watsed, our basis for our comments is the fact that we've taken numerous Grand Circle/OAT trips, and we felt that this particular trip did not give us the value for our money as had most of our other trips. First reason is that it included far fewer meals than other trips we had taken with the company. Second, we felt that their itinerary left something to be desired. In particular, they took us to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, instead of the far more impressive, in our opinions, the South Rim that most other tour companies do. When we visited Monument valley, the 'visit' was stopping at the side of the public highway and viewing a couple of the monuments in the distance, when for a total of $2.00per person, the bus could have actually gone into the valley, and toured all the monuments both afar and up close. We felt that was being penny-wise and pound foolish.
We did find the accommodations more than adequate, and the PD, in the usualy Grand Circle/OAT fashion to be excellent. The optional excursion to the Slot Canyon was worth the money, in our opinion, because of the different natural geography and the photographs we got in portions of the canyon with different colors and intensities. We didn't have a lot of photraphers on our trip, and a number of people didn't think that trip worth it, but we did for the reasons mentioned. The trip to Mesa Verde was a trip into ancient architecture, and we were most impressed. You have to walk down and back up, being the only drawback. But we felt that worth it. Grand Circle originally had another trip rafting down the Snake River, which they cancelled, however, we, as did a number of people went anyway. We are seasoned class three canoeists, and we weren't too impressed with the water, but a number of people on our raft were, and we suppose that this trip was for the benefit of those people. We did get to see a number of bald eagles and other wildlife, which the steersman pointed out. We don't know why Grand Circle cancelled the optional, nor do we know if its been reinstated, but we would recommend it.
To incorporte our suggestions would have indeed increased the price of the trip, but even still, it would have been below what competitors offer. As far as your friend'scomments about Grand Circle being a 'cut-rate' company, without ever having taken a trip, we understand how he could make that judgment simply based on price. But what he didn't know was that the size of Grand Circle, and the concommittant economies of scale, allow them to purchase in bulk at lower prices than others who lack their volume cannot do. So Grand circle passes on the savings in costs to you.
We hope this clarifies our reservatons. We've tried to be even-handed, as we like the company, and have two more upcoming trips booked with them. It's not a bad trip; it just could have been better.