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Author: kayandlou

Joined: 10/17/2013
Posts: 1
GCT Trips Taken: 8
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2000

October 17, 2013

We went on the Old World Prague & the Blue Danube trip in August, & were introduced to the "whisperer", where the city guide or the program director uses a microphone during a guided tour, & we wear earbuds.  When this system is used, the guide doesn't have to stop & gather us together to tell us about what we're seeing.  Instead, s/he just keeps walking, & if one of us gets too far behind, we lose the voice & also sight of the group.  We found that many times the guide tends to walk too fast when s/he is "aided" by this technical device.  My husband & I were each separated from our group on different days in Prague & had to find our way back to the hotel on the subway.  Luckily, one of our program directors had given us a very good lesson on using the subway, & that saved us.  However, we both missed most of those tours. 

Needless to say, we are not fans of this new system.  I think it could be improved by having the guides be more aware of whether their group was staying intact.  We also noticed on this trip that the program directors did not keep count of us as they did on all 7 of our other GCT trips.

I doubt that we will take another trip with GCT if they continue to use the whisperer, which is a shame, because we have had many great trips with them before the whisperer.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 972
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

October 17, 2013

You shouldn't blame the whisperers for the failings of your PDs.  They are still supposed to stay with the group and keep track of everyone.  Have you reported this to GCT?  If not, you should.

Author: grandcircle

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 272
GCT Trips Taken: 0
OAT Trips Taken: 0

October 17, 2013

Hello Kayandlou -

Thank you for posting.  We are sorry to hear about your experience onsite with the whispers & your PD. Somebody will be reaching out to you offline to discuss this further.

Kind Regards,

Michelle

GCCL Forum Moderator

Author: jayge

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 146
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2004

October 17, 2013

Whispers did not work well on last two rivercruises

I even got my receiver and headset changed and still the voice was not clear.

On one occasion, I mentioned it to PD and she changed hers and it was better but the next day she might have had a different one and it was back to the same garbled sound.

I gave up on both trips and although I missed using the Whispers, I moved to be near the PD so I could hear.

Have any of you had trouble with this system?

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 512
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

October 17, 2013

 The ear pieces on the whispers do not match high quality ear buds that you might have. They are more comparable with the air line head phones. Using you own higher quality ear buds should improver their performance. The plugs are compatile. Travlers should be expected to keep in contact with the group and not rely on the whispers for that. In many case, all it takes to lose contact is to be on the other side of a granite wall. If you have difficulty keeping up with the group or wish to pause to spend more time looking at a sight, inform your PD, or do sot at your own risk. 

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 972
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

October 17, 2013

If by ear buds, you mean that the earpiece on the whisperers goes into your ears, people like me who wear hearing aids can't use them.  I have always been given the kind that sit outside the ear.  Except for the one time that it was a single ear piece, so only one ear was involved.  But I always bring my own earphones, just in case.

I can't remember which trip it was, but there was one where everybody's whisperers had problems.  It must have been the batch they got.

When we went to the Cathedral in Chartes on Seine extension last July, they gave us a different kind.  Instead of a band going over the head to hold the earphones, they hooked onto the ears and were very heavy.  I kept feeling as though my ears were going to be pulled off my head.

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 425
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

October 17, 2013

My first experience with the whispers was on the River cruise in 2006. The PD almost made a pest of himself by asking over and over if everyone could hear. But then it was a new "toy" for him as well. It worked very well.

I appreciate the concerns of the travelers who wear hearing aids. Bringing your own head phones (as opposed to ear buds) seems to be the answer. I have never had a good experience with ear buds even though I don't wear hearing aids. On at least one GCT tour the whispers came with an ear piece with an over-the-ear hanger. That took a little maneuvering with the eye glasses but once I got that worked out I rather liked it.

I can understand that an inattentive or inconsiderate tour guide could "lose" some of the tourists without really being aware of it. It was not a GCT tour and we were not using whispers, but in St. Petersburg, Russia the tour guide was soundly chastised by several members of the tour group for moving too rapidly and talking while walking, an arrangement that made it impossible for more than a few to hear what was being said. The complaints were met with a blank stare and an "almost visible" shrug of the shoulders. He had to walk by a certain number of points and get to a certain place at a certain time, and that was all that was important to him. If you learned anything, that was a bonus. Needless to say there were a lot of "blank stares" from the tourists when it was time to hand him the gratuities.

