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We have done 26 trips with GCT and their OAT affiliate and have never had any complaints. They bend over backwards to ensure a happy trip for all. Reading through the reviews, I can't believe travelers are blaming them for low water levels and other unexpected problems. We just finished a GCT trip to France and three people were chronic complainers and complained about everything. The rest of us just stayed away from them. GCT's prices aren't outlandish (compared with other companies that do the same trip); the food served on the cruises is top-notch as is the crew, our optional trips and our guides who all speak excellent English. We have traveled with other companies so can make legitimate comparisons. GCT and OAT are at the top of our list.
We have traveled with Grand Circle and Overseas Adventure travel 12 times! We love the quality of the people the places they take us, and the great experiences they provide. We have not been disappointed and appreciate the reasonable prices for the amount of great value. In every case, we have had wonderful accommodations, well planned itineraries, outstanding guides and excellent food. We have been to China, Egypt, Turkey (twice), India, South East Asia, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Prague, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Peru, just to name a few. All trips have been safe and well planned and we are so very satisfied!
We have traveled with GCT or OATs on four river cruises, and three land cruises including one to China. I have never had a bad experience with a tour or a staff member. That is not to say there have not been problems along the way. Our first trip was cancelled due to flooding, we had a lock workers strike on another tour and we had a virus on board a ship one time. Each of these situations was handled professionally, we were constantly updated on the situations and they the company went out of the way to make sure everyone was satisfied. Every one of our Program Directors have been excellent and the learning and discovery experiences, for which GCT and OATs are known, have been exceptional. I have three trips planned with them this year and every one of them has been handled to my satisfaction.
I have seen this website before and have been skeptical of the reviews. It seems that many of the negative reviews are due to actions of the reviewers who failed to take out insurance or did not understand that floods, too high or too low river levels, or illness and strikes are not within the control of the corporation. My experiences could not have been handled any better. It is common nature for people to write evaluations when they are dissatisfied. When the overall evaluation of a company is based on the opinions of the minority of travelers who are negative, the results do not reflect the overall experiences of thousands of travelers. I felt that I needed to state this.
I am compelled to review the river cruise which Shelli reviewed. I was on the same exact cruise and met Shelli. She was angry when she got on the boat because the river was low. She neglected to report that GCT did all they could to mitigate the situation. After all, they cannot control the river level. They put all the passengers up in very nice hotels and provided our meals while there. They hired first class motor coaches to transport us. They threw in an excursion to Rothenburg which had been an option costing $100. They had open bars a couple of times AND they gave every passenger a credit of $250 towards another river cruise.
Furthermore, Shelli reported that we did not cruise in the Rhine which is not true. GCT hired a local boat to take us on the most scenic part of the Rhine River. They did everything in their power to accommodate us. She was mad, as she told me, because she called two weeks before sailing and wanted a refund which was denied. I have traveled seven times with GCT/OAT and my husband and I think they do an outstanding job. They are our only travel company in Europe. We have had the most outstanding tour guides. Actually, I am currently in Montecatini, Italy as I write this review with a fantastic Grand Circle tour guided by Simone - he is amazing! We believe that the value is outstanding, the home visits are so enriching and the location of our hotels, which are always centrally located, is terrific. We HIGHLY RECOMMEND GRAND CIRCLE TRAVEL AND OVERSEAS ADVENTURE TRAVEL. I’m really surprised at the negative reviews.
We took Crossroads of the Adriatic which was a tour given by OAT, their small group division. We are experienced travelers and this was probably our favorite trip. Although we only used them once we know many people who use this as their company of choice. In terms of complaints about not refunding money for last minute cancelations due to injury or illness, this is why we always take out travel insurance. It does not have to be affiliated with the tour company but should be obtained shortly after booking so it will cover pre-existing conditions.
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The OAT travel insurance is a sham. I paid 15,000 for a trip to Antarctica and bought insurance. I had to cancel due to an injury. I called OAT and they referred me to travelclaimsonline.com. I have been fighting with them for 4 months. They keep asking for more information. Called OAT three separate times for help. They said my claim is in their records and is valid. However, they said they couldn't help me, dealing with travelclaimsonline.com is my problem. Don't know what to do, OAT is no help and travelclaimsonline.com doesn't answer their phone beyond an endless message.
I had made a courtesy reservation for one of GCT's European river cruises. I indicated I wanted to share a cabin with another female to avoid paying the single supplement. I was told I'd have to take the highest cabin category since I requested to be paired with another female. Mistake #1. I was not told that there was a fee for the roommate matching service. Mistake #2. It's called a ripoff. I canceled my reservation.
