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Author: ajilimojil

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 9
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2002

March 19, 2014

We'll be on the early April departure and would like to know if anyone on this forum has been on this trip and are willing to answer a couple of questions.

Our son has a friend in Amsterdan who wants to meet us and treat us to a meal while we're there.  Since the schedule is sort of tight, we're findiing it difficult to pick a day or a time to meet with him.  

Here's what I think is a possibility.  Would like to know if it's likely that this timeline will work.

Day 1. Arrive in Amsterdam.  Morning  canal cruise, back to ship for lunch, then bus to Keukenhof and a tulip farm. No mention of when we return to ship.

  - Not sure how long they will allow for lunch and would not want to have to rush.  Pretty sure rest of the day and evening will be "free time".  We could skip the included dinner on board.

Day 2 Early morning depart for Aalsmeer Flower Auction - rest  of afternoon is free, before sailing towards Enkhuizen.  No mention on departure time.

  - not sure how long it takes but I'm pretty sure we'll be back in time for lunch on board.  Also, this is a possibility for dinner in Town.

Any comments or suggestions?

 I have been on many land trips with GCT and OAT but its our first time on a River Cruise, so I dont know if they are known to make schedule changes.

I asked the GCT agent but they never want to commit to definite answers about schedule or possible changes.  Also, for our OAT trips, the PD emails ua and have called us but those are very small groups.  Would a PD from a cruise that holds over 120 people be calling us?

Thanks in advance for any helpful comments!

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
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

March 19, 2014

If there are 120 people on the river cruise, you will be divided into groups.  No way, would one PD be responsible for that many people.

Don't miss Keukhoven.  If you have a house, be very strong and don't go overboard buying bulbs.  Remember that you will have to get them into the ground.  It's a real temptation.  They are so gorgeous!

It's a wonderful trip, though it's been many years since I took it and it's all changed.

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 495
Trips Taken: 15
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

March 19, 2014

As Pauline says, you will be divided into groups, almost certainly 3 of them with each PD resposible for about 40 travelers. They try to stick to a pretty exact schedule, but anytime on river or canal cruises, circumstances may cause shifts, sometime major ones, to the schedule. You should hear from your PD a week or two prior to departure. He or she would be the best one to identify the best time to try to get together with your son's friend. We have not taken this scruise, so we can't attempt to make specific recommendations.

Author: janice!

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

March 19, 2014

The itinerary has changed since I was on this trip. I agree with Pauline that you should not miss Keukenhof. From your description of the second day, it appears that you could tentatively plan to meet him after you return from the flower auction. I don't remenber how many travelers on my trip but I do remember we had four PDs. In regard to emails or calls from the PDs,  I've only received one email and that before my most recent trip almost two years ago. He stated that he was traveling and would not be able to respond to messages.

Author: mctz666

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 44
Trips Taken: 7
Traveler Since: 2004

March 20, 2014

Hello ajilimojil,

I went on this river cruise in April of 2011. I want to use the acutal day number on GCT's itinerary to reply to your question.

Day 5 - Amsterdam • Keukenhof Flower Park : This evening your ship will dock in Amsterdam overnight. Many folks went off ship to dinner in town. There was also an one-hour red-light district walking tour offered with an off-ship non-GCT guide for anyone interested. 60 people joined this walking tour on my cruise. If you want to dine in Amsterdam for dinner, this is the best opportunity, because you do not have to worry about missing the ship.

Day 6 - Amsterdam • Aalsmeer Flower Auction • Canal Cruise : We went to Van Gogh museum in the afternoon. The ship left Amsterdam in the evening, sailing south toward Kinderdijk, then Rotterdam. If you want to lunch in Amsterdam, this is also a good time to do it, but not dinner.

mctz666

Author: dgevry

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

March 20, 2014

I also went on this cuise in April 2011, but later in the month than the previous poster and travelled in the opposite direction.  I don't know if you have your final documentation booklet yet, which outlines your exact itinerary.  If you are going by the schedule listed on the website or catalog, you should note that if your visit to the Aaslmaar Flower Auction would fall on the weekend, GCT will rearrange your itinerary, so that you will see this on Friday or Monday, as the auction is not held on the weekend. This occurred on our trip.  Rescheduling the flower auction, may result in time changes for other tours or departures.  We made time to visit the Anne Frank Museum while in Amsterdam, by skipping the canal tour, but we had done this tour on a previous trip.  The canal tour is nice, but if you have to skip something,  I would skip this and go to Keukenhof.  Hopefully, you can do both.  Have a nice trip. 

Author: ajilimojil

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 9
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2002

March 20, 2014

Thank you all for your quick responses!  Really appreciate your taking the time to comment!

mctz666 - That's just what I was waiting to hear!  After much thougth, I agree that dinner on the first night or lunch on the 2nd day is the best way to go.  Now, lets hope that our son's friend schedule is as flexible!

Did you imply that the sailing for Kinderdijk will take place in the early evening, while dinner is being served?   I wish GCT would post the times of arrival/departure at each port.  We have gone on 3 cruises on the Mediterranean and Aegean seas and all 3 ships posted the times.

