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28 Grand Circle Europe - River Cruise Reviews

This was our 3rd river cruise, the first and last on Grand Circle, The river boat is in desperate need of a makeover, cabin decor is worn looking at best. Mattress was in need of replacement. Disappointing that we rarely docked close ... Read More
This was our 3rd river cruise, the first and last on Grand Circle, The river boat is in desperate need of a makeover, cabin decor is worn looking at best. Mattress was in need of replacement. Disappointing that we rarely docked close enough to a town to walk on our own. This was a 14 day trip from Basel, Switzerland to Antwerp, Belgium. For the money we could have gone on a better river boat company. Grand Circle lowered the price $4,000 per couple a few weeks after we paid in full. They would not adjust our price. We were given misinformation when booking about all on board gratitudes were included, this was not the case. Also misinformation on how much extra premium economy air was. Each port we got a short walking tour. Optional tours such as a Marksburg Castle should have been included in the price. Optional tour to Luxembourg wasn’t worth the money. Had a short visit there, lunch, over 90 minutes were spent at the American Cemetery. Followed by a visit to the German Cemetery. Program Directors were average. Food was average, limited choices. Some of the entertainment brought on board was good. This was our 16 trip to Europe, if you are ok with bare bones accommodations Grand Circle will work for you. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
The Springtime beauty of the Great Rivers of Europe mingled with the excellent and caring of the River Rhapsody staff made for an amazing trip! From airport to airport and every river in-between, safest travels without any worries. ... Read More
The Springtime beauty of the Great Rivers of Europe mingled with the excellent and caring of the River Rhapsody staff made for an amazing trip! From airport to airport and every river in-between, safest travels without any worries. The dining and hotel staff were patient, gracious and went above and beyond every day. I traveled with my Mother, at 50, I was the youngster among the passengers... And had one of the best travel experiences of my life. I wouldn't recommend this cruise line for wee children but for families and friends travelling in a group I would recommend it. I'm personally planning on returning to the Rhapsody for the Springtime 2021 trip or the Christmas 2020 trip. I'm sure all of the Grand Circle ships have great staff, but the Rhapsody staff made me feel so comfortable, as I was alone after dinner often and early morning since my Mother was sleeping. I felt like I was always safe, welcome, taken care of in every professional way possible. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We wished to learn about the Normandy Invasion and enjoy another river cruise. The Normandy day trip was quite emotional and many passengers were there to honor relatives and veterans. The itinerary, staff, Program Directors and food ... Read More
We wished to learn about the Normandy Invasion and enjoy another river cruise. The Normandy day trip was quite emotional and many passengers were there to honor relatives and veterans. The itinerary, staff, Program Directors and food were all outstanding. Christophe Leger was our leader and a passionate traveler, historian, and all around good guy. His concern for our welfare, attention to details, and his enthusiasm for French culture and history all contributed to a very enjoyable cruise. A nice touch was the added shuttle bus for those of us who arrived a day early to give us 2-1/2 hours in Paris for a walk-about and a café lunch. This was a nice surprise. Also on departure day, GCT provided an employee to greet us at CDG to point us to the correct departure counters. That place is humongous! I nearly hugged the guy! I suggest asking for a top deck cabin on the right-hand side, as we tied up 3 times to another boat and had to keep our curtain closed during the day. Also when the Eiffel Tower lights up, you can't see it from your port-side cabins. Another suggestion: for the wonderful home-hosted visit, the bar staff onboard had gift wrapped bottles of wine. Our family was enthusiastic to collect various wines and this was an easy solution to bringing a hostess gift. We booked this cruise at the last minute and yet all details were handled well. You can't go wrong with Grand Circle Tours. This is go-to tour company! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Let me say the service on their ships The Melody and The Rapsody were impeccable. Gracious and hospitable on both. I say both because due to low water we were bused from one to another. We anchored in Strasbourg, France for 3 days and ... Read More
Let me say the service on their ships The Melody and The Rapsody were impeccable. Gracious and hospitable on both. I say both because due to low water we were bused from one to another. We anchored in Strasbourg, France for 3 days and bused to the cities. One city alone we rode 3 hours one way and 2 1/2 hours back. Given a mere 3 hours for the walk around part of the town and then the markets themselves. We had to rush back to hear a port talk and have 7 pm dinner. We could have dinner in the city and not rushed back. We could not see the markets at night. Which was the whole point of a Christmas Market Cruise. This was, and I mean was, a LAND TOUR by BUS. I had called Grand Circle to find out if they were cancelling with options and I was told the ships were traveling well, when I received a letter advising of probable deviation I called again, and again was assured that it could be all well. No cancellation by the company. Later on the cruise I was told by the captain that they had been changing ships due to low water all summer. I have been left extremely disappointed by a Grand Circle, due to the fact that other company’s had cancelled with options of refunds or credits to another cruise. All we were given was $100.00 to be used within 2 years. Really! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Chose this cruise to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. It became a bus tour because Grand Circle did not give us the option to postpone this cruise to a time when the water level would not be low. We did not cruise and had a bus ... Read More
Chose this cruise to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. It became a bus tour because Grand Circle did not give us the option to postpone this cruise to a time when the water level would not be low. We did not cruise and had a bus tour for $12,000. They were aware of the water level problem because they had a prepared presentation regarding the water level. Terrible disappointment and we were offered a $200 credit for a future cruise to take before August of 2019. We paid for a river cruise this time! The owner, Harriet Lewis, and CEO, Chris Zagmont, do not even respond to personal letters to understand how disappointing this trip was and they do not care! An optional tour of the Salt Mine presented in our personalized booklet was not offered due to low number of passengers. They knew how many passengers were on this tour before they printed the booklet and showed it as an option.We had to unpack before they told us our ship could not sail, bused up to another ship where we unpacked and then were told this ship could not sail either![ Stayed in hotels where cruise experience of socialization, dance, wine, which was supposed to be included, were not available. We would have gone by bus if we wanted a bus tour but Grand Circle Travel decided that we did not need this river cruise and took our money anyway knowing they could not provide what was promised. Murphy beds in abins prevent spouses to sleep together. Curtains had to be closed since ships park close togetherf. Dark room all the time. No compensation for window room when sent to hotel. Go on another line!!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
