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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 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: May 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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose this cruise because it went up the Eastern Coast of Italy from Malta to Venice in 17 days. (or vice-versa) It was called the Undiscovered Adriatic and it was! Malta is a jewel and a good starting point for us. Then up the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it went up the Eastern Coast of Italy from Malta to Venice in 17 days. (or vice-versa) It was called the Undiscovered Adriatic and it was! Malta is a jewel and a good starting point for us. Then up the coast to local towns with many UNESCO stops along the way. Too many highlights to mention here. The ship is small only 50 passengers. There are 2 trip leaders so we were in two groups. Crew, food and accommodations were very good to excellent. The rooms are smallish for me but adequate for sure. Balcony rooms are a waste since we were so busy there was no time to sit around and the deck on the upper level was delightful. It was truly an amazing adventure for discovery, learning and history. And making Limoncello and cannolis were a lot of fun!. We even took the bicycles out for a spin at a local beach. One could say it was a bit expensive but meals, entertainment and local tours are included. A definite adventure into the local culture of the stops we made. Even Plan B's were wonderful. That occurs when the sea is too rough to move. Lots of walking, we recorded almost 5 miles a day. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
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
4 Helpful Votes
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
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We just returned from a week on the Athena leaving from Athens to 6 of the Greek islands and Ephesus Turkey. Before leaving I read the Cruise Critic review of the Athena, fairly positive, and the reviews of two who had sailed on the ... Read More
We just returned from a week on the Athena leaving from Athens to 6 of the Greek islands and Ephesus Turkey. Before leaving I read the Cruise Critic review of the Athena, fairly positive, and the reviews of two who had sailed on the Athena, quite negative. So having done many Crystal Cruises it was with mixed emotions and low expectations that we ventured forth. The embarkation process was set the tone for the whole cruise. We were greeted warmly by the staff who efficiently handled our paper work and guided us and our luggage to our room. Subsequent disembarking/re-embarking was similarly handled - smooth and efficient. After the week we, and our 18 travel companions, are hard pressed to find fault with the Athena and find those reviews are not the least bit representative of what we experienced. Our travel companions were all American with an average age of late 50s or early 60s; all of them were seasoned travelers and most had traveled with GCT many times - one had 26 trips with GCT/OAT. One guest fell and broke her nose and arm, but she got immediate and good medical attention and was able to complete the cruise with her arm in a sling. On one of the small islands another guest needed an emergency prescription, but the pharmacy was closed - until the tour director got involved and arranged for the prescription to be filled. First, this is a small boat and the entertainment, medical facilities, exercise facilities and amenities are not going to compare to a large cruise ship. This is like a small private yacht where you spend little time in your room - most of it is spent in the common areas visiting with other guests. The overall condition of the boat was very good to excellent - there was no evidence of significant damage or wear. Our room was modest in size with a small veranda. It was quiet, well organized with plenty of storage space and had a very nice bathroom/shower for a small boat. The lounge area had a very nice ambiance and the availability of free house wines, beer and many non-alcoholic drinks was a nice feature. The house wines were very drinkable and there was really no reason to pay for the more upscale ones. We had great weather and were also able to enjoy being outdoors on the upper deck. The onboard ambiance was very nice and very casual - shorts and golf shirts were perfectly acceptable dinner dress. The Captain and Hotel Manager and their staffs were Croatian, Ukrainian or Indian and were first rate. They were friendly, engaging, very competent doing their jobs and blended in as if they were one of the passengers - they quickly learned our names and personal preferences. While weather conditions can create schedule variances for cruises, all of our schedules were communicated in advance and met. Our tour director, Maria Charalampidou, was excellent and ensured we got comfortably early starts to avoid crowds - however, when 3 or more big cruise ships arrive in Santorini at the same time there crowd avoidance is brief and there is little they can do as the crowds become oppressive. The food was very good - great quality, nicely presented and reasonable portion sizes for most people; special requests, such as my salmon omelettes, were cheerfully received and honored. All in all it was a great tour of the islands and Ephesus on a very nice boat with an excellent crew - I would sail on the Athena again with this crew without reservation. Read Less
Sail Date: November 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
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 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
7 Helpful Votes
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
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