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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
This cruise departed from Paris after three days there and visited several towns on the Seine River, including Pontoise, Vernon, Rouen and Honfleur. There were included tours to Monet's garden and the Normandy landing beaches. We ... Read More
This cruise departed from Paris after three days there and visited several towns on the Seine River, including Pontoise, Vernon, Rouen and Honfleur. There were included tours to Monet's garden and the Normandy landing beaches. We visited the American Cemetery and the Caen museum as well. This was especially noteworthy as June 2019 marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Our days docked in Paris included a city tour and a walking tour of the artist neighborhood of Montmartre. There was ample free time in all places for independent activities. We have been on the Bizet before and it remains a lovely ship, holding just over 100 passengers. The food and crew are excellent, as has always been our experience on the many Grand Circle cruises we have been on. Our fellow travelers were good company and we enjoy the open seating in the dining room which allows for circulating to different tables and meeting more people than fixed seating allows. There were three Program Directors on board, each one served a group of less than 40 guests. They were all excellent and added greatly to the experience. I don't think most other river cruises have this feature. There were several special nights on board including a can-can show, a sun deck party evening and a strolling accordionist. The included activities list goes on and on, but you could just sit on the sun deck too if you wished. We had great weather and just missed the big heat wave in Paris that began on our departure day. GCT cruises are a very good value if you are somewhat flexible with your dates of travel. Their front office is a bit inflexible as they don't work with travel agents so you have to book directly with them. They also will not hold space so you have to book when you call for info, or else call back when you have finalized your plans. GCT can also be less than responsive to issues raised with them after booking, compared to other travel providers, in our experience. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
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
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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We cruised with overseas Adventure Travel and loved the ship. The food on board really emphasized the food of the region, and the chef was delightful. He really cared that people liked what he served. The cabin was nicer than ... Read More
We cruised with overseas Adventure Travel and loved the ship. The food on board really emphasized the food of the region, and the chef was delightful. He really cared that people liked what he served. The cabin was nicer than expected. It was very well designed and comfortable. We had a small balcony-we were traveling in March and it was cool so we didn’t use it as much as we would have liked, but it was nice to pop out in the morning while we docked, or to check the weather. The cruise worked out so both sides of the boat sometimes had a better view, so one side isn’t better than the other. There is one large lounge-comfortable with books, games, etc, and a variety of seating. This was our first small boat cruise and it was much more relaxing than a larger ship. We would sail on this ship again anytime. I will review the activities on the OAT website. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
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: September 2018
The boat, CONCERTO, was excellent- the rooms were large and spacious; the bathroom was clean. The food was nothing special however. The staff were very nice.There were smaller issues and I’ve reviewed the same in another post on the ... Read More
The boat, CONCERTO, was excellent- the rooms were large and spacious; the bathroom was clean. The food was nothing special however. The staff were very nice.There were smaller issues and I’ve reviewed the same in another post on the Nile Cruise. Hady, our guide, was excellent- he’s a formal Egyptologist and knew the nitty gritty of Egyptian history- and answered our questions easily. He’s been doing this for the last 15 years. Hady, gave us excellent tips and other general information on each port of call; how much we should be tipping different people; taking us to the correct shops; etc. It was an excellent four days- and the five of us (including Hady) became very friendly and easy to be with each other. The one-day difference between a 4 day-3 night (Aswan to Luxor) and 5 day-4 night (Luxor to Aswan) cruises is due to the fact that with the former you are traveling WITH the current so you get to Luxor faster; and with the latter, you are brunting the current so your travel increases by one day. The sights are exactly the same but it only takes longer due to the time of travel up river. Ports of call were: Aswan (departure)-Kom Ombo-Edfu-Luxor. Hady accompanied us through the trip, from day 1; and attended to all our queries, needs, etc. He was extremely professional, a very knowledgeable person and a very nice person to be with. During my communication with Hany, I also set up with him for the Pyramids, Sphinx & Egyptian Museum tour in Cairo. As mentioned above, the food was nice- but nothing special. It was a buffet set up for all meals and the timings were set- so you either ate in those times or you missed the meals. The staff were very courteous and the cooks made my omelette very well. You should not tip individually- the Cruise requests that at the end of the cruise to put in whatever gratuity amount you want into an envelope and with your room number deposit it into the box at the reception. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 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
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 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: 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
