Intrepid Travel vs CIE Tours - Tour Companies Compared

Compare details and see what other travelers are saying.

Rating Breakdown
Overall — 5
Value — 4.6
Guide — 4.6
Activities — 4.6
Lodging — 4.6
Transportation — 4.6
Meals — 4.6
Overall — 3
Value — 2.8
Guide — 3.4
Activities — 3.2
Lodging — 2.8
Transportation — 3.4
Meals — 3.2
Recent Reviews

Loved camping with Intrepid

5.0 June 2018
LR
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Loved this trip. Camping in very nice places - usually had hot water and nice showers. Great itinerary - LOVED Namibia and the variety of the tour from the desert to the delta to the parks.

Intrepid did an incredible job

5.0 December 2017
ATFT
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Thailand Cambodia Trip. Nov 2017. For my 60th birthday I decided I wanted to take my family of 6 to Thailand and Cambodia. After my initial conversation with the Intrepid office, they pulled together a perfect 24 day custom itinerary for us. My Intrepid coordinator really listened. We set up a incredibly diverse trip, ranging from ocean front resorts to a primitive hillside village trek. From the minute we landed in Bangkok, to the day we flew home, all transfers went off with out a hitch. What really made our trip memorable was our local guides. Every single one of them were warm, professional, humorous but most importantly, had a deep knowledge of the geography, the plant life, dining, the history and government. We felt by the end of the trip, these guides had become a part of our family. The entire trip was amazing and we will definitely use Intrepid for our next adventure travel. Thanks so much.
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great tour

5.0 October 2017
k
Recommends
  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 3.0
the guide was very knowledgeable - friendly - great sense of humour - looking out for the safety of the tour members - organised - thoroughly nice guy

Go To Ireland... Just Don't Use CIE

3.0 September 2018
J
Does Not Recommend
  • Value 2.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 2.0
  • Transportation 3.0
  • Meals 3.0
My wife and I travel often and while we enjoyed our tour itself, we would not use CIE again and would caution anyone else before doing so as well.
By the time our tour guide casually mentioned that their numbers on our particular tour were “way down” (our group had 28 the first week and only 18 the second week on a 50 person bus), I had already figured out why. CIE, as a company, is just not very good. Our group of three in Colorado, booked with some other family, a party of two, in Florida, to make sure we were on the same tour. The problem is, in spite of detailed explanation that we would be traveling separately and paying separately, CIE consistently attempted to treat us as a single party of five, both in payment and logistics. They charged our family in Florida an extra $50 to send their ‘travel bags’ to them directly. They messed up the travel vouchers for our group and even had them scheduled to be picked up at the wrong airport in England. This was clearly communicated on multiple occasions, but was still messed up by CIE.

Then there is their transport company. Before getting to the Denver airport, we received notice our flight into London would be delayed 2.5 hours. I called immediately, giving CIE a ten hour notice, and was told it would cost extra money for them to pick us up later. Apparently, they don’t do pickups afternoon. This would have been good information to have beforehand. Upon arrival, when I called the travel company at 2:00 pm local time, there was no answer so we ended up just taking a taxi and paying an extra $70 just to get to our hotel. Despite multiple requests, CIE has repeatedly refused to refund our $45 that we prepaid for our transfer, claiming a non-refundable policy. Think about this… 5 people on our trip, bringing in nearly $20,000 of revenue to this company, and rather than make it right, when the delay was no fault of our own, they choose to hold firm to their “non-refundable” policy and refuse to refund a measly $45.

I gave 3 stars rather than less because the tour itself was great. Our tour guide and itinerary were top notch. We did the 14 day Irish/British Grandeur and it was a whirlwind fourteen days. We saw a tremendous amount of sites and points of interest, but in doing so, we were exhausted by the end, despite being much younger than most of our tour companions. While there were a couple free afternoons and evenings, there wasn’t a single free morning. The mornings that we were leaving the hotel, we were to have bags out of our hotel room by 6:00 am or 7:00 am and we would be leaving between 45 mins and an hour later. Even when we stayed an additional night, our latest morning departure was 8:15 am. This is most definitely not a leisurely tour so be prepared to get good at sleeping on a bus.
The most disappointing part of it all though was the ‘bait and switch’ of the hotels. This tour was promoted as 4 and 5 star hotels, which was a complete fabrication. We stayed one night at a 5 star, two nights at a 4 star, and every single other hotel was maybe a 3 star. Maybe. Terribly uncomfortable beds, pillows, and poor service from hotel staff. For the price we paid for this trip, the hotels were a total rip-off and we expected better. The moral of the story is this; your numbers are down, CIE, because you’re not a very good company and word is spreading about your poor customer service. Go see Ireland! Just do it with a different company.
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USE ANOTHER COMPANY

1.0 December 2017
b
Does Not Recommend
  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 2.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 3.0
  • Meals 2.0
Had issues with trip and contacted customer service and they said they would review it guess what no response and called again same response spend your money with a company who cares would not use again
Read more

Tour CIE Tours Company Reviews

Very Difficult to Work With

1.0 May 2017
N
Does Not Recommend
  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 1.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
We haven't yet taken our trip, but we are finding CIE to be very difficult to work with. They change flights indiscriminately, are totally inflexible with making any adjustments to remedy problems they caused, never return phone calls, and of course, a supervisor is never available. If we have had this much trouble before the trip, what will the trip be like? We will never book with them again.
Read more

