Travel Forum

Our Travel Forum was created to provide you with the opportunity to connect with other travelers who share your passion for travel. Sign into "My Account" and you’ll be able to write reviews, share your travel experiences, and post questions for other travelers. Not yet registered? It’s simple to create an account, membership is free, and it only takes a moment to join. Once you do, you’ll be able to participate in the forum. If you have a specific customer service or quality assurance question, please contact our Traveler Support Team by calling 1-800-221-0814. We value the contributions of our travelers. Please familiarize yourself with the guidelines for participation before you begin.

Author: lyn

Joined: 3/14/2010
Posts: 97
GCT Trips Taken: 15
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2004

February 22, 2014

I received a letter from GCT yesterday informing me that beverages such as beer and soft drinks and the usual wine will now be offered during lunch and dinner on the ship.  Perhaps a nice idea for those who drink those beverages.  I am wondering what the extra cost will be. In the past beer and soft drinks were for purchase only. This applies to all 2015 departures. Drinks and beverages for all!!

Also, as I have read on this site, gratuites will now be included for local guides and motorcoach drivers ( and on most trip extensions and optional tours) for 2015 departures.  GCT is making these changes because of feedback from travelers.  I am wondering how many people asked for this change.  Was it 20 people, 50 people or hundreds of people?  I did not request such a change on any of our trip evaluations.  I did get the email asking my opinion on this tipping policy and I did respond to that.  Again, I wonder how much the price of trips will increase. By the way, we do tip any and all service workers on our trips, this will just be a new way of doing business.

Also, the letter indicated that GCT is the only travel company to provide expert, resident Program Directors on their trips.  Does that mean that Viking, Vantage, Uniworld etc. does not ptovide Program Directors?  We have done 7 river cruises ( number 8 coming up ) and we have been very pleased with all of our Program Directors.  The advantage of a Program Director is why we choose GCT .  I have noticed the surge of TV commercials that Viking is putting out, but without a PD those trips could be a challenge.

We plan to keep traveling and to enjoy any destination that sounds interesting.  Happy travels to all.

Author: janice.

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 359
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1999

February 22, 2014

In regard to the claim that GCT is the only travel company to provide expert, resident Program Directors on their trips I have seen this in several catalogs and brochures from them. Frankly, I don't believe it. I have been on three Vantage trips, all with Program Managers who were equivalent to and as competent as any of the GCT Program Directors on my trips with them.

Author: ed watts

Joined: 3/30/2010
Posts: 164
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

All seven continents, 113 countries and all states except Idaho.Plus some interesting places that are not countries such as The azores, Antarctica, Falkland Islands, South Georgia, etc.

Traveler Since: 2010

February 22, 2014

 I have been with three other companies that have provided a PD (on the Nile, Rhine, Volga, and Yangtze) so I also doubt that statement...Their claim may hinge on the term "resident" however as I have no idea if the PDs I had on the other cruises were "resident"!

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 724
GCT Trips Taken: 14
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Countries Visited:

Antarctica, Argentina, Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

February 22, 2014

 I believe that Vantage has changed their policy this year, It seems that they are going to a cruise director and a concierge and puting more onto the local guides. Click HERE for a discussion on Cruise Critic on this. We have always got  great service from all of the PDs, but it is a luxury to have one that is your primary contact for the duration of the trip.

Author: janice.

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 359
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1999

February 22, 2014

To me, the term "resident" is somewhat meaningless. On my first GCT trip, The Best of Eastern Europe, our PD was a resident of Poland which was just one of the four countries we toured. He was excellent but certainly not a resident of every country. Then there was the PD for my GCT Guadalajara trip who was a resident of Mexico and the worst tour leader I've endured in 50 Years of group travel. 

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 231
GCT Trips Taken: 9
OAT Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2007

February 23, 2014

In the world of marketing, semantics is often the legitimizer of claims.  We suspect that the claim hinges on the term 'resident,' as indicated by wattsed.  Since language is imprecise anyway, the claim is cleverly crafted so it is left to you to assume what it means, hoping that your assumption will be taken as a competitive edge in their favor.

So the term 'resident' is not irrelevant; in fact, we believe that it is the insertion of that word which permits Grand Circle to truthfully make the claim.  Regardless, what difference does it make?  It is evident that clients are happy with their PD's and the service they provided, and consequently the additional claim is meaningless and adds nothing to the actual experience and service received. 

Author: ray.