Author: garyrr

Joined: 8/25/2012
Posts: 118
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 16
Countries Visited:

Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, S Africa, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Peru, New Zealand, Greece, Turkey, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, India, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Italy, Ireland, Great Britain, Netherlands, Belgium, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Zambia

Traveler Since: 2000

October 17, 2013

The ear phone systems are fabulous (assuming the function properly).  Any issues with how the guide handles the group is on the guide - not the speaker systems!   Going thru crowded churches or museums is wonderful with them.  Since talking loudly is not permitted -

Author: grammyflo

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

October 17, 2013

Totally agree.  We would not have heard a thing in Versailles or the Louvre or the Cathedrals etc. because of the very high ceilings and the hordes of travelers, all having tour directors trying to explain the same thing, if it were not for those blessed Whispers.. Perhaps one could keep a mind's eye on the head of the group and not fall behind.  When my whisper starts to crackle, I know it is time to pay more attention to the group's progress.

If you want to linger at a particular place, perhaps you could ask your TD where you can meet up later at the end of the tour. Our TD always gave us a place to meet and a time in case of whatever. One has to take a little responsibility for keeping up or not.  

BTW, I wear hearing aids and manage quite well with one ear bud. They are sometimes a pain in the neck, but mostly have been a godsend to me.

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 540
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

October 18, 2013

My first experience with Whispers was on an Elderhostel trip to Italy about ten years ago. I thought they were great in the museums, art galleries and churches. They do take some adjusting but they worked much better than trying to get close enough to the PD to hear over all the background sounds. I used to hate the city walks when I missed much of whatever the PD was saying. 

On the Ireland trip, it was raining hard when we stopped for the sheep dog demonstration so I stayed on the bus and watched and heard it all and stayed dry.

I've seen other tour groups using Whispers so I think they are pretty much standard now. If someone doesn't want to use them they don't have to but should stay close to the PD.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 972
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

October 18, 2013

Another bonus with the whisperers is that you pretty much get rid of the hangers-on.  Those people who don't want to pay for a guided tour, but hang around the groups with a guide to try to hear what's being said.  Of course, sometimes they're trying to practice their English, but not always.  Years ago, one of them tried to shove me out of the way to get closer to the guide.  I wasn't quiet about my reaction, and the guide looked at him and said "go away."  And he went.

Author: franniepat

Joined: 3/11/2010
Posts: 50
GCT Trips Taken: 3
OAT Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

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

Traveler Since: 2008

October 18, 2013

I think they are effective. Luckily so far, I have been able to hear our guides really well by staying within about 30 feet and have no problem keeping up with the guide. So, I will usually give my whisperer to someone who says they have alot of static or forgot to bring theirs. But they are really worthwhile in busy crowds or churches. If you have problems hearing with them, perhaps try your own better grade ear buds.

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 242
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1995

October 29, 2013

We just returned from two cruises (river and small ship) a few days ago.  We used Whispers on both trips.  The ear piece was the over the ear and ONLY for the right ear, with a small extension that sat just above the ear canal.  It was good, but had a lot of static.  Both of the trips, the guide (or PD) who wore the master with a over-the-head, on a strong wire, with a mouthpiece.  Neither of the guide's or PD's were working right and had to be changed.  They worked okay, not great, but had a lot of static, and each guide used hands a lot, and turned their head a lot, so the sound would fade in and out.  I really like them, since I am very short and usually the die-hard history buffs like to be in the front so they can put their two cents worth in or ask question after question, so that the taller persons are usually in the front and I'm moving out of their way to get some air.

I have over the ear buds that fit in the ear, but their sound is not good(not expensive enough), and I couldn't use them because I too wear hearing aids--my husband was able to use for a while.  Also, with the over the ear GCT whispers, I couldnt' wear a hearing aid in that ear.  And since I wear glasses, it took some finagling to get the hearing piece over my ear with the eyeglass stem. 

These whispers are not a new way of guiding a tour; we've used them for some years.  It's just that some PD's are just getting them, like our PD on our recent small ship cruise. It was only the second cruise he was using them, and he didn't like whispers.  I have to say, the batteries in these newer whispers lasted the whole trip; we didn't have to give back every other day for re-charging like in the past.