I have cruised before with Grand Circle. They offer a relaxed, affordable way to see various river cities in comfort. These cruises are for people who want to see things, not be entertained, overeat, or have extravagant luxury. The ... Read More
I have cruised before with Grand Circle. They offer a relaxed, affordable way to see various river cities in comfort. These cruises are for people who want to see things, not be entertained, overeat, or have extravagant luxury. The passengers are generally older and have cruised before. The ships are appropriate for river cruising where the ships have to be small enough to fit under bridges. This ship is in great shape and spotless. It could have been built yesterday. I have never been on one of their ships that did not have a wonderful crew. You will get to know the crew who do a great job. The food is excellent and more than enough. The included excursions are great and they generally have an optional extra cost tour that is well worth the money. My experience is that they are almost identical to Viking river cruises but a slightly better money value. They do not use travel agents which I think is a disadvantage but is probably why they are a better value. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Meals: Breakfast: full gamut of choices from freshly made omelets on down to fruits and danish. Lunch: plenty of options each day from cooked dishes to make your own sandwiches. Dinner: portions small, but meals are 4 course! I asked ... Read More
Meals: Breakfast: full gamut of choices from freshly made omelets on down to fruits and danish. Lunch: plenty of options each day from cooked dishes to make your own sandwiches. Dinner: portions small, but meals are 4 course! I asked for double lamb chops, no problem. You could double whatever you wish. I often had two desserts as I wanted to taste several options. Always available at lunch and dinner are hamburgers and breast of chicken. Both rather plain, but good if you don't fancy what's on offer on the menu! Staff was very accommodating. I required Kefir milk and they went out and bought a supply just for me! Danish shortbread cookies appear in the lounge near the coffee machine in the afternoons. You will gain weight and won't ever have hunger pangs! We felt so stuffed we decided to skip dinner one evening. We made sandwiches at lunch and put them on top of our air conditioner. Cold enough to keep them cooled all afternoon. Our cruise was a month. Some days we felt less social and needed a break, so we took lunch back to our cabin. Never had any issues with buffet lines. Everyone very respectful. Five of us chose to stay on board the day the rest went on an excursion and the boat sailed on to meet them at the next port. One couple stayed in their room. We and another person had lunch in the dining room, having pre ordered our sit down meals from a limited menu! We had thought we'd have to take something from breakfast as there wouldn't be lunch. They seem to think of everything. Wait/Kitchen staff: EVERYONE was super nice, helpful and friendly. I was pleased that we were allowed to have a cousin and wife spend a day with us in a port as visitors. We were also allowed to book them in for dinner at a reasonable cost. There are no reserved tables, but we were told to be first to enter the dining room and we would easily be able to snare one of the two tables for 4. They understood that another couple stuck with us would have been bored with our catch up on family conversation! As guests they also allowed free beer and wine in the lounge. Library: comfortable and an excellent amount of books to suit all tastes. Lounge: comfortable. Bit crowded for port talks. Fine for entertainment and lectures as not everyone is there. Cruise Directors: Our Cristian, along with Kiril, Ivor and Zoli on the Eastern Europe portion of our cruise were top notch. On nights where local entertainers didn't come on board, the cruise directors came up with more than enough things to keep us happy....even horse racing, with betting, and drinks! We had a resident pianist half the cruise and resident pianist/singer the other half. The crew's show was a riot. I thought it was going to be a talent show, but not so! The cruise directors make a point of sitting with you at meal times...at least breakfast and dinner, one or two of them at a time. They purposely make the rounds of tables and are happy to talk about whatever you wish and answer any questions, difficult or otherwise about their lives and countries. Experiences: All programs were good to excellent. We had many surprises from lectures to walks to food tastings. The home hosted lunch was informative and interesting. Playing a language game with the children who are learning English was great fun. Highly recommend Grand Circle. This was our second trip with them. First was a ground tour. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
River cruising on the Rhine/Mosel provided us with the overview of first-time European visit. The stops were adequately timed, the river boat staff was helpful and the arrangements made for the shore excursions by Grand Central were very ... Read More
River cruising on the Rhine/Mosel provided us with the overview of first-time European visit. The stops were adequately timed, the river boat staff was helpful and the arrangements made for the shore excursions by Grand Central were very well done. There were significant problems with the hearing devices allowing us to hear the guides that were not addressed until about half way through the scheduled dates. Complaints were not followed through until much too late and the groups were too large (much > than 25). The major problem was with Grand Central's scheduling of our connecting flight on our return. They gave us MUCH TOO LITTLE time at the Paris Airport to make successful customs and connections. Then, our Air France hosts had no one available to help us make other arrangements until 2-3 hours later, after any remaining flights had left. After arguing with them for 3-4 hours, we finally received some vouchers for food and a local room. All this time, we were in contact with the Grand Circle "help" desk. They were of NO HELP WHATSOEVER. Their last comment after we had failed to find anyone at several Air France help desks was "go to the police"! That was the extent of their help. The cruise was, overall, a good value and well planned. The transportation arrangements afterward were a disaster and the "help" non-existent. The audio problems with the guided tours was solvable/preventable. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