Just returned from a Great Rivers Cruise. It really was a bus trip that we did not sign up for. Most terrible experience. We were supposed to sail on the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers. Looking forward to a relaxing boat trip, but instead we were put in hotels for 3 nights and bussed to finally meet the ship. Never cruised the Rhine- the highlight of the trip. After a few days on ship 1 we were again bussed and required to actually change to ship 2. The real problem is that GCT knew all about these problems well in advance and LIED to us when asked for info before departing!!! They have made no attempt to compensate us, other than to offer a ridiculously low amount to use as a credit toward a future trip with them. You have got to be kidding- spend thousands of dollars more with them. I can't stress how unethical this company is. STAY AWAY!!!
In 1916 we were scheduled to take an extended tour Essence of the Elbe: Berlin to Prague with Grand Circle Cruise line. Of interest we known as Inner Circle members because of the number of trips we had taken. A week before we were scheduled to start the journey my husband completely separated his quadriceps tendon from the knee, necessitating emergency surgery with a 3-6 month recovery. I admit we did not take out travel insurance. In the past we paid for the insurance at a high premium and never had to use it.
The company was unsympathetic to our plight. As a matter of fact some of the people I spoke with on the phone were less than helpful. The best they would come up was a refund of 600$ towards another trip. So much for their humanitarian efforts all around the globe. Needless to say we will never travel with this company again. In the end I had to fight to get a note via of email stating we had not used the credit. Would not recommend this company ever again. NO STARS TO GRAND CIRCLE!
My wife and I have scheduled our 16th trip with the OAT division of GCT. We are doing a 4+ week trip to Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. 3 months ago I requested that they do early ticketing so that I could make special seating arrangements on the longer flight segments, My first request was 04/04/18. As I am typing these comments I am still waiting for the information... 06/04/2018. It remains to be seen if I actually get the information.
My husband and I have taken 10 trips with OAT and Grand Circle and each experience has been fabulous. We have traveled China, Africa, Costa Rica, the good old US of A and multiple trips to Europe and we can't say enough good things about the program directors we have experienced, the sights we have seen and the experiences we have enjoyed. After recommending GC to friends I am disheartened to find this site with such negative reviews. Everyone is entitled to his opinion but just want folks to know that we are taking another trip this summer and have our eye on a trip next summer. Have met some lovely lifelong friends through our experiences.
My first trip with Grand Circle was five years ago, and it was delightful. Took their river cruise from Paris to the south of France. The itinerary was fascinating, the guides were mostly excellent, the food was delicious - it was a great trip. We had some lousy weather, but c'est la vie. We took all the optional excursions except Giverny, and were blown away by how interesting they were.
The next trip was two weeks on the Rhine and Moselle from Antwerp to Switzerland. GCT creates interesting itineraries that include culture, history, art and architecture. On the cruise trips, almost all meals are included, and they are excellent. There are always choices - fish, meat or vegetarian - and always the option to have salmon or hamburger if none of the choices are appealing. Our guide was good, but not great.
Since then, we took the Chile and Argentina trip which made us fall in love with South America. Our guides there were outstanding. The Norway and Finland trip we took was great, as well, with a super guide. Have gone on two OAT trips since - one to Peru (my favorite all-time trip) and one to Morocco (my second favorite). I love the OAT experience with the small groups (max 16) which allows for getting to know the guides and other passengers more.
These trips are more immersive in the culture, and we saw a broad swathe of the people, not just the tourist spots. The river cruises have an element of luxury that the OAT trips don't have, but both are wonderful in their own way. I've travelled with other companies, and OAT is by far our favorite. Some companies are chintzy on the included meals, or don't provide as many. Have found Grand Circle to be great trips for a better value than some others. Highly recommend!
My, my, my! I was unaware of this site until I wandered upon it just a few minutes ago. I read the first three reviews and was amazed in terms of the negativity that prevailed within. Apparently, I've been mighty blessed, for I've taken SIX of GCT's tours: Costa Rica, Thailand, Egypt, Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast, (Brasil, Argentina, Chile, Peru), Germany and the Czech Republic, and a few others. All have been quite magnificent, for on each one the cost was to my liking; the hotels comfortable and varied in decor and architecture. Some have been rather elegant, and all of my guides, the individual who makes the trip to be enjoyable or not as well as my traveling companions, have made my traveling experiences with Grand Circle Travel memorable and recommendable. I feel sorry for those travelers who had negative travel experiences with this company that received five huge stars from me on each of my SIX trips, the last being in 2014.
