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Grand Circle Cruise Line reviews

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Visit bucket list cities in relative comfort — with mostly seniors on board.

Grand Circle’s cruises are sort of like bus tours — on water. Of course, you’ll relax at night in modest accommodations. But the focus here is on the destination rather than high-energy entertainment or lavish perks in between ports.

13 ships

Number of ships

No

Price matches

Details

Target demographic Seniors
Number of ships 13 ships
Contact options Phone, Email
Payment options Visa, American Express
Deposit required Deposit at checkout
Deposit required No price matching
Food Food included
Drink Alcohol included
Room service No free room service

Expert review

Amy Stoltenberg

Review by


Amy Stoltenberg writes about lifestyle and money for Finder, researching the best options for shopping, banking, insurance and authentic travel experiences. After studying writing and fashion at Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked designing apparel at a corporate behemoth before opting for a career with unlimited travel time. When her laptop’s closed, she can be found wandering the streets looking for happy hour and hole-in-the-wall eateries.

Expert review

Grand Circle cruises are best for folks who want to visit major port cities and world-famous landmarks without paying extra for bells and whistles. If you’re keen on glitzy entertainment, endless buffets or 5-star amenities, look elsewhere.

But if you’re dreaming of strolling the streets of Paris, sightseeing in Shanghai or smelling spring tulips in Belgium — in the company of a friendly guide, without paying a premium — these could suit you just fine.

On board, you’ll mostly be in the company of seniors and retired folks — nearly all Americans. The tours and presentations are in English, and Grand Circle’s website states that trips are “tailored to an American perspective.” So meals will include typical US dishes in additional to regional specialties.

If you’re looking for a raw, authentic cultural experience, this isn’t it. But if you’re hoping for a safe and familiar way to taste the delights of global travel, you’ll feel at home with Grand Circle.

Fans of resort-style cruising a la Royal Caribbean or Carnival will be disappointed, as the point here isn’t fun and games. Instead, the emphasis is on moving from place to place, with walking tours, museum visits and educational excursions along the way.

Where do Grand Circle cruises depart from?

Set sail from river and seaside ports around the world, including:

Auckland, Buenos Aires, Cairns, Dubrovnik, Montevideo, Sydney

Unfortunately, the company doesn’t depart from any US cities. So if you want to stay stateside, you could opt for a Grand Circle land tour instead — or check out American Cruise Line.

Grand Circle cruise destinations

Grand Circle cruises to regal villages tucked into Norwegian fjords, gleaming Greek islands in the Mediterranean, bucket list cities on the banks of the Seine and more. Here’s where you can go:

Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, Middle East, North America, South America, South Pacific

What’s included on a Grand Circle river cruise?

Here’s what your Grand Circle Cruise Line fare covers:

  • All meals during days at sea — and some meals during specific shore excursions
    • Exact amount of included meals is listed in each itinerary.
    • Beer and wine are often included with lunch and dinner.
  • Guided tours and excursions
    • Gratuities for local guides and drivers at each port

Internet is not included, and Grand Circle’s ships don’t always have access to Wi-Fi. You should also budget about $10 to $12 per passenger/per day to cover gratuities for the crew, which aren’t included in the fare. You’ll leave the tips in an envelope at the front desk before disembarkation.

Why you should (or shouldn’t) cruise with Grand Circle Cruise Line

Still trying to decide if Grand Circle will float your boat? Weigh the benefits against the drawbacks.

Pros

  • Shore excursions and guided tours are included.
    • Small groups (42 people max) with dedicated program directors
  • Small ships foster an intimate atmosphere.
  • Decent value for the price
  • Open seating during meals
  • Spacious accommodations

Cons

  • Its food is usually reviewed as average at best
  • Ships can feel old and outdated.
  • Previous passengers complain that customer service can be difficult to work with.
  • Fewer entertainment options than larger ships
  • No US departure ports for cruises

Frequently asked questions

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