Consumer Complaints and Reviews
We have taken 23 tours with OAT and GCT and would not travel with anyone else. Several singles travel with us and a lot of them have not had to pay the supplement. River cruises are fantastic, there are no bad rooms and the meals are fantastic. Our air travel is booked by the company as soon as possible; if there are problems, GCT gives you the airline number and it is up to you to change to your liking. All guides speak English and we're all family by the end of the tours. I don't understand the bad reviews unless these people are expecting 6 Star trips for 3 Star prices.
I have traveled with Grand Circle for years. 16 trips. I booked a Panama cruise specifying my United Frequent Flyer number and asking for a partner airline to get points. When I got my preliminary air itinerary, I called to ask if Delta was a partner. I was told no. I asked to change to a partner and was told that it would cost me $73 more. Now bear in mind this is September 2016 and my trip is not until July 2017. I talked to several customer service representatives who promised to call me back to see if the $73 can be waived. No one has called and it was been over a week.
Grand Circle treats its customers like crap. The trips are great but the company is abusive, non-responsible and GREEDY. Pure and simple, Grand Circle is greedy. More and more of us long time customers are discussing the greed and lies of Grand Circle during the trips. If there is ever a class action lawsuit, count me in. And please Harriet **, I don't want your personal, self absorbed rantings.
We are a couple in our mid-70's in good health. We are physically active people involved in many activities. We have enjoyed 20 excellent trips with Grand Circle from 2004 through 2015. In 2016 we had what felt like the trip from hell run by the devil itself. This was to have been my birthday celebration trip. On the second day (Sunday) I tripped on a raised cobblestone in the pavement and tumbled to my knees. I suffered no damage whatsoever either to my knees or my clothing, it was just embarrassing. I got up and went on thinking nothing of it.
The tour director, however, went berserk over it until she was distracted by another tour member who fainted and bloodied her head. That night the TD told me I should go home, that I was incapable to do the tour. Later she told my husband that he was unable and should go home (This seemed to be because he walks with an odd gait due to injury in a motor vehicle accident that occurred back in 1959). We both made it clear that we were not interested in leaving the tour and we did not agree that we were not able to continue. The next two days we were harangued repeatedly with messages that we were not wanted. The TD "turned us over to her Rome office" and I was harangued (Tuesday afternoon) with numerous phone calls from women whom I could not understand due to the language barrier and poor connections.
On Tuesday evening we were ordered to come down from our room and informed that we were no longer allowed on the trip, that we would leave for home the following morning, that our original flight home had been cancelled and a new flight arranged for the following morning. We were told that if we refused to go we would not be allowed on the trip, that we would be put out on the street with nowhere to stay and no tickets to get back home. At that threat, we felt we had to give in. We had hardly slept for three nights worrying about what was happening to our trip and the impossible to understand antagonism and hostility of the TD towards us. We were exhausted. We might have tried to go off on our own, making our travels private, but felt unable to do that given that we no longer would have tickets to get back home. Also we don't speak the language and had no experience with making our own travel arrangements in Italy and France.
We were hustled off to the airport where we got a flight to Amsterdam, but the agent said she had no tickets beyond that and we would have to get them in Amsterdam. In Amsterdam there were no tickets for us, no record we were told. I don't know how it was worked out but Delta and KLM made many phone calls on our behalf and finally got us on a plane to Detroit. In Detroit again there were ticket problems, but the agents got them resolved somehow. Two weeks later, at home, I received notice from Delta that it was time to do online check-in on our originally scheduled flight home. I contacted them, explaining that GCT had told us that they cancelled these tickets. Delta then kindly immediately refunded our "economy plus" seating fare we had paid although I don't believe they had to.
Throughout this ordeal I had kept detailed notes. I used these to write a letter of objection to GCT after we returned home. I sent a letter to Harriet Lewis receiving no response from her. After reading off some website complaints of others who have had terrible problems with GCT, I guess I should be grateful that at least we did now just receive a full refund of the money we paid GCT. The man I dealt with in the customer relations department was very courteous and I thought really tried to be helpful.
That does not negate what GCT did to us. I consider their behavior outrageous, abusive and also simply very poor business. They have thrown away two very good customers, people who once were outspoken to others about the good experiences they had with GCT. Our good will is gone as is our continued business. They are "out" the extra airfare to send us home, "out" the price of the trip and didn't have the common sense to follow through on cancelling the flights they said they cancelled. Total incompetence! What the dickens happened to what I think was once a good reputable company???
