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Anyone ever flunk out of a Grand Circle tour?

Anyone ever flunk out of a Grand Circle tour?

Old Jun 10th, 2014, 11:42 AM
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Anyone ever flunk out of a Grand Circle tour?

OK, this is embarrassing, but I am 3000 miles from home and need some gentle imput. After 4 different conversations with. GCT People, asking about their tour of Italy and being completely honest about my being mobile but not agile because of old knees, I was reassured I would be fine and adjustments would be made. I think that was the get my $ stage, so I booked this tour and another GCT tour with 10 days in between.

So I packed and planned and shared my excitement with everyone, went to several doctors who cleared me.... When I finally heard from the actual tour director, I tried to tell her the
Exact things I told the others and things began to fall apart. Six days before I was to leave, GCT offered to refund my $, but I had no heart for canceling at this point. Who would.? I did say if I could keep the second less strenuous tour and the air arrangements, I would make my own arrangements for Italy which didn't seem that far fetched, since GCT allows "break away" travel. I stayed up literally all night trying to figure out alternatives, but they said all or nothing.
So here I am, I am the slowest in the group, and the director just says I can't be w the others; I can come along but I am on my own. Yesterday there was an optional tour to Siena and I was not allowed to go with the group, but I could go separately. So I did. I got a public bus to Sienna, had a darn wild strike at a transfer and had to wait 3 hours, walked up,the long, steep. Hill to the magnificent basilica and made my way to the splendid Campo plaza. My bus again was canceled, but i found a train and paid a fortune for a taxi back to our hotel. Certainly not a perfect day, but I loved Siena.
The kicker was today. I chose this tour because it has been a dream to go to Pompeii since I first heard of it as a child, and this tour has an optional tour to Herculaneum. I knew they would be hard on me but figured I would manage. Today she told me she would not allow me to go to Pompeii AND she would also prohibit me from going on my own, again saying I should just go home, still with a refund at least.
I am wondering if anyone else has had this experience and, please, at this point I don't need a lot of negativity. I was very candid from the beginning, and it seems obvious there were over zealous sales people, but if am a real live person here who got caught in their marketing. Still, although understandably difficult, if they would just deduct the cost of the air travel from the refund, i could figure it out. I may be slow but I am resourceful. Gentle comments?
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 11:57 AM
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I am so so so sorry for what you are going through. This does not seem fair. I don't know what you can do now in the middle of the tours, but I am here to say I'm on your side!!

Hopefully there are others on this forum with specific GCT experience who can offer some advice. Because they sure don't seem very helpful about your situation (which you were honest about from the start).
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 12:01 PM
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I'm sorry, I don't understand, "-- AND she would also prohibit me from going on my own, again saying I should just go home," The whole thing sounds awful for you, but that would be the last straw; forbidding you to something you wanted to do.

I'm sure being a tour guide with one slow participant could be a PITA, but you warned them. They could have either made special arrangements or refused to take your money. It seems to me they have made a contract with you and need to fulfill their obligations.

Is striking them about the head and shoulders them with your cane a possibility? That's what I would be tempted to do!
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 12:05 PM
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Can you still stay at their hotels and travel on the bus? I don't know how she can say you can't go somewhere on your own. What major city are you in? Hang in there.
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 12:09 PM
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I don't have much input except to say that I am so sorry you are going through this!

Is it possible to take the refund and make your own arrangements for the rest of your time there and forget about them? Sounds to me like you would be better off on your own anyway!
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 12:10 PM
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Wow. I'm shocked at their treatment of you.

If they're willing to give you a full reimbursement I would take it and see Italy on your own. We'll give you lots of help to do this. The hard part will be booking the hotels. Do you have a laptop or tablet with you and can connect with the internet to try to save part of your trip?

Can you take the second trip (I'm not clear on if this is possible). Your tour director sounds like a b****h. She cannot prevent you from going to Pompeii on your own - it's a public site. She is so different than the tour directors I've had.

Herculaneum is much easier to walk around as most of it's paved rather than cobbles and dirt so you may want to start here and then determine if you can do Pompeii.

I've taken several GCT tours and have found everyone on the tours to be fit, no matter what their age. Perhaps this tour director was expecting everyone to be in perfect shape and I'm sure no one in the home office let her know differently. But that doesn't excuse her attitude.

