Year Started: 1830
Ships in Fleet:
Category: River Cruise
Summary: A diverse small boat river cruise line with excellent value for solo cruisers
Grand Circle is committed to providing discovery-rich vacations around the world while making the most of your travel dollar—a combination of experience and value that sets it apart as a leader in small ship and river cruising worldwide.
The line only sells directly, not through travel agents, which helps keep the cost down. It also does very little marketing and relies solely upon word of mouth. The line is truly a great value according to this editor, due to its years of experience in providing small group tours and cruises mostly seniors. The line has the best solo cruiser program in the business with almost every cruise having some solo cabins available with no supplement charges.
Grand Circle is for culture warriors - people who want to experience the world and have no desire to put on airs or pontificate on the cuisine. The focus at Grand Circle is on seeing the destination and educating the traveler. Accommodations range from above average to better than adequate, but the vessel itself is not the focus as it is on many other cruise lines.
Bottom line - you can get the same travel experience on Grand Circle as you get on most other cruise lines, but at a much lower price. You are not paying for a big screen TV with on-demand movies, however. You are paying for great tour directors and professional care.
The cuisine is always focused upon the local experience, and beer and wine are not included (although they are available for sale). Breakfast and lunch are usually served buffet-style while dinner will be served by waiters. On these small ships, the same people who clean your rooms will often be your servers at meals.
The boats are usually made to hold no more than 50 people. They tend to be older vessels, not overtly made for luxury cruising, but rather utile yet comfortable.Fellow Passengers
Educated and independent travelers, mostly active seniors, who understand the value offered by Grand Circle. Most cruises tend to have three to 10 solo travelers, the majority always women who feel very comfortable on the line because they always have company. This is one of the few cruise lines where you will find solo cruise rates with NO single supplement charge on nearly every cruise the line offers.Dining
The cuisine is always focused upon the local experience, and beer and wine are not included (although they are available for sale). Breakfast and lunch are usually served buffet-style while dinner will be served by waiters. On these small ships the same people who clean your rooms will often be your servers at meals.
There is no room service - so you should bring instant coffee if you need it first thing in the morning.Shore Excursions
Tours are offered daily, included in the cruise fare. Many cruises include several days staying in hotels to see larger cities. The line specializes in very unique locations such as Burma, Viet Nam, Antarctica, Africa, etc.
Cruises are often broken up into sections depending on the locations, One host may greet you at the airport in one city, and he/she will be with you full time (except during meals) until you leave his/her territory. When you move on to a new location a new host will greet you at the airport or cruise terminal and he/she will also stay with you full-time until you leave.
Headsets and private mics are provided at all times. Extra tours at added costs are also offered, but not mandatory.Kid's Excursions
There are no children's facilities or programs on Grand Circle. In general, it is advised not to bring children on these cruises.Past Passenger Programs
There is tremendous loyalty among Grand Circle cruisers anyway - but the loyalty program provides repeat cruisers with discount prices. There is not much beyond that.Attire
Always casual day and night. The main thing is to be prepared for the local climate.Tipping
Tips are not included in the price of the cruise and tips are expected for the guides, waiters, busboys, etc. A guideline for tipping recommendations will be provided, but the workers do an excellent job in taking care of you and should be well compensated.