Date of Trip: August 2010
Did the Russian River Cruise with Grand Circle Travel. I can describe the company in 1 word – GREAT. They have their own, American Styled boats & are therefore comfortable to American tastes. What makes them GREAT is their Program Directors. Very knowledgeable locals, fluent in English, & VERY helpful. Our Director, Vitaly, went way beyond his normal duties in translating, on his own time, documents in Russian relating to my past.Then spent dinner explaining in detail where my grandparents were from. They also try & keep you entertained when we are not in port.
HOWEVER if you’re in Russia & flying out – BEWARE! We flew out on some obscure airline & once through the security gates, no more Vitaly to guide us. Natives surly & rude, but after visiting can certainly understand their attitudes. In secure airport facility, no signs in English, no translaters, & no help! After waiting in the long hot line, with locals pushing in & ignoring any protests, found in the wrong line. Over to the new line & finally make it to the plane. 6 across packed like sardines, rude staff, with dogs in peoples’ arms & kids running around the plane. This is modern day flying?
I know everyone complains about International airlines, but nothing will prepare you for a “Russian Flying Experience” It was a sad ending to a truly wonderful experience. GCT & their sister company OAT on which we travelled in Africa & S. America have it all well controlled EXCEPT for 1 area, the long trip home. I would say they pretty much abandon you on your return, by air, home. The flight from Africa, was a 36 hr. ordeal & while getting you to Africa they put you up in a day room.,coming home – nothing. And in Amsterdam had same problem, trying to catch flights in different areas of airport, but here no helpful signs really & no one to ask. This made for a difficult time finding our way. The rude people at the Delta desk weren’t very pleasant or helpful either. Along with others with children, it seemed their goal was to make the experience as difficult as possible, even arguing with each other while people waited to board.
I have come to the conclusion that because there is really 1 way to get around, VIA AIR, the airlines & crews don’t give a darn about you the passenger. Check out rules for flying domestically, then check rules for International. Meals domestic – PAY but not International, why more competition. They only treat you to as little as possible. Check domestic luggage allowances & then check International. I guess this report is a rant against airports, & airlines & I believe all the complaints are warranted.