Russia-Grand Circle River Cruise Review

Dec 8th, 2007, 09:32 AM
  #1  
KATHERINEMAEPARDEE
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Russia-Grand Circle River Cruise Review

Time to book your cruise for 2008!

We recently took our first River Cruise in Russia (September 2007) and were amazed at the progress this country has made. Capitalism is taking off.

We traveled with GRAND CIRCLE - Excellent and Outstanding in every way! 4 nites in Moscow at a newer hotel, 7 days on a DELUXE river cruise, and 3 nites in St. Petersburg at another lovely hotel. We expected accommodations to be third world and we were pleasantly surprised. Even the food at all establishments was better than home for the price, especially on their privately owned river boat. Sightseeing in all areas was better than we expected; visiting the palaces of the Czars to the village homes along the river topped off by attending the ballet in St. Petersburg - Swan Lake.

I had posted an earlier trip review on the Russia website and then I discovered perhaps my personal review might reach more interested travelers looking to cruise.

We did learn one thing; you DO NOT want to be only on a cruise ship during your entire visit to Russia. The ports are far from sightseeing and you spend enough time in the worst of traffic. Have a few nights in each city is really nice; especially our hotels were in great locations.

The Cruise itself was our first river boat cruise. We've traveled with Celebrity but those were huge ships. The staff could not do enough for you; they were on duty 24/7. They kept the state rooms immaculate; often we would catch the young little maid on her hands and knees scrubbing our bathroom floor. Have you ever seen that in the states? Everything in the room was new and clean and very roomy. All rooms had large picture windows viewing the passing countryside. Unlimited hot water in the showers and roomy too.

Each day we'd stop and explore a new village and opportunities to see the most remote areas in Russia without going to Siberia.

There was constant and varied entertainment on board and lots of other activities. Painting your own wooden stacking dolls or language classes or cake decorating or napkin folding. For 21 meals on the ship, we never saw a napkin folded the same way!!! It was elegant.

The cuisine on board as well as the hotels was outstanding!!! Multi course dining....all the way!!! When we got home, I was almost assigned my own zip code!!!

Russia is a fascinating country to visit and now there is the opportunity to see it all before it's too crowded (like what happened to China). The traffic in the cities is bad but Grand Circle strives for excellence in every way and makes the journey to the sites of interest worth the drive when necessary.

The tour itself was worth every penny but if you are a shopper, you'll need a fist full of 'rubles'. Prices are high!

We did a lot of research before selecting the company to take us to Russia. We had heard in the past all the ships were pretty bad. When we heard about Grand Circle owning their ships and the level of standards, along with the fact their were very nice hotels in both Moscow and St. Petersburg, we knew it was time to visit Russia.

Also, Grand Circle received two outstanding reviews by fellow travelers in two publications in 2007:

Travel + Leisure "#1 Best Value Cruise Line"

Condé Nast Traveler Gold List — Grand Circle Cruise Line – included in Gold List of world’s 11 best cruise lines (large and small category)

We have been visiting interesting destinations for a long time but only recently discovered Grand Circle. We are also booked with their subsidiary OAT for Thailand, Australia, Egypt and India. Wish we had discovered their unique itineraries earlier.

If you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact me direct on my email

Email: [email protected]

Happy traveling!!!! Hope my observations have been helpful to you in making your next vacation.

