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I Just returned from a wonderful vacation cruising down the Danube, Main and Rhine rivers from Vienna, Austria to Amsterdam, Netherlands on board Grand Circle Cruise Line's M/S River Aria. This charming, 418-feet riverboat is one of the largest in Grand Circle Cruise Line's deluxe fleet with 164 passengers and a crew of 40. We were met at the airport by our Program Director, Mike, who helped us with our luggage and loaded us into a minivan that took us to our ship. We very much enjoyed that we were not going to a hotel for the night, instead, 30 minutes later we were on the M/S River Aria.
On board, we were met with hugs from Costa, the Hotel Manager, who remembered me from a previous trip we had several years ago and called me by name. A warm welcome home! It had indeed been several years since I traveled on the Aria because of difficulty walking; I had to give up travel. Grand Circle's brochure introducing the 16 day The Great Rivers of Europe trip included a minimum requirement of being able to walk, unassisted, a minimum of 1-3 miles each day and participate in 2-3 hours of activity and climb 50 stairs.
In spite of my personal limit of assisted walking, 300ft, (roughly the distance from my cabin to the Dining Room.) and 12 stairs, provided there was a sturdy handrail, I was determined to accomplish my goal of a once-in-a-lifetime cruise for my family of eight. Not to be a burden on others, I decided before taking the trip that I would remain on the ship for all activities. This turned out to be a great choice for me. Anton and Goran, the bartenders, attended to all my needs and a couple of great books on my Tab S3 kept me as busy as the passengers participating in the included daily excursions. At 3:00 PM, I enjoyed my daily beer (Beer, wine and soft drinks were included) brought to me by Anton.
In addition, Krassi, the musician, filled the lounge with 50's music on demand. Because of our number of trips with Grand Circle, we were invited to dine with Captain Marin **, at his table on the second night of the trip. Marin, a very experienced river pilot, was warm and friendly as we discussed various aspects of sailing including the 66 locks on The Great Rivers. All meals were included in the excursion including three meals which were at off-ship locations. Although I was prepared to skip these meals, Restaurant Manager Dimitar, prepared a special meal for me (and a few others who remained onboard) in the ship's beautiful and spacious lounge. The ship's Executive Chefs, Oliver and Jovan, periodically stopped by to see if there were any special meals that they could prepare for one of our members who was ill for a couple of days.
In order to prepare for the trip, I lost 15 pounds because I knew I would gain weight from eating the exciting, wonderful food was served to us daily by our waiters Milija (Mickey) and Nemanja. Breakfast was a menu specialty, eggs to order, or a buffet of meats, fruits, cereal, yogurt and pastries., wonderful pastries! Daily Lunch included a menu specialty, soup of the day, and an elaborate buffet of salads, hot items, sandwiches and fresh bread and rolls. The red and White wine was also included. Dinner was always a four to five-course meal. We always had a choice of a meat, fish or vegetarian entry. In addition, grilled salmon and grilled chicken breasts were always available. All meals were a tasty culinary delight as well as a work of art. Our family photographed every dish delivered to them. It was so difficult to pick a dessert that I admit there were times I chose two.
Our cabin was as spacious as any on a river ship although we gave up a small amount of space for a balcony. (A premium space in the summer.) Lolita, our cabin attendant, turned down our beds during dinner and placed chocolate on the pillow each night. She was efficient and kept the cabin sanitized and spotless. Would have liked to bring her home with me. LOL. The hotel staff was kind and was always anxious to assist me with any special needs.
Grand Circle provides a Program Director for every 40 passengers on board the tour. Mike, our P.D., sent us an e-mail introducing himself to us about ten days before we left for our trip. In our many trips with Grand Circle, Mike was easily one of the best P.D. ever. I was impressed with our family's report of his vast knowledge of the history of the places we visited on the trip. Mike greeted me daily and always asked if he could help me with anything or bring me anything from the town we were visiting. He treated me as if I were a V.I P. Although the trip is clearly not for disabled people like me, I was impressed with the way the entire ship tried to make my experience as great as those who daily toured the small towns on the Danube, Main and Rhine Rivers of Europe. This truly turned out to be the family "Cruise of a Lifetime" for me and my family members. Thank you Grand Circle for making it happen.