Dgevry - Yes we have the final docs and it matches the website schedule.  Fortunately, we'll be there mid-week, so no problems there with the Auction.  I would not want to miss the Canal Tour and think we have a chance to visit Ann Frank Museum on the 2nd day, after the auction and lunch. (will have to look up their hours!). 

Keukenfof is an included tour on the first day, so there's no missing that one!  Actually, it was THE REASON we booked this cruise!

Again, thanks to all for your help!

Author: mctz666

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 44
Trips Taken: 7
Traveler Since: 2004

March 20, 2014

Hello ajilimojil,

There were so many days we started cruising while being served dinner, therefore I don't remember exactly what hour our cruise ship left Amsterdam, but I do know that we cruised away in the evening because we did not dock in Amsterdam for a 2nd night, so this is not a night to plan for dinner in town.

You'll see a detailed daily schedule posted on board the night before.

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 495
Trips Taken: 15
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

March 20, 2014

Until this year GCCL prosted cruising times on the web site. it was one of very few, if not the only, cruise line to do do. I whink that this was a very valuable feature. I don't know why this was eliminated. I realize that, with river travel, it is not possible to guarantee such schedules, with high and low water, lock problems and river traffic, but we found that the schedule was generally well adhered to. The publishing of such a schedule was, to our mind, a major plus for gccl over the oyher lines, as it illustrated the extra port time that gCCL provided. I was quite disappointed to see it no longer there. 

Author: janice!

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

March 20, 2014

GCT is not the only company that has published departure and arrival times. Vantage still does on their website. 

Author: dgevry

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

March 21, 2014

ajilimojil,

I found a Grand Circle Cruise Line 2014 catalog, published 12/24/13.  The catalog still lists the arrival and departure times for the various ports on each cruise.  It lists the departure time from Amsterdam to Enkhuizen on the day of the Aalsmeer Flower Auction as 1:45 PM which would mean you would have to be on board by 1:15 PM.  However, in the itinerary description, it does say you will have free time in the afternoon.  I wonder if the free time is really in the morning after the flower auction.  The flower auction takes place early in the morning (around 7:00 AM). You will be back on the ship by 9:00-9:30 or so, and no other activities are listed for this morning.  Perhaps someone who's been on an early March trip will reply.  Have a nice trip, the flowers are beautiful.

Diane

Author: kristenc

Joined: 4/26/2012
Posts: 71
Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

Europe, Russia

Traveler Since: 2012

March 21, 2014

I'm looking at the same catalog and there are sailing departure and arrival times for the trip in each direction. If your trip is starting in Amsterdam and ending in Antwerp, this catalog shows the ship sailing out of Amsterdam on Day 2, the day after you fly in. The departure time shown is 9 :15 pm. Going this direction, the ship returns to Amsterdam at noon on Day 5 and stays docked there until it sails toward Kinderdijk on Day 7 at 4:30 am. Your itinerary May have changed since this catalog was published by Grand Circle Cruise Lines on December 24, 2013. 

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 495
Trips Taken: 15
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

March 21, 2014

This information used to be posted in the on-line itinerary and was generally quite accurate. I wish that GCCL would retur it to the web site.

Author: ajilimojil

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 9
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2002

March 22, 2014

Thank you for mentioning the catalog!  I had forgotten we had one as we hardly ever look at those, always relying on the website instead.  They do post the times there.

As a result, I called GCT last night to inquire about the discrepancy of their claim that, after the flower auction, we could  "enjoy leisure time this afternoon to explore Amsterdam at your own pace" and the 1:45 pm departure time!   

Sorry to say, the rep could not help as he did not have any more info than what's in the book. He admitted that it did not make sense but did not know why.  

I also ask if a Program Director would contact us prior to the trip and thus give me the opportunity to ask.  Again, he said it MAY happen but nothing is for sure as they may be busy with other trips and have lots of responsibilities!  Duh!  All of our OAT directors have emailed and even phoned us prior to our trips - that's the beauty of today's technology, you can multitask regardless of where you are, especially if that is part of your job!

I just hope our friend schedule is flexible!  He travels for work often, so we'll see what we can arrange.

Again, thanks to all for your input!      Happy travels!   :-)

Author: mctz666

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 44
Trips Taken: 7
Traveler Since: 2004

March 22, 2014

Oops, ajilimojil,

Some how I had wrongly assumed that you are crusing in the direction of Amsterdam to Antwerp. But now it appears you are cruising the opposite direction, from Antwerp to Amsterdam. In that case, according to the GCT itinerary you DO have two over-nights docking in Amsterdam:

Day 7 - arrival in Amsterdam about 7pm, after dinner. Docking in Amsterdam overnight.

Day 8 - Amsterdam • Canal Cruise • Keukenhof Flower Park & Tulip Farm. The ship is docking overnight in Amsterdam, a good opportunity to have dinner in town.

Day 9 - Aalsmeer flower auction • Amsterdam • Enkhuizen. The ship leaves Amsterdam at 1:45pm.

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