Grand Circle Travel vs Discover Corps - Tour Companies Compared
Compare details and see what other travelers are saying.
Overall — 5
Value — 5.0
Guide — 5.0
Activities — 5.0
Lodging — 5.0
Transportation — 5.0
Meals — 5.0
Overall — 4.5
Value — 4.5
Guide — 4.5
Activities — 4.5
Lodging — 4.5
Transportation — 4.5
Meals — 4.5
5.0 May 2018
We have been on 6 Grand Circle tours from Costa Rica to Egypt to Europe to the great national parks in America. We we're delighted with every trip.
Tour Grand Circle Travel Company Reviews
5.0 January 2017
My entire family just wrapped up a 12 day trip, "Christmas Markets on the Rhine", and we had an amazing time! My grandparents are Inner Circle members, but this was the first time for the other 7 of us. The ship - MS River Rhapsody - was clean and very comfortable to stay on, the crew was absolutely phenomenal, and the program directors were very friendly and knowledgeable about the places we were visiting. The morning walking tours were something I really enjoyed, since they gave us a personal introduction to each city. I have zero complaints and will look into taking another trip with Grand Circle in the future :)Read more
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5.0 November 2016
We have taken 23 tours with OAT and GCT and would not travel with anyone else. Several singles travel with us and a lot of them have not had to pay the supplement. River cruises are fantastic, there are no bad rooms and the meals are fantastic. Our air travel is booked by the company as soon as possible; if there are problems, GCT gives you the airline number and it is up to you to change to your liking. All guides speak English and we're all family by the end of the tours. I don't understand the bad reviews unless these people are expecting 6 Star trips for 3 Star prices.Read more
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5.0 November 2018
Japan Cultural Odyssey
We really enjoyed our Discover Corps tour and can't wait to return to Japan. My wife and I took the Discover Corps cultural trip to Japan (Started in Tokyo-then a bullet train to Kyoto & more local trains to Osaka). The transportation system works well and no cars were ever needed. We were completely taken care of from booking and then thru the process. Adrienne did a great job of informing us of all the details-no planning required. Our guides in Japan, Aki and Miwa, were very knowledgeable local people & made sure we were having a unforgettable time! The cultural experience in Japan was terrific. Great mix of excitement; watching Sumo and participating in Kendo. The food was wonderful plus we were able to participate in sushi making!Read more
Tour Discover Corps Company Reviews
5.0 July 2018
We lived in the African bush for 10 days. Accommodations were wonderful - tents with nice furniture and attached bathrooms. Plenty of hot water! Food was delicious and quite sophisticated. But the best were the wildlife experiences led by an extremely knowledgeable and personable guide. All the staff were kind and professional.Read more
5.0 July 2017
This trip was really superb, starting with the folks like Alex in the San Diego office to our tour guide in Havana, Orelvis (a perfect gentleman if there ever was one--and he seemed to know absolutely EVERYTHING about Havana), and our driver, Boris (who was an extremely safe driver, and the SUV that was our transportation was a practically new Honda), and our friendly hostess at the casa particular (B&B).Read more
But at breakfast at the casa particular, keep in mind the CDC guidelines for healthy travel: cook it, boil it, peel it (yourself) or FORGET IT. So the bowl of fruit and the fruit juices? Pass them up in favor of coffee and toast. I know that sounds boring, but after I got home, I ended up in the hospital emergency room for dehydration due to e-coli--my fault for not following the CDC guidelines.
Also, to get up to my room at the casa particular, I had to climb a narrow, curved marble staircase--I took extra care not to fall either on the way up or on the way down.
The activities and attractions were first rate (but you must keep in mind that you're on "Cuban time," and not everything runs like a Swiss train). From the Hemingway house to the canon ceremony (which I loved even though it was a substitution for another event that was unexpectedly closed) to the jazz club (again, we went to one jazz club that for some reason didn't work out, but no problem--Orelvis took us to another jazz club recommended by his supervisor in Havana) to the art museum to the Malecon to the outdoor terrace at the Hotel Nacional and more, it was amazing how much we saw of Havana in about 72 hours.
There were only four people on the trip, and that was both a good thing and a bad thing--good because each of us received a great deal of attention from Orelvis and bad because two of the four didn't want to follow the itinerary and often went off on their own and then kept the rest of us waiting for them to return (highly frustrating--finally Boris said, "the schedule is the schedule," and we stopped catering to them). One of them spoke fluent Spanish--good for her--but I did wish that Orelvis had curtailed the lengthy conversations that she initiated with him, which the rest of us could not understand.
Two of my favorite activities were ones that I arranged myself: attending the world-class ballet at the gorgeously restored el Gran Teatro and then taking a yellow 1950 Chevrolet convertible with an Italian driver, who was an absolute hoot, back to the casa particular.
And the food at the private restaurants known as paladars was first rate. We even had lunch at one that Anthony Bourdain recently featured on his CNN travel show "Parts Unknown."
Just a small word of caution: sometimes there wasn't enough bottled water in the SUV in which we were riding, especially when we were dropped off at the casa particular at night. Make sure that you have plenty of bottled water with you at all times. (The CDC even recommends that you brush your teeth with bottled water.)
I also wish I had brought another pair of shoes with me because with all of the walking in the heat of the Cuban sun, my feet swelled. Fortunately, I had brought some Band-Aids with me, which helped cushion the sore spots.