Grand Circle River Cruise in December, 2015. Paris was attacked by terrorists shortly before we were to leave. Friends and family were extremely concerned and the shadow of terrorism hovered over the whole trip. Upon cancellation, I was sent a non-transferable "voucher". This means a loss of $3,000+ dollars. I can't use the voucher: can't even give it away! Their travel "insurance" is worthless. I'm sticking with Viking for river travels.
We were booked on a river cruise (Provence/Burgundy) in August. A couple days before the trip my husband got an infection from an insect bite and could not go. I understood that because we did not have trip insurance that we forfeited his portion of the trip. My daughter-in-law said she could join me but Grand Circle refused. I got conflicting reasons from the several persons I spoke with at Grand Circle. One person said that the cancellation needed to be 5 days ahead for airfare. We had booked our own airfare so that was a non-issue. My daughter-in-law did join me in Paris but Grand Circle had the gall to charge me a single supplement after I had paid for a double room. She was not permitted to participate in any of the tours that I had paid for for my husband. They cited liability. A simple waiver would do it. I would not do business with an organization that appears to be run by their lawyers.
I was on one of their optional tours to go to Linz, Austria and then on to Salzburg for an optional tour. I was left at the restaurant in Austria. My girlfriend was in the bathroom and I was waiting at the restaurant. At that time it was empty. My other friend was on the bus. They claimed they looked for us and didn't find us. It is quite evident I was there and came back at 10:35 the bus was gone. I was five minutes late. My girlfriend on the bus was screaming “don't leave without them.” The tour director (not mine, of course it would not happen with mine because she wants her tip) said I am probably on one of the other buses as there was three buses. She didn't even check the other buses.
I was stranded in Austria 2 hours from ship and about three hours to Salzburg. Luckily, a nice young couple offered to drive us to Salzburg. They were going to Germany. I called the office and we made connections in Salzburg to meet up with tour. We missed the tour and most of the day. We gave the young couple all the foreign money we had as appreciation for the trip. After several complaints I got nowhere for compensation with the company. They only offered me one half the tour price and Derek **, Office of the Chair, was extremely nasty and hurtful to me.
I am an Ambassador member with this organization and this is my third trip. I will never travel with any enterprise of this company again, nor recommend any more people for them. I have recommended several people to them for travel. They did not even offer me compensation nor full price of the excursion in this respect. I am beside myself. I am a senior citizen and have been stressed to the max. I also spent about $7,000.00 for this trip and this is the thank you and sympathy I get from them. I note the last two trips with them, that they hire young kids for their tour directors that do not show too much respect for their elders. I hope you can help me this matter and get me some compensation and make the public aware of the negligent operation and supervision of this company. Thank you for your cooperation.
Grand Circle Travel and Trip Mate, its travel insurance branch, have demonstrated a lack of disclosure and disregard for customer satisfaction that I recently experienced. I made a reservation for myself and my husband in August 2014 for a river cruise leaving in October 2014, purchased their trip insurance which the reservationist stated "cancel for any reason" and was assigned a cabin number. When I later went online to see the location of the cabin, I found it was not elevator accessible. This meant it would be necessary to climb a flight of stairs three or more times daily in order to reach an elevator to get to the dining room and other parts of the ship. Since my husband experienced extreme shortness of breath upon exertion, I requested another cabin that had elevator access. I was told that there were none available and because of his condition, I felt it best to cancel.