As for the PD's not being around.  On both these trips, each PD was at the beginning of the tour to make the introduction, and they were quick to tell us where we were to meet at the end of the tour, that s/he would be there.  They also were at a middle point or two to take care of anyone who may have needed  help, questions, and to see how things were going.  GCT has some good PD's  like that.  And on hikes, the PD was back and forth countless time to be sure everyone was okay,keeping up, or falling behind,never far away.

I would suggest if GCT is going to continue using whispers, they should consider getting left ear hearing pieces as well as right ear. 

 

 

Author: richinct

Joined: 10/23/2012
Posts: 14
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2013

October 30, 2013

 Just returned from a wonderful trip to china.  We were not able to use the whispers because the sound was not clear and muffled. Resorted to using a speaker system.  On another company we used VOX. Perhaps GCT should look into another manufacturer.  That one worked very well.

Author: mertziek

Joined: 9/2/2010
Posts: 34
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2010

October 31, 2013

I like the whispers.  At least now I can hear what the PD has to say even if not right in front by him/her.

On my recent trip to Eastern Europe, twice my PD left people behind even after being told about it so I was interested in hearing kayandlou's similar experience.  One of our episodes also happened in Prague and somehow the two left behind managed to find us.  This was the first time either I or other people on our tour heard of leaving people behind in a foreign country so if this is more prevalent than I thought, GCT really needs to do something about it. We were all shocked that our PD showed such little concern for those missing and it affected our tips.   A big reason many of us take these tours is because we believe we will be looked after and not left behind.  I realize there is a responsibility on the part of the traveler to be at a certain place at a certain time but we are dealing with a mainly elderly population of people who may not know how to navigate in some of these big cities.

Author: dgevry

Joined: 9/4/2010
Posts: 65
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 1
Traveler Since: 2010

October 31, 2013

I also like the Whisperers because you can step away from the group to take a picture or just look at the architecture and still hear the commentary. This year the receiver came with one ear piece that fit over the ear. Previously we were given a head band with ear pieces that fit over each ear. I found the headband was constantly slipping and cumbersome. We brought our own ear buds this year which worked fine with little static. I think the people who used the Grand Circle earpiece had more static, but people seemed to have less problems with the single earpiece than the older headband type. Our program director told us that Grand Circle changed to one ear piece for safety reasons. They wanted people to be able to hear traffic noises. People who brought their own headsets were told only to use one earpiece, so that we too would be aware of traffic.  This was OK, since the sound was only delivered to one ear piece anyway.

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 512
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

October 31, 2013

 We have had 2 occasions that we remember losing a traveler.

On a non GCT bus trip  through Spain, a man from Guatamala, I believe, a native Spanish speaker, failed to return to the appointed meeting point after free time, having remembered the departure time incorrectly. The trip leader left the rest of us on the bus with the driver while she searched the town for the missing traveler.  After about an hour of searching, she left information with a driver of another tourist bus at the same pickup spot to watch the the man and gave him the name of the next hotel with instructions to take a public bus. He caught up to us that night and was never late for the duration of the trip. She was a poor guide by GCT standards, walking briskly and not making sure that she had everyone. Th travelers took it on themselves to have someone hang back at corners to prevent others from getting lost. In this case, however, it was not her fault.

In Rome with GCT, a woman traveling with her 60ish son, wandered off from the group in the very crowded Vatican. The PD and local guide both had whisper tranmitters and set off to find her, leaving the rest off us with instructions not to go anyplace. After giving up on the search, we wnet back to the hotel, only to find that woman had already returned by taxi.

In neither of these cases could the trip leader be considered at fault. People need to take responsiblility for the themsselves. No matter how diligent the PD  is, it only takes seconds for a traveler to become separated from the group. Obviously the more diligent PD can minimize occurences, but the travelers also must be diligent, especially noting when the whisper signal gets weak.

Before GCT had whispers, we were quite jealous of other companies that had them and have found that they are a great improvement. Now, if only they had the capability for the receivers to find the transmitter and vice versa, we would be in a near perfect world, Until then the PD will have to continue to keep track of straglers  and wanderers and travelers will have to keep isight of the PD, or at least others in the group.

 

 

 

Author: grandcircle

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 272
GCT Trips Taken: 0
OAT Trips Taken: 0

November 04, 2013

Hello Everybody -

Thank you for your comments.

Mertziek, somebody will be following up with you offline to discuss the experience you had on our Eastern Europe trip.

Kind Regards,

Michelle

GCCL/GCT Forum Moderator

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