I highly recommend this trip--to my way of thinking, it's much better than taking a cruise ship that only docks in Havana for one or two nights--and the "Havana Weekend Getaway" is the most popular trip to Cuba that is offered by Discover Corps, as I learned from Orelvis.
|Tours||13 Trips||28 Trips|
|Average Trip Price Per Day||$ 220||$ 399|
|Operator Type||Mixed Land & Cruise||Group Tour Operator|
|Size||Global Operator||Global Operator|
|Headquarters||Boston, Massachusetts, USA||San Diego, California|
|Solo Friendly||N/A||No single supplement|
The "older sibling" of Grand Circle Cruise Line, Grand Circle Travel specializes in land tours for Americans of baby boomer age and above (fifty-plus, but leaning toward the plus).
What Makes Grand Circle Travel Stand Out?
Grand Circle Travel was started by the founder of AARP, and as such know their demographic extremely well. Over the years they have established a solid reputation for tours and river cruises that offer good value to destinations around the world. They also foster a community of dedicated travelers, encouraging you to share your memories, images, and stories with them and the friends you meet along the way.
Who Will Enjoy Traveling with Grand Circle Travel?
If you like the idea of joining a tight knit travel community, with frequent cost cutting options, then Grand Circle could be for you.
This is definitely a travel experience well suited to older travelers in the 60+ range, seeking a degree of comfort, in their travel experience, within a mid to high budget range. Younger couples or families may feel out of place among the crowd on a Grand Circle tour, as the activities, lectures, and pace are all designed for older travelers. If relaxing on the cruise with a book in hand for hours on end, gliding by quiet European shores is your idea of a grand old time then Grand Circle is for you!
If you’d rather have a bit more action during your trip, this style of travel is probably not going to hit the right note.
Trips are mostly all-inclusive, focusing on comfortable accommodations, informative and easy paced guided walking tours, cultural encounters, learning experiences, and special events that they call their Discovery Series.
Solo travelers make up nearly a third of Grand Circle's customers, and they're made to feel more than welcome on group tours, including some price breaks on single supplements.
Itineraries are designed for American travelers, with an aim towards immersive experiences such as visiting local homes, interesting walking tours, in-depth cultural interactions and culinary experiences.
Grand Circle travels all over the world, with a strong focus in Europe, Aisa and Southeast Asia. They also have limited departures in Africa, South America, the Middle East, South Pacific, North America, Central America, and even Antarctica.
Grand Circle Travel Style
The Grand Circle Travel Style is comfortable, standard river cruises and motorcoaches. On motorcoach tours with Grand Circle you will make frequent stops to stretch your legs, and some longer stops for sightseeing. Groups are between 24-47 people, so expect some company! Because Grand Circle attracts a similar age range, you’re sure to meet new friends with like interests in no time.
Hotels are comfortable and centrally located. Don’t expect extreme luxury or especially unique accommodations.
You will probably do a fair amount of walking throughout the tour - Grand Circle suggests that travelers be relatively physically fit. Most trips with Grand Circle are, unfortunately, not wheelchair accessible.
Why Choose a Tour with Grand Circle Travel?
For the flexibility and comfort aspects, combined with unique experiences at every turn. You might find yourself sharing dinner at the home of a local family or visiting local schools. Plenty of free time is included in the itineraries, and there is a lot of choice among optional tours.
San Diego based tour company Discover Corps is a leader in the rapidly growing field of volunteer vacations. Operating since 2004, Discovery Corps trips average one to two weeks and focus on volunteering either with children and schools or with animals and wildlife conservation.
What Makes Discover Corps Stand Out?
They are focused on providing travel experiences with a wider humanitarian purpose - and help you put your tourism dollars to good use on the ground. The world of “voluntourism” is a sticky area, and has been met with some criticism over the years, so traveling with a reputable and transparent company has become super important.
With Discover Corps, volunteering, responsible tourism, and giving back to local communities is their entire brand - not just a buzzword on the “about us” page. So for those travelers who truly want to make their vacation about volunteering first and tourism second, Discover Corps is a great choice.
Discover Corps trips are all inclusive, and while volunteering is the primary focus, sightseeing and cultural activities are also included. Their trips are very popular among families, friend groups, and solo travelers.
Who Will Enjoy Traveling With Discover Corps?
These tours are best suited to travelers who want to have a humanitarian focus on their next trip. And if this idea is new to you, but you are interested in getting involved, Discover Corp is a great way to start.
The average age on a Discover Corps trip is 45-65 except in summer, when families with children as young as 10 are welcome on “family friendly” trips.
Wildlife lovers as well will love the opportunities available on Discover Corps Nature & Wildlife conservation tours. You’ll have a chance to get up close to some amazing species, learn about their habitats, and get to participate in various initiatives designed to protect these habitats.
Discover Corp travels around the world, in rural villages, beach locations, and rainforests. Popular destinations are primarily in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Discover Corps Travel Style
Their all-inclusive trips combine light volunteer projects with sightseeing and cultural immersion. They also offer support while you’re on site – from building classrooms to improving water systems to creating eco-friendly homes. The ideas come from the local communities themselves, and local staff plan everything in advance.
Why Choose a Tour With Discover Corps?
If you’re the kind of person who likes being actionable and getting involved with protecting threatened cultures, wildlife, and contributing to growing communities in need of schools and homes, then Discover Corps would be a great choice.
Volunteer vacations are one of the best ways to get to know the local people on a different level than many tour companies provide. Rather than simply enjoying a meal at a local restaurant, you’re out in the neighborhoods meeting everyday people.
“Traveling with a purpose” might seem like a thrown around phrase these days, but it is the entire philosophy around every Discovery Corps trips. So when you join one of their tours, you’ll be surrounded by guides and other travelers for whom this isn’t a buzzword - it’s an important and meaningful mission.