River Adagio, from Budapest to the Black Sea, Aug 18-30, 2017 The River Adagio is an older ship, but kept in very good shape. All cabins are 160 square feet with two beds that fold out from opposite walls with a narrow, permanent table ... Read More
River Adagio, from Budapest to the Black Sea, Aug 18-30, 2017 The River Adagio is an older ship, but kept in very good shape. All cabins are 160 square feet with two beds that fold out from opposite walls with a narrow, permanent table in between. I traveled solo, so I found the cabin quite sufficient. This was my first river cruise and first time with Grand Circle and I couldn't be more pleased. I chose this itinerary as, other than Budapest, it was completely new to me. I was lucky in that our weather was excellent (sunny and in the 80s-90s almost everyday). The ship holds about 160 passengers and we were divided into four sightseeing groups, each with its own Program Director, who co-ordinate the daily activities. After breakfast we usually had a bus or walking tour and returned to the ship for lunch. After lunch there was usually a walking tour and some free time for shopping or further exploration. We returned to the ship in late afternoon and had a port talk (about the next day's destination, schedule and activities), followed by dinner and then either an activity (karaoke, bingo. trivia contest) or a folk performance. If you chose to participate in all the activities, you were kept busy from about 8 am to 10 pm! They pack in a lot. There was only one full cruise day and it's of the most scenic part of the Danube passing the rock sculpture of Decibelus and going through the Iron Gates (locks). Grand Circle emphasizes "learning and discovery." They hire local guides for every stop who talk about their country's/city's demographics, geography, history, culture, economics, etc. Our four program directors were from Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. The crew and the staff of the River Adagio was mostly from the Balkans, too. The meals onboard ship also reflected the cuisine of the countries visited. So, although the guests are predominantly American, Grand Circle creates a culture-rich experience in many other ways. In addition, Grand Circle arranges a family visit in which groups of about ten have lunch in a local family's home and visit with them to learn about their lives. Grand Circle also arranges special talks at various stops along the journey. We heard from a man in Budapest who helped the refugees flowing into Hungary two years ago. In Serbia we heard from an older man who told us what it was like to live under communism in Tito's Yugoslavia. In Bucharest we heard from a man who took part in the 1989 revolution which overthrew the dictator, Ceausescu. We also heard a talk by a young woman who is part of the Roma community. The meals and service onboard were delicious and excellent. Breakfast was a large buffet with a wonderful variety of traditional breakfast foods. Lunches and dinners were full service meals with several courses and several choices, mostly with a local flavor. They did their best to accommodate special diets. Wine and beer flowed freely with lunch and dinner. The staff and crew were very friendly, always reminding you to have a good day or meal. Grand Circle caters to an older clientele (50+). Most are seasoned travelers who want more than a quick overview of the places visited, a big shopping trip or a fancy ship. They have developed a very loyal following who act like an arm of their marketing department. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Romance of the Rhine and Mosel I went to a presentation by GCCL and could not believe how many people had cruised with them before. Many had traveled more than 20 times with GCCL. Mom, 92 and still agile, and son active 70 year old ... Read More
Romance of the Rhine and Mosel I went to a presentation by GCCL and could not believe how many people had cruised with them before. Many had traveled more than 20 times with GCCL. Mom, 92 and still agile, and son active 70 year old really enjoyed the pre-trip in Switzerland. I used to live in the pacific northwest and am familiar with mountains, but the alps are amazing. We bused from Lucerne to Basel where we boarded the River Rhapsody where we were greeted with champagne and a hot towel - nice. Our state room was on the second deck in the very front right over the bow thrusters which made quite a lot of noise when used (locks and docking). It is a good thing that I can sleep through anything. Still I would try to avoid room 214 or whatever is just across the hall. I did like that the beds folded up during the day so that there were small couches and a table you could sit at. I do not like the duvet covers because it is so hard to regulate sleeping temperature. Closet space is adequate. The ship is not new 1999, but it is spotless. Our ship had engine problems and so we were stuck at a location not on the itinerary for 2 nights. GCCL program directors worked till late at night to arrange great tours and buses. I think that what we experienced may have been better than what was on the normal schedule. (We didn't miss any of the signature stops), Service in the dining room was really excellent on the right side of the ship, the servers learned our names and what we liked. The left side of the ship had ok servers, but not outstanding. I thought that the food was excellent and varied (with a local offering at each port). Now to the best part of the cruise, the program directors. All three were excellent, but ours Rebecca was far and above any that I could imagine. She was articulate, caring, observant, interactive with locals and us, purchased food for us to try. I don't have enough superlatives to describe her. Local guides varied from really excellent to mechanical. The guide our group had in Marksberg castle was not very good. Overall I really enjoyed the trip and definitely would travel with GCCL again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Wanted to take a river cruise and see eastern Europe. We had extreme heat from Prague to Bucharest. In Belgrade the ship broke down due to extreme heat of 110. Two of the three generators failed and couldn't be fixed. It probably ... Read More
Wanted to take a river cruise and see eastern Europe. We had extreme heat from Prague to Bucharest. In Belgrade the ship broke down due to extreme heat of 110. Two of the three generators failed and couldn't be fixed. It probably couldn't be fixed probably because the ship was so old...17 years. They didn't have a part and who knows if that part was even made. Other ships, i.e. Viking withstood this heat because they were new and well maintained. This is my biggest grip along with missing the best part of the trip going through the Iron Gates and the locks. We then had to be bused from Belgrade to Bucharest as this ship couldn't be fixed to meet our deadlines. The 4 directors were wonderful and worked very hard arranging for what was to come next. They were busy day and night. They did their best under the circumstances. The food on the ship was excellent and Grand Circle certainly takes care of their passengers. They deserve a lot of credit. Bottom line... We will never take any old ship again whether it is a river ship or ocean ship. They all seem to have problems. Combined with the horrible heat, which couldn't be helped, the trip was very disappointing. This was not the way we wanted to see eastern Europe on a bus. We did not get what we paid for. I'm sorry but I cannot recommend GCT because of their old ships. This may not have happened if the weather was the way it should be, but the ship should have been able to within this, as other newer ships did. We really enjoyed the first part of our trip seeing Prague, the Czech Republic and visiting a family's home, seeing the beautiful lights sailing at night in Budapest. That part we highly recommend. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We went with friends who have been with OAT and Grand Circle Travel previously. This was our first River cruise with the company & we all had a great time. Both couples had previously saied on Viking river cruise in Europe. Our ... Read More