The wait times, routinely over half an hour to talk to a rep, needs attention. Of course payment calls go through a filter very fast. They need to be pushed to have an automatic callback system for all calls to show some respect for their customer's time and convenience.
We are in the middle of our tour as I type. There has been both good and bad on this trip which is our first experience with Grand Circle and with traveling abroad. Due to the monies we paid and the poor parts of our trip so far this will be our last tour with Grand Circle. Some parts of the tour have been entertaining and enjoyable with excellent service. Others have been disappointing with cheap meals and poor service. The rooms that we have stayed in so far are small and we are currently staying in a room with two twin beds.
One of our two "option" mini tours was very disappointing and the other had very good entertainment with poor service from the food servers. Sitting on the cramped tour bus in the back each time has been painful to say the least and been one of the main reasons not to participate in the "option" mini tours. A separate arrangement was made for golf for my husband and some others. They were told it would cost them $45.00 for 9 holes that would include everything and they had to pay $176.00 each. We are ages 58 and 64. Perhaps this type of traveling is just not for us.
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I received an email from Grand Circle Travel advertising a cruise. I clicked on the link and noted the advertised price, under which was the notation "Single Supplement: $0". When I called to book the trip, the single supplement was $1,295. They claimed they made a mistake on the website. I claim it was the old bait-and-switch, enticing me to call in and buy something under false pretenses. They expressed no interest in honoring what they offered. I have traveled with them before; I will never do so again. Beware!!
On this trip we had 3 days in Prague at the Parkhotel which was outside of the city of Prague. Went on a bus trip the next day through the city of Prague with someone I could not understand. We were brought to the hotel. And we're on our own for the rest of time with no way to get back in the city, all we saw was the hotel and a small grocery store. We should had have a hotel in the city. But I guess that would have cut down their profit. Our rest stop was a gas station... That had about 50 little children also at the gas station. The rest of the trip did not get any better. The customer service you dealt with before the trip were not the best. I am sorry to say I did not like anything on this trip. I would advise if you want to take a Blue Danube trip you might try Viking.
I completed my third trip with GC last fall. I have to agree with the comments about sub standard rooms. As a single person I was given the worst room in most of the hotels. We changed hotels 5 times as we worked our way north from Italy. The first hotel room was in the back of the entire hotel (I needed my GPS to find it everyday) overlooking the gardener shack. The room was so small that one day when I overslept I had to order room service. The guy could not even get the cart into the room. My shower was the size of what would be in an RV. When I complained our guide did nothing for over 24 hrs. until I went to the front desk. They showed me another room which was much larger but it overlooked a metal fire escape and a brick wall so I decided to stay where I was. The rest of the travelers had lake views. Single people get the shaft. Esp when there is "free supplement". What a joke.
I have gone on a couple of trips with GCT and they have been fine, as both times we have an organized group of our own, so the tour went on as planned. Early this year, I booked a Danube River Cruise together with another couple for March 22nd, 2016, and paid in full including airfare before the deadline, which is 75 days before the trip. Around the first week of February, which is less than 45 days before the trip, they informed us that the trip has been cancelled even though we had already received all the travel documents from them. The reason for cancellation: insufficient travelers for that trip and they want to combine it with their April tour. Unfortunately, that is the only time we are available to take the trip. We could have booked another tour! GCT had totally disregard the interests of the customers and did not provide any compensation for the cancellation, either as a credit for future tour or whatever.
If the customer had cancelled the tour within 59-30 days of the tour date, they would have been charged 65% of the trip fee according to GCT's cancellation policy. However, GCT seems to feel free to cancel any tour at will without any recourse or compensation to the customers, which appears to be a one way street. They seem to expect the customer to commit to the payment after booking, but yet, they can cancel the trip as they wish. What kind of a company is this? Where is their customer service? I would not deal with this company again! Also, not only did they not refund the customer for their payment immediately after they cancelled their trip, they have to wait till Feb. 19th to issue the refund. What is this? They want to keep the money even though their trip has been cancelled.