Tour CIE Tours Company Reviews

Tours 1,071 Trips 21 Trips
Average Trip Price Per Day $ 187 $ 200
Operator Type Mixed Land & Cruise Group Tour Operator
Size Global Operator Regional Expert
Trip Types
  • Group Tours
  • Small Ship & Expedition Cruises
  • Group Tours
  • Independent / Self-Guided Packages
Service Level Standard Standard
Regions
  • North America
  • Central America & Caribbean
  • South America
  • Rivers & Seas
  • Australia & Pacific
  • Asia
  • Africa
  • Middle East & North Africa
  • Europe
  • Antarctica & the Arctic
  • Europe
Known For
  • 18 - 35
  • Solo & Singles Travel
  • Safari
  • Trekking & Camping
  • Adventure
  • Sailing
  • 50+
  • Solo & Singles Travel
Headquarters Melbourne, Australia Dublin, Ireland
Year Established 1989 1932
Solo Friendly No single supplement N/A
Tour Languages English English
Top Trips
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Countries
About Intrepid Travel

Intrepid Travel is all about ‘real life experiences.’ Founded back in 1989 following an “intrepid” African adventure trip, Intrepid lives up to its name by offering up some pretty big adventures -- such as an 11-day hike through Papua New Guinea -- but is broad-based enough to also lead group trips to Hawaii, complete with sipping sunset Mai Tais on Waikiki Beach.

Intrepid Travel - Quick Facts

Founded in 1989

No Single Supplement (rare exceptions)

Small Groups - max 16 on most trips

Typical Age Range - 18 - 45

Travel Style - Cultural immersion, adventure, overland

Accommodation Style - Camping, Hostels, 3 /4 star hotels

Average Tour Price - $2,377

Top Regions - Asia, Africa, Europe, South America

Other Brands: Peregrine, Geckos

Commonly compared with G Adventures »

Morocco homestay with Intrepid Travel

What Makes Intrepid Travel Stand Out?

Above all else, Intrepid strives to get its travelers off the beaten path and under the surface of the local culture. To accomplish this, group sizes average just 10 travelers each, with a maximum of 16 on most trips. This allows for more use of local transportation and lodging, along with fostering cultural immersion.

Intrepid also employs local English-speaking leaders who act more as a resource for local exploration than do typical ‘guides,’ shepherding groups from one place to another.

Who Will Enjoy Traveling With Intrepid Travel?

Intrepid is one of the early pioneers of the “adventure”-style guided trip. Despite its informal beginnings and emphasis on younger, highly adventurous travelers, Intrepid has expanded to a global company with a broad range of trips to fit all ages.

Intrepid divides its small-group trips into three separate styles of travel, all priced accordingly. “Basix,” for budget travelers, keep inclusions to a minimum and offer plenty of free time, “Original” journeys which offer more included activities and more hotels, while “Comfort” trips offer the highest level of included activities and standards of accommodation, as well as roomier vehicles.

The kind of traveler who gravitates to Intrepid Travel is one who has a real sense of adventure - whether this means hard adventure, or simply going deeper off the beaten path. Interacting with locals is an important factor when you travel, as is gaining a unique cultural perspective. A sense of fun is also essential, whether it means going out at night with your tour mates or daring, ahem, encouraging each other to try strange new foods.

Top Destinations

Monk mediating in Myanmar on tour with Intrepid Travel

Originally focused on small group adventure tours to Asia, Intrepid has expanded rapidly over the years, while maintaining its classic, adventurous, and immersive style. Today Intrepid Travel offers more than 1,000 different experiences in over 100 countries, on all seven continents. Regions with the most trips include Asia, South America, Africa, and Europe.

Intrepid Travel Style

Intrepid enjoys using local, unique forms of transportation. You might find yourself traveling by felucca in Egypt, on a camel in Morocco, or in a tuk-tuk on the best Thailand tour of your life. Accommodations, which could range from guesthouses to home stays, are also locally owned, allowing a more authentic taste of the region while contributing to the local economy.

There are a few broad travel styles to choose from when deciding on an Intrepid tour:

1. Basix - Budget travelers who don’t mind, and in fact prefer, simple accommodations - camping and homestays with basic amenities, and crave a lot of free time for exploring independently will love these tours. Public transportation is used exclusively so pack light! These trips often attract a younger crowd who love the idea of throwing a backpack on, keep plenty of room for the unexpected in their schedule, and allocate their travel funds towards spontaneous bus tickets and street food instead of museum tours and 5 star restaurants.

2. Original - These trips take the backpacker spirit of local immersion, incorporating all the benefits that come with going with a planned itinerary. This style is called “Original” because it’s the type of travel that put Intrepid on the map...pun intended. Accommodations are still simple and budget minded - often homestays are used to give you a true sense of place, personality, and culture. Mostly public transportation is used.

3. Comfort - Intrepid is known for the active adventure style of travel and these trips keep that mentality, with a few more creature comforts thrown into the mix. You can expect higher end, more discerning, accommodations that include a wider variety of included amenities, transportation is mostly private, though you can still expect to use some public transport, as is the Intrepid way. More meals are included in the trip price, and more group activities - which means a bit less free time to explore on your own.

Why Choose a Tour With Intrepid Travel?

Sample of many spices in Middle Eastern market

Intrepid is a good choice if you don’t mind foregoing some creature comforts for a truly authentic, local experience. If you enjