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Beware of Grand Circle Travel and Overseas Adventure Travel

Beware of Grand Circle Travel and Overseas Adventure Travel

May 2nd, 2012, 07:09 AM
  #41  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 6
Just been reading a bunch of negative comments on OAT Travel. My personal situation: Single traveler, always found OAT to be fantastic. Been with them on 3 trips. Always positive experiences. Leaving June 14 for Greece, Turkey & Greek Isles for 1 month,will be my 4th trip with them. Most cost effective Travel Co for what they provide and all the value they provide. I've traveled with Linblad,NatGeo to Antarctic, cost = 3X OAT, loved it but the price limits my travel, I don't like limitations and I don't want white-gloved servants waiting on me. Sleeping in a tent in the Serengetti was a dream come true. Anyone unhappy needs to go with someone else. For me, I'm totally happy.
norma75 is offline  
May 8th, 2012, 05:12 AM
  #42  
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 2
I have read many of these comments about OAT over the years as I researched the trips I was scheduled to take, but never replied before. I am a 10 time OAT traveler and can't wait to travel with them again. (I know nothing about GCT because I refuse to travel with larger groups- so can't comment about them.) Not one "single" I traveled with ever complained about rooms - and almost all travelers knew when they signed on that they were expected to bring their spirit of adventure with them. Most of the people who travel with OAT are looking for just that and I have found the vast majority of them interesting and fun companions who are flexible, positive and eager for new experiences. Oh, I have had a shower that doesn't drain fast enough, or a shopping expedition that could have lasted a bit longer - but that was a small price to pay for the experiences and memories I come home with. While most rooms are probably 3-4 star, we are often treated to incredible 5 star rooms - but that is a bonus, not the meat of the trip I am looking for.

You may not call it budget travel, but if you check out some of the other companies (Tauck, Lindblad, etc), OAT undoubtedly is, by comparison! Travel is expensive: $9,000 is not a lot for 2 people for 2 weeks including air. OAT cuts corners where it can, without sacrificing the unique in terms of education, culture and adventure. Some of their inflexible policies can be exasperating, but in such areas I know there is always a trade off - and so far OAT has never let me down. Their guides are incredibly knowledgeable, the experiences so unique, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every trip. The name of the company highlights their approach: "Adventure." That's what I am in for! I can get a 5 star hotel and a fantastic meal near home but to have tea on a wood floor in Bhutan, or stay overnight in a Chinese farmer's house, and yes, to experience that tent in the Serengetti - OAT has given it all to me. On a large boat up the Yantzee, for ex, (one that carried many tours), other groups were herded to view one more pagoda and then on to one more souvenir shop - while OAT walked our small group behind a building, and had a van waiting to bring us to a new village where we interviewed people whose ancient homestead was relocated due to the dam and then walked aound a town that obviously had little exerience with Americans! OAT aims for such discoveries on every trip - and has always delivered for me. Their trip to the Galapagos was such a glorious experience, I hope to do it again.

Some things are controlled by nature or whim. When we were in India, we could not see Varanasi by boat because the boat companies were on strike. That was so disappointing; it was a photo-op I was eagerly anticipating - but it was not OAT's fault. The fact that the company and guides are flexible and innovative enough to work around such trouble spots is impressive. But I must add that the traveler must also recognize that real world exploration is not a Disney Adventure. And I, for one, am happy that it is not.

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jadeatravelin is offline  
May 8th, 2012, 05:44 AM
  #43  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,621
As I see this is your first post welcome to Fodors. I hope you post often as it seems you have much adventure to share that most would like to hear about.
jacketwatch is offline  
May 10th, 2012, 11:26 AM
  #44  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 3,590
OAT is good as many will say...but likely too active for us as we are aging. Our six GCT all excellent...and we await a bargain.
Bill in Boston
Ozarksbill is offline  
May 17th, 2012, 06:56 AM
  #45  
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 2
Thanks, jacketwatch. I don't think I'll post too often but I appreciate the invitation! There is much I have loved about OAT travel, not the least of which is the spirit of adventure, flexible nature and youthful outlook of most of my fellow travelers! I must also admit that I had to be dragged most unwillingly into group travel - but when I encountered OAT, it was such a pleasant and exciting experience that I was swept off my feet. I took OAT's Safari Serengetti last summer - and it certainly didn't disappoint! It was my second OAT trip to Africa (Ultimate Africa was the first) - and I will continue to look into other African adventures. They were both awesome trips! Although I realize how specifically OAT trips are planned, (and that is good!) there is always enough spontaneous adventure cropping up that I feel satisfied. Now contemplating where to go next. Any suggestions? I am leaning toward Turkey or Morocco - but am open to all OAT possibilities. I wish they offered trips in the US or Canada. Although I have seen the bulk of both countries, It is tempting to think of what OAT could do with Alaska, Hawaii, the Rockies, or the Maritime Provinces... However, I still have enough to choose from in trips already in the mix - so I can make do!