I just returned from Burma Irrawaddy river cruise. I want to warn people about several upsetting practices which seem systemic and not just related to this cruise. They are not offering this trip any longer or I would go into more detail but will just state, if they offer it again, don't take it. One thing in general though, they make such a big deal about being single traveler friendly and it is a joke. Not only should they have offered free single supplement but they should have charged half or less if anyone would take the single room! All rooms on the ship were 25 sq ft except mine which was 10 sq ft. Smaller than my walk-in closet at home. Dark. No sliding doors or balcony like everyone else. Tiny tiny bathroom. And there were 5 staterooms unoccupied! They didn't have to give me that room. After complaint they did move me, but if this is the way they deal with single travelers, do you want to deal with them?
They charged me $1500 for airfare Bangkok round trip. I then saw it advertised for $882. They overcharged me. When I called, they said they just pick a number and that is what they charge irrespective of the actual cost! Too late to change for me so I paid about DOUBLE. To top things off, when I got on the trip, I found that most of the other passengers paid NO airfare. To top things off further, the flight arrangements were horrid. They left me sitting in Bangkok for 12 hours alone after all the other travelers were gone home. I called the airlines and there was space on the same flight 12 other passengers were on. Grand circle said they would change it for a $200 change fee. They never should have left a single elderly woman alone that way in the first place! I refused to pay it. Then they said I had to leave my hotel room! I was to sit in the lobby for 4 hours until a van came for me! I refused to leave my room.
They said I would have to pay a night myself, but in the end after I contacted Grand Circle headquarters, they did let me keep the room until van came. The only thing I can figure is they saved a few bucks on the fare to inconvenience me so. And just icing on the cake, they booked some cheaper class ticket so I could not get my frequent flyer miles! To say do not let them book your airfare for you seems unnecessary but DO NOT LET THEM BOOK YOUR AIRFARE!!! Actually, do you want to even deal with a company who is so grubby greedy???
In the next few weeks we will take a very much anticipated trip to Cuba using Grand Circle. Not our first GC or OAT trip and every one so far has been a 5 star event. What this is about is some of the "things" that we have learned so far. I questioned two things: 1. Why there is a luggage fee with this being a charter flight (and your total luggage weight limit is 44# )? I had spoken with Air Aruba the listed charter for the trip. They said that they didn't charge a baggage fee on charters. All part of the charter. So I asked why we had a separate baggage fee of $20 per person? This was for the whole trip and not each way. The poor guy I was talking to, I think thought like I did and was gone for extended conversations with others. All I got was that Air Aruba charged that fee. Nonsense, I had spoken with them minutes before the GC call. Nickel-diming. Increase the tour fee by $20 if the margin is that thin.
2. I also asked about the tipping for the guide which is $7-10 USD per person per day. Our tour has 20 people so the guide gets $1400-2000. I felt that was excessive for a Cuban when the average MONTHLY salary is around $20 USD. Felt it would upset the economy. Well, another long off the phone conversation and guess what? The guide isn't a Cuban who lives in Cuba. This is a Cuban-American (citizen) who lives in Little Havana (Miami).
I have never gone on one of their tours where the guide was not a native who lived in his/her country. I want a person who is living the day to day experience of a communist country, that is very poor, and about to be opened up to big economic changes. I'll never get to see that person, not in the close extended way that you do with a tour guide. I am very disappointed and upset with this GC nonsense. I will review the actual trip afterwards and maybe my perspective will have changed.
We have traveled 5 times with GC and enjoyed each and every trip. We just made a reservation to travel to Australia next year in November when I received an email that I need to accept their Terms and Conditions. As we never had to do this in the past I reviewed the T&C's prior to accepting them. I was greatly surprised when I read them. I have never read a contract that was so one sided. The terms stated that GC was only a travel agent and was not responsible for anything that went wrong on your trip.
They could, according to the T&C's, abandon you if a problem came up during the trip and you had no recourse against GC. I contacted GC as I could not accept these terms and was told I had to in order to travel. I said I had never done this in the past and was told the T&C's were new in 2014 and that was that. Needless to say, we cancelled our trip and I am still waiting for my refund. The deposit was charged to my credit card immediately but the refund supposedly takes 10 days. Enough said, goodbye Grand Circle.
We have just returned from our 9th and last GC trip and the trip itself, Romantic Villages of Alpine Europe was outstanding. However, the flight portion of the trip, scheduled by GC, was a nightmare. We have a 5 hr layover in Frankfurt and a 6 hr layover in Phila on our return from the trip. There were many other flight options available, one which would have routed us through Charlotte, as we were routed on our trip to Italy, and would have had us arrive home 6 hours earlier. GC travel would not change the routing after several requests and long discussions with the travel department. On the day of our travel from the US Lufthansa had a one day pilot strike and we were not notified of the flight cancellation until we arrived at the airport, 50 miles from our home and $50 poorer. We will not travel with GC again nor will we recommend their travel to anyone.
