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3 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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
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
3 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
3 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: July 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 couldn't ... 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
4 Helpful Votes
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
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Wanted to see Paris and Normandy, had cruised with Grand Circle in '16 and loved that trip. Wanted to dress casual and relax. This was a another great trip, spent extra time in Paris before embarking, worth doing, people and places ... Read More
Wanted to see Paris and Normandy, had cruised with Grand Circle in '16 and loved that trip. Wanted to dress casual and relax. This was a another great trip, spent extra time in Paris before embarking, worth doing, people and places great. The staff, the service, made you feel really special. The boat is just the right size,120 passengers, the rooms are adequate for their purpose, enough space for your stuff. This type cruise is the best, no vendors whenever you stop at a port. The guides are excellent, the sites are all worth seeing. The old world, middle ages, housing is really something to see as well as the cathedrals Grand Circle does a great job of getting you involved in the culture. We did the add on trip to London after the cruise, well worth while. Being docked at the Eiffel Tower was a special treat. You can reach all the highlight spots in Paris from dockside.. Also, the Impressionists painters were an important part of the trip. Monet's home and gardens was beautiful, everything was in bloom. Normandy is a must see for anyone, it gives you a much appreciated view of what our troops were facing and the courage it took to be there, When you're treated like someone special and you learn so much it's likely you'll come back,we will. 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
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 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
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