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Cruise Ratings
8 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
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
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
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
42 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
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: June 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
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