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  #1  
Old July 18th, 2014, 06:56 PM
jmccon2 jmccon2 is offline
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Default Vantage vs GCT

Hello everyone. After reading through the conversations on this site, I've decided to try out a river cruise on either Vantage or GCT. I'm thinking of taking the Amsterdam tulip river cruise in late March/early April 2015.

After some research, I now understand why the two are mentioned as 'siblings' - it looks like each cruise line is owned individually by brothers.

I have a couple of questions:
1) The prices look similar, so which line would you choose and why?
2) I can use cxxxxxfxxx dot net to see what a fair price is for the major cruise lines, but nothing exists for these 2 cruise lines. Not including last minute booking, does the price vary much (much is a $400-500 difference in pricing)?
3) I've read that on rivers, when 'parked' your room is very snug to the other boats that are docked so it doesn't make a lot of sense to pay the extra money for a balcony. So what type of room would you suggest?

Thanks so very much in advance!

Janet
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Norwegian Spirit - Mediterranean - May 2014
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  #2  
Old July 18th, 2014, 07:16 PM
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H2Otstr H2Otstr is online now
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I recommended this cruise on Grand Circle to my neighbors. They loved it so much that they came home and booked another cruise for 2015. I gave them my name and GCT number and each person received a $100 referral fee/discount.

I don't think you can go wrong with either company.
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SAILED: Viking, Portraits of Southern France. 2006
SAILED: Uniworld, Castles Along the Rhine, 2007
SAILED: Gate 1, Thanksgiving Cruise, 2007
SAILED: AMA Waterways, Portugal on the Douro, 2008
SAILED: Grand Circle: Romance of the Rhine and Mosel, 2010
SAILED
: Viking Emerald, China's Cultural Delights. 3/28/2011
SAILED: Grand Circle: Old World Prague and the Blue Danube. September 7, 2011. MS River Adagio
SAILED: Viking Spirit, Paris to Normandy. December 11, 2011.
SAILED: Grand Circle's Essence of the Elbe: Hamburg to Prague on the M/S River Allegro on May 27 to June 11, 2012
SAILED: Grand Circle Russia Revealed with pretrip to Helsinki and Tallinn on August 18, 2012. St. Petersburg to Moscow.
SAILED: Viking Sun, Treasures of the Rhine. Nov 11, 2012.
SAILED: AMACerto, Istanbul to Budapest. May 30, 2013.
SAILED: Uniworld River Queen, Classic Christmas Markets, Nuremberg to Frankfurt. Dec 5, 2013.
SAILED: Vantage Travel, Croatian Odyssey & Venice with Lake Bled, Slovenia pretrip. M/Y Harmony G __________________________________________

Grand Circle: Burma & the Irrawaddy River with Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat pretrip. 11/25 to 12/16 2014. Ship: RV Paukan

Grand Circle: Spain's Northern Coast & the Bay of Biscay with a pretrip to Maidera. 4/30/2015 to 5/21/2015. Ship: Corinthian
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  #3  
Old July 18th, 2014, 09:18 PM
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Hydrokitty Hydrokitty is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmccon2 View Post
Hello everyone. After reading through the conversations on this site, I've decided to try out a river cruise on either Vantage or GCT. I'm thinking of taking the Amsterdam tulip river cruise in late March/early April 2015.

After some research, I now understand why the two are mentioned as 'siblings' - it looks like each cruise line is owned individually by brothers.

I have a couple of questions:
1) The prices look similar, so which line would you choose and why?
2) I can use cxxxxxfxxx dot net to see what a fair price is for the major cruise lines, but nothing exists for these 2 cruise lines. Not including last minute booking, does the price vary much (much is a $400-500 difference in pricing)?
3) I've read that on rivers, when 'parked' your room is very snug to the other boats that are docked so it doesn't make a lot of sense to pay the extra money for a balcony. So what type of room would you suggest?

Thanks so very much in advance!