I was told that this was not a "covered reason". Had I been informed of the location of the cabin at the time of the reservation, I would not have made the reservation. My husband subsequently underwent open heart surgery two months later. Despite my submission of hospital records, several letters from two cardiologists stating that his condition would have resulted in heart failure had he undertaken the trip, Trip Mate has denied my claim for a refund using very narrow criteria and recently sent me a voucher for travel within a year minus the cost of the insurance. The lack of disclosure on the part of Grand Circle Travel and disregard for any customer satisfaction and the rigid criteria used by Trip Mate to justify their denial of my claim for a refund have left me with no desire to ever travel with this company.
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Last year my spouse and I booked a river cruise. Since that time he has succumbed to cancer and it is unlikely that he will ever be able to travel. We did postpone our trip until next year, but when it became obvious, very recently that he would still not be well enough to travel I decided to request a full refund of our payment, which was in full. I was amazed to find that a 'fine' of $600 would not be refunded. The customer service rep stated several times that we should have purchased travel insurance. I have had experience with travel insurance and despite claims have always been rejected. Obviously comment from other travelers who have not received any benefits from same. Even if we had purchased insurance we would still not be ahead on our refund! Be wary of companies that will not offer a full refund with nine months to go before the tour!
Summary of Grand Circle Athena experience - The cruise itself was pleasant and easy. We went from Athens through Greece to Albania, Montenegro and Croatia. It was a small ship and the other passengers were quite congenial. My review is to let people know that my one (big) concern with the cruise line was the way that they handled my father's medical emergency. One morning my father woke up quite ill. Because the ship was small there was no medical staff on board. The paramedics were called but the captain would not let them on the ship immediately as there was some issue about their not being able to leave Croatian territory. The captain spent precious time making phone calls. Then the captain refused to allow myself and my husband to use the oxygen on board for my father (although we are both physicians).
My father was rushed to the hospital where he remained for 9 days. Grand Circle cruise line was absent for the first 8 days of an experience where my 91 year old father shared a room with four other men who smoked in the bathroom, where coffee was served in pans, and where no one other than his cardiologist spoke English. Grand Circle referred us to their insurance company, On Call. On Call also did not show up but rather had a different 22 year old representative call and talk to my parents every day to check in. My father was cleared to leave five days after admission. On Call, the insurance company, who was supposed to escort him back, did not even start to initiate a plan to return him until the day he was cleared for release. He had to remain in the hospital for four more days waiting for a nurse to arrive from the US. Then he had to wait two more days before he was escorted home.
He spent an additional 5 days in Croatia just waiting to go home. Meanwhile, the hospital was appalled at the lack of communication from both the cruise line and the insurance company. This experience cost myself and my siblings thousands of dollars in expenses and lost income. It turns out that Grand Circle contracts out their insurance to On Call but On Call contracts out the underwriting to something called Trip Mate. Basically everyone kept passing the buck and saying that it was the other organization that should have done something. Fortunately my father returned home safe and well. However, both Trip Mate and Grand Circle refused to reimburse most of our expenses. My 91 year old father is now trying to see what his health insurance will reimburse for the hospital bill and then we will see if that portion of cost will be reimbursed by Trip Mate.
What we did get finally was an apology letter from Grand Circle for our miserable experience and a final denial to compensate us in any way. We did get some reimbursement from Trip Mate but it was a fraction of our expenses and lost income (and we did not ask them to reimburse our lost income, just our expenses). If you have any potential medical issues I would strongly suggest NOT going on this ship as the captain, the company, the medical insurance company and underwriter were not responsible, professional, caring or respectful.
Bought ticket for a Russia cruise last summer. Took out trip insurance. Had a torn meniscus on knee. Paid over 2 grand for ticket. Lost ticket because unable to travel, would not extend ticket. They deal with Trip Mate and they are equally not understanding, would not make any concessions. Said they could give the ticket to someone else, but when you are dealing with widowed 75-year old people, that is not an option. There has to be better tour groups out there that have some compassion and empathy for older people with health problems. I would suggest that you look at more options than this one. NOT GOOD DEAL AT ALL if you get sick or hurt.
