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131 River Cruises Tour & Trip Reviews

River Cruises Tour & Trip Reviews

131 Reviews
4.6 out of 5
Excellent 101 Great 21 Average 2 Disappointing 2 Terrible 5
95% Recommend
Value
4.6 Guide
4.6 Activities
4.6 Lodging
4.6 Transportation
4.6 Meals
4.6

Editor’s Take

Most trip and cruise reviews tend to focus on some or all of these 5 key areas, not all of which may be relevant to you: the tour guides, travel or cruise company, service level, country or countries traveled in, and the trip itinerary.

Remember, just because you see a 1 star review doesn’t necessarily mean that person disliked the country.

By and large the demographic that takes river cruises are affluent older travelers seeking a relaxing vacation, and expecting to be well looked after. The expectations when it comes to customer service, quality of lectures and guided tours, meals, and general comfortability are fairly high among this group.

Positive river cruise reviews often highlight the personal attention received from engaging guides and ship staff. Professionalism plays a big role, as well as room size and ease of getting around the ship.  

Disappointing reviews may result from those travelers who were expecting a more luxurious cruise, or perhaps were traveling with a handicapped person. Most river cruises are not terribly well equipped for wheelchairs or scooters, though there are some exceptions.

If you want a professional take on River Cruising, see the Stride Travel River Cruise Guide »

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Tour Reviews

DB

Recommends

Luggage Handling and follow up August 2019

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
First cruise, ever! We did a land & sea journey to Alaska through Holland America Line. This is not a review of the trip (which was great!) so much as how HAL handled our complaints of damaged luggage. My sister's luggage arrived at our Yukon hotel with the latch broken, her clothes spilling out. She filed a report. We discovered damage to a corner of my husband's luggage at the departing airport. Too late to do a report...but HAL's property claims were wonderful, in particular, Mr. Scott Gerstl, who even called me to clarify details. He was empathetic and kind. We were reimbursed for both pieces of luggage.
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S

Recommends

Visit to Russia and the cruise on the MS Rostropovich. July 2019

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
We have just returned home to the UK after our visit to Russia and the cruise on the MS Rostropovich. We had a superb time. The quality of the ship was superb and the service provided by all the staff was very friendly and professional. A very good introduction to Russia on our first visit to your country.

I am emailing to thank you personally for the very efficient service provided by Express to Russia. From the initial enquiry, through the provision of additional information, to the conclusion of the booking you have always responded very promptly to my emails. This made the whole process much easier than it might otherwise have been and I would most certainly recommend your services to others.

Thank-you and best wishes for the future.
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R

Does Not Recommend

Pros, cons and tips July 2019

4.0
  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 3.0
  • Activities 3.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 3.0
  • Meals 4.0
This is a review of the Uniworld China + Tibet + Yangtze tour in June, 2019, taken by my wife (80) and me (77). Since knowledge of a reviewer helps readers to judge the applicability to themselves: we are both former academics, normally spry and immersed in cultural, political, and healthful life activities, but we sometimes found the trip daunting, as discussed below. We resist aging, but not always with full success.

The tour had pluses and minuses.

The biggest minuses:
• My wife’s breathing difficulty in our 3-night stay in Lhasa, Tibet (she spent the whole time breathing oxygen and couldn't go on any outings)
• The (inevitable) problem of touring a totalitarian country where citizens are intimidated from talking honestly about the full scope of their lives

The biggest pluses:
• Our guide, Kevin, who was outstandingly attentive, helpful, supportive and patient. He went out of his way to help in difficult situations (like my wife’s breathing problems in Lhasa).
• We were also quite appreciative of Tiger’s brief stint with us.
• With a few exceptions, our baggage was always handled by others. And the exceptions weren’t overwhelming. Apparently for a group, the weight of any individual bag just gets averaged in with all the other group bags being checked. (Some travelers handled their own carry-ons.)

Most of the other people on the tour were quite amiable and unassuming—not always the case when you travel with people whose financial position has to be pretty good to afford this kind of trip (that financial position too often drives unwarranted expectations of privilege and reverence [if that’s not redundant…]).