Katherine

 
Jul 24th, 2008, 07:52 AM
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bookmarking
Leslie_S is offline  
Jul 24th, 2008, 08:35 AM
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Not again.
jacketwatch is offline  
Jul 24th, 2008, 11:07 AM
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What does "not again" mean?
Leslie_S is offline  
Jul 24th, 2008, 11:46 AM
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The only time this poster "contributes" is when she has a plug for GCT. In the past other posts by her have been worded neary exactly the same and have been x'd by the editors because its a veiled advertisment which is against Fodors policy. BTW there have been a nunber of neg. reviews of GCT's here as well and IIRC there was some sort complaint by the Mass. consumer board or something like that. It seems that you either love them or loathe them Anyway there are a fair number in both camps. Larry
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Jul 25th, 2008, 04:09 AM
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OK, thanks. Good to know.
Leslie_S is offline  
Jul 25th, 2008, 04:10 AM
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You're welcome. Larry
jacketwatch is offline  
Jul 28th, 2008, 03:05 PM
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What a dig! Maybe she(Katherine) likes Grand Circle better than other cruise lines. We did Viking river boat last August in Russia and in my opinion it was way below average. I would never recommend Viking to anyone. She is possitive not negative and most people would be open to hearing about ALL cruise lines and their opinions. No one is making you read them so please be polite to people that want to post their reports reguardless of your personal opinions. By the way, because of reading reports, we are doing a Grand Circle France in a week. Going to knock my report if we have a good time?
southeastern is offline  
Jul 28th, 2008, 03:29 PM
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Maybe. Seriously you are missing the point. That is in the past ALL the OP posts about is GCT and ALL the previous posts, which have been deleted BTW, are worded practically the same, like a form letter. Of course she is positive. Its free advertising. It even reads like a brochure and it violates Fodors rules. Its not a dig, at least for its own sake. Its more exasperation for the same, tired pitch by someone obviously affiliated with GCT/OAT and not just a poster with an opinion. Why do you think all the other such posts by her have been deleted? Have a nice day. Larry
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Jul 28th, 2008, 03:50 PM
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BTW check out the BBB rating fro CGT.
http://reports.bosbbb.org/Boston/Pub...aspx?firm=3848
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Jul 29th, 2008, 06:35 AM
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I have to tell you that a bbb report doesn't bother me. I need to give it a try myself. There are always picky people who love to complain. We are going on Grand Circle because it fits our time frame, the price is right, and it is a river boat through Burggundy and the provence down to Nice which we have always talked about doing. We've been to Paris and Nice traveling independently and we looked at their schedule and there is plenty of time to be on your own, which we like. There are only 23 cabins on the boat not thousands which we like. I have to tell you we got a complete guide book chock full of stuff, including the names and places of the other travelers. Nice touch in my opinion. There will be 42 on the boat so that means 2 empty cabins. We have done Globus, Trafalgar, Starclipper , Viking and never recieved any information on the trip at all other than what was in the advertisement flyer. Ialso have to tell you that we are easy going travelers and don't get our feathers ruffled if things don't go perfectly. When we travel on our own, we have had lots of glitches and never turned ourselves into the BBB. If we did, we would never be allowed to travel alone again. I will post an honest, factual account of the trip when we return. Josh, let's not hope we have a REAL good time or we might be deleted for honesty.
P.S. Wouldn't you just love to know if Katherine is just another person like us or if she's really a guy that is paid to post for Grand Circle? Get your spy camera out and find out.
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Jul 29th, 2008, 07:36 AM
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Actually I think the BBB reports show more than just glitches. They show consumer fraud and breach of contract. That DOES bother me. To each their own. Good luck. Anyway have fun. As for KMP I don't have a spy camera nor do I care to get one. However in this cse you don't really need it. Tata.
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Aug 14th, 2008, 12:48 PM
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By the way, I actually spoke to Kathryn and based on my research on this site and elsewhee,actually took the same trip (June 19-July 9). Every thing she said was true. I thought it was the best trip I ever took and would highly recommend it to any one. The service was impeccable. The food excellent, the excursions well thought out. The guides were wonderful. Actually, there was nothing that I thought could be improved on this trip.
gmlawyer is offline  
Aug 14th, 2008, 12:49 PM
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By the way, I actually spoke to Kathryn and based on my research on this site and elsewhee,actually took the same GCT trip (June 19-July 9). Every thing she said was true. I thought it was the best trip I ever took and would highly recommend it to any one. The service was impeccable. The food excellent, the excursions well thought out. The guides were wonderful. Actually, there was nothing that I thought could be improved on this trip.
gmlawyer is offline  
Aug 15th, 2008, 07:20 PM
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Take my advice and DON"T...had a terrible experience on this very cruise...so bad that we refused to pay and they didn't even challenge us.~~~!!! GCT is NOT good.
clarasong is offline  
Aug 16th, 2008, 03:46 AM
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When it coms to GCT/OAT this sort of thing happens with consistency. That is you get a polarity of views. Some hate them, some love them. It seems there is no in between.
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Aug 17th, 2008, 10:43 AM
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As I've said before, when all goes well (and we have done a few good ones with GCT) it is a good experience, but where they fall down is when a problem arises, or something unforseen, or a change must be made: Then there is no customer support, no explanation, no obvious attempt to 'correct' and they just go 'deaf and dumb'...no response to inquiries, etc. We called them all the way from Budapest to find out 'what we could expect' now that the trip was so messed up, and no one came to the phone, called back, answered our letters, etc. Borders on Fraud.
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Aug 18th, 2008, 04:15 AM
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The complaints to the BBB agree with you. It seems their corporate culture turns a blind eye to such issues.
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Sep 13th, 2008, 12:38 AM
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In the most reecnt issue of Natl. Geo's Traveler mag. in the Help desk section is an issue brought up by someone who booked a Euro. river cruise thru GCT. They misspelt one name and wanted a $200.00 fee to correct it (necessary for the air portion with Air France) when it was their mistake to begin with. Actually it involved a married couple and GCT misspelt her last name while correctly spelling his. It is the same name of course. They did fix the problem at their cost but this should not require writing to Chris Eliot, a nationally known traveler advocate.
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Sep 16th, 2008, 09:53 AM
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Grand Circle has a web site for your information. If the people didn't check it, shame on them. You can change it on the web or call. It's not rock science, always check out things no matter what tour group you book with. It's YOUR responsibility to follow through, especially when booking it yourself otherwise go through a travel agent.
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