OZARKSBILL, you make a very good point. Thank you. That is why it is important to know your own needs and expectations - and do enough research to see that you are well matched to the "zeitgiest"of the group. As long as the heart and mind are willing, and we can drag the body along for the ride, there should be a travel experience we can find that fits our individual needs! Hope you find that bargain...
jadeatravelin is offline  
May 17th, 2012, 07:06 AM
  #46  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,621
Actually we spent three days last yr. in Istanbul pre cruise and loved it. We have another cruise planned in the fall which has two days there and we can,t wait.

Kusadasi is very cool too as you can see the excavated city of Ephesus which rivals Pompei. Then there's Cappodocia which I hear nothing but rave reviews about and of course you can go to the ruins of Troy.

We are sort of on the same wave length in that we nearly choose Moroccoover the cruise.i hear Marrakech and Fez are really good to see. Cheers, Larry
jacketwatch is offline  
May 22nd, 2012, 06:34 PM
  #47  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,515
I would recommend OAT's Discover Thailand. It is possibly the best trip we have ever taken. We visited schools, ate in homes and wandered street markets and floating markets. We rode in ox carts, on elephants, river rafts pushed by poles, longtail boats, regular boats, and in the back of pickup trucks,and tut tuts of course. There were 14 of us. What fun, it was an adventure!
southeastern is offline  
Jun 5th, 2012, 02:07 PM
  #48  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 9
Just saw this high on the list when searching OAT and GCT. I traveled as a single to India a year or so ago. My rooms were exceptional. Other single travelers invited us to see some of the amazing rooms to which they were assigned. My experience as a single traveler was fabulous. A person who continually finds fault may have to look in a different direction for the solution.
chinaplus is offline  
Jun 8th, 2012, 07:44 AM
  #49  
SJB
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 3
Who is OAT's most direct competion?
I've been on OAT and might try another company.
SJB is offline  
Jun 8th, 2012, 09:02 AM
  #50  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 10,187
I'd suggest Smartours. But if you are younger, you should also look at Intrepid. Still, I think competition depends on the destination. But Smartours is most like OAT of the companies I know fairly well.
doug_stallings is offline  
Jun 9th, 2012, 06:28 AM
  #51  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,515
I believe Smartours has large groups. A friend went to Thailand on one and every seat of a full sized bus was full. OAT does small groups of 14-16 on land tours.
southeastern is offline  
Jun 9th, 2012, 12:59 PM
  #52  
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1
I came across this discussion and just had to add my 2 cents. We've made 4 trips with OAT -- Africa (Zimbabwe & Botswana), China, Morocco, and most recently, Anarctica. All were sensational experiences! The guides were excellent, the logistics were planned extremely well, and the "learning and discovery" philosophy of OAT added numerous fine experiences to our travels with them. The small groups (12 - 14 passengers) made the trips especially enjoyable.

We have not traveled with GCT. In our recent experience in Antarctica OAT really showed that they can handle matters like true professionals when things go wrong. Upon returning to Ushuaia heavy winds caused the port to be closed and, consequently, we missed our flight to Buenos Aires. In the hours that we waited for the winds to subside, OAT made arrangements for all of us to stay another night in Ushuaia, arranged air transportation to Buenos Aires, made hotel arrangements for us there, and made new reservations for 108 folks to fly from Buenos Aires to our home airports -- and this was on Christmas Eve! OAT was simply wonderful.

