Grand Circle Cruise Line reviews

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


Price matches


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

Review by

Amy Stoltenberg is a staff writer covering all things travel, shopping and lifestyle. After earning a BA at Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked as technical designer in corporate fashion before opting for a career with unlimited travel time. When her laptop's closed, you can find her wandering around Los Angeles looking for hole-in-the-wall eateries and plotting her way to all 50 states (she's currently at 28).

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.


  • 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


  • 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

Traveling during COVID-19
The CDC continues to advise caution when traveling within or outside the US, However, it no longer requires self-quarantine or a COVID-19 test for fully vaccinated domestic travelers as of April 2021. International travelers need to get tested three days prior to flying out of the US and within three days after returning, even if you are fully vaccinated. It recommends that you delay travel if you’re not fully vaccinated to protect yourself and your family from getting or spreading the virus.

If you’re planning a trip outside the US, bear in mind that many countries have placed restrictions on US tourists. Check the US embassy website for updates before booking international travel.

Latest river cruise deals


Mississippi River cruises starting from $1,395 per person

Expires 6 Nov 2021

View current river cruise offers

Ask an expert

You are about to post a question on

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use and Privacy and Cookies Policy.
Go to site