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Author: tpreminger

Joined: 5/14/2011
Posts: 35
Trips Taken: 5
Traveler Since: 1999

November 14, 2013

Just returned from a cruise on the Provence and not for the first time it struck me that PDs need to be reminded that we are senior citizens.  While most of us are fully capable of meeting the physical requirements of a trip, the truth is we see and hear a little less well with each passing year.  

On my recent trip, the PD director gave out directions quickly, didn't like to repeat herself, and was amazed if we didn't get it the first time she said something.

In many ways the PD was very competent and she organized activities for us to fill the EXCESSIVE amount of free time we had in Paris.  Whether she did this on her own or it's a ploy to make us think PDs go the "extra mile" doesn't matter.  We all appreciated the opportunity to ride the metro together and visit areas that weren't on the itinerary.

But there was  grumbling among my fellow travelers regarding not hearing or understanding directions.   Pointing to a bridge and saying " O'ver dhere is the bus stop to get back to your hotel." while the tour bus is moving, left most people confused.  Circling a site on a map where the type is very small doesn't help much either.  Trying to figure out which is the front of a building the size of a city block  with entrances on 4 sides to try and find a specific bus can be frustrating.

 A number of travelers had trouble finding their way back to the hotel after being dropped off to visit the Louvre or other museum.  Directions provided for a site I wanted to visit were incorrect.  I happen to run into a person who spoke English (rare in France) who sent me down the correct street.  

However, few people were willing to tell the PD that they didn't understand, couldn't hear, or follow the directions provided. It's a pet peeve of mine that people complain but aren't willing to try and fix the problem.  I was not so timid and the PD and I didn't have the best relationship.  

While most PDs do an excellent job,  an awareness course on the reality of dealing with people 60+ is , IMO, badly needed. 





Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 217
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 1995

November 14, 2013

Thanks for this post.  We have had almost all (except 1) great PD's.  But some of them do talk too fast for seniors to grasp what was said., It's not only the PD's, but people in USA, stores,  on the telephone, etc.  Young people seem to run sentences and words together and forget most of patients they call are seniors and have some hearing loss.  In the case of our trips, the PD has an accent we are not familiar with.  If we have trouble understanding what was said by a US young person, I sure do have a problem understanding a person with an accent.  I don't mean to sound ungrateful for the services of the PD, but talking a little slower would help.  Especially like giving directions.  Pointing as exact streets, directions, etc. is important for us.  If we couldn't figure it out from what was said and a map given to us, we just didn't go out.  On our Norway and Lapland Hurtigruten cruise, we had a PD who started the first two words in a loud voice but gradually got so low even the first row couldn't understand her.  Several of us talked about it, because we wondered if it was us or her.  Someone asked her to use her whisper or a mic in a room, but she refused.  She said she never had a problem and knew her voice carried so it must be us.  She continued to alienate all of her group because she did not speak so we could hear and understand.  She ruined my trip completely as far as communicating with her.  The rest of the tour/cruise was fantastic.

Author: arnold

Joined: 10/20/2010
Posts: 15
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2004

November 15, 2013


 I question the assumption that all GCT travelers are seniors.  While many of us are aware, from past experience, that seniors and retirees make up a large percentage of  GCT groups,  I have been on  GCT trips that included teenagers, young adults,  and folks in their forties and fifties.  Nowhere in the current GCT advertising do I see the term "seniors';  the only language that I can find implying  sensitivity to an older crowd is their term "careful pacing".

While I too,  have wished that my PD's  had done more or less of this or that,  I  realize that they have a tremendous responsibility  and must constantly make choices that benefit the whole group.  I am sorry that some posters feel they've missed out due to the insensitivity of a PD. 


Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 217
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 1995

November 15, 2013


In 11 trips, river cruise, small ship cruise, land tours, we, too, have had young people teens to mid 50's on some of these tours, from the 80+ grandmother with a 22 year old granddaughter, to the doctor and family with middle age children with some of their grandchildren, parties of 6 or 7 family members.  These age groups have not been on most of our trips, only on a few of the trips.