I feel strongly that this company is untrustworthy. I changed a reservation for one trip for another within the time frame allowed. For some reason they didn't register the change and sent me final information for the first trip. When I called and said I had changed trips, they replied that they had to listen to the phone call which they said had been recorded. After supposedly listening to the call, they reported that I didn't make the change because I couldn't decide between two dates for the second trip. I asked to listen to the call but they refused. I remember very clearly changing the trip; I just chose a date and went with it. I was under a lot of pressure to just get the change done, it was next to last day that change was allowed, and it was so far in the future that I had no commitments and all dates would have been equal.
The upshot is that I lose the almost $600 in travel insurance that I paid for the trip and will only be able to get a travel voucher for the rest of the money. But I do not want to travel with them since, as so many others have noted, they lack integrity. I feel the problem goes beyond greed, it seems to be something deeper and perhaps even more problematic.
In July 2014 during a Grand Circle Travel (GCT) dream trip to Ireland, Murphy's Law reigned supreme. Bad weather in New York delayed a flight coming to Orlando, for me to take the return flight to Kennedy Airport. By 15 minutes, I missed the flight to Ireland at 10:45PM. :>( [Delta reps, however, realized that the jet was still at the gate but could not allow me to board. They made arrangements at no cost for me to stay in a local hotel and take the same flight the next night.]
A week before the Ireland trip end, a dog knocked me over and I spent two days in hospital, causing me to end my trip. The TripMate travel insurance (I strongly advising not using disreputable TripMate) that GCT had sold me was ineffective and its third-party agency did not accept collect calls from Ireland. I had no recourse, lost tons of money. But, hey, that's Murphy's Law.
I had vowed never again to travel with GCT, but in July 2015 an opportunity came available to visit the Canadian Rockies, Seattle, and Vancouver. The GCT sales rep saw that I had a bad experience in 2014 and accommodated a free single supplement that would have cost about $800. That GCT accommodated a single traveler at no additional cost when the tour had virtually sold out is a testament that Grand Circle Travel truly does care about its guests and strives to provide satisfaction. The bad taste (like 2-for-a-dollar hotdogs) from TripMate had jaded my opinion of GCT. That was my bad, and GCT has totally restored confidence in this fine travel organizer. I've already planned a trip to Italy in spring 2016.
Although I am a returning customer they refused to honor the offer for travel to South Africa that they sent to me. They said they made an error and that there was a disclaimer on the brochure. There was none. Then they said that their "terms and conditions" on the website protected them. In short, they told me to take a hike and that they would do nothing for me to honor the offer they sent to me.
Grand Circle Tours is one of the best values in the travel industry. I have traveled with them as a single many times & always treated with respect & care. Their accommodations are top quality. The venue in each country exceptional. The people that you meet become friends & the choices for restaurants are great showing the flavor of the country &/or location that you visit. Anyone who travels should always buy travel insurance especially a senior traveler. What are you thinking? You are NOT bulletproof. We were traveling to Sicily & a sudden situation put one of us in the hospital under very dire circumstances.
All of our money was refunded by Grand Circle Tours! It was American Airlines that cheated us left & right - They are the worst! If you love to travel, Grand Circle Tours will give you your money’s worth & more. Don't believe the "naysayers" as they are usually people that gripe about everything & don't find the joy in each day & each experience. We even touched people's lives in a positive way for 12 days in the hospital. We missed the Sicily trip but we reveled in the fact that life has a way of giving us an opportunity to smile through the hard times in the valley & be more thankful for the times when we are at the top of the mountain.
Beware of Grand Circle's bait and switch pricing. They do not honor contracts and Alan and Harriet ** and upper management refuse to speak to customers. My invoice from them gave my balance and due date for getting their Good Buy discount and once my deposit was past the refundable date they emailed to us to say they changed their policy and we had to be paid in full by the end of this month to receive quoted price. Over 14 months prior to departure rather than 12 months before departure. Otherwise price goes up. It looks like they are in financial trouble and need the cash. Makes me wonder if traveling with them is secure.