First river cruise with GCT Oct 2013. The sheets & towels were torn and with brown stains. After requests for new sheets & towels, the second set were worse than the first set. We were told "this is the best we could find, all our linen is soiled." Never again with GCT.
GC MSRhapsody 15-day river cruise Amsterdam to Vienna, August 2014. By the 3rd day, passengers were coughing and by the end of the cruise, at least 40% of 135 passengers plus many crew, were very ill. Captain & crew did nothing to stop the spread, continued shaking hands, did not protect buffet line food or utensils from multiple touching by infected people. My husband was hospitalized 2 days after disembarking with pneumonia and MRSA with 103 fever. He was kept in isolation for 7 days in the hospital, the first 3 days in ICU in The Netherlands. I had bronchitis for weeks.
When I contacted Grand Circle, they denied anyone was sick so I emailed 30+ passengers who overwhelmingly responded with their own horror stories, visits to hospital ER, urgent care, doctor visits, bronchitis, raw throats, sinus infections, and pneumonia. I sent GC all these emails, and they continued to ignore us. Their TripMate insurance refused to help with expenses related to trip delay & medical expenses as my husband's hospitalization occurred after we disembarked (we spent an extra week near Amsterdam). I notified the CDC who responded that the ship should have applied health & safety protocols to protect against the spread of this virus, but CDC had no authority to investigate as the ship did not enter US waters. CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program helps the cruise industry control & prevent the spread of illnesses aboard cruise ships, and assists in monitoring ships if they have an outbreak. I did not observe crew members disinfecting or taking extra precautions to clean public areas. Apparently, those of us who were sick for 6 weeks, some critically, have no recourse. Is there any agency that performs oversight in the cruise industry? They shouldn't be allowed to get away with this.
Having taken 9 trips with GCT, I can fairly say, their attention to detail and itinerary is usually flawless. The Artemis and its crew is an amazing experience. Dining, staff, service, all perfection. Beautiful sites to visit, too much time on some historically minor sites, not enough at most relevant sites which required more time. Felt at times rushed thru or time wasted, such as an unnecessarily long walk from the Acropolis Museum to the Plaka to get to the guides "special" restaurant, while the other group took a city tour. Two day bus trip from Dilikli to Istanbul, not pleasant, two days of sightseeing lost to travel. GCT should rethink that connection. Too much concentration on food and shopping. I could list some very relevant sites and conveniences not addressed by our particular guide, which I felt had his own questionable agenda. GCT was made aware of this. Friends who took the large scale cruises and picked up local guides at the dock listed numerous sites we never addressed or were even brought to our attention.
Second half of this review conveniently disappeared from the GCT site and therefore the detailed info following. It was brought to GCTs attention that their guide Adnan ** was doing some very self serving and questionable acts relative to money at the expense of the tour. GCT brought it to my attention that no one else had an issue. Not true in the big picture. I was made aware from the tour guide from the other group during a long conversation with her, that he had been reprimanded previously for his behavior. Other employees were very aware of his manipulations and had no respect for him. All info was verified by many different associates of this guide so I am not dealing with unverified info. For example, Adnan directing our group to a local restaurant which was less than satisfactory and overcharged for some wine ordered. Never told his group the hotel provided car service to the restaurant district for free to take you there and pick you up to return to the hotel. When I approached him about this his answer was he did not feel it necessary to tell the group about that option. And, no, the hotel was not steering their guests to specific restaurants for the hotels benefit.
Belly dancer on the ship was to be paid in Euros, he paid her in Lira unbeknownst to the tour, she only did a portion of her program and left early. At one restaurant we attended we were told by Adnan all drinks, including soda and water were at our cost. Waiter told us not true, only alcoholic drinks were charged all else included in meal. Tour to Ephesus started at the end and worked its way less than half way thru because Adnan felt it not necessary to see all of it. Later with so much time left we went to a leather warehouse in the middle of nowhere being hustled to buy leather. This did not happen with the second tour group. There was never a program posted for the day to outline what your projected plan was. First time ever in traveling with GCT this has happened. A program allows you to leave the group and make your own plans. Was told this is what he does, plays it by ear, makes it up as he goes along obviously if he can charm his group, he can design the day around his own agenda.