My enjoyment of a trip is quickly lost if the program director is not sensitive to the seniors who have hearing loss, who, with hearing aids still cannot make out what the PD or local guide is saying if  they speak in soft tones, soft high pitched tones, and move their head away from the whisper mic.  And, I also don't feel comfortable with PD;s who are first off the bus and immediately start walking while not waiting for the bus to empty out.  It takes time for the first passenger to pick up their purses/cameras, step down slowly the first step, turn to get to the deeper step, then the last step, and on to the street/curb.  By this time the people behind are ready but can't move forward (or down the back door steps) until the first passengers are down.  By this time a PD is half a block away, wondering why we are so slow.  That is what the first poster is discussing.  And I agree with the poster..  Just my view, too. 

I'd like to add this quote from:  GCT>Community>People and Culture:

"For many years, Grand Circle Travel was based in New York City where it served members of AARP until 1982 (Grand Circle Travel now serves all mature Americans). "


Having said all this, I have enjoyed all our PD's except one, and they have all been more than excellent except the one. 

Author: tpreminger

Joined: 5/14/2011
Posts: 35
Trips Taken: 5
Traveler Since: 1999

November 16, 2013

Young people is not the issue. There were several under 40s on my last trip who were accompaning a parent.

Research GCT/OAT and reviewers always have a "caters to senior market" or similar statement in the text  Look at the photographs in the catalogs and websites.  You'll see people 50+  As pointed out above, GCT was originally owned by AARP.

But the issue I'm trying to put before GCT/OAT is that they need to provide regular updates to their PD that seniors may need extra time and reminders. That directions to sites, restaurants, etc. need to be provided in a clear manner AND the PD needs to ask..."do you understand or do you need me to write it out."  Have the person repeat the directions or something similar...without attitude.  

That taking travelers on a "vicinity walk" in the dark, in a neighborhood filled with construction, after an 8 hour bus ride , with the Whispers crackling, and expecting them to remember the name of a stop or shop the next day is ridiculous.

Accent can also be part of the problem, English as a 2nd or 3rd language+ speakers can sound haughty or critical because their native language uses a different tonal range than English.

Most importantly, travelers need to speak out.  GCT/OAT depends on us. Our dollars and willingness to return year after year or more frequently is what keeps the companies going.

My THANKS to the two posters who support my stand and I hope others will, too.   While GCT/OAT provides good value in the cost of a trip. Some of that value is lost when the PD leaves travelers confused, lost, or annoyed.




Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 884
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

November 16, 2013

Because I suffer from hearing loss, I am very aware that I do not hear what is being said on all occasions.  Especially, when the speaker does not speak clearly.  Especially, when the speaker is not facing me or is speaking to my back.  Especially, when the speaker has any kind of accent, whether regional or foreign.  I have trouble understanding members of my husband's family over the phone, and they are from the midwest.  I know I am not alone in this.

GCT markets its tours to the senior population.  Any travelers younger are usually accompanying seniors.  The picture of a couple in their twenties or thirties choosing to travel on a GCT tour is mind-boggling.  They might pick the same locations, but they would go with a younger group.

So I agree with the original poster (lpreminger?) and with Singsling.  GCT has to make sure that the PDs understand our limitations.  We can't move as fast, and we can't hear as well.  But we're entitled to get the most out of the tours we take.

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 345
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2002

November 16, 2013

Grand Circle’s Vision: We help change people’s lives

We will strive to be the world leader in international travel, adventure and discovery for American Travelers over 50—providing impactful and intercultural experience that significantly improve the quality of their lives.

Author: avalarue

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 63
Trips Taken: 7
Traveler Since: 2008

November 16, 2013

We had one PD, I think in France, who would spell some words that she felt we might not understand or hear correctly. At first it was annoying, but as time went by, it became a real help in understanding her directions.

The times that I may have gotten confused or behind were more often than not my own fault, for stopping to take a photo or just dawdling. I think the responsibility is equally shared.

Author: ngbg

Joined: 6/10/2010
Posts: 2
Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2006

November 17, 2013

I'd like to mention the PDs who took the time to find a shady spot where we could perch on a seat or ledge before begining their lectures.  Much appreciated.

Author: grandcircle

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 244
Trips Taken: 0

November 20, 2013

Hello Everybody -

Thank you for your comments.  This thread about your experiences with our Program Directors has been shared with our Management Team.

We understand that it isn't always easy to hear your Program Director when you are traveling with a group and/or walking through crowded areas.  Because of traveler feedback around this, we instituted Whispers on all of our GCT and GCCL programs.  However, we have since received additional feedback around the quality of the Whispers. So, we are currently reviewing several options to upgrade the equipment for our 2014 trips. 

Kind Regards,
GCT/GCCL Forum Moderator

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