I have been travelling with OATS/GCT for over 20 years and have gone on at least 15 trips. I have taken my family on many of these trips, costing me at times about $20,000 a trip. I have very much enjoyed the tours that are offered and the memories are wonderful. My last trip was to Italy with my grand-daughter in March-April. Unfortunately, we, along with several others on our GTC tour, became ill with an upper respiratory illness. We tried to get over it with over the counter cold medication but I was forced to take 2 days off the tour to stay in the hotel to rest (I am 86).
I did not go to hospital because it seemed an over-reaction to my symptoms, although my daughter who is an RN in the States was afraid for me due to my age. I am not one to run to the doctor for every sniffle. However, this illness was taking the pleasure out of this trip. The tour guide eventually arranged for a doctor to come to the hotel and he treated several people from our tour.
As I always do, I took out your trip insurance, which was expensive. I have applied for reimbursement of my medical costs as per the requirements, and it has been months with no resolution. I am being questioned and told to go through various hoops to get reimbursed the approximately $300 for medical costs for myself and my grand-daughter. I am disgusted and dismayed at the run-around which I am getting for a very small amount of money, especially in light of all the money I have spent with this company for trips over the years, as well as the cost of the trip insurance itself. There should be no hesitation to just pay the incurred medical bills. The rules appear to be red-tape created to get out of paying any bills.
My allegiance to OATS/GTC has certainly not paid off. At this point, I am asking myself why I would want to continue travelling with a company who has no respect for my customer loyalty and who would put me through such bureaucratic nonsense for $300, when I have spent easily over $100,000 of business with them. I am very very disappointed in the worsening quality that this company provides. I am looking elsewhere for my future travel plans.
So far my family and I have been on four grand circle/overseas adventure travel vacations, and they have all been superlative. We have been on the Italy/Amalfi trip with the extension to Venice, the Costa Rican trip with the extension to Tortuguero, the African safari trip to Tanzania, and the month-long Turkish trip with the extension of the week on the yacht in the Aegean. I could go on and on (and on) about the incredible experiences we had on each trip, the extensive knowledge of ALL of the guides we had, and their genuine concern for our comfort, safety, and satisfaction.
I find it surprising that people are willing to write a totally negative review, blasting a good company, based solely on the amount of mail they receive. Really? I know they send a considerable amount of advertising information, but isn't that what most businesses do? Advertise? Keep their name and beautiful travel ideas in front of their customers? Since when was that a crime?
Furthermore, when I have planned a trip, whether with GC/OAT or a different company, I have always been proactive in checking the details well before the trip. On one occasion, I did receive airline reservations that I felt were not convenient to me, and Grand Circle was happy to change them to the flights I desired, and they did so immediately. We, as a family, have been so happy with this company that when we decided to take a month-long river cruise, we chose them to take it with. I, for one, am looking forward to it, and know I will get a first class adventure. I noticed that the disclaimer at the beginning of this site says that GC/OAT is not a member. I wonder if they would get better reviews if they were?
My mother booked her trip on June 14 and paid $4,734. She started feeling unsteady and unable to travel and her doctor told her not to go (without seeing her at a visit). She canceled the trip on June 20. Despite having Tripmate cancellation insurance that cost $499, my mother's advance payment was NOT refunded. Instead, she was issued a NON-transferable travel voucher of $2,752.75 good for 1 year from the original date of travel (although issued 2 months later). The voucher has NO VALUE since my mother is unable to travel - that was the reason the original trip was canceled. Grand Circle and/or Tripmate have wrongfully refused to refund my mother's money.
STAY AWAY if you value your email account. We have not even left for our river cruise and GCT constantly fills my email and phone with ads. I have tried to unsubscribe via email, I have sent replies and called. Nothing has ended the invasion. This was our first time booking directly through a line as opposed to using our travel agent. No more Grand Circle for us. If we could vote with our pocketbook I would take back our money but sadly we paid in full. Just my two cents worth.
I signed up for the mailing list for GTC due to my brother raving about the trips. For about a year I received emails and flyers in the mail about sensational deals offered. I called about 2 weeks ago on a really great deal. It was the same day I received the flyer. The deal was not available. No deal was available even close to the special price. Very annoyed with what appeared to be a "bait and switch", I asked that my e-mail and regular mail be totally dropped. I no longer wanted any correspondence from GTC. I continued to get email (to this day) and regular mail. I called again and was told they would take care of it but I should expect 6 weeks for the "drop" to take place. I continue to get e-mail and regular mail. Apparently they have decided to ignore my request. Very disappointing company. I was planning on trying them but not now.