We went with friends who have been with OAT and Grand Circle Travel previously. This was our first River cruise with the company & we all had a great time. Both couples had previously saied on Viking river cruise in Europe. Our trip started with a 2 night stay in Nice, France. We met our Program director JP when we arrived in Nice. He is a great man, listens well and is there to help. We arrived at the hotel and he handed us our keys and off we went to the room. We stayed in the Boscolo Plaza Hotel and it was nice. Breakfast was included each morning and food was good. While in Nice we visited Monaco by train. Keep your bag close to you. I can't stress that enough. I was pick pocketed - it turned out fine (wallet was found & returned to me with everything intact - except for the 30 euros I had. Boarded the MS Provence in Arles, France - after a drive through the countryside we visited the Rhone American Cemetery. 861 American soldiers are buried there. We arrived at the ship and it is small. 46 passengers only. You get to know your fellow passengers well. I was concerned about what we would do after dinner in the evenings - but Grand Circle has programs/entertainers for us. Highlights were the keyboard player, we danced on the top deck overlooking Avignon France - it was fabulous, an Opera Singer, Accordian player and his wife who sang, Bastille day celebration and more. The food was excellent in my opinion - hot, tasty and French! I heard some grumbling about there being only 2 choices of lunch/dinner entrée each day. It was great for me - but there was 1 day I didn't care for the 2 options for dinner - Salmon or Mushroom risotto. JP had mentioned to us - you don't like the food - talk to the Restaurant manager & he & the chef will work with you to come up with a great option for you - and they did. Wine & beer are included with dinner and to my unrefined palate the wine was good. The only problem I saw was that the main lounge/dining room could get warm. The kitchen is off the dining room and on hot days (90's) it was a bit stuffy. I think ceiling fans would help in that space. Someone asked me what was the one thing that set this trip apart from others and my answer is the Crew - they made the difference. They danced with us, learned our names, teased us a bit and we just had a great time. I miss them all already! I would take this exact cruise again it was so great! Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
I love the wines from the Rhone River, and for a number of years I have wanted to see the area where they came from. Also, I have heard what a beautiful area Provence was and wanted to see it for myself. It did not disappoint. After ... Read More
I love the wines from the Rhone River, and for a number of years I have wanted to see the area where they came from. Also, I have heard what a beautiful area Provence was and wanted to see it for myself. It did not disappoint. After spending sometime in Paris, and then doing a wine tasting and lunch at Chateau de Chassagne-Montrachet, we boarded the M/S Provence in Macon. We then sailed to Lyon (France's 3rd largest city) where we spent 2 nights, and then it was on to Vienne, Viviers, Avignon and Arles. The ship is about 15 years old, is kept in extremely good condition and is very charming. It has a capacity of 46, and on our particular cruise we were only 43, so you really got to know everyone on board. The crew was truly outstanding - 5 star all the way. They were just fantastic and I cannot say enough nice things about them. All in all this was an absolutely FANTASTIC trip. We loved the ship, Our Program Director Olivier was awesome, the food was great and the ports were truly magical. This may have been the BEST trip we have ever taken. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I wanted to take this cruise to experience the Christmas markets and to view firsthand the Christmas experience along the Rhine River. It was absolutely amazing. The markets are spectacular and the Rhapsody offered so many rich musical ... Read More
I wanted to take this cruise to experience the Christmas markets and to view firsthand the Christmas experience along the Rhine River. It was absolutely amazing. The markets are spectacular and the Rhapsody offered so many rich musical experiences. The service and the leadership on this boat are incredible. From the Captain to the Hotel Manager to the crew itself, the entire focus is on the comfort and enjoyment of the guests, and they are all involved. There is a unique hospitality that surrounds the guests and that is especially apparent in the marvelous food that is served three times a day as well as the numerous special parties and celebrations. The best thing, I guess, for me was that I was able to buy all my Christmas presents on this trip. Of course, I shopped at the Christmas markets, but I also shopped in the ships' gift areas. Frankly, I found a great many things for myself. I plan to take this cruise again this coming Christmas. There are so many guests that take this trip year after year. That would be heaven. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We travel with Grand Circle because 1. The pricing is terrific, 2. A home-hosted visit is always included on all of their trips including river cruises, 3. Travel is always very casual., and dockage in Paris is within walking distance ... Read More
We travel with Grand Circle because 1. The pricing is terrific, 2. A home-hosted visit is always included on all of their trips including river cruises, 3. Travel is always very casual., and dockage in Paris is within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower and many museums. Seating in the dining room is open and the food is very good. Grand Circle hires their chefs well. Staff aboard ship is always pleasant. Because there are only 135 passengers on the river ship, you get to know your fellow travelers fairly well. In fact, we met some folks on our first river cruise from Paris in 2004 and became friends keeping in touch throughout the ensuing years. . Several years ago they visited us and ended up moving to our community. Navigating the airports is very easy with Grand Circle as they have people to get you to the airport on time for return home and to handle your luggage. In other words, GCT takes care of the details and you just relax and enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