I don't care relative to the tour group how they felt. They were totally unaware and it was not my goal to interfere with their trip. If they choose to pay thousands of dollars to dance around the dining room with napkins on their heads (yes) and be led around like a school trip and not question that the other group was covering so much more, - so be it. I simply asked Adnan to move me to the other group, to complete our tour, answer was no, asked to have the number of GCT in Boston to call, answer was no, asked to talk to the Istanbul office of GCT, again no. ** directed us to a restaurant by the Hagia Sofia to kill an hour until the bus came to bring us to the Bazaar. Never mentioned the Basilica Cistern was right there to see, or other options, always some seedy restaurant where no doubt he profited.
Could never find this guide when needed. Was told by people in charge, he disappears to a caf to play games on his laptop and shows up at the end. Not a good thing if an emergency arises. Guide should always be available. My husband because of hip surgery over two years before chooses to go at his pace, does not impact the group and more importantly - we are not neophyte travelers, are very capable and congenial to taking a cab back to our hotel or ship in order to work at our pace and concentrate on our interests - which is not shopping for junk or eating in dumps. Being not given this choice or knowing the agenda definitely compromised this tour.
My issue is that this man is still representing GCT even though they are aware the only interests he represents with his group are his own. But he did explain to me that I did not have to tip him at the end if I was unhappy. Audacious and unscrupulous quite a combination in someone who is your source for info. Every guide we have had over nine different tours has been exceptional. The fact that GCT chose to ignore this behavior, especially so financially egregious, does not speak well for their loyalty to clients.
Our cabin was next to the maintenance room on a Nile cruise. The smell was horrific of garbage and cigarettes. The crew tried to help, but not much could be done. GCT showed no interest in giving us any compensation for the fact that we had to stay out of our cabin except when sleeping.
I signed up as a single to travel on this cruise but when I boarded the ship, I found a roommate had been assigned to share my cabin; I had paid the single supplement. Unfortunately, the roommate was a BAD match - he snored loudly and screamed in his sleep, therefore keeping me awake. The only other room available was on the lower deck above the bow engines - the whole room shook when they were operating. When I voiced my concern, I was told the option was to move back in with the roommate. Needless to say, I am very dissatisfied with GCT and will likely never travel with them again.
It is a week before I go on my trip on the Seine on the M/S Bizet and I am already upset with GCT. Today, I received a call that my stateroom had been downgraded and is on the Alto deck rather than the Soprano deck which I bought and paid for 10 months before my trip. I had not gotten a stateroom assignment and have called several times to find out why. I was told not to worry, that I had a room on the Soprano deck and would get the room maybe before the trip or when I arrived. I have also gotten 4 other people to take this trip and they had their room assignments. I was told the trip was overbooked and our room had to be changed. I would get a refund to the difference but no other remuneration. I am really upset and doubt I will ever book a GCT trip again.
On the GCT "Essence of Elbe" Cruise in October 2012, I was totally dismayed at the cabin size and amenities, the "know-it-all' attitude of obvious frequent GCT travelers, a general "cheapness" on everyone's part (like sneaking drinks in the cabin and not using the lounge), and the general, unsophisticated air about everything. We did our own air, upgraded the hotel, and added special tours (like the wonderful bike-rickshaw in Dresden on a dreary, cold, and wet day).
While on the surface this company seemingly offers a lot, in truth, our trip was much akin to a Motel 6 on the river. The food was acceptable, the service quite good, and the personal attention of the guides exemplary, but our fellow passengers were indeed a dreary, penny-pinching, un-continental lot who were always quick to comment when we overstepped the unwritten rules of usual travel on GCT. The tours were mediocre at best, with sightseeing mostly of the “see-this-while-walking-by" variety. It is definitely not for me, but it may be your cup of tea if you are from Oklahoma!