If there is anything I can do from this end in the US please let me know. I feel like calling GCT and giving them heck.
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 12:12 PM
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I think you said that you had to take both tours or no tour at all? That seems weird. Is it the same tour director?
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 12:17 PM
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What's the name of this tour director?
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 12:23 PM
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What a horror story! I'm so sorry. But how can some tour guide PREVENT you from going anywhere on your own (unless there is language in a contract you signed to that effect)??? I would start by talking to the desk staff at your hotel and seeing if they can help you with public transportation, preferably cheap, and with plans for excursions. I'd probably also make a call, at whatever expense, back to tour headquarters and lodge a major complaint while you're still on the ground over there. Good luck!
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 12:34 PM
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I'm so mad at hearing this I called GCT to ask them to look into this situation but got no where. I tried to get the phone number of the regional office but he would not give it to me. The agent did say you should call or email them and voice your complaint/problem.
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 12:44 PM
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I also don't understand how they can tell you what to do. I mean, I get it that they won't allow you to participate on certain tours they are providing

But how can anyone tell you what you can or can't do *on your own* time during the day.

You sound very sharp and intelligent. Next time just go on your own. I feel confident you could have arranged everything to your own liking and gone at your own speed for the entire trip.
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 12:49 PM
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I would take St. Cirq's advice: call GCT in the States, lodge a complaint, and get your refund. No one can prohibit you from remaining in Europe at your own expense, so the next step would be her next bit of advice, to enlist your hotel's help in salvaging your time in Italy, and making your own arrangements for whatever the second part of the tour was going to be.
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 12:50 PM
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GCT/OAT is soooooo very interested in having those who like their tours to register and post glowing reports all over the internet (several such threads are deleted by Fodors moderators almost every week) . . . so tell them in no uncertain terms that you will do the opposite and post on all the websites how shabbily they are treating you.


Make them fix this
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 01:14 PM
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So sorry to read this. I did one tour with OAT and swore "never again". There is no excuse for this behavior. There was no reason you couldn't have ridden the tour bus to Sienna and then done the town on your own.

Are you in Rome or Naples? Pompeii/Herculaeum are easier from Naples, but do-able from Rome - train to Naples, Circumvesuviana from there. I would recommend Herculaneum - it is much more compact than Pompeii and has more art in situ. I got really tired at Pompeii and I was reasonably fit at the time. I'd add Villa Oplontis if you have time.

There's no way a guide can tell you not to go off on your own. I've had one try it and just ignored them.
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 01:21 PM
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I do so appreciate the support, since I am feeling battered. I believe the tour director to be excellent but with zero patience with slow people, although today she provided a taxi for the 8 slowest of us up a hill, nothing like the hill yesterday in Sienna I think I have been pretty patient myself with all the restrictions and making do. It's funny because the td told us one of the main things to remember in Italy is patience. She claims she can't allow me to go to Pompeii because she is still responsible for me. I even specifically said in pre-booking conversations that Pompeii was very important to me and the reason I was choosing this tour. Also, I love taking many! many pictures and that slows me down and others seem to be content with relatively few! perhaps because they have traveled much more than I. One person in the group has been on 21 GCT tours! I'sure wish I had that kind of cash.' My impression is they would give me zero refund unless I return to the USA. I did couchsurfing 5 years ago for 63 days in 8 countries, but decided at age 68 and aging joints decided I needed help with simplifying logistics. CS is wonderful but takes a long time to arrange, and, for whatever reason, Italians do not seem to participate at a very high level...?
I do have a tablet but can only use internet sitting in the lobby. I must go to bed soon as I have not been sleeping well.
I appreciate the support as far as GCT, but I am somewhat worried about how they might retaliate. ...
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 01:26 PM
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To answer a few questions; I am now in Chianciano but we leave Thursday for Sorrento- if I am allowed... No, it is not the same td for the Eastern Europe tout..? it hasn't helped that it has been in the mid nineties..
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 01:36 PM
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I would take whatever refund is on offer, document that you're doing so under protest, make your own arrangements and the best of it, keep your receipts, and after you return, sue them for a full refund multiplied by at least three to cover lost opportunity, humiliation, etc.
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 01:42 PM
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>>>y impression is they would give me zero refund unless I return to the USA.
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 02:11 PM
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This is her tour.

http://www.gct.com/trips/land-tours/...fi-coast/2014#
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Old Jun 10th, 2014, 02:42 PM
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And this is the next one, I think:

http://www.gct.com/trips/land-tours/...rn-europe/2014
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