Janet
I booked my first trip with Vantage and just returned from my 6th! I don't think you can go wrong with either company, and they are owned by brothers who originally owned one company together. Reasons I like Vantage: most of the shore excursions are included and quite frankly when I booked my first trip with Vantage I liked it so much I see no reason to change. One thing I would suggest and it makes no difference which company you use: if you're going to Holland to see the tulips, IMHO you are going a little too early. I did this trip in late April to early May. The tulips were in full bloom and it was amazing. When you land/take off from Schipol, be sure to look out the window you can see the tulip fields in all their colors and it's amazing.
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Sailed:
Greek Islands and Turkey, Louis Cruises, 2006
Castles on Rhine, Vantage, 2008
Egypt and Jordan, Vantage, 2009
Holland and Belgium, Vantage, 2010
Alaska, Holland America, 2011
Costa Rica, Star Flyer,Vantage, 2011
Russia and Ukraine, Vantage, 2012
Panama Canal, Celebrity Infinity, 2013
Columbia and Snake Rivers, American Cruise, 2013
Gateway to the Black Sea, Vantage, 2014

Other:
England
Italy
France
Monaco
Greece
Turkey
Iceland

Not yet Sailed:
Trans Canada Rail Odyssey ,Vantage, June 2015
Switzerland Rhine & Mozelle, Vantage, August 2015
Elbe: Berlin to Prague

Bucket List:
China and Yangtze River Cruise
Australia and New Zealand
South Africa, Odyssey
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  #4  
Old July 18th, 2014, 09:27 PM
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Hydrokitty Hydrokitty is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hydrokitty View Post
I booked my first trip with Vantage and just returned from my 6th! I don't think you can go wrong with either company, and they are owned by brothers who originally owned one company together. Reasons I like Vantage: most of the shore excursions are included and quite frankly when I booked my first trip with Vantage I liked it so much I see no reason to change. One thing I would suggest and it makes no difference which company you use: if you're going to Holland to see the tulips, IMHO you are going a little too early. I did this trip in late April to early May. The tulips were in full bloom and it was amazing. When you land/take off from Schipol, be sure to look out the window you can see the tulip fields in all their colors and it's amazing.
Missed your last two questions: I know Vantage doesn't use travel agents or on line discount services, I'm not sure about GCT but I would be inclined to think they don't either since you couldn't find either of them listed with discount sites. I always get the A-1 class, which has a french balcony. Most (not all) river cruises do not have full balconies because the locks are too narrow. Once you go below suite level, the cabins are pretty much the same size, but I like the french balcony because I love opening the door and leaning out. (You probably already know that a french balcony is a sliding door with bars on it. You cannot sit on it!) As for "rafting" it is a common practice in river cruising and cannot be avoided or controlled. Some times you'll be alone, sometimes you'll be dockside with 1 or more boats on the other side and sometimes you'll be in the middle with boats on both sides. Since you can't sit on the balcony, to me, it doesn't matter. I've met some really interesting people while rafted together by opening my drapes and sitting in front of the sliding door....but the bottom line is you're on shore most of the day and cruising at night, so to me, it doesn't make any difference.
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Sailed:
Greek Islands and Turkey, Louis Cruises, 2006
Castles on Rhine, Vantage, 2008
Egypt and Jordan, Vantage, 2009
Holland and Belgium, Vantage, 2010
Alaska, Holland America, 2011
Costa Rica, Star Flyer,Vantage, 2011
Russia and Ukraine, Vantage, 2012
Panama Canal, Celebrity Infinity, 2013
Columbia and Snake Rivers, American Cruise, 2013
Gateway to the Black Sea, Vantage, 2014

Other:
England
Italy
France
Monaco
Greece
Turkey
Iceland

Not yet Sailed:
Trans Canada Rail Odyssey ,Vantage, June 2015
Switzerland Rhine & Mozelle, Vantage, August 2015
Elbe: Berlin to Prague

Bucket List:
China and Yangtze River Cruise
Australia and New Zealand
South Africa, Odyssey
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  #5  
Old July 19th, 2014, 06:50 AM
JerseyGem JerseyGem is offline
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Default Gct

DH & I were on GCT's Holland and Belgium in Springtime cruise in March 2013. This was their first cruise of the season (for that tour) and on the River Concerto. (We did have a last minute special, so I can't help you with price drops). We have now taken 4 tours with GCT and definitely recommend them.