Joined: 4/14/2010
Posts: 36
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 9
Traveler Since: 2002

February 23, 2014

GCT calls them 'Program Directors' and OAT calls them Trip Leaders, others call them  'Managers'. So technically GCT is the 'only' one that have PD.

Author: janice.

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 359
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1999

February 23, 2014

 Ray, you hit the nail on the head! That's the only way their claim could be considered truthful. And of course, they're resident as are we all residents of some place.

Author: rogerdawhip

Joined: 6/22/2010
Posts: 118
GCT Trips Taken: 17
OAT Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

OAT trips taken: Egypt, China, Ireland, Guatemala, Thailand, Peru and Adriatic Cruise. Ten GCT river cruises: Great Rivers(4 times), Rhine& Mosel (2 times), Eastern Europe to the Black Sea, Rhone River, Holland & Belgium, Seine. Three GCT small ship cruises, winter Adriatic, Italian Riviera, and British Isles Other: Russian river cruise twice.

Traveler Since: 2001

February 23, 2014

Regarding the change in tipping policy....I voted against this because I do not want to tip the local guide and/or bus driver for tours I do not take. If you skip an optional or included tour you will still be paying the tip.

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 545
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

February 23, 2014

Grtting back to the subject line of the post, when we took the Rhine and Mosel cruise in 2010 my First Mate, who does not drink wine but is almost addicted to diet cola, purchased the soft drink plan on the ship. I've been searcning the records and cannot find the exact number, but I think it cost maybe $3 a day. I seem to recall $28 for the 9 days of the cruise. They allowed soft drinks in lieu of wine at dinner anyway, but with the plan she could get the soft drink served at lunch as well. And she could go to the bar anytime it was open and get a cola. To make it even more of a bargain, they gave her one of the insulated alluminum cups, with GCT logo, that were selling in the ship store for $8.50. So it was really only about $2.25 a day she paid for unlimited soft drinks. They also had a plan for beer but it was more expensive.

That doesn't really help in determining how much the cost of the cruise will increase because of the added beverage service but at least it is an indication of what they thought soft drinks were worth in 2010.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 1,055
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

February 23, 2014

I don't drink soft drinks.  So at lunch, I always had iced tea which was free or plain water .  At dinner, I had wine which was also free.  On some cruises, you got one glass free.  But on the Russia Revealed, it really depended on the table wait staff.  One asked for a room number.  On the Paris to Honfleur, the wait staff came around with one bottle of white and one of red several times to top off the glasses.

Author: noseycat

Joined: 5/18/2012
Posts: 85
GCT Trips Taken: 8
OAT Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2007

February 24, 2014
Given the total prices of trips, none of these costs seem substantial enough to worry about.

Author: mary jayne halli...

Joined: 9/25/2010
Posts: 117
GCT Trips Taken: 31
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1989

February 24, 2014

Addfing to the last post, I am a non drinker and of course have always been paying for the flowing wine at dinner, now hate to think I am paying for it at lunch also.  I occasionally would ask for a soft drink and it was given.  I also since I have repeated several trips, do not take a lot of the overpriced side trips so hate to think I will also be subsidizing their tips.  However so be it , still feel lucky to be able to travel and enjoy it, at age 85.  Have taken 27 of Grand Circle trips.  However the prices do keep going up and up (and what doesn't).  Have a good one!!!

Author: retirement

Joined: 7/30/2012
Posts: 62
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2006

February 24, 2014

We are among those who are happy the tips are included.  Traveling with companies that included tips made life much easier.  Not to mention this ensures that the good guides and drivers get their fair tips.  In regards to those less deserving of tips, really have you had that many?  

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 250
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1995

February 27, 2014

Regarding Program Directors/Trip Leaders/Tour Directors.

Our first river cruise was with Uniworld.  She was a "cruise director".  She did everything GCT's PD's do and more.  She was from Croatia, and most staff (admin, cabin, dining) was from Slovakia. The cruise was Hungary to Prague.

 On GCT's Amalfi Coast trip, we had a PD who was from Russia but spoke English and Italian. 

On our GCT Hamburg and River Elbe cruise, our PD was from Vienna but the cruise took us through east Germany and Poland. 

On our cruise Amsterdam to Frankfurt, PD was from Germany, but we spent at least 3 days in Netherlands.

 

So "resident" program director according to GCT is not exactly true.

We took a Worldwide Country Tours cruise/tour, and the Tour Director stayed with  us all day while traveling, and did not have many step on guides. 