The accommodations and included breakfasts (and many other meals) were luxurious, though we ourselves didn’t need them to be THAT nice (in this we’re probably exceptions from other travelers—and in this case, a number of our co-tourists had taken multiple Uniworld tours, so they knew and liked what they'd be getting); indeed, we had to learn to stop tanking up at breakfast just because so many goodies were offered, buffet-style. Had we realized those luxuries were part of what we were paying for (and in retrospect we SHOULD have realized), we might have taken a different, cheaper tour. Ironically, what most drew us to the Uniworld trip were the chance to visit Tibet and the expectation that at such a high cost we’d always be getting outstanding, highly informed guides (which wasn’t always the case; as retired academics, we’re unusually demanding in the critical analysis of what we want to hear).

GENERAL NOTES:

We spent several days on our own before the tour (in Beijing) and at its end (in Shanghai). These were quite valuable to us. Perhaps because of time, the Uniworld tour took us to few museums. We are museum junkies, and visited several during our non-tour times. Among other things, Beijing has a terrific national museum, an interesting (partly because of its political subtext) museum about women and children, and an extensive arts district. Shanghai has its own major museum and a tour of the city’s past relationship with Judaism that gives you a more general sense of the troubling antithesis of glitzy life highlighted elsewhere.

I’ve traveled to many parts of the world, and I’ve always been able to learn at least local alphabets and some minimal language skills. China is the first place I’ve gone where I could do none of the first and only a few words (probably wrongly intoned) of the latter. This was extremely frustrating, especially when we toured on our own. Few people outside the major international emporia (I never quite got used to how many upscale stores were in all places we visited) speak English (why should they?). The one ameliorating factor was that many people (especially store employees) had phone apps that did good to excellent translations between spoken English and spoken Chinese. You should have one for your own use.

In major cities, signs quite often include English, so that you can at least know where to shop and what you're looking at. Prices (which you can often negotiate) are typically typed into a calculator.

Perhaps even more than in the West, people are glued to smart phones. Pretty much everyone, it seems, uses an app that includes texts, phone use, and a payment facility, so that people seem to may carry little or no cash or credit cards. No one seems to care—or maybe everyone is just resigned to—that the government can monitor this app and know a ton of stuff about you. As a foreigner, however, you are unlikely to be able to use this app because you need to have a compatible bank account (probably meaning from a Chinese bank).

No matter how you travel in China, you'll see the amazing efforts to accommodate the expansion cities, so that a “town” of which you've never heard might have a million or more people. On the tour, you'll see almost only architectural and shop glitz that the government and cities bask in. You might get very brief glimpses of poverty.

While on the one hand the Chinese government talks a good game and takes some important steps vis-à-vis the climate crisis, on the other hand they still use an enormous amount of fossil fuel for electricity generation. I was also struck—dismayed—by the fact that from all appearances, people only drink bottled water (Westerners are warned against tap water, but I don’t know if local people build up an immuinity to its problems). Especially in warm weather, I can only guess at the billions of single-use plastic bottles that are used every day by the population of 1.4 billion (plus large numbers of visitors). On rare occasions, like at an airport, you might see a place to refill a water bottle (I assume that water is safe).

Please note that in criticisms like the previous paragraph, I do not intend a holier-than-thou American attitude. I am even more critical of what our government does—or more importantly, doesn’t—do vis-à-vis the climate crisis.

THE PEOPLE

Almost everyone was pleasant and upbeat. We mostly moved among middle- (and presumably upper-)class people; we encountered many others, but they were kind of in the background (just as in capitalist countries), and while we made it a point to notice their existence, we had no meaningful interactions with them.

The westernization of outward behavior was almost palpable. My wife had visited 10 years ago and regularly commented on the difference. My impression is that the young (teen-agers, young adults) are especially into western fashion and culture—and to what to me was a surprising extent, seemed to be able to afford indulging that taste.

