the Panama Trip (Sept. date when the trip was taken) goes on to praise the train/railway trip?

What is that all about----the railway portion is clearly cancelled?

I guess I had better question the validity of GCT's reviews.

 

Author: grandcircle

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 243
Trips Taken: 0

November 06, 2013

Hello Kenanella1947 -

Thank you for your comments. 

We researched the traveler review that mentioned the train trip.  After speaking with our Regional Office, we confirmed that a small group of travelers did the train trip on their own with the help of the Program Director. They paid out of pocket for the incurred expenses and met up with the rest of the group later.

We hope that helps clear up any confusion.

Kind Regards,
Michelle
GCCL Forum Moderator
 

Author: kenanella1947

Joined: 8/5/2013
Posts: 5
Trips Taken: 0

November 06, 2013

 Michelle,

 

Thank you for clearing that up.  Also good to know that the program director was able to meet his clients interests.  Maybe I will get to do the train after all.

 

 

Author: franniepat

Joined: 3/11/2010
Posts: 42
Trips Taken: 9
Countries Visited:

Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia, Columbia, Mexico, Alaska, Canada, Western US parks.

Traveler Since: 2008

January 16, 2014

Why not make the train trip an optional?

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