I was one of 70 Individuals who contracted with Grand Circle Travel for a Pre and 52 Post Vacation Packages adjacent to a 12 day Holland American Cruise in Europe beginning October 2, 2009. We were contracted and promised the Continental Hotel on the Grand Canal (contract says that hotel may be changed) with ability to walk around and enjoy Venice for 3 days/2 nights and then board the ship and enjoy one more day in Venice.
We were promised a tour to include the Rialto Bridge across the Grand Canal (which we never saw). BROCHURE: "... sites you may wish to see more of during your free time in romantic and mysterious Venice. Enjoy afternoon at leisure. You can choose to remain longer to enjoy St Mark's Square . . ."
On Wedneday before leaving we received an answering machine phone message that the hotel had been changed to the city of Mestre which is six miles from the Island of Venice. I called the Continental Hotel their time 2 AM, and was told that the contract with Grand Circle had been cancelled on Oct 1, 2009. I called the HN Laguna Palace in Mestre and was told it was in an industrial park and it was not safe to walk far from hotel after dark. FYI our room overlooked the construction of the new Holland America and Costa Cruise Ships.
Our Baggage handling for 2 pieces each and a GCT representative was promised in both cities. We arrived in Venice and were taken to our hotel and our luggage was placed out on the street and the bus drove away. We had no representative and our rooms would not be ready til after 3 PM. We asked if our luggage could be brought into hotel and the luggage guys were too busy. We found a GCT rep out on the boat dockage smoking and talking on her cell phone and she never came into the hotel all afternoon. She did however give everyone who approached paperwork on tours she was selling.
Asked about Breakfast since it is also is provided and were told to go ask the front desk in the hotel. People finally began bringing their own luggage into hotel and when rooms available we carted them to our rooms individually without assistance.
We were provided dinner that evening at a restaurant that could not seat 70 persons and my wife and I sat on end of a table with others adjacent to us with no room to enjoy the meal. The meal was to sell the tours for the next few days. We were told that there would be boat to transport us to Venice at 8:30 AM tomorrow. The trip took almost one and one half hours each way. We were to be back at the dock on Grand Canal on our own at 3:30 PM for the return. He showed up at 3:40 and you can imagine the fear in 70 people in a foreign country when guide did not show up. We arrived back to hotel at 5:30 and were told to get ready to go back to Venice on shuttle at 6PM. That would mean we would not be home til midnight. We choose not to go but rest.
Many who stayed decided to go by vans to Cruise ship at 11 AM the next day and let GCT transport our luggage to ship as contracted. The guide told us that that was not acceptable and that we must all arrive together and we cannot go on our own. He also told us that we had to go to Venice at 8:30 AM with him and return at 1PM (returning at 2:30 PM. Then we will all go by shuttle to boat and arrive at Cruise Ship at 4:30 PM.
I have 33 Cruises under my belt and knew he was absolutely lying. Many persons did not know what to do but we had to be out of our rooms by noon and would be in the hotel lobby for 3-4 hours waiting for his return. We each rented our cabs for 35EU ($52.50) and went to ship at 11 AM. We enjoyed lunch, and took the ships shuttle bus to Venice and enjoyed Venice. The other people did not arrive til 4:45 PM and were bushed from 4+ hrs on boat
1) No Hotel in Venice or on Grand Canal 2) Nothing relaxing and only possible for 11.5 total hours in Venice. 3) Hotel nor Shuttle allowed us to enjoy a glass of wine or cup of coffee in Venice. 4) Luggage was not handled whatsoever by GCT. 5) No assistance and representative available except on boat ride 6) Last day cab and or Lunch (provided by Holland America) at our expense staying at hotel.