Grand Circle Travel Warning

May 18th, 2006, 11:55 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 132
Grand Circle Travel Warning

This is a warning for anyone thinking about booking with Grand Circle Travel. To make a loooong story short, I called GCT in the Fall & booked a river cruise with them. I had already checked with a couple of other river barge lines, but they were sold out for the week we could travel. The GCT agent I talked to said I had until Jan. 2006 to cancel. With that I decided I better book right then, because I had a few months to cancel if need be and the other cruise lines were already booked up. I also purchased the trip insurance.

A few weeks after I booked, medical issues came up with a couple of relatives. With that I figured since I didn't know what would happen in each case, I better cancel. I got in touch with GCT, but they would not refund all my money. They said their refund policy is on their website & in their brochure, and that is correct. However, the GCT agent I talked to didn't mention anything about their cancelation policy, just that I had until Jan. 2006 to cancel. At that point I had not checked their website (since I had just made the call)nor had I received their brochure (since I just made the reservation). I assumed as long as I cancelled by the given date I would get my money refunded. WRONG!

Also, another poster mentioned that GCT is no longer (I did not check that situation today, but I know it was true not too long ago) on the Boston BBB list of good businesses.

ehc is offline  
May 18th, 2006, 12:35 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 19,419
Would this be your first tour with GCT?

Not only GCT, but EVERY tour company requires a non-refundable deposit and have a schedule of refunds.
FainaAgain is offline  
May 18th, 2006, 05:10 PM
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Did the agent tell you there wouldn't be any fees involved if you cancelled by Jan.? If so, I think you have a legitimate complaint.

Certainly the agent should have explained the cancellation policy but I have found if you don't ask for specifics they might not bother to tell you!

May 18th, 2006, 05:47 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 132
FainaAgain - Yes, this was my first booking (and last) with GCT. I know, now, about the non-refundable policy, however, the agent didn't mention it at the time of my booking. He just said I had until Jan. 26th (I think the date was), 2006 to cancel. Had he mentioned anything about the refund policy at the time of the booking, I would not have been so quick to book. I had actually just called for information on the GCT river barge cruises, but when he mentioned the cancellation date (only), I figured I should book the trip since the other companies I checked into had no space available for the week we could travel.

Katybird - No, the agent said nothing about any fees involved for a cancelation or else I wouldn't have booked at the time of my call. He just said I had until Jan. to cancel the reservation.
ehc is offline  
May 19th, 2006, 05:33 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 80
ehc: I have never heard of any travel tour companies that let you cancel months after you book without a penalty.

Is this the first tour you ever took?

By the time you wanted to cancel I am sure you had received travel information booklet that states the cancellation policy.

I don't beleive you have a valid case.

Michaellip is offline  
May 19th, 2006, 06:51 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,300
Agree with Mike. You have to find out the rules BEFORE you book. Ask the questions and get the answers. It might be worth mentioning that GTC does not use travel agents but only their own agents ... thus you have no ability to sit down with a local person that knows all the rules and can guide you. That is why you are often better off to use a live, local, good travel agent.
Curt is offline  
May 19th, 2006, 07:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 22,098
I hope your relatives have recovered - if they were immediate relatives and illness was serious enough, many trip cancellation policies would have covered this.

I think your warning might better be applied to any travel purchases. It is the nature of the industry - whether it be hotels, air, packages, tours - that there are a wide variety of cancellation policies out there. Everything from non-refundable airfares to auto rentals where they don't even take a credit card to reserve and charge you nothing to cancel.

Buyer beware. There was a poster here some months ago complaining about a refund (or not) policy at a B&B. It is the travelers responsibility to be fully aware of what the specifics of a cancellation policy is before booking.
gail is offline  
May 20th, 2006, 03:42 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 20,279
I don't think it's reasonable to blame GCT. When I asked for information about a Christmas cruise the pamphlet I was sent made the cancellation policy very clear and also described GCT's own cancellation insurance. The company's web site also has a section on trip cancellation.

You said that GCT would not "refund all my money." How much did you get back? If you cancelled only a few weeks after you booked the trip and that was within a few months, the refund should have been substantial.
Underhill is offline  
May 21st, 2006, 04:22 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 132
Mike - Yes, this was my first trip with a tour company. I had not yet received any travel brochures or information when I cancelled the trip since it was very shortly after I booked the reservations that I decided I had better cancel.