8 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
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
10 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 ... 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
12 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
7 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
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
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: 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
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Being our first cruise, we took advice from friends who highly recommended Grand Circle. We were not disappointed. Excellent accommodations, timely transportation, a great main guide and local guides, fabulous food, clear directions, ... Read More
Being our first cruise, we took advice from friends who highly recommended Grand Circle. We were not disappointed. Excellent accommodations, timely transportation, a great main guide and local guides, fabulous food, clear directions, complete freedom to take in what you wished and stay on board when yo desired. Obvious attention to detail to make sure their guests received the best possible attention. Servers who remembered names, were always courteous and more attentive than any restaurant, main crew members who mingled and took the time to allow the guests to be part of the cruise experience. Quick attention to anything that needed correcting. Even the maid service people went out of their way to make our stay effortless and they always greeted us in the hallways. If you have experience such total service and quality before, you will find it with Grand Circle. If you have not, pamper yourself and have the time of your life. River boats cannot be beat. Your room and luggage travels with you and you are on land seeing all kinds of history for a large portion of you travels. From setting expectations, to meeting at delivering to the airports, and all in between, Grand Circle leaves nothing to chance. You pay a price, but every cent is worth it. All the multiple time Grand Circle travelers we met said every cruise was exactly the same as the one we took from Honfleur to Paris. I know why Grand Circle is highly rated, they earned it. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
This was my 3rd trip with Grand Circle. My previous trips were a land trip (England, Scotland and Wales) and a riverboat trip (Cruising Burgundy to Cote d'Azur). I loved the two trips mentioned above but didn't feel like this ... Read More
This was my 3rd trip with Grand Circle. My previous trips were a land trip (England, Scotland and Wales) and a riverboat trip (Cruising Burgundy to Cote d'Azur). I loved the two trips mentioned above but didn't feel like this recent trip (the Grand Baltic Sea Voyage) was worth the money. Given the expense of this trip ($9000), I had VERY high expectations since I saved three years to go. Unfortunately, like I mentioned, it was not worth the hard, earned money that I paid. The ship was very small (it dwarfed the huge cruise liners that went by us) and the sea was so rough that most people were sick. Thankfully, I had plenty of Dramamine to make like more bearable. The food and wine on board was not as I had expected either. One evening they served us all steak that was so tough and grisly that you couldn't even eat it. The table wine that was included was sub-par at best. The crew were all mostly great. There were a few "unprofessional" moments by one or two of them that had you shaking your head. But most were pretty awesome, they had positive attitude and where lots of fun to chit chat with. The ship (even though it was small) was actually really nice and clean. I did not like the dinning room being at the bottom of the ship with mere port holes to look out. Dining during rough seas was almost unbearable as you watched the horizon appear and then disappear as the ship pitched and rolled. Some nights we hung on for dear life while eating and in bed! Aside from that....Having a smaller ship did have it's advantages... we were able to port directly at each town and did not have to be tendered in. The doctor on board, whom a lot visited for sea-sickness, was very wonderful and she came directly to your room if you needed immediate attention. The cabins were clean. We had service twice a day with fresh towels and towel animals each evening along with bed turn down and chocolates. The cabins were very nice but as you went up a deck in lodging so did the price! But after taking a stroll and seeing the other cabins; some people who paid less actually had BIGGER rooms with walk-in closets! The penthouse rooms on the 6th deck where not much bigger then my cabin on the 4th deck! Some folks felt pretty slighted over this fact. The entertainment on the ship was hit or miss. They had a classicly trained piano player who was very good as was present most evenings during a cocktail hour. The crew put on a few "shows". Some shows were funny and some were... a bit uncomfortable and awkward. They had a vodka tasting one night and taught us about different ways to do shots and we got to taste vodkas from a couple different countries. They did a "lairs club" game one night that was hilarious. They also had a fairy tale show (since a lot of the fairy tales come from the Baltic region) but the sea was so rough that a lot of people retired to their cabins to hang on for dear life. The service itself was great. The bar area was nice and lot of folks gathered there for cocktails before the night port talk and dinner. The ports were all nice but everything was so rushed. We didn't get enough free time to do much of anything. After arriving at our port each morning, we got a city tour and then we could back to the ship for lunch. I always stayed at out in the city we were at to enjoy the sights, culture, have lunch at an outdoor cafe and enjoy a mug of the local beer. This was an action packed trip. Seeing 7 countries in 13 days was exhausting but it was nice experience it all even though it was really a "snap-shot". I know i want to return to Poland (my heritage) and spend some time there exploring someday. Read Less
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