I am scheduled for the Turkey trip on Oct. 13, 2014. I was not happy with the air route they had made from Florida as it had several stops. I called them to change it and they charged me $50 to change it. I decided to make my own air to Boston at a cost of $400 (as that is where I am from originally). I booked a direct flight from Boston to Istanbul on Turkish airline. GCT charged me $1,295, plus the $50 for the round trip air. Turkish air fare was $691 total. When I called them asking for a credit, they refused and said that was the price they paid when I booked. I was told I should have booked my own flight. So much for customer loyalty.
I have been on more than 8 trips with GC, and honestly the company is going downhill. This last trip cancelled 2 excursions we wanted to take. We went to Costa Rica and were looking forward to the Hanging Bridge and the Canopy Ride. Neither of these were even mentioned while we were there. Also, the company needs to make sure travelers are kept safe. While sleeping, more than 1 room was broken into and the tenants were robbed. I do not know how they were compensated, but why were we put in a dangerous situation? The bathroom windows had the locks broken, letting the thieves in. Now I was planning a vacation to the Christmas Markets on a river cruise and after reassuring me the shops will be open, I have now been informed that they will NOT be open! Why would I bother? I know people who have tried to cancel because of this, but GC is giving them a hard time. This is downright false advertising! If GC makes good on this I will repost, but I doubt it.
We booked a trip in November 2013 to Italy - Amalfi Coast 18 day trip with a four day extension to Rome. The trip was to happen in September 2014 - We paid in full and arranged to arrive two days early in Rome to minimize the jet lag since we were on a 15 hour flight from California. We also paid extra to United Air for the economy plus seat since I am over six feet tall and need leg room. Since the upgraded seats and two extra days were arrangements we made (and are non refundable) we stand to lose about $1,100 since two days ago Grand Circle called us to say they are canceling this trip because they have "vendor" problems. When I continued to ask what that means - they told me that despite having a FULLY BOOKED GROUP of 42 people, they failed to confirm all their travel arrangement until 30 days prior to the trip.
At that time all the hotels, tour guides, buses or whatever were not available. They refused to specify what that was - claiming the GCT agents were only told there were "vendor" issues. Odd that I booked my two extra days at the first hotel they were supposed gather at -- It does not make sense that if your tour is fully booked, and the money has to be paid to GCT at least 90 days in advance and there are cancellation penalties on the part of the traveler-- - why in the world would GCT not confirm reservations until 30 days prior to a trip?? So anyway GCT first casually told us they needed to "reschedule" the tour. WHAT??? what they mean is they cancelling our trip and want us to totally change our plans and go three weeks later without concern for our life plans, weather etc- and what assurance do we have I asked that the same thing wouldn't occur? None I was told.
They have agreed to refund the money were paid to them - and IF I send them proof of what I paid for the non-refundable seats and hotel they will pay up to $250 per person (total $500) -- so IF that happens we will still lose out about $600. This of course does not even take into account all the money we spent on luggage, clothes etc for this trip. Oh, and they offered to give us $1000 off on a future trip as long as it is used by a certain date. The executives of this company should be ashamed of how they treat their customers. We have saved for years to make this trip and we should not have to lose any money because of their inability to confirm their vendor arrangements -- it is not like all the hotels burned down or Italy is in a war zone. It appears to be just poor planning on their part and now a fully booked tour is suddenly cancelled. VERY POOR!!
I recently booked a tour to eastern Europe with grand circle travel. Approximately half way through the tour, day 13 in Prague I was with members of the tour taking a morning walk. At that time, I was told by the tour guide I would not be completing the rest of the tour, this was stated in front of the group. I was told that I would be responsible for my own meals. The next day a company representative took me to the airport for the plane back to Baltimore. At this time, I have not received a reimbursement for their termination of the tour.
Hello from Italy Rome! I was impressed with so many complaints from customers who traveled with Grand Circle. I am on the other side of the complaint. I am not a passenger but a tour manager applying to become one of the tour managers in Italy and France. I had previously sent my cv and then I was contacted from the Rome office to join the Selection day which was today. I need to say that as tour manager I have been always hired because of my strong skills, experience and all! I met the coordinators of the recruitment, four young women. The one in charge of the so called HR could not speak good English and all of them were not clear at all about what we were supposed to say or show.