We are taking a tour with successor of WWCT, Country Discoveries Travel, and we are having a DISCOVERIE representative, who I am told will accompany us on the buses along with step on guides.  A catalog from AAA I received on several companies (Trafalgar, Insight and ?)all say a program director accompanies the groups during the trip.

So,GCT does not capture the renown "resident" program director for itself, only in its mind.

Author: hootie

Joined: 3/7/2010
Posts: 144
GCT Trips Taken: 9
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

China, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Transylvania, Bulgaria, Chech Republic, Slavakia, Bratislava, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Crete, Greece, Turkey, Istanbul, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Russia, Tahiti & French Polynesia/Society Islands, Hawaiian Islands, Bermuda, Alaska, Costa Rica, Mexico, United States, Panama Canal, Caribbean (extensively), Canada/Nova Scotia, Canary Islands, Gibralter, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Vatican City, France, Holland, Belgium, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia.

Traveler Since: 2001

February 28, 2014

CaptainLarry.../Soda package on river cruises???

Like your First Mate, I do not drink alcohol but enjoy my Pepsi/Coke, maybe a little too much.  I've taken advantage of a "beverage package" on many cruise ships, but I never knew they were available on GC's river cruises.  How did you find out about it on your 2010 trip on the Rhine & Mosel?  This is the first time I've heard it mentioned...anywhere...for GC.  We will be taking the Christmas Markets along the Elbe this year (along with pre & post stays) & I would be very interested in purchasing a soda plan while onboard. I'll have to call GC, however, they may be keeping ME in the dark as the amount/price of soda I consume may be what keeps the boat afloat!

Author: grandcircle

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 415
GCT Trips Taken: 0
OAT Trips Taken: 0

March 06, 2014

Hello All,

Wanted to take a moment and touch base regarding your comments about our Resident Program Directors.

We use the word "resident" to denote 2 features:

1. The Program Director permanently lives in the region you are visiting
2. The Program Director is with you throughout the main trip to provide you with the kind of help and insight that only someone familiar with the region and customs can give you.

As Nanaandpapa mentioned, other cruise companies have recently reduced their staff to traveler ratio. However, we will be maintaining our current staff to traveler ratios in order to offer you the personalized service you expect from Grand Circle.

Kind Regards,

Annmarie

Forum Moderator

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 721
GCT Trips Taken: 7
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

March 07, 2014

My first group travel trip was with Road Scholar, The Art of Living, which was in Provence. Our trip leader was a wonderful French woman who lived in the area and was with us throughout the trip. She did everything that the OAT/GCT PDs have done on my trips with this company.

My second trip with Road Scholar was in Italy and our group leader was a young Italian woman. I don't know if having local leaders is  a RS policy, but all of the trip reviews that I've read mention the leader and they have been local residents.  

Author: janice.

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 359
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1999

March 07, 2014

Luisa, thank you for reminding me of my Elderhostel trips. I have been on about 25 most of which have been in the US and Canada plus three in Europe. All of them have had very competent tour leaders who were residents of the areas we were visiting.The most memorable and my all-time favorite was a 2002 trip to Russia which was similar to GCT's Russial Revealed trip. There were nearly 130 participants who were divided into four groups with an experienced tour guide from Moscow for each group. We were also accompanied by a trip coordinator from the Boston area company which planned the trip and made the arrangements. I will never forget charming Lidia who was assigned to my #2 yellow group. When I later received a GCT brochure announcing their new trip to Russia, I was delighted to see that Lidia was the featured PD for the trip. So it's possible some of you have had the good fortune of traveling with her.

Author: judynagy@aol.com

Joined: 5/14/2014
Posts: 19
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

May 14, 2014

Delighted to hear that tips for drivers and local guides are now included, it will be nice not to have to deal with those tips.  If someone is outstanding or performs a special service, we will of course be happy to offer a cash tip.  Our PDs, stewards and dining room people have been so wonderful on our last two trips, and you develop a much more personal relationship, so tipping them individually is the best, at least for us.

You cannot Post or Reply, please sign in

Rules of Use:
Be Relevant

Please stick to the topic of travel when posting in our Forum. Stay on the relevant topic and do not disrupt a discussion in progress. If you have a specific customer service question or issue, please contact our Traveler Support Team by calling 1-800-221-0814.

Be Respectful

Use of any inappropriate language, personal attacks, and hate speech are not permitted. Respect others’ opinions and suggestions.

Be Mindful of Privacy Issues

Please do not post the personal information of other members (full names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, etc).

Help us help you

Please click on the ‘Report Abuse’ button if you see an inappropriate posting.