I just returned from a trip/cruise with GCT to Egypt. They put my friend and me in a room with "engine noise". We didn't know this until we got to the room but they did because when we returned home, we had a letter from GCT stating that the room we were in had "engine noise/vibration issues". The engine noise was so loud it was deafening. We couldn't hear each other speak. We could not sleep in the room even with earplugs in our ears and pillows over our heads. The diesel fumes were nauseating. We couldn't breathe in that room. It was sickening. And, just to ice the cake, it was so hot in there that we sweated any time we were in the room. The rest of the ship was cool and comfortable. In the end, I got off the ship a day early. I would have left sooner if I could have figured out a way to do it. We paid $500 extra apiece to get a great room with a great view. Not only was there no better view, our friends on the first floor actually got to sleep and spend time in their room relaxing.
We couldn't use the room. We had to sleep in the lounge or on the top deck. My hearing has been damaged. There is no telling what the fumes did to us. I lived on coffee all week trying to stay awake during the day.When we complained about the room all we got in return was that it was too bad, there were no options. This is not acceptable. We have sent emails and made calls since we've returned and the only response we've had is that "they'll turn it over to the Quality Control department."
Grand Circle advertises as being "single friendly". When I inquired about booking a single (non-sharing) room on a Last Minute cruise deal leaving May 30, I was told there were no single rooms left and that GCT often sailed with empty cabins rather than change the cabin to a "single" to accommodate a solo traveler. Interesting way to do business!
I received an invitation to purchase a trip with said company. This invitation was sent to me via an e-mail directed to me specifically as I am a past customer. Remember now this was not an advertisment but a personal e-mail. The offer was stated that it was a Special Exclusive Offer, a value of up to $2400.00 on select River Cruises-reserve by 6/6/08. This offer is being offered only to our best customers.
It further stated that if I reserved any of the River Cruise departures they would give me the following: #1 A free upgrade to the Best Available Cabin- a value of up to $1400.00 per couple, #2 Up to an additional $1000.00 per couple in Travel Credits to apply to these departures for a total value of up to $2400.00 per couple.
They offered three (3) trips to choose from. (A) Eastern Europe to the Black Sea- 13 days from only $2595.00 valid for these departure dates only: August 25; September 19, 28; October 5; 20; 2008. (B) Russia Revealed: Moscow to St. Petersburg-16 days from only $2995.00 valid for these departure dates only: August 25; September 8; 22; October 6, 2008. (C) The Seine: Paris to Normandy-13 days from only $3095.00 valid for these departure dates only: August 20; September 3; 17; October 1; 15, 2008. Refer to this code when reserving: EBGG119.
Based on this invitation I chose the Eastern Europe to the Black Sea trip and computed my trip from the information supplied. $2595.00 for the basic trip departing NY (which is standard), and applying $300.00 for additional air fare so as to be able to depart LA, applying the free upgraded cabin to the Serenade Deck, deducting the $500.00 cabin credits allowed and I came up with a sub total of $2395.00 while GCT said the sub total should be $3295.00. That's a total of $900.00 difference. To these prices there would be other items of cost to be either added or subtracted but would be the same for both price structures in general.
The complaint here is that GCT operates off another pricing schedule rather than the one they promote. Also, in the figuring of the final total cost GCT operates from many other charts and schedules that are not offered to be reviewed at the time of totaling up the purchase. (This is always done over the phone). For example, on this trip the PTC entered $380.00 for the trip insurance cost for my trip. When looking through the tables that I obtained from there web site after cancelling the trip do to the circumstances stated above, it is stated in their tables that my travel insurance should have costed out at $335.00. An over charge of $45.00.
In cancelling the trip, GCT wants to collect a 10% cancellation fee of $463.00. They then called back and restated the fee as being $348.72, when the full charge for the trip ended up at $3989.26 and 10% of that is $389.27. It's obvious that these travel companies are not sufficiently controlled and they therefore can do pretty much what want without repercussions, and this is wrong.