For what it’s worth, my observation was that people are quite materialistic, focus their lives on that, and increasingly able to afford to indulge themselves. Outwardly, at least, they have little concern with the strictures of their government. Tiananmen Square seems to be in the distant past. Treatment of Moslems and Uighurs (not unlike our current treatment of immigrants and Moslems or our like history of racial and ethnic conflicts) was far away. So far as I could tell, people like Americans (though we’re also bizarre outsiders—there are occasional instances of Chinese people, especially ones who live far from the cities we visited, walking up to a foreigner and asking to take a photo together (this happened to me on the Great Wall, with some pretty young guys).

SECURITY

This abounds. You need to carry your passport everywhere. You'll encounter frequent security checks where you have to put whatever you're carrying through a scanner and show official IDs. In Lhasa, these checks were even present as you wove your way through street markets.

At every airport check-in, you not only go through a security scanner, but you then step up on s short stool so that someone with a hand scanner can go over every inch of your body. (I have sometimes wondered whether proliferation of security folk, including regular police, in nations like this is a clever device for combining meaningful security with full employment.)

The government must have an incredible volume of disk space and incredibly fast computer programs to be able quickly to access information about any given citizen or visitor. Check-in at airports always includes a live photo of you. I’m sure if anyone in the security services had wanted to track me down at any time, it wouldn't have taken more than a few seconds. (For each accommodation where you stay, you have to register with the police. Hotels typically do that for you.)

IN-COUNTRY TRAVEL

We had 4 in-country flights (part of the reason for what Uniworld charges), and much as we wanted to visit the places to which we flew, the time and effort involved in getting from to shuttle bus (then sometimes a long walk) to hotel to airport to check-in to security to boarding to flying to disembarking to shuttle bus to the next hotel became overwhelming.

The tour included 3 nights in a luxury boat on the Yangtze River. This was quite pleasant and included a night’s visit to a show (I don’t remember exactly which one, but when on our own my wife and I went to a couple of shows in Beijing—well worth it even if they're not something to your normal taste). Here, we had some down time. At our ages, we needed more of that. I got sick while on the boat and got what seemed like pretty good medical care.

(By American standards, medicals for my wife in Lhasa and for me on the Yangtze boat were low but not miniscule.)

By American standards, taxis are cheap. They were pretty easy to find in Beijing. (The “universal” app includes signups with services like Uber.) But in Shanghai, they were extremely rare, and we had to get help from strangers to order one. As you would expect, this is especially hard when it’s raining and you're a very long walk from your hotel. Among maybe a dozen or two cab rides during our entire stay, we had two bad experiences with cabbies; I advise photographing the driver’s information and the meter area. I found that this significantly mitigated the problems.

We took the metro in Beijing. After brief adjustment, it was very easy to use. The main difficulty is that stations are far apart, so on (say) a rainy night, you will still need an umbrella and endurance. Shanghai seems to have an equivalent subway system, but we never used it there.

LHASA

Part of the altitude problem my wife (and a few of our fellow travellers) had appears to be the flight’s forcing a lack of transition from sea level to an altitude over 2 miles. (On the other hand, a slower, staged transfer probably would have added cost to an already expensive trip—and maybe loss of a day’s touring.) Especially for older folk, however, I think this is a relevant concern.

I don’t know why, but although I could feel very mild pressure in my breathing, I was fine for the entire Lhasa visit. I had a different disappointment (perhaps idiosyncratic to myself, an academic and non-religious person): if I remember correctly, our entire stay involved visiting Tibetan religious locations. I quite support SOME such visits—religious history is central to human existence—but I would have liked to see aspects of other Tibetan cultural history.

Because of Beijing political issues with Tibet, filing out your Chinese visa involves the charade of not mentioning you're going there (if you do mention it, your visa apparently will be denied).