This is a trip for the curious. Do you like to try new food sensations? Do you enjoy learning? Do you like to mix with fellow travelers and ship's staff? Do you enjoy history both recent and distant? If not try something else. ... Read More
This is a trip for the curious. Do you like to try new food sensations? Do you enjoy learning? Do you like to mix with fellow travelers and ship's staff? Do you enjoy history both recent and distant? If not try something else. The weather may change as will the sights you will see, the wine you will drink and the people you will meet. Isn't that what travel is all about - new experiences on all levels.? The staff on this ship could not have been better. They tried with all their being to make us older folk happy. They work long, long hours for our benefit and pleasure. They gave us the impression they really liked us which is tough when you have to treat a new group every ten days or so. The program directors are very well chosen, knowledgeable, gregarious and great "cat" herders. We had live music every night in the lounge - requests welcome. One night we were entertained by the entire staff (including the captain) with song, jokes and silly skits which all passengers seemed to love. The wait staff were attentive, cordial and even flirtatious if they had figured out you were single and so inclined. Nothing overt though just enough to boost one's ego - we are talking fantasy here which every good trip should include. Food was great. How do they manage in such a small space to produce excellent quality meals for over 100 people each day three times a day? From my perspective nothing could have been better except an extra pillow a bit harder than the ones provided. I woke up each day with joy that I was fortunate enough to experience all the wonders that I was about to encounter. I felt like a child (I'm 75) being taken care of by very, very young and caring grandparents - another fantasy for the older set. Kudos Grand Circle. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
I wanted to experience the Rhine and Mosel Rivers and to go to Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, France and Switzerland. The Ship was excellent and the food divine. The tours were one of a kind in some places. The 120 ... Read More
I wanted to experience the Rhine and Mosel Rivers and to go to Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, France and Switzerland. The Ship was excellent and the food divine. The tours were one of a kind in some places. The 120 people on the ship were all older but refined and easy to get to know. The optional tours were fabulous and not that expensive. I took all except one in Germany to an old castle which I had already been to years ago. The cabin attendant Albano from Portugal was a gem. He was the top hit at the talent show when he sang Louis Armstrong. I must say that you meet the nicest people on Grand Circle. Not pretentious but down to earth wonderful individuals. GCT has program directors on the whole trip who "baby" you and pamper you to the nth degree. Many people on the cruise were returnees and some had over twenty trips with GCT!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
I chose this cruise because I wanted to be in Normandy on or around D Day. We spent 3 days in Paris before embarking. In Paris, we visited the Palace of Versailles and took a city tour. On the cruise, We visited the towns where Van Gogh ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to be in Normandy on or around D Day. We spent 3 days in Paris before embarking. In Paris, we visited the Palace of Versailles and took a city tour. On the cruise, We visited the towns where Van Gogh lived his final years. Van Gogh painted many of the sights (church, etc) in the town. We visited Monet's village and his beautiful Japanese garden. Other towns we toured were Rouen (Joan of Arc) and Honfleur, near the beaches. GCT had excellent tour guides. Our guide, Guillaume was the creme de la creme. Other local guides they hired were very good. GCT also lined up very interesting optional tours. One exceptional tour was to the Benedictine Abbey where they make the Benedictine licquer. The food the boat served was always delicious. The evening entertainment was always top notch. I've been on a dozen cruises with various cruise lines (Viking, Celebrity, Princess, NCL) and this was one of my favorites. I already have my next cruise (in Scandanavia) reserved. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
A few things first. This is a small ship because you have to have a small ship designed to go on the rivers in Europe, get under bridges, and put you into the heart of a city. f you want a 5,000 passenger behemoth with 20 ... Read More
A few things first. This is a small ship because you have to have a small ship designed to go on the rivers in Europe, get under bridges, and put you into the heart of a city. f you want a 5,000 passenger behemoth with 20 restaurants,different entertainment every night, and a water slid this is not for you. Second, the people going on these cruises primarily want to see interesting places and history. If you want to be entertained 24 hours a day with shows on the ship go elsewhere. Third, it is an older group of people because they have the money and time to do a two week tour. Europe is not the US with access everywhere to the handicapped. Some of the places we went were demanding and require walking. If your felt that they were too demanding you can stay on the ship. But this is part of seeing stuff. I have no idea why the people who travel with Grand Circle are almost all Americans. The ships, and I have been on several Grand Circle river ships and one Viking (but not a Longship), are all the same. Well designed, comfortable, and beautifully maintained. You never see anything shabby or dirty. The cabins are small, but well thought out. They have an upper open deck with part of it shade protected, and one part enclosed with glass. They have one dinning room which is comfortable and surrounded by windows. There is a very large lounge with comfortable chairs and sofas. The food is very good. I had always thought that the food was just OK until I took a cruise on the Fathom Adonia and learned that the Grand Circle food is actually very good indeed. Breakfast is a large buffet with many choices. They even seem to cook their own pastries - if the don't they fooled me. It never seems institutional. Lunch is either a buffet or you can order off the menu. Lots of choices and most days they have a chef cooking a pasta in front of you. Dinner is ordering from a menu. Ample choices. If you don't like what they have you can always get salmon or a hamburger. Service is excellent and you quickly learn the staff and they learn what you want. Tipping is suggested but not mandatory and they do a great job - tips are distributed to the entire crew, not just the wait staff. . Beer and wine is included at lunch and dinner although I wasn't crazy about the wine. The cost of beer and wine at the bar is reasonable. They have a package for soft drinks that I like. I don't recall if they have a "happy hour". There is a welcome reception and you get to know the captain and his staff. Some ships offer a tour of the bridge and kitchen - this ship only offered the kitchen tour. The internet is free and not always available but often enough so that it is not a problem,. This trip the