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Author: zednanrehs

Joined: 11/7/2010
Posts: 5
GCT Trips Taken: 2
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2009

April 23, 2014

Franniepat: that is a very good idea.  It would especially be good on the river cruises where there are multiple Program Directors - there could be one group that goes at a more leisurely pace.  Win-win for everyone!

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

April 24, 2014

Now THAT would work for everyone! Hope GCT will consider this!

Author: kba

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

April 24, 2014

Franniepat:

What a great idea.....like several others in the forum, I am slowing down a bit but want to continue travelling.  I hope Grand Circle is listening/reading our posts.

Kim

 

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

April 24, 2014

That is an excellent idea and I hope GCT is listening.

I sympathized with the poster who described being one of five with canes who couldn't keep up with the others. I thought the PD's comments to them were rude but I also understand that it's not fair to the majority to have to wait for commentary because of a few.

Franniepat's suggestion could solve that problem.

I was on a group tour in Italy years ago with a different company. It was a large group and there were a few who couldn't keep up and we always had to to wait for them. Toward the end of the tour, one of the PDs announced that there would be a walk through Rome the next day and the pace would be too fast for some in the group and they would not be able to wait for anyone to catch up.

All that being said, I think that having the walking pace included in the "Is this the trip for you" would be helpful; x number of miles per day at  2 mph, 2.5 mph, 3 mph, etc. It would be helpful to me, I'm never sure when I read the requirements. I can walk a long way, but have slowed down and could not walk 2 or 3 miles at 3 mph, especially with hills or cobblestones.

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

April 24, 2014

I agree.  Right now, it's really too nebulous to give an accurate description of the amount of required effort.  Most people would rather believe that they're capable of doing anything that's listed for a trip they want to take.  Not mountain climbing, of course, but walking through streets in a civilized city almost sounds easy.

Author: noseycat

Joined: 5/18/2012
Posts: 53
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2007

April 25, 2014

For a slightly different perspective on PD sensitivity:  on a recent trip the PD (one of the best!) made every effort to ensure that every traveler saw and experienced everything.  Some of the group, however, were power walkers and power talkers--they'd zoom off ahead of the rest, pounding the pavement and chattering like magpies.  Later, when asked if they'd seen or heard such-and-such special treats, they'd shake their heads, with puzzled looks.  They missed much of the richness of the trip.

Different kinds of PD's, to be sure--but also different kinds of travelers, too.

 

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

April 25, 2014

Noseycat, that's quite true.  I can remember some people charging off ahead of the PD or local guide and taking the wrong turn.  And someone having to go after them.  Or, as you say, so intent on walking fast that they missed interesting points.  After all, the whole point in traveling is to experience new situations and see different sights.

There were three people on the trip to Malta when that was the base trip who complained constantly about the pace.  Sometimes we had to wait to get into a place, and they jiggled around so much I was tempted to point out the nearest restroom.  In Mdina, we had to wait to get in to see a documentary and while we were waiting we watched people arriving for a society wedding.  Very interesting watching them arrive on foot, mostly, dressed in coutoure or morning coats with top hats.  But these people were muttering "c'mon, c'mon!"  What was the hurry?

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

April 25, 2014

I've had similar experiences to the ones that Pauline describes. I don't get it either, it's almost as if some are rushing along to tick off another item on the itinerary and show no interest in anything that isn't on the itinerary.

On a tour of Provence, when we arrived in Arles, we had to walk through a square with a cathedral to get to our hotel. Just as were in front of the hotel a bride arrived in a horse drawn carriage and a number of people came behind in traditional Camargue clothing.

I think most of us enjoyed that introduction to Arles, but on my GCT Turkey trip there was a wedding that was very interesting to most of us, once again, bride and groom in traditional dress, but some complained about the music. I kept my window open so that I could hear it.