And a warning re Lhasa (and at least the Great Wall): there can invite lots of climbing, and a number of us, especially some of the older people (even when altitude wasn’t an issue), chose to climb minimally (just enough to get a sense of where steps were going and what the resulting view would be). Kevin and other guides were totally understanding—indeed, we were offered climbing options.
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PH

Does Not Recommend

3 Star Cruiser Won't Travel On Holland American Anymore. July 2019

1.0
  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 1.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
3 Star cruiser will never travel Holland American again. They have really slipped. We were this time on the Maasdam and this ship should be retired as it's old and not kept up. Many cracked and broken windows. One boarded up with plywood. Teak decks needing repair and rust all over the ship. The sliding enclosure over the pool when it opened and closed sounded like the ship was going to come apart. They nickel and dime you now for everything. No connection with ships officers anymore as the Captain is just a bus driver. Rooms small, beds uncomfortable. They've cut back servers which was especially noticeable in the Lido where one person handled 3 stations at certain times meaning long waits. We so loved Holland America in the past but since Carnival bought them they have definitely slipped. Too bad!
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R

Recommends

Wonderful experience, well-deigned by SmarTours May 2019

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0
The Treasures of Portugal trip focuses on the highlights of the cultural and artistic heritage of this fascinating country. The chosen destinations and sites rarely disappointed, and there was always something awe-inspiring at each stop. The tour provides a great balance between programmed and free time, allowing you to see what you want or find time to explore on your own. The fact that few dinners and no lunches were provided afford you the opportunity to discover the places and tastes that intrigue you as you discover the variety of offerings available in each location.

The destinations chosen are smart and live up to the promise that these are the country's treasures. Our guide was brilliant - she knew well the backstory of the locations and the significance of the art and architecture. Each part of the tour was a lesson in history, presented with excitement and passion. Her adoration of the history and culture of her countrymen was palpable and infectious, and gave the touring experience much added value.

Well planned, organized, balanced, affordable, and utterly enjoyable. Very highly recommended.
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N

Does Not Recommend

GUEST SERVICES SUCK! May 2019

2.0
  • Value 2.0
  • Guide 2.0
  • Activities 2.0
  • Lodging 2.0
  • Transportation 2.0
  • Meals 2.0
Similar to one of the other reviewers here - I had an obstructed view outside room. The obstruction on the Oosterdam was a lifeboat. Every morning two men came and climbed all over the lifeboat working on it somehow. While I understand the safety of the passengers may depend on the lifeboats being in repair, but for a single woman to have two men climbing around her window caused me to close the drapes every day. I might as well have had an indoor room. Guest services said they would check into it and let me know. They did not. Second visit to Guest Services resulted in again - no action and no response. The third time, I raised my voice in the lobby and requested a manager. They all acted stupid - and perhaps they actually were, but only after all this did I finally demand another room and magically they found one and for the last four days of a 17 day cruise I was happy. I wrote Holland America when I returned and after a week I received a namby pamby response - with not so much as an offer of a discount on the next cruise or a free drink!!! I already have another cruise booked, this one with friends, which is the only reason I'm not cancelling it, but it will be my last with them!
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t

Recommends

Well worth the time and money, saw all the sights April 2019

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 3.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0
My husband and I enjoyed this trip a lot. The weather was perfect, the other travelers (33 including us) were companionable, and the sights were iconic. My only complaint was that our nice guide, Hanna, was too casual about instructions, times to meet, counting our group as we left a site, etc. She even left one traveler behind at night at the Luxor Temple! This has never happened on our many other escorted tours. And Smartours gave us three different boat names for the trip on the Nile and we almost got lost when they switched it again and we lost the group going to the ship! We also did not like that our group spent more time at buying opportunities(!) like papyrus work, rugs, marble statues, jewelry, etc. than we did at the sites! Prices were high so the guide could get a kickback. Other than that, all went well. Hotels and meals were great and in general, the value for money for the trip, with pleasant nonstop flights from New York to Cairo, was excellent.
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P

Recommends

Grazie Travelish April 2019

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
I can only recommend Travelish Tours. Booking online in advance was easy, polite and fast. The operator customized a tailormade 5 days tour for my group. Detailed info by phone next to our arrival in Alexandria have been precious. Our guide was just fantastic and kept all the group fascinated throughout the tours, which is not easy! His Italian was brilliant and charming! We had a very skilled driver too. The cruise on the Nilo River was the highlight of the whole journey. There are so many stories to tell and questions to ask about Egyptian history! Thanks to Travelish Tours that arranged everything perfectly
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K