This fiasco isn't over yet but it looks like I am going to be out a cancellation fee for which I don't feel I should be held responsible fordue to the way I was handled and the shortness of time between booking the trip and the attempt to
GCT accepted my payment and assigned us a cabin for a France cruise. Four days before departure they left a message that due to overbooking, we could not go. No amount of complaining helped. Then by chance someone on another cruise departing 3 weeks later, cancelled, and they gave us that cabin. They also gave us a monetary compensation. Their treatment of us was cold.
Due to our bitter tirades, we eventually got a supervisor instead of their usual cold peons, and she did help us with the new trip. The Boston office of GCT is indifferent to the needs of their customers and cares mainly about profit. Our new air flights were inconveniently timed because they don't care to find flights that are compatible to us if it costs them a little more money. The entire excuse about informing us of overbooking 4 days prior to departure smells more than fishy. They never hinted at any such possibility but claimed that we were informed. They also changed the hotel from an upper level hotel to a Holiday Inn.
Due to the delay in travel, I had to cancel 6 classes, a play, 2 medical appointments, and miss the memorial sevice of a dear friend. My plans for all of June were ruined. The new flights were for difficult departure and arrival times with a ridiculously long layover in NY.
On March 28, 2008 I returned from a river cruise with Grand Circle Travel. My purpose for this trip was to visit 2 cities in Germany where my parents were born. I had the phone number of the contact person in Germany who was to show me around after taking a train to the village. When I asked the front desk for the phone city code to reach that individual I was given the wrong city code so was not able to make contact with her and never was able to visit the 2 places that were important to me and the reason for the trip. The front desk on the ship gave me an INCORRECT city code and my contact person emailed me but the front desk didn't give me the emails until 2 days after they arrived so I was not able to meet with her.
There were 160 people on this trip, and each time we left the ship we received a boarding pass to be turned in on the return to the ship. I was told by the front desk that they couldn't find me. This was certainly an unacceptable explanation as the emails could have been slipped under my door immediately upon receipt but they dropped the ball and didn't do this. I wrote a letter to Alan Lewis, the President of Grand Circle Travel and also sent an email to the company. When I didn't receive any reply I sent another letter to him certified and included all the backup information from the first letter.
I felt that since it was through the inefficiency of their staff that Grand Circle should provide me airfare to Germany and 4-5 days hotel so that I could accomplish what I originally took the trip for. They give travelers so many opportunities for lengthy surveys on satisfaction yet when there is an issue they do nothing about it. They continually send me more and more propoganda about future trips, and I have told them that under the circumstances I can neither book another trip through them or encourage others to travel with their company.
Unfortunately, I did not check the Web before I made the reservations because I found more than 142,000 complaints against the company and also learned that the Better Business Bureau refused their membership in 2006. I don't understand why they have travelers fill out surveys relating to the satisfaction of their trip if they do nothing about it and don't even reply when an issue is sent directly to the president of the company.
At this point (5/7/08) nothing has happened. The president didn't even bother to respond to my 2 letters (the last one was a certified letter that I know he received).
My husband , myself and 4 friends just returned from a river cruise to The Netherlands and Brussels on the Debussy. This was our third river cruise with Grand Circle. Since we had wonderful experiences on the 2 previous trips, we looked forward to another great time. Unfortunately, this trip was less than we expected. Our main problem was with the ship. The entire time we were on board (7 nights) there was a terrible smell of open sewer on the main deck by the front desk. When the crew was asked why the ship smelled, the reply was we don't smell anything.
In addition to the horrible smell, 50% of the passengers got a stomach bug. When asked what was being done about it we were told that the passengers must have brought the bug aboard the ship and that we picked it up from the air systems on the planes. The rooms were not cleaned well. I found used tissues under my bed that were left from a previous passenger. My husband found peanuts in his bed one evening. He had not eaten any peanuts either in bed or out!
