In April, we booked a tour with GTC to So. America: Argentina, Patagonian Lakes, and Chile. The reason this particular trip was chosen was for the boat crossings on the Patagonian Lakes. On Sept.2,2008, we received a letter dated Aug. 27th,that there were going to be changes on three days of the 14 day itinerary. The boat excursions had been changed to motor coach excursions. The original plan called for much time to be spent on motorcoach already and this itinerary gave us more of the same and also cut out exactly what we were going there for. They claimed in their letter, dated Aug. 27th, that the company that did the boat excursions had closed down and was scheduled to re-open on Sept.1, 2008. Well we would have been on those boats in early Oct....a month later... so why did we receive a letter telling us that they were "consequently required" to make this change? I called the company and got no help from the initial Customer Service Rep. but he was polite and transferred me to a Supervisor.
She insisted they had no control over this change and that as of their latest information, the boat excursion company had not yet re- opened. I might have believed this but she would not share any information about the name of the company or its location so that I might check this for myself. When asked what would happen if the company was operating the boat tours by the time we went, she said they might change the itinerary back but there was no guarantee that even if they were open , we'd get the experience we'd paid for. When I mentioned that I had travel insurance and might cancel, she assumed I had it with Grand Circle (I am smart enough no to insure with the same company.) and stated that we would not get the refund for that reason, even though the literature for the GTC travel insurance says "for any reason".
Yes, the brochures say some changes may be necessary but this is crucial to the character of the trip. The substitution is NOT of equal value or excitement by any means. I was told that there is only one boat company doing the excursions but when I look online, I see excursions taking place and no mention of there having been an interruption. I do not know if what I am seeing online is the same company but it is certainly not the only company and I feel they had an obligation to book another boat...not another bus! We have traveled for many years at all different levels and yes, we chose this particular trip for the itinerary AND value. HOWEVER, it is not a value if you do not get what you paid for. Sorry GCT, no more business or praise from us.