Recommends

Memorable Trip to Egypt -- Thank to Travelish Tours!! March 2019

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Egypt is one of those countries one should visit at least once in their lifetime. I was there in December 2018 and loved every moment of my presence in the land of river Nile, pharaohs, pyramids and much more. Thanks to Travelish Tours and their passionate CEO, Mahmoud Salah for making our trip so enjoyable and seamless. The entire trip was very well organized and we covered pretty much 75-80% of Egypt in 10 days from Cairo, Saqqara, Memphis, Luxor, Aswan, Abu Simble, Alexandria and Nile cruise, visiting all the key attractions with the guides who explained the history so coherently that we felt as if we went back in time to thousands of years ago. Thanks to Sam, Khalif and Sara, our guides in Cairo, Nile Cruise, and Alexandria respectively for sharing their passion, knowledge and welcoming us so warm heartedly.

I would highly recommend Travelish Tour to anyone planning to visit Egypt as the service the company provides is top class from airport pick up, best hotel accommodation, perfect Nile cruise, customized tours to knowledgeable guides. Mahmoud Salah, more popularly called as Momo, is a very humble individual who understands your needs and ensures your stay in his loving country becomes the most memorable trip of your life. His passion for his motherland’s rich cultural history and heritage and inherently caring attitude demonstrated through excellent organization of the trip and customized tours is indeed contagious.

We felt very safe in Egypt. If you want to explore it like locals contact Travelish Tour and forget about all other logistics as Travelish Tours will take care of all your needs. It would be the best decision you will make and I can vouch through my personal experience as Travelish Tours will ensure your visit to Egypt leaves an indelible mark in your travel memory.

Thank you Travelish tours and Momo for making our trip memorable and in the bargain we found a good friend in Momo!! :)
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VB

Does Not Recommend

miserable Organisation January 2019

2.0
  • Value 2.0
  • Guide 2.0
  • Activities 2.0
  • Lodging 2.0
  • Transportation 2.0
  • Meals 2.0
Habe mit der Westerham eine Kreuzfahrt vom 20.12.2018 ab Hongkong bis 2.1.2019 an Singapur unternommen. Die Crew super. Das Essen super. Das Schiff sehr sauber.
Die Organisation der Reise miserabel. Bei der hier genannten Reise, die von einem anderen Unternehmen mit 10 Tagen angeboten wird (beim exakt gleichem Ablauf) hat holland america lines 3 Tage mehr benötigt . Dazu wurden mehrmals nachts Stops über mehrere Stunden auf dem Meer durchgeführt. Mit einer 3 Tage längeren Reise kann der Reisepreis erheblich höher ausgelegt werden. Nun müsste man denken, dass der Reisemittler dreamlines. de seine Kunden darüber vorher aufklärt. Mitnichten. Die Provision ist wichtiger. In Kambotscha wird jedem Fahrtteilnehmer eine Zwangsvisagebühr von 63 € berechnet ,obwohl man das Schiff nicht verlässt. Durch diese Methode werden die Fahrgäste ( indirekt animiert ) doch noch das teure Landprogramm zu buchen. Ich blieb an Bord und musste Zahlen. Ich kann mir nicht vorstellen, dass bei fachmännischer Vertragsgestaltung mit Kambotscha für Kunden die an Bord bleiben ,die Visagebühr anfallen muß. Schlechtes Management. Weiterhin ist es nicht möglich in seiner Kabine die Klimaanlage abzustellen. Für ein derartig großes Unternehmen sind diese aufgeführten Unzulänglichkeiten unakzeptabel. Für mich trotz der tollen Crew nie wieder eine Kreuzfahrt mit diesem Unternehmen
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JS

Recommends

One of the best cruise line ,looking… December 2018

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
One of the best cruise line ,looking forward for the next one