As we left the ship to travel to the hotel, they were already boarding new passengers. The ship should have been completely disinfected before anyone else was allowed on board. We are waiting to hear from Grand Circle to see what, if anything will be done for the passengers from this trip (May 4- May 15, 2006). Since our other experiences with them were so good I am hoping that this trip was just a unusual event and we will all receive compensation from Grand Circle.
On 1/17/2005 my wife, I and another couple paid a deposit for a Rhone River Cruise as was advertised in their cruise catalog. The remainder of the total cost was paid, by check as they would not charge this to our credit cards, prior to the due date of 4/04/2005. The departure date was scheduled for 7/04/2005. On the evening of Friday,7/01/2005, I received a phone call informing me that the ship that was to be our home for seven nights had been damaged while being repositioned. The extent of the damage was not know but they were trying to get it into a dry-dock and check it out. However, the person speaking to me felt that the ship would most probably not be ready for boarding on 7/08/2005 the date that was called for in the itinerary.
I asked, at this point, if we could cancel and was told yes. But, he said, why not wait till tomorrow morning and check on the condition of the ship. I did wait till the following morning, 7/02/2005, and was told the ship would not be available at all and our Rhone River Cruise was being changed to a motor coach tour. At this point we four canceled. Calling the next morning, the only phone number I was privy to, I was told to e-mail the Quality Customer Care at GCT. I got back a request for further information which I sent that same day and was told in that message that I would be contacted by phone or mail. I have yet to hear from them.
I did obtain a phone number from the travel insurance company on 7/25/2005. This number, which no one at GCT would give me, brought me to Customer Service. The person I spoke to could not provide a satisfactory answer except to say that what had happened is not a concealable condition under their contract. I requested to speak with a supervisor and was turned over to a Ms. Webster who listened to my tale and repeated what the first person had told me. I told her that this trip was to be a celebration of my eightieth birthday and that I am the youngest of the four. A bus tour would be too tiring and stressful for us.
I asked where GCT would be able to find, at this time of the tourist season, hotel rooms to accommodate the entire group. Then I mentioned your web page and the letters written on it. I gave her your web address which she typed into her computer and said "Good Lord, this is interesting". She said she would be taking our story AND your web address to someone. Incidentally, I was told that we would not receive money in any event, only a voucher good for a year from our original departure date. We are not to certain we would want to travel with GCT in the future after this experience. Thanks for listening to me and allowing me to release some of my frustration.
GCT is holding $5704.20 of our money. We have started proceedings, through Visa, to charge back the $1000.00 deposit each couple had paid. This has not happened yet. I now realize why GCT demands cash. If the insurance company handles the claim we would lose the cost of the trip insurance, $528.00, and a $125.00 handling fee. There has been no physical damage only stress, aggravation and disappointment.
Grand Circle Cruise Line expert review by Michelle Baran
Grand Circle Travel, which owns the cruise line, has been based in Boston since 1985. Its philosophy includes encouraging people to try new things during their worldwide travels and cruises.
Immersive programs: From home-hosted meals to school tours, Grand Circle excursions really delve into local, everyday life.
Deals: Grand Circle encourages early booking and offers a wide range of deals. Cruisers who go on multiple trips in a year and solo travelers also enjoy specialized savings.
Diverse locations: The Panama Canal and Eastern Europe are some of the cruises this company offers, along with trips on rivers in Europe.
Solo travel: Grand Circle doesn't upcharge most solo travelers and provides a free roommate matching service for those who want one. Program directors go out of their way to include solo travelers in activities.
Best for: Solo travelers, older travelers and couples would enjoy the cruises at Grand Circle.
Grand Circle Cruise Line Company Information
- Company Name:
- Grand Circle Cruise Line
- Year Founded:
- Grand Circle Travel 347 Congress St.
- Postal Code:
- United States
- (800) 221-2610