 

Author: merleo

Joined: 4/23/2012
Posts: 38
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 1996

April 25, 2014

Speaking of PD/TLs, I've been on many trips where the PD/TLs are independent tour guides hired by GCT/OAT for a lot of the tours.  I've been lucky so far because I've not had one bad PD/TL. I tend to get acquainted with the leader early in the trip and casually ask if they are an independent contractor or permanent employee.  Of  my 12 trips taken I believe only 5 were actually GCT/OAT personnel and had the use of local guides to help.  So unless GCT/OAT conducts special sessions in sensitivity training for all personnel they use I think we are bound to run into a few insensitive ones.  Local guides are usually the ones who share their knowledge about the country and it's a plus when the PD/TL knows the culture and history as well. Most of all I want to be treated fairly and with respect as a paying customer.

Author: mary jayne halli...

Joined: 9/25/2010
Posts: 60
GCT Trips Taken: 27
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1989

April 25, 2014

I think we should ALL take into consideration that it is different strokes for different folks (or something like that).  When I have traveled with another gal, she is VERY interested in history whereas having been a professional photographer for over 50 years I myself do NOT care for history, I want to get the pictures.  So we have completed each other on our trip presentation later.  However I still DO NOT and never will care about which king came here, when, etc.  So we just have to wing it and ENJOY, ENJOY!!!!

Author: captainlarry

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

April 25, 2014

I honestly thought that the program directors on all GCT tours were independent contractors hired by GCT for the specific tour and free to catch on with any other tour company when not employed by GCT. I know that some of the better ones have been hired as full-time GCT employees to manage programs in a specific part of the world. It is their job to sort out all the tour guides in their region and match them up with the tours GCT has scheduled. If I'm wrong, I apologize to you and to the PDs, if my perception has in any way maligned them.

But the main thrust of this thread is how can the PD tailor the tour to best satisfy the majority of the tourists without unduly alienating any of them. First the "power walkers": we had such a couple on our Amalfi Coast and Tuscany tour. The first time they barged on ahead and did not stick to the prescribed route, the PD attempted to rein them in and told them that was the last time she would do it. She stuck to the warning and there were days when the couple went missing until they turned up at the hotel later. It didn't seem to bother them much and none of the rest of us missed them. On the other hand, in Sicily and Malta we had a man, a solo traveler, who used GCT for transportation and lodging and mostly toured at his own pace and his own direction. But he told the PD each day what he was planning and when he planned to get back together with the group. That seemed to work for everybody. Now if they make everyone else miserable because things are progressing too slowly, that's another story. They need to be disciplined, perhaps as much by the other tourists as by the PD.

I believe the descriptions given in the brochures and web site write ups by GCT are adequate. While the actual pace may be slower than indicated, if you are not able to meet the standards stated, you should not take the trip. To expect anyone to assist you, even your traveling companion, is expecting too much, in my opinion. And I don't think separate groups based on physical cabapilities is a very good idea. I, for example, don't have any trouble keeping up with the crowd on walking tours. My feet hurt terribly at days end, but I'm always ready to hit it again on the morrow. When I am no longer able to answer the bell each morning, I will quit taking that kind of tour. One that was "advertised" as being "slower paced" would not appeal to me at all.

Author: janice!

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

April 25, 2014

I've looked at several GCT trips on the web site and don't see anything about walking pace. Where did you find it?

Author: tpreminger

Joined: 5/14/2011
Posts: 47
GCT Trips Taken: 3
OAT Trips Taken: 3
Traveler Since: 1999

April 26, 2014

Go to the page featuring the trip you're intereted in and CLICK on the What You Need to Know link on the left hand side. It will give you a brief rundown of physical requirements.  More detailed information can be found in the Handbook.

After coming back from a Greece trip several years ago, I had an  In-Depth discussion with traveler support about the difference walking UP and DOWN steps makes in comparision to uneven streets and cobblestones.   I was told this subject was cause for discussion in Boston as I wasn't the first to make note of the different physical requirements necessitated by steps.

The walk down from Santorini to the harbor is 640 irregular shaped, broken, and uneven steps.  Since the cable car wasn't running, we had no choice but to walk ... or ride a mule which wasn't on anyone's "bucket list."