Someone suggested doing this tour a little later in the season; this does have some merit. Since we were early, not all of the tulip fields were in bloom, but the other flowers (daffodils, etc.) were beautiful. If you do go early, make sure you check the weather forecasts for the cities you'll visit right before you leave. Add clothes as needed! We learned that cold weather & snow were predicted, so we added hats, gloves, fleeces, hiking boots; we were fine- but those with lightweight jackets, sneakers and sandals - without gloves and hats- were uncomfortable walking around in the snow (or skipped outdoor activities).

Re cabins: depending on the ship, the balconies are one step better than a French balcony. On the Concerto and Harmony, the balcony is very narrow (less than 3 feet deep) but you can sit down out there (two chairs and a very small table). The downside is that the space for the balcony is taken from the cabin- mostly in the bathroom area. The shower, in particular, is much more compact than in the other cabins. We never felt that it was worth any extra money to book a balcony (even on ocean ships). However, on our last cruise, we had noise issues with our cabin (Harmony) and were moved to a balcony. It was nice to go out there as we were sailing along. But on your cruise, I think most of the actual sailing is at night. As for "what other cabin?" - I suggest one with a picture window (as opposed to the bottom deck with the aquarium style!) but also, avoid cabins near the stairwells, especially if you go to bed early. People do tend to congregate there and talk! Also, the row of balcony cabins on the Concerto and Harmony starts right outside the dining room; people can be noisy as they line up for breakfast! On the Harmony, avoid cabins in the high 200's (217, 218, 219)- very noisy from the DJ in the lounge.

Re optional excursions: Vantage might include more (or different) excursions. Look over the list of included and optional ones for each line. If you would definitely take the excursion, add it to the cost comparison. For our GCT tour, we added the Delta Works and found it fascinating.

I recommend GCT, but I've also read great reviews about Vantage. Do a cost comparison and an itinerary comparison- whichever you choose will probably be wonderful.
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  #6  
Old July 19th, 2014, 07:31 AM
4774Papa 4774Papa is offline
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We have done Vantage Russia and China, which are two of the best trips we have ever taken.
Vantage beats Viking all the time on price.

Don't know much about GC, but it is likely similar to Vantage.
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  #7  
Old July 19th, 2014, 08:05 AM
BridgeMates BridgeMates is offline
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Excellent info from everyone above.
We did the Holland/Belgium cruise on Vantage in March and it's true, not all of the flowers are blooming then, but the price was excellent and we loved it. In addition to the ports, there's lots of activity on the river with boats coming and going all the time. We had a large picture window on the middle deck with pull-down bunks which were very comfortable.

I hope they still offer a tour of the Aalsmeer Flower Auction in Amsterdam.
We had to get up early, but it's worth it. Starts at 7am. The earlier you get there, the more you see. In an hour or so, most of the flowers are gone. You look down on a football size area where they are moving the flowers around on little carts for the auction and shipping. If you go to Amsterdam a couple days early, you could do this tour on your own if the ship doesn't do it. Don't miss it....
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  #8  
Old July 19th, 2014, 05:08 PM
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Hydrokitty Hydrokitty is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BridgeMates View Post
Excellent info from everyone above.
We did the Holland/Belgium cruise on Vantage in March and it's true, not all of the flowers are blooming then, but the price was excellent and we loved it. In addition to the ports, there's lots of activity on the river with boats coming and going all the time. We had a large picture window on the middle deck with pull-down bunks which were very comfortable.

I hope they still offer a tour of the Aalsmeer Flower Auction in Amsterdam.
We had to get up early, but it's worth it. Starts at 7am. The earlier you get there, the more you see. In an hour or so, most of the flowers are gone. You look down on a football size area where they are moving the flowers around on little carts for the auction and shipping. If you go to Amsterdam a couple days early, you could do this tour on your own if the ship doesn't do it. Don't miss it....
100% agree.....Aalsmeer Flower Auction is not to be missed!!! Neither is Delft but be prepared to buy something that will be quite pricey!!
__________________
Sailed:
Greek Islands and Turkey, Louis Cruises, 2006
Castles on Rhine, Vantage, 2008
Egypt and Jordan, Vantage, 2009
Holland and Belgium, Vantage, 2010
Alaska, Holland America, 2011
Costa Rica, Star Flyer,Vantage, 2011
Russia and Ukraine, Vantage, 2012
Panama Canal, Celebrity Infinity, 2013
Columbia and Snake Rivers, American Cruise, 2013
Gateway to the Black Sea, Vantage, 2014