WH

Does Not Recommend

When it sounds to good to be true, it bites you in the butt. December 2018

1.0
  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 1.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
After a very enjoyable cruise on HAL, I decided I would book another cruise with the cruise line - 3 weeks southern and western Caribbean. I travel solo, so am aware that I am paying an extra 100% for my cruise, and this includes the food for that imaginary second person. So I had checked out the prices for this 3 week cruise, and for the cruise it would be just around $3600 for an inside cabin (this includes the 100% markup). So I went to visit my travel agent, and she talked to Holland America and as I was sitting there, the HAL agent said to her that there was a "one day flash sale" on that particular day, and that a room with a window would cost $2245 for the 3 weeks, for me, a solo traveler. I questioned this at that very time, and the HAL agent verified this again, even stating that it would be my birthday on the last week of the cruise. He even arranged a transfer to the airport from the ship on the last day of the cruise (Feb. 3/19). My travel agent then also booked my flights (homebound flight on Feb 3/19), and the pre flight hotel. Imagine my surprise when I checked my Navigator account that same evening and found that HAL agent had booked my cruise from Jan. 13 to Jan. 27, for the price of $2245, and had booked the transfer to the airport on January 27. I was more than shocked, immediately emailed the travel agent about the error on the part of Holland America. Here I was in a quandry with non refundable flight back to my home airport on February 3, and my cruise booked until January 27. Of course HAL had already charged my cruise the same day, and there was no way out of this, except to book the final week at a cost of $1470. This was somewhat frustrating because now I was paying more than I had budgeted. Many people do save for their vacations and to be told that your planned vacation has now cost you almost $1500, than was quoted by the HAL agent was a little upsetting. HAL then "generously" waived the "fees" (what fees?) that were normally charged for something that was never explained to me. They also "generously" gave me a $200 shipboard credit. (Really....they just overcharged me on a quoted price, so they are still $1270 ahead). First I just wanted to forget about this and just take it, but within several days decided to email HAL and talk to them about every aspect of the booking of this trip. I explained to them that they had verified twice the cost of this cruise would be $2245, (plus port charges), and that the transfer back to the airport would be on February 3. I explained to them that their agent had made the error, as I was there every step of the way as this cruise was being booked. At first they would not answer the email....until I forwarded and forwarded it again and again, and finally got a message back that they were reviewing it. The final conclusion that Holland America made was this was all my fault because I was "using an outside travel agent" , and not booking directly with their company. My travel agent was talking to an HAL agent, but because it was not me....they have taken no responsibility for their mistake. After several emails which directly blamed me, and which of course was upsetting to me, I could no longer even deal with them. So now I am spending over $4000 for a cruise, which was quoted to me at the cost of $2245. I had no choice because if I had changed my flight, I would have forfeited the cost of the flight home on February 3, plus pay for another transfer to the airport. There is no recourse for me at all. I am trying to move forward as positively as possible, but I am not going to book any tours on this cruise with HAL, and will have my automatic gratuity removed. I am sorry that this will affect some of the employees who toil in the background, but this has been a difficult and expensive lesson for me. On the other hand, had I spoken to the HAL agent, they would also book me an overpriced hotel, and flights. I feel rather disillusioned by this experience...once again....I booked this in good faith, with the information I was given and due to an error or a lie, on the part of the HAL agent, I am the one who has to pay. No, $200 shipboard credit is not enough to make me feel better. So when it sounds too good to be true, remember my experience, that the small person will always get burned because the company does not care. Already paying double because I am traveling solo, and then scammed by this company.
Unfortunately this seems to be "my year" for issues with traveling and being overcharged. After booking all my own flights, vacations, Air B & B, hotel rooms, and at least one cruise, for at least 15 years, and never once having an issue, the 2 times an outside company was involved, it has cost me hundred of dollars more. Lesson has been learned....again.
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R