front desk was not helpful with how to access the internet and I had to ask a passenger how to do it. It turned out that the instructions were in the cabin. The front desk is generally helpful, but you can always ask the Program Director or the hotel or restaurant manager. Entertainment is a piano player and there are programs at night. There Is also an evening "port talk" to tell you what they are doing the next day. I would have wanted more history about each place we visited in advance, Grand Circle has a program director for each 30 or so passengers who is with you the entire time and always available. They vary a little in quality, but all are very good and professionals. Our program director was born in Switzerland to American parents and had been to high school in the US. She was superb in Switzerland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, but not as knowledgeable about Antwerp. They provide an individual earpiece on the tours to hear the guide or program director that works beautifully. The only thing that was not good was when they told us information on the PA system on the ship when we went though the area with the castles - I missed most of that due to poor quality. They should have used the individual earpieces but that was not an option. The only problem that we encountered was in some cities after the guided tour they leave you on your own to explore the city. Sometimes they come back and meet you at a designated spot and sometimes not - they should always come back - eventually someone will be left. A great value. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We chose this cruise because we have to go somewhere in March (July, Sept. and also Dec.). It turned out to be a delightful choice. After spending 6 days on our own in Amsterdam, we boarded the Grand Circle Cruise Line's River Aria ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we have to go somewhere in March (July, Sept. and also Dec.). It turned out to be a delightful choice. After spending 6 days on our own in Amsterdam, we boarded the Grand Circle Cruise Line's River Aria river boat for a trip up the Rhine River, then the Main River to the canal that takes boats over the European Continental Divide to the Danube (it is blue in parts). Although I've spent a few years in Germany, traveling on a well run river boat gave me an entirely different perspective. My best part was waking early and going topside to watch the low fog tainted shiny glass canal rush towards our bow as white geese lazily paddled in lines along the dim grass banks. Another memorable experience was riding smoothly in a 400+ foot boat as we rode across a wide riven and watched a long line of cars pass under us a hundred plus feet below going at least 50. The boat was nicely appointed and the crew friendly, efficient, and accommodating. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Grand Circle has a lot of rapid repeated travelers, but I'm not going to be one of them. Their style just isn't for me. This all started with an email telling us the ship wasn't going to be in port and directing us to a ... Read More
Grand Circle has a lot of rapid repeated travelers, but I'm not going to be one of them. Their style just isn't for me. This all started with an email telling us the ship wasn't going to be in port and directing us to a hotel that had no idea what they were talking about. First up, lets talk about the ship. Its slightly smaller than the newest river ships at around 160 passengers and our cruise must have been packed to capacity. Its an older ship, I think they said the captain had been on this ship for 10 years, so that makes it older than that. Its is in good repair, but its just not a luxury ship. It feels like one of the really old $399 a week Carnival ships. There isn't much in the way of public areas The lounge- This is overcrowded to fairly comfortable individual movable chairs and tables nominally set up in groups of 4. In practice its a wall to wall sea of chairs with no room to walk between them. It made it really unpleasant to get seating in the lounge. You had to push chairs around and climb over people to get to seats. They really need to gut it and replace with a more space efficient bench/booth setup. Also during briefings when the whole ship is there its impossible to seat everyone. If you don't arrive early and fight for a seat you end up standing in the hall. They don't have a way to broadcast any of these briefings to the rooms BTW so you have to show up if you want the port info. The bar is also here. They have a small selection of beers, but I hope you like pilsners as there is almost zero variety in styles. There is also a free coffee machine and tea. Iced water is available in a pitcher, but the glasses provided are good for about a swallow before you have to refill. Don't plan on being able to fill up and going up on deck for awhile. They have beer, wine and soft drink packages available. At several points we saw the crew berate passengers. The Sun deck- The whole top of the ship has seating. There are a number of tables, a few shades and lots of reclining deck chairs up here. There is a bar, but it was never open during our entire cruise. Sure would have been nice to get able to get a drink up there, especially on our full day cruising. Space isn't really an issue here, but people will fight for the chairs up front going through locks, etc. If you want to smoke the only spot on the ship to do so is way in the back up here. The Dining room- The dining room doubles as the buffet. There are a variety of table sizes here. Seating is not reserved and dining times are not flexible. Every meal there is a huge cattle call and rush to grab the table you want. If you show up a few minutes late expect to dine at the worst table and have your party split up if you are more than 2 people. During the buffet they have salad (With no sneeze guard and people grabbing stuff with their hands) and those large cylindrical trays with the rotating tops for hot food. There is usually a cook doing something like pasta omlettes etc in the center. They rotate directions on what tables are served first for table service. Inside tables near the buffet to the back and the outside one night, opposite direction the next. Service is glacial. Expect 2hr meals. I also don't think there was many meals where someone at our table didn't have something forgotten. Drinks that never show up, skipped for a course, etc, etc. On an ocean cruise these people would have been sacked long ago. If I were treated this way at a restaurant at home there is a fair chance I would be walking out, or speaking with a manager. Food- Breakfast is acceptable. They have both hot and cold foods and you can eat on your own time as its a buffet and it is far less crowded. Nothing amazing, but nothing to screw up either. Lunch is half buffet, half table service. Nothing on the buffet ever interested me other than a salad. Most of the stuff you can pick up otherwise looks like the finger sandwiches you might get at a tea party. The table service stuff is a little heavy and there are only two choices a day. Lunch takes way too long in general. Dinner is a disaster. There have 3 choices of entree. Meat, fish, veggie. Its theoretically local, but its more like cruise ship unrecognizable dish to reuse as much leftovers as