I have not found a tour company whose prices are as low as OAT for what they offer at any of the destinations we have visited with them. They simply offer great value. Are the hotels the best available? Usually not, yet they are clean, comfortable and perfectly acceptable to us for whom a hotel for 1 - 2 nights as a place to lay our heads at night is not nearly as important as the variety of experiences that OAT provides so well.
Lance_Jarvis is offline  
Jun 19th, 2012, 03:21 PM
  #53  
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1
We took the Grand Circle Tour- The Best of Eastern Europe- May 9 through May 26.2012. The tour was great. The rooms that we were assigned were awful. Traveled with friends who are Inner Circle members. Their rooms were consistently better than ours.
This was our first trip with GC. We have since learned that after taking four or more trips with GC, you are given preferential treatment and receive the better rooms. We paid more money for the trip than the Inner Circle members because they usually are given a discount, for each trip that they take.
I will never take another Grand Circle tour and felt discriminated against because this was our first trip. In Budapest, were given body wash/shampoo product which was the same as dish detergent because we were assigned a lesser room.
The maid had lotion, shampoo and conditioner on her cart and our friends were given those products in the room.
Be aware that Grand Circle will assign lesser rooms to individuals who area not Inner Circle members. I have included these comments in my evaluation and have also spoken with the quality assurance department.
suzanne5971 is offline  
Jun 19th, 2012, 03:50 PM
  #54  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,621
Suzanne: thanks for that candid reply. I can understand consideration for being past patrons but at least provide decent shampoo!
jacketwatch is offline  
Jun 20th, 2012, 11:46 AM
  #55  
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 2,758
Because of one very disasterous experience with GCT, we will never go again. It wasn't that the trip turned to crap, and they didn't handle it well, but afterwards, when we were home and tried to correspond with them, they didn't even respond. Nuts with a tribe like that. I say it again, when it goes well with them, it is usually very well, and when it doesn't, the just DROP THE BALL. The will never admit fault of blame, probably afraid of litigation. If you google them, you will learn more of their history than, perhaps, you want to know. ugh.
justwishin is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 04:48 AM
  #56  
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1
I tired of hearing that QTOand GC upgrade the rooms for inner circle members. Don't most companies treat their good customers better. Airlines upgrade frequent flyers, most stores give you a frequent member tag for your keychain and give you a discount or a special coupon in the mail. Itseems to me that it'S just sour grapes. Hotel chains give better rooms to people who stay with them often"........
travleragain is offline  
Jun 28th, 2012, 07:28 AM
  #57  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 191
Suzanne. As an Inner Circle Member (10 trips), I strongly disagree with your assessment of rooms assigned. We always get the same type room as other less frequent travelers. On our recent trip to Iceland, we again received the same type standard rooms as everyone else in the group. Groups generally get less than ideal rooms due to the fact that the tour company pays less than standard room rates - parking lot views rather than ocean views, etc. Periodically nicer rooms are assigned at random to group members. I remember one suite that we were assigned "before" we became Inner Circle, but that is the exception rather than the rule.
sandys is offline  
Jul 14th, 2012, 12:10 AM
  #58  
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 2
I have made many trips with GCT and am an Inner Circle member. They are a wonderful group to travel with. Two of my trips were as a single with the single supplement waived right from the start. The trips are incredible, well paced, and I always return rested. I never felt "discriminated" against. My hotel rooms and/or cabin was NEVER any different than those shared by couples. I will be traveling with them to Australia in 2013 and that trip is a "single supplement free". The group leaders/guides have ALWAYS been great. The home visits have always been a highlight.
bangell is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2012, 04:11 PM
  #59  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 6
OAT Feedback: I commented before my Greece/Turkey/Greek isles trip and now that I'm back here are my final comments. Awesome, Fantastic, wonderful. I am a single, my room was great both on the boat and everywhere else. I think OAT is a wonderful company, huge value for the $$$. If you are a complainer or simply not easily satisfied, please choose another company. Linblad, Nat Geo, Tauck all are great companies. Of course you will pay 2-4 X more but ........
norma75 is offline  
Sep 24th, 2012, 05:47 AM
  #60  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 3,590
Well, once again I'll affirm an excellent experience with Grand Circle. This our 7th GCT was the Elbe River cruise last July and everything went well. I say this though becoming quite ill toward the end of the grip. Program director assisted me in seeking medical care in Hamburg
...diagnosis unspecified bacterial infection. We had the group insurance plan. Now feeling great.

Good memories of aboard the M/S River Allegro. Bussed from Prague via Sudetenland we boarded ship and had stop offs in Dresden, Meissen, Torgau, Wittenberg, Tangermunde, Berlin, Lauenburg, Hamburg.
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...elbe-river.cfm
(see also Cruising the Seine report)

Bill in Boston
Ozarksbill is offline  

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