Other:
England
Italy
France
Monaco
Greece
Turkey
Iceland

Not yet Sailed:
Trans Canada Rail Odyssey ,Vantage, June 2015
Switzerland Rhine & Mozelle, Vantage, August 2015
Elbe: Berlin to Prague

Bucket List:
China and Yangtze River Cruise
Australia and New Zealand
South Africa, Odyssey
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  #9  
Old July 20th, 2014, 09:14 AM
we're sailing away....'s Avatar
we're sailing away.... we're sailing away.... is offline
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We did it on Vantage, Had a great time also did the 27 day North sea to the Black sea , Next year doing 21 days in France ..
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We've been on
Carnival: 27 voyages; 184 days
Celebrity: 3 voyages; 24 days
Holland: 11 voyages 152 days
Norwegian: 2 voyages; 16 days
Princess: 16 voyages; 154 days
Royal Carib: 5 voyages; 35 days
Vantage: River 2 voyage 39 days
GRAND TOTAL: 66 Cruises 604 days

NOT YET SAILED
Holland Ryndam 1/15 -14 days
Holland Maasdam 3/15 - 14 days
Holland Rotterdam 4/15 - 18 days
Holland Veendam 6/15 - 14 days
Vantage River Cruise 8/15 - 21 days
Princess Emerald 8/15 -14 days
Holland Eurodam 9 /15 -17 days
Celeberity Xpedition 11/15 - 10 days
Holland Prinsendam 11/15 - 25 days
Holland Volendam 2/16 -28 days
Holland Volendam 3/16 - 30 days
Holland Volendam 3/16 - 35 days
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  #10  
Old July 20th, 2014, 07:09 PM
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Iluvboatrides Iluvboatrides is offline
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Those are the same two I did with Vantage. Number three us coming up,soon, the Grand European, from the Rhine to the Black Sea. With the optional trips on both ends, I am traveling from September 7 to October 10. On this trip, I am a solo traveler.
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1992 NCL Southward, 3 day Baja
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Holland America, Massdam, Sept. '04, Eastern Canada
RCCL Monarch of the Seas, Oct. '04, 4 day Baja
Carnival Paradise, Jan. '05, 4 day Baja
NCL Star, Nov. '05, Mexican Riveria
RCCL Vision of the Seas, Sept. '06, Alaska repositioning to Los Angeles
RCCL Radiance of the Seas, May '07 San Diego to Vancouver
NCL Pearl, One night Dinner Dance Party, September '07
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RCCL Monarch of the Seas, August '08, Three day ~~ Baja
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  #11  
Old July 28th, 2014, 03:55 PM
jmccon2 jmccon2 is offline
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@ILoveBoatRides - kudos to you for being so bold

And thanks everyone for the advice
Janet
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Norwegian Spirit - Mediterranean - May 2014
Royal Caribbean - Caribbean - April 2014
Norwegian Spirit - Western Caribbean - December 2011
Carnival Elation - Feb 2009 - Catalina/Ensenada
Holland ms Veendam - Alaska (2 back to back cruises) - May 2008
Carnival Spirit -Feb 2008 - Mexican Riveria
Celebrity Century - Nov 2007 - Western Mediterranean
Carnival Holiday - May 2001 - Catalina/Ensenada
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  #12  
Old July 28th, 2014, 05:55 PM
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FuelScience FuelScience is offline
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The responses you're getting are typical for those received when someone asks for a comparison of cruise lines. People who've cruised with each line all respond that they loved their line. This should tell you that you can't go too far wrong with either. It would be great though, if there were people who had done both lines and could compare.

You may want to do some research with regard to the details of the itineraries and things like whether tours are optional or included. For instance, with GCT it looks like you don't see Bruges unless you take the optional early 3-night precruise option, whereas with Vantage Bruges is part of the itinerary.

Other differences may or may not be important. For instance GCT has free soft drinks, beer, and wine at lunch AND dinner, whereas Vantage serves them free at dinner only.

A more important consideration may be the date you cruise. You probably want to try and hit Keukenhof sometime in the last half of April.

FuelScience
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