Knowing the types of terrain AND the presence of steps in advance helps people be better prepared.

 

 

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

April 26, 2014

I also thought the PDs were independent contractors and that the local office staff were employees. I don't know if I'd heard/read that somewhere or just thought that it would be strange for employees to depend upon gratuities.  

 

Author: rblume8351

Joined: 10/27/2013
Posts: 45
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2007

April 26, 2014

For the other side of the story

I walk faster than most of my fellow GCT travelers . . . I find walking close together and being forced to take short steps quite uncomfortable and tiring.  If I am not leading the pack, I will be off wandering and looking around a short distance from the group.  The whisperer allows me to listen to the commentary and get directions from the PD.  I prefer to walk at a comfortable pace and then wait for the PD and the group.

The PDs we have had were all good at giving commentary for those of us who wander off.  Comments like: we're stopping here, OK let's head off, go right after crossing the street, etc. that said, more than one group member has found it necessary to inform me that I shouldn't do one or more of those things.  Even that I should wait right at a corner after crossing a street rather than walk several meters down the sidewalk so not to cause congestion at the corner . . . After all, I might have to walk back if I guessed the wrong direction.

Author: janice!

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

April 26, 2014

tpreminger wrote "Go to the page featuring the trip you're intereted in and CLICK on the What You Need to Know link on the left hand side. It will give you a brief rundown of physical requirements.  More detailed information can be found in the Handbook." I don't see What You Need to Know but I do see What to Know. I had looked at this for several trips and saw nothing about the walking pace. I also looked at the Handbook for the Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast trip and didn't see anything about pace. Despite my searches I can not find any place where  this information is documented.

Author: tpreminger

Joined: 5/14/2011
Posts: 47
GCT Trips Taken: 3
OAT Trips Taken: 3
Traveler Since: 1999

April 26, 2014

This is the copy for Amalfi Coast.  There's no specific discussion of PACE.

What to Expect

  • This trip features a fair amount of walking, often uphill, over uneven, unpaved, or cobbled surfaces as you travel in Italy. You should be able to walk two to three miles unassisted over the course of each day.
  • For your comfort and safety, we recommend this program only to individuals in good physical condition. If you have difficulty walking or are wheelchair-bound, please consult our Travel Counselors for guidance.
  • We reserve the right for our Program Directors to modify participation, or in some circumstances send travelers home if their limitations are impacting the group’s experience.

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

April 26, 2014

The problem is that description is used, word for word, for a lot of trips.  How much work would it be for someone to insert a phrase using a particular street or hill as an example?  People would take that more seriously, I think.

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

April 26, 2014

rblume, I understand exactly what you mean, I used to be a fast walker and found slow walking uncomfortable. The whispers are wonderful and I still do what you describe, that is walk away from the group, but keep them within hearing distance even though I don't walk as fast as I used to.

On a trip in Italy I went into a shop and bought a leather jacket, walked out and caught up with the group. I was with another company that used whispers back in the early 2000s and I could hear the PD even in the shop.

There are always faster and slower walkers in the groups, so the problem is how the PD sets the pace (speed, not distance) for the group. Either the faster walkers will have to wait or the slower walkers will miss information.

I like Franniepat's suggestion.  

 

Author: rblume8351

Joined: 10/27/2013
Posts: 45
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2007

April 26, 2014

On one level, Franniepat's suggestion is attractive.  That said, it won't be easy to operationalize.  

Self selection into three groups based on a written description of walking pace (fast, moderate and slow)?  Sounds OK, but even if people were relatively accurate in their assessment, I doubt there would be numerical balance.  Then someone in Boston, the regional office or the PDs would have to make guesses on who to move to balance the sizes of the groups.  Then when the pace imbalance becomes obvious,  there's the need to move people into other groups.  That could go on all trip long.

Based on our more recent trips, it seemed like the grouping would be 20 fast, 75 moderate and 25 slow.  Keeping groups equal sized would be quite a juggling act.  It's a lot like the weather . . . we all talk about it, but there isn't a lot to be done about it.  

 

 

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