Just finished a Christmas Markets tour with Grand Circle Travel in Germany in December. Was disgusted when our tour guide who had us wait in the street while he went inside a shop to purchase **, then came out and held it up a huge rolled ** cigarette proudly for all to see. Just what I wanted to do... spend 9 hours on a plane and thousands of dollars, to watch a GCT tour guide purchase his drugs for the evening. About 5-6 days into the trip, I came down with Influenza A and Bronchitis. Instead, of taking me off the ship to a hospital ER, a doctor who was wearing filthy jeans was brought on board who spoke almost no English.
I spent the rest of the trip (4-5) days, in my cabin with 102-103 fever, extremely sick with the flu that has killed so many this past winter. Once home I went straight to an urgent care where I was diagnosed with Influenza A and Bronchitis. The cabin I was in on the trip had stains on the seating areas, A/C didn't work properly so often I was freezing, and that was before I became sick. Too many problems with the cabin to list them all. Not a good experience and don't plan on taking another GCT River Cruise.
I went on the pre-trip to Japan for this tour. When it was time to leave Japan and fly to China I was informed that I would not be flying on the same fight with everyone else who was on the pre-trip. I would be flying by myself. The tour director said she had contacted the airline and GCT but was unable to get my flight changed. I had booked this trip a year in advance so I'm not sure how this happened. Plus, I was traveling with a friend so I believed that we would be flying on the same flights throughout the trip. The day of the flight I was put on a municipal bus with a driver who did not speak English so I had to make sure I was dropped off at the correct terminal, check-in for the flight and navigate through the airport by myself in a country where few spoke English. When we arrived in China I had to go through immigration alone which was very unnerving. If there had been a problem with my Visa I would have been on my own.
After the trip I noted this situation in the survey GCT requests everyone fill out. I waited a few weeks but did not receive a call from them. When I called GCT they said they did not think it was a problem because I was a seasoned traveler. Even seasoned travelers can have problems with their Visa or navigating a foreign airport. The reason I paid to travel with GCT (this was my 6th trip) was to be with a group, not travel alone. The very least they could have done is gotten a driver who spoke English to take me to the airport. When it was all said and done they gave me a $100 certificate towards another GCT trip. My trip for this year was already paid in full so I could not use the certificate towards that trip. When I asked if they could give me a check they said no but the certificate was good for 3 years.
I have taken 14 trips with Grand Circle/Overseas Adventure Travel and have spent thousands of dollars on their travel insurance through Trip Mate. I never used the insurance until after my last trip, which left me in pain as a result of cramped airline seating. (I'm 6'5".) I had trip number 15 reserved but decided not to take it. I canceled nearly a year before the trip was to take place, and all I was requesting was a refund of $300 for the cancellation penalty. (The trip insurance alone, which I also forfeited, cost almost as much.)
After waiting nearly three months for a response I learned I'd get a travel voucher for $300 to use on my next trip in the event. I want to cram myself into an airplane for another trip. Grand Circle and Overseas Adventure Travel have some really good trips, but based on my experience, I'd decline their travel insurance. It's expensive and not worth much.
I have taken three trips with Grand Circle and they have all been excellent. Anything out of the ordinary they make exceptional special accommodations. Exceeding my expectations. I am typically the youngest person on the trip. All of these complaints I attribute to angry old farts who have nothing better to do than complain. They are looking for something for nothing. Get a life!!!
When I booked a trip through OAT to Morocco for Sept. 2017, I was told that in order to take the trip, I also had to take the 5 day post-trip extension to Essaouira, so I was quite surprised on the tour to find that only half of the people were required to take the post-trip. The guide and the main tour were for the most part good, but the extension was a waste of time and money with a very unsatisfactory guide, poor hotels in Essaouira and Casablanca, and much longer than necessary bus rides, despite our pleas to go direct to Casablanca, as we only had two hours to explore. On the way to the Casablanca hotel, we were told by our guide we were the last group to stay at that hotel because of the bar next door.
The yelling in the street, car noise and honking went on until 4:30 a.m., and we had airport pickups at 6:15 a.m., so no sleep before our long day of traveling home. The main tour is advertised as 16 days, but the post-trip overlapped by 2 days, so it was not. I also booked following a friend's recommendation and was told I would get a $100 credit that could be used for optional tours on the trip. On returning home and asking for a refund for the very unsatisfactory post-trip, I was told the credit could not be used for optional tours, only for a future tour. I was offered the original $100 credit for a future trip. Never gonna happen! Don't recommend them!
My friend and I used GCT for our recent trip to Australia and New Zealand. We contracted bed bugs in the first hotel that we stayed in (DoubleTree, Cairns). Upon our return to the States, we called GCT and requested some form of compensation (We had to do laundry, pay for medication, etc.). The company ignored our concerns, would not take ownership of our travel struggles and denied any compensation. I will NEVER use this tour company again. They are not focused on client experiences. Do not go on a GCT tour.
I have just canceled a trip with Grand Circle that is 15 MONTHS in the future. I put down $1200, $700 of which went to "insurance." Today I learn I am out $700 out of $1200. Trip Mate, the insurer, will only refund me $300 out of $700! And GC keeps $300 out of the $500 balance. In the end, I will be refunded $200 from GC and $300 from Trip Mate. I receive no consideration for having traveled twice with GC and, again, for canceling more than a year out. I am about to book with Avalon Waterways. Their trip insurance is $379 and fully refundable. Guess whom I will now patronize. Grand Circle tours are decent and program directors do the best they can. But this horrendous level of "customer service" negates any positives. Buyer Beware!
We are so unhappy with GRAND CIRCLE/OA the way they handled the Cuba cancellation. We took our full refund from them as we will go with another group for our next travel adventure. Hurricane Irma was September 9, and I was reading all sorts of warnings not to travel to Cuba -- the Miami Herald and the State Department. OAT did not communicate with us until they canceled the trip September 18. We were to leave on the 26th. Several of us were calling and were told "we are working with this on a day to day basis. I wrote support several times but no answer. I wonder if on a day to day basis, they were looking at the photos and devastation I was looking at. Now they will only credit our VISA account with our refund. As of 9/20 we do not have our refund.
There was much grumbling at the news that the riverboat Aria had developed a major problem and we would be transferred to buses and hotels for the remainder of the trip. I had my doubts about traveling to Eastern Europe in the height of summer. I don't do well in hot weather and should have let my instinct rule instead of being guided into a cheaper cruise that smarter people would have avoided at that time of year.
I mostly want in this review to give extremely high marks for the four tour directors who spent at least one completely sleepless night and maybe two arranging for our care once it became obvious that the ship could not be repaired. International travel is loaded with possible obstacles and disappointments. Most of us on Grand Circle are mature people whose backgrounds have a list of setbacks. We should know by now to take them in stride and not take personally when interruptions occur. Stuff happens! Make the best of what is there for you.
The remainder of the trip was not as enjoyable as it would have been had we been able to continue as planned. Grand Circle refunded us 25% of the cost of the interrupted portion of the trip. In addition, they give us generous vouchers for use in a future trip, one of which I have already booked. It's unfortunate that the weather was terribly hot, and it's unfortunate that the ship's generators couldn't handle the power load that caused two of the three generators to fail. In future, I'll limit my European travel to spring and fall, and if the boat breaks again, I'll take advantage of the open bar and getting to see places that I would not have seen from the ship. And may I remember to take my own advice and stay flexible and to meet each travel challenge with an open mind.
Trip up to Belgrade was fine. In Belgrade 2 of the 3 generators blew due to extreme heat. This shouldn't have happened if the ship was in good condition which it wasn't being 17 years old. Ship couldn't be fixed so had to be bused to Bucharest. Between the heat and being drag through the country was not what we paid for. GCT needs to fix their ships or replace them. They are all too old and this could happen.
This is a great company to go places with IF you can get booked! Once on the road we had no complaints; we traveled both by river cruise and land trips. They are a great value but the booking process they do themselves is no longer working. They should consider outsourcing to a company that has tight controls and can offer some level of customer service, there is no recourse if someone in the call center fouls up like: confirming the start date of a trip in error, sending out advertising for trips that are not available, and advising customers in error who are coordinating single space with doubles. Buyer beware! Do not let time pass when booking travel with this company. Do it all on the day the catalog comes!
The United Kingdom has a lot of nice things to offer- beautiful scenery & architecture, fascinating history & historical sites, quaint villages, bustling big cities. The Grand Circle Tour Directors are always knowledgeable, personable, and manage the groups well. But be prepared - the UK facilities and services are quite different from continental Europe. Hotels don't have air conditioning. This might be okay if the hotel windows opened - but they don't! Or just open 1-2" - insufficient to get fresh air. So the rooms are stuffy. Beds have heavy duvet covers, but no cover sheets, so you cover yourself with more heat - or nothing. Most hotels don't have safe boxes, minibars or fridges, don't have in-room explanation of hotel services, pen and paper, any North American TV channels, or provide bottled water. Most rooms did have DIY tea/coffee service.
The UK food is generally not appealing. Though surrounded by water you will not get seafood meals except for traditional fish & chips which is fresh cod (not a flavorful fish no matter how you prepare it). You will see many sheep in the UK but lamb was never on our menu. Buffet breakfasts were scarce on fresh fruit and offerings were repeated - bangers & mashed, beans, grilled tomatoes, pre-fried eggs. Wines, beer, ales were NOT served with GCT meals. When you want to pee in the UK don't look for a washroom, bathroom, or WC - look for a sign for "toilet" (not to be confused with "To-Let" which will get you an apartment rental).
Travel between stops includes long bus rides often on narrow winding back roads. It would be scenic except that tall vegetation borders the roadway and often obstructs the viewing. The road through the Cotswolds to the west coast was "one that all of the coach drivers don't like" so we were told. That was because it was dangerous - it curved, up and down, involved frequent braking and stopping to allow oncoming vehicles to pass, and took over an hour to our destination. You get glimpses of the countryside but the large bus windows have a reflective material which flashes sunlight and shadow that bounce and reflect making viewing a challenge. The Grand Circle groups are large, about 35 people, so be prepared for movement at the pace of the slowest individual. Potty stops are well-timed but stretch out because of the age and size of the group. At our ages everyone has to pee at every opportunity!
The weather in the UK is variable so it's a gamble whether you will get good or bad. Ours was generally lousy - first hot, then rainy, overcast, dismal. No fault of Grand Circle but about half of our group also got sick with colds and/or flu so that detracted from everyone's enjoyment of the trip. In my opinion this trip tries to cover too much geography in single trip. It results in many short stops and some long coach rides. I think that the trip would be more enjoyable if split into two separate trips - one in London, southern England, and Wales and a second one covering northern England and Scotland. If there had been an OAT offering for a similar UK trip we would've chosen that because of the smaller groups, more vigorous itinerary, and greater ease of group movement but OAT has nothing in the UK. I would recommend this trip but advise future travelers.
I had traveled a few trips with OAT/GCT -- no more. Marketing has changed. They focus on no charge for single supplements, at the cost of travel couples. And now they offer certain discounts-flight, last minute, etc. But, they charge extra for "optional tours", that should be included. What a disgrace-no effective discount is then experienced -- in fact it is more costly.
I received a brochure with several promotions on it. Along with the number of days (16) and the price ($2695) it stated: "With FREE international airfare from ANY U.S. city -- a savings of $1000-$1300 per person -- on September-November departures." When I called I was informed that this not mean $2695 on departures from September to November but only for November. The attendant stated that the brochure was poorly worded. I maintain that it is deceptive. I did not book a cruise.
I have taken many trips with Grand Circle Travel and the sister companies of GCCL and OAT and have loved every one. I am recently back from the "Italy: Tuscany, the Alps & the Riviera" tour. Very professional and their motto is "learning and discovery". Tips for local guides and bus drivers and waiters on included meals are included in the tour price - you only tip the Program Director and maids in the hotels. I have never had a bad experience in a hotel or with their office staff or tour staff. No single supplements except on the river cruises, and you can request a same-sex roommate. They work with you on the air arrangements, and have options if you want to go in early or stay late at the beginning or end of a trip. I feel they are a good value for the money.
I have taken nine trips with Grand Circle Travel and Overseas Adventure Travel. Each one has been fabulous, with outstanding accommodations and unparalleled tour leaders. I could go with more expensive companies, but I can't imagine getting anything better or enjoying anything more than I do with GCT and OAT. Another benefit of traveling with this moderately priced company is the fellow travelers. They are by and large schoolteachers, a lovely and educated group to spend time with. There are many single women as well as couples, and everyone blends and mixes and are inclusive and polite and considerate.
When you travel overseas, be it alone or with a group, you have to be flexible and have a sense of humor. If you're going to enjoy yourself, you have to relax and take things in stride. I think people who are disappointed with GCT and OAT haven't mastered that concept. I have also found Customer Service to be consistently efficient and pleasant. They are dependable and follow through with solving concerns and questions. Usually the solution/answer is offered on the first phone call. GCT/OAT is also responsive to travelers' suggestions. I am picky - very, very picky - and I have no complaints about GCT/OAT about anything, ever.
Terrible company. They have the highest staff turnover in the industry. Check them out on glassdoor. If you don't rate excellent on your survey, your guide will get the bullet. Our guide was fired because he got too many non-excellent scores even though everybody hated the nickel and dime hotel we were put up in. The guide was outstanding. The only satisfied customers are the spoiled Inner-Circle people (loyalty club) who are mostly in their 80s. Spend your money elsewhere.
Grand Circle Travel Company Information
- Company Name:
- Grand Circle Travel