Recommends

Outstanding private group tour November 2018

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
We were a group of 34 seniors departing from JFK on 12 Oct 2017. The itinerary was the same as the standard 17-day tour and it was well-paced for our group. Mark Ma was our Tour Director, and he was very helpful, friendly and made sure that everyone was safe and enjoying the trip. My group has been on several guided international tours, and this was one of the best. smarTours helped us set up the tour, get our visas and got us first-class hotels throughout the trip. I recommend that you consider them for your travel group. Ms. Suzanne Anderson at their NYC office was specially helpful. Thanks to everyone at smarTours for this excellent experience.
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M

Recommends

18 Amazing Days in China November 2018

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Julian and I are still talking and telling everyone we meet about the surprisingly wonderful trip we recently took. Our guide, Mr. Li Bo, Oscar, was our mother, father, savior, historian, bathroom locator and best friend throughout the entire trip. He seemed to have a second sense and was there when we needed him, either for a pharmacy, help with our luggage or credit cards and the ATM's. The local guides, especially Allie, in Shanghai were extremely helpful and knowledgeable. The hotels and Yangtze River rooms were excellent. All the shows, parks and extras and river cruises were wonderful. The food was pretty good but the hot pots and dim sum that we had when we ventured out on our own was sensational. It's an amazing country with beautiful and unusual sites. I look forward to more trips with SmarTours and I can only hope that they are as great as this trip was for us. Thank you Oscar.
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L

Does Not Recommend

Misleading and often just plain dishonest. October 2018

1.0
  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 3.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 3.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 3.0
We paid for a 3 week luxury river cruise but received a large group bus trip across Europe with many days of packing and unpacking. I called our Viking representative when we received an email message just 2 days prior to departure that mentioned a possibility of problems with low river levels. I was assured that everything was "normal" In reality, as we learned later from ship personnel, nothing has been normal for at least 3 months. About 2 weeks prior to departure, we received by mail, lovely personalized booklets describing all the details of our voyage on the Viking Lif, which we were to board in Russe, Romania. Instead, we boarded the Viking Aegir but not at Russe, because the Danube was too low. Instead we rode buses upstream to a port on the Romanian side directly opposite our first scheduled stop at Nikopol, Bulgaria. We had a beautiful cruise through the Iron gate gorge, but after three more scheduled stops in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Croatia, our voyage was terminated in Mohacs, Hungary, an unscheduled place two days short of reaching Budapest. So we were herded into buses for a 1.8 hour ride each way to our scheduled stop at Kalocsa. The next day we retraced the journey to Kalocsa and continued an extra 1.5 hours to reach Budapest. We lost the entire morning in Budapest and spent the night at the Marriott hotel. The next day we lost the entire afternoon in that city because we had to take a 4 hour bus ride to Vienna. Where we were put aboard the Viking Embla. Our voyage on that ship ended two steps later at Passau Germany. After a day in Passau we went upriver for a short distance and it seemed that we had entered the canal to take us to the Main river. But much to our surprise, it was a dead end channel for an industrial port. We spent two days there with our balcony room moored tightly against another Viking ship so there was nothing to look at but the scenery at that site was even worse than looking at someone else's window and the balcony was unusable anyway due to the unpleasant odors at that site. The pattern continued with a long round trip bus ride the next day to our scheduled stop at Regensburg and a 3 plus hour trip the following day to Nuremberg where we finally boarded the Viking Lif. A crew member told us that the Lif had not traveled east of Nuremberg for 3 months. We sailed from Nuremberg to scheduled stops in Bamberg, Wurzburg, and Werthiem and then our voyage terminated for good at an unscheduled port in Mainz. Once again we endured a long round trip journey to our next scheduled stop at Koblenz, followed by a 10 plus hour bus trip (with lunch and a walking tour in Cologne) to Amsterdam and a night in a hotel. Despite a promise that our bags would be in our rooms (they did take great care to provide us with tags so they could easily keep our bags organized) all the baggage was dumped in the hotel garage and it took a good 15 minutes of searching to find it and then take it to our rooms ourselves. There is much more, but it would only be more descriptive of the misery of this trip. We know Viking didn't cause the low river levels, but they did not need to lie to us and make us suffer because of it.
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