Curt - I didn't ask anymore questions regarding a cancellation policy because the GCT agent told me I had until Jan. to cancel. Come Jan., and the "deadline" to cancel I would have then received the travel brochures stating GCT's cancellation policy. At the point I booked, I naively thought I had until Jan. to make a final decision.
ehc is offline  
May 21st, 2006, 10:23 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,426
ehc: If you don't mind how much was the trip and how much did you lose? Also why did you wait so long to post this? Also I'm sorry you had to learn this the hard way.
jacketwatch is offline  
May 21st, 2006, 12:16 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 559
I believe there are several companies that let you cancel, for any reason, and get a full refund. We always travel with Tauck and you can cancel at the last moment, with no problem.
desertduds is offline  
May 21st, 2006, 05:23 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,151
Fron Tauck's website:

Cancellations Fees – Regardless of reason, cancellations result in costly charges from our travel and hotel providers covering penalties and fees incurred by canceling confirmed bookings. Therefore, cancellation penalties and or fees will apply. Time of cancellation will be when notice is received in our Norwalk, CT office.

Guests choosing to purchase Tauck’s Guest Protection or Cancellation Fee Waiver will have cancellation penalties waived. Click here for more details.

Guests choosing not to purchase Tauck’s Guest Protection or Cancellation Fee Waiver will incur cancellation penalties per person as follows:

60 days or more before departure
$600 per person

59-8 days before departure
$950 per person

7-1 days before departure
$1500 per person
Catbert is offline  
May 21st, 2006, 07:38 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,817
ehc - how did you learn about GCT - I mean, get their phone number and know that they had the kind of tour you were interested in taking?
Seamus is online now  
May 23rd, 2006, 08:52 AM
Posts: n/a
to make a long story short, we are now in the process of trying to get some satisfaction from GCT involving the non river cruise from hell we finished on May 14. We were given no information about possible deviations planned due to Danube river flooding, and, in fact, when we (many of us) called ahead to see what was going to happen, we were told that all was well, no changes in the ininery and no, we could not cancel due to weather. The trip they provided was terrible...many elderly people who could and did not tolerate the 12 hour bus trips (4 busses) all over Eastern Europe, with no rest stops, toilets (except an occasional 'benjo'), poor food, etc. One man developed a 'thrombosis' in his leg, and others just had to 'tough it out' with serious diarehha (meaning wearing diapers on the bus) as they wouldn't stop for anything. We called them long distance from Rormania to see what the heck was going on and were told they would 'get back to us'....never did, and we knew nothing day to day, as the plans changed, the hotels were changed, and we rode on and on in the backwaters of Eastern Europe. No, they won't even refund the 'port' charges, and 'fuel' surcharges we paid.
They haven't heard the last from us.!!!
May 23rd, 2006, 10:45 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 19,419
Yes, this is the downside of the tours - once you paid, you are at the mercy of the LOCAL tour companies, not even the company you paid to.

And if you made reservations using a travel agent, they will ping-pong you: this is agent's fault, no, this is tour's fault.

And then the small print... not responsible for anything!

Although I haven't been in really awful situations, it can happen to everyone.

Right now there is a post on the European forum: somebody wants to take a once-in-a-lifetime tour of Italy, and the main sight of her dream is closed the day it's scheduled, and she can't change the flight reservations to go there a day early.

Yes, bad things do happen to good people and sorry it happened to you.
FainaAgain is offline  
May 23rd, 2006, 02:19 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 20,279
Did you just pay a deposit on the trip or for the entire trip?
Underhill is offline  
May 24th, 2006, 09:13 AM
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Did you buy trip insurance? It's worth its weight in gold! My husband had to visit the ship's infirmary on our cruise last month, & they paid the entire bill. We buy insurance through Access America.
May 24th, 2006, 10:07 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,711
SueR.....Thats exactly what this month's Ombudsman is about...A couple had to go to the ships Doc and when the left the ship, they thought they had paid their bill in full.But the company(HA)sent them a bill of almost $1,500 for the Doc visit and infirmary stay.They had not taken out travel insurance and had to cough up the money.
BeachBoi is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 11:36 AM
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If you need more convincing, go to this site to see some of the constant lack of customer service and mix ups, and possible intentional fraud that others have described.
Jun 3rd, 2006, 10:54 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 20,279
Anyone can post anything on the internet...there's no way of knowing what actually happened.

Quite a few of the unfortunate happenings would have been taken care of had people purchased good trip insurance.
Underhill is offline  

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