The participants were about 25 people with only one young man. Many were very young and obviously not experienced with a poor knowledge of English. By chance I met a colleague whom I did not see in ages as we both worked out of Italy for a long time. She was the only professional TM I met there. All participants were in circle and one of the HR Girl was showing on the board The Company assessment, the values, etc asking questions randomly around and creating quite a confusion for everyone to answer. At the end of this, they gave a break and put on the board the names of the "chosen'" persons eligible to continue the process. I was not in there nor was my friend colleague. I was astonished!!! I thought that, at least, they would have made an interview, evaluate the CV, the experience and so forth... but nothing of this happened. The young man, surprisingly was accepted!! He did not say a word during that time, the time of the company introduction.
I fail to understand under what criteria they made that selection!!!! I never saw anything more unprofessional than this in my whole career!! They only wasted our time! As a tour manager, I am perfectly aware of values, risk taking, courage, professionalism and all those issues they had talked about!! That would have applied for new people without experience, so why in the world they contacted us??? I just do not understand! So no wonder about all those complaints coming from travelers!! No wonder their Tour Manager were so undelicate, not available, out of touch!! This the criteria of their recruitment. Hope the company will take this in consideration for the near future and surely to remove those people from the Rome Office! Thank you for your time and attention!
My wife and I took an expensive 13 day tour to Cuba in November 2013. The tour was operated by Grand Circle Foundation travel (GCFT). Our tour guides did a great job and we were 100% satisfied with them. The problem came on the last day of the tour when we were departing from Havana to Miami. We arrived at the Havana airport early, got through immigration and entered a departure lounge at 9:30AM. The charter hired by GCFT was scheduled to leave Havana at 11AM. Upon arriving we were immediately told there was a problem and there was going to be a delay. One delay followed another and another and another and when our flight finally took off 12 hours later, it was 10PM.
We arrived at Miami and cleared US Customs at 11:30. Naturally we missed our scheduled 7:30PM departure on American Airlines. We immediately went to the airlines counter and they told us that we could book a seat out on the next flight to Cleveland which was 9AM the next morning. They also told us that there would be a $200 change fee per ticket. We found a room at a nearby hotel for approximately $125. Got up the next morning, got the flight and got back to Cleveland. In summary, the charter company's non performance cost me $560.
When I spoke to one of their customer support(?) people, a Ms. Sally **, I was told in no uncertain terms that GCFT did not consider the non performance of the charter company to be their responsibility. She could not or would not quite understand the concept of 1. GCFT hired the charter, 2. the charter failed to perform and 3. the charter was acting as an agent of GCFT. I was just repeatedly told it was not GCFT's responsibility. It was a very dissatisfying end to an otherwise enjoyable trip. So, remember when you book a trip with GCFT, they are extremely nice when you are booking the trip and they are taking your money. Not so nice and helpful when something goes wrong and you request a refund.
I took a trip from St. Petersburg to Moscow in May 2012 and have finally finished wrapping up the results of this trip. Towards the last 5 days of the trip, I developed a hematoma on my right leg from 2 days of extensive walking on a couple of their add on tours. I was sent to the "doctor" who put a metal strip on my leg with light gauze bandages, so far up my backside that I could not sit down. They sent me off by ambulance to Moscow the next day - a 250 mile road trip - by myself, and no one speaking English. They dropped me off in a "hospital" and sent me to the lower level to take x-rays, a lower level that you would not use for a pig sty, it was that dirty. I had been given a robe, no gown, and when I reached x-ray, had to take off the robe. Now I am naked for x-rays. Back in my room, where I stayed for 4 days, with no one speaking English, and the door was locked each evening because they said they had so many gangs in Moscow that threatened to kidnap Americans.
I was finally able to reach the ship the 4th day and told them they needed to pick me up and get me back to the ship immediately. Now the "hospital" would not release me until I gave them my American Express card so they could charge $10,000 American dollars to it. That done, I looked up and a man motioned for me to come with him. What choice did I have? I still had not physically seen anyone from the ship. The man took me to a car and I prayed that it was going back to the ship. My prayers were answered. When I got aboard ship, I found out the "doctor" wasn't even a doctor and he had been fired the morning they shipped me off in the ambulance. The representative from Grand Circle - Sam - did not allow me to even speak of my experience during lunch. Today, I finally got my bill settled with American Express. All this time not once did I ever receive any assistance from Grand Circle. The main reason for the hold up? Translation of the invoice to English. To this day, I have heard nothing from Grand Circle in the way of assistance or apologies!
Grand Circle Travel Company Profile
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- Grand Circle Travel