possible. No effort was made to call out local stuff or where it was from. Desert there are two choices. The rest you get what you get. I had all sorts of overcooked, uncooked and plain gross meals come out of their kitchen. Fairly often my wife ended up eating only the sides of her main dish and leaving kind of hungry. There are a few always available choices (hamburger, chicken breast, etc). There is no room service. There is no food available on ship outside of normal meal times. You get hungry? Tough. You didn't like dinner? Tough. Go to bed hungry. Wine, soft drink, or beer is included with dinner. You can also get iced tea. Tours- GCCL includes at lot of its tours. This is sort of a dual edged sword. On one hand its nice not to have to worry about booked stuff ahead of time or worry about getting ripped off by the cruise line tour rates. On the other hand its a cruise line tour. Most of the tours ended up with lot of 'drive by stuff in a bus' with little actual exploring of the places we were in. In the end I felt like we drove through most of the places we went rather than really visited. The big downside for me was the buses. Our ship was divided into 4 buses. You stick with the same bus and people stand outside early to fight for seats. One bus getting off at small attractions is a big enough problem. The issues is that all the buses were going to the same spots and they didn't space them so you missed the other buses. So you ended up having 100+ people show up at the same spot at once. A lot of the places we went to weren't very crowded.... until we showed up. It made getting people free pictures almost impossible and you always felt like you were fighting peak crowds where ever you went. The whole experience was kind of stressful. GCCL suggests you tip all the local guides and bus drivers as well. The one nice bit was the headsets they hand out for the trip so you can hear the guide without crowding around him. It allowed me to explore a little bit while the guide talked. All the ID cards and radios make you stick out like a sore thumb as a tourist while I like to try and blend in as much as I can. Rooms- The beds in the rooms fold out of the walls. This wasn't immediately obvious to me before I booked. That means you have to sleep apart from your spouse for the whole trip. The mattresses are the cheap thing spring variety you might find at a summer camp. Seriously think about upgrading to some latex foam ones GCCL. The storage is pretty nice except for the fact that you can't get to two drawers with the bed down. It makes dressing in the morning a challenge as they don't want you folding up the beds on your own. The bathroom is functional, nothing special. No mini fridge in the room, so forget about cool drinks in your room. I resorted to leaving bottles on top of the air conditioning vent to have semi-cool drinks. The small TV in the room does have a HDMI port in the back if you want to bring a bluray player, computer or similar. The CCTV system only shows the front ship cam, no view for the lounge for port talk info. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We love cruising but always felt the port cities did not give us an adequate representation of each country; therefore, we decided to try a European river cruise. We chose Grand Circle because it came highly recommended by a fellow ... Read More
We love cruising but always felt the port cities did not give us an adequate representation of each country; therefore, we decided to try a European river cruise. We chose Grand Circle because it came highly recommended by a fellow passenger on a prevous Princess cruise, so we followed up by reviewing their website (www.gct.com) as well as the websites for their competitors. We felt Grand Circle was an excellent value, and we couldn't have been more pleased with our trip. The food & dining room service was excellent, as was the presentation, and compared favorably with the food & service we have received on our numerous ocean cruises through the years. The weather was amazing which hightened our enjoyment, but all four of the Program Directors made sure that our every need was met: they were our tour guide, and our friend by the end of the cruise. Example: one of the Program Directors had a passenger that fell, broke three teeth, and split her lip. The Program Director took her to the dentist in town, stayed with her, and made sure her bills were taken care of. Additionally, this same PD received two calls in the middle of the night during our cruise, and she again went with each passenger to the hospital, made sure they were well taken care of, and brought them back to the river boat after their release. There is nothing we could have asked that was outside their job description. All rooms are 160 square feet, and come with adequate storage space. The beds are individual and cannot be made into a queen, but they were very comfortable."The Great Rivers of Europe" included the following ports: Amsterdam, Cologne, Koblenz, a dinner out in Rudesheim, Heidelberg, Wertheim - where we had a home hosted "Kaffee Klatsch" with a local German family, Wurzburg, Rothenburg, Bamberg, Nurnberg, Kelheim/Regensburg, Passau, Melk, and Vienna. The pacing of each day was up to each passenger, with time each day to see as much/little of each town as you chose after a morning city tour lead by your Program Director. One thing we were not aware of until we got onboard: there is a massage therapist and a small workout area with two treadmills, a weight maching, a hot tub, and a sauna. Actually very nice, with a shower in the area as well. The after dinner entertainment was OK, so often we just went up to the Sun Deck to relax as we sailed through 66 locks during the entire voyage. Because there were only 158 passengers on board, disembarkation was very easy. Everyone got color-coded information to attach to their carry-on bag(s), and we didn't need to have the bags out until the morning we left. The staff loaded your luggage on the minivan taking us to the airport and, again, a Program Director was there to help with check-in, language issues, etc. After this excellent experience, we look forward to another cruise with Grand Circle. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We booked the Budapest to Prague River Cruise on the River Adagio of GCCL. The cruise was to begin on Friday June 21st in Budapest when we were supposed to embark on the River Adagio. On Wednesday evening the 19th we were notified that the ... Read More
We booked the Budapest to Prague River Cruise on the River Adagio of GCCL. The cruise was to begin on Friday June 21st in Budapest when we were supposed to embark on the River Adagio. On Wednesday evening the 19th we were notified that the ship was in Belgrade (due to the floods) and could not get to Budapest until Sunday, 2 days late. The company therefore booked all of us in rooms in the Danubius Hotel Flamenco in Budapest. This was a poor substitute for the ship. The dinners were buffet style from steam trays and were not at all good. Coffee and soft drinks were not included even though they would have been free on the ship. The beds were the most uncomfortable I have ever experienced. The a/c was inadequate. The breakfast was not good either. The overall atmosphere was 2 star tourist class. And for this we were paying river cruise prices. The compensation offered by GCCL was a 10% rebate, far from adequate when you consider the downgrade we experienced. Also, the ship could not travel beyond Vienna due to a broken lock and so most of the trip was to be a bus tour (all but 4 nights). We were offered the opportunity to leave the tour and were promised we would be compensated for all the days we were not with the tour. That would have been 10 out of the 11 days of the tour. However, when we received our compensation it was much less. We were only with the tour 1 day but were charged $679 each for that one day which is just outrageous given that we had 2 lousy meals and a shared hotel room that was very poor. So we continued to tour on our own and ended in the Prague Hilton which we had stayed in the year before as part of a Viking River Cruise. At breakfast we met some Viking cruisers who had also been affected by the flooding. However their story was much different. They had been put up in 5 star hotels in every place they stayed. They said the hotels were better than the Prague Hilton even which is a very nice hotel. They reported that their meals were wonderful and that Viking had gone out of its way to give them extra tours to make up for the loss of the river cruising. Then we ran into some people at the Prague airport that had stayed with our cruise. They said that all the meals (except for the 4 nights on the ship) were still buffet style. They were not that impressed. Moral of the story - when the chips are down Viking comes through. Based on my experience I will NEVER take a GCCL or a Grand Circle Land Tour ever again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We took our first Grand Circle river cruise this spring (2013), on the M/S River Rhapsody, and I want to voice a few cautionary notes, to help people decide whether this cruise is for them. But first the strong positives. (1) The staff ... Read More
We took our first Grand Circle river cruise this spring (2013), on the M/S River Rhapsody, and I want to voice a few cautionary notes, to help people decide whether this cruise is for them. But first the strong positives. (1) The staff are uniformly competent and helpful. As just one example: my wife and I were each sick for a couple days. During those periods every employee seemed to know of the problems, and asked if there was anything they could do to help. The head of the dining room had special (very mild) meals prepared for my wife. (It was almost with reluctance I left the room on these occasions--I had to repeatedly decline offers of assistance.) Not once did we encounter any attitude other than an earnest desire to help. (2) This attitude extends to excursions off the ship. The Program Directors (PDs) led people onto the trams (streetcars), led them off, and continually operated on the assumption the passengers were inexperienced and needed assistance. It was a very safe and protective environment. (3) The accommodations were comfortable and the food was excellent. (A trifle ornate for my taste, but, if my worst problem is five-course dinners, life is pretty good!) However, here are some factors you may find worth considering. 1. There is a lack of "diversity". For example; our last land tour was with Trafalgar and we enjoyed the company of passengers from New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Canada and England. The passengers on this GC cruise are all from the US. (A fellow passenger who travels with a friend from Canada said she had to forward Grand Circle information to the friend--Grand Circle would not even mail literature outside the US.) The result is (in my opinion) a far less diverse or cosmopolitan social setting. During one meal, for example, the conversation focused on the difference in winter weather between west Texas and east Texas. [Also, do not expect meals as in a restaurant. There are no tables for two--when you eat you socialize.] 2. This tour was advertised as featuring "walking over uneven surfaces" and people were warned the PDs could modify participation or even send travelers home if individual limitations impacted the group's experience. Yet our group (which was comparable to others--35-45 people with one PD) were mostly in their 70s or 80s, with several people in their 90s. Some people used canes; one a walker, others were very hunched over. (My wife and I are in our early 60s; our choice was to offer to help the stragglers or ignore their struggles.) I trust you can envision the speed with which this large group moved, and the time spent catching up, resting, etc. 3. Perhaps our expectation of experiencing the culture of the areas we traveled was unrealistic, because--since all tours were with our group and all meals were provided--we only ate and socialized with our other passengers. Basically, we found ourselves in a cocoon of US people protectively following the PD's flag to see and be described the sights. 4. The tour literature indicated we would have internet service, although it might not always work when we were cruising. This is an optimistic exaggeration. Even when there was a connection (at some of the stops, and occasionally when traveling) I found it only accessible late at night or when other passengers were on a tour or at a meal. (Apparently having many people trying to access it during "free time" overloads the system. Someone also lamented that many people now had "smart phones" that automatically accessed any available network for various "apps"--weather, news, etc. And forget Skype or any program that requires a faster connection.) I happened to need access at least every couple days; my repeated requests for advice on how to obtain that access finally led to the crew advising me to walk into town and find a McDonalds. (Apparently all McDonalds in Europe now have free wi-fi.) Do not plan on having regular internet access. 5. Room idiosyncrasies. Our lamp lights were 8 watt fluorescent and the ceiling light had three 40 watt bulbs; not quite bright enough for me to read by, unless it was sunny. There is a reading light inside the pull-down beds, but, if you are unwilling to limit yourself to reading only while opening up the bed and lying down, bring or buy more powerful bulbs (240v, standard screw-in sockets). Also, we booked a cabin with a balcony. Turns out those are on deck 4 (Serenade deck), which is the corridor between the dining room and lounge. If regular traffic and loud conversation outside your door (especially when people line up for the dining room to open) bothers you, don't select this deck. Also, one has to go to the lounge or Sun deck to hear the intercom with a PD's description of the sights we're cruising by, so we didn't use our balcony much. [Note if anyone from GC reads this: it would also be nice if there was music available in the cabins--we didn't really care about European sports or showing one movie over and over.] This tour had mostly repeat customers of GC, indicative that many people enjoy this level of attention, and the cloistered environment and slow pace. If you are in this category, I highly recommend this tour. However, as I'm sure GC will agree, this tour is not for everyone, and there are other reputable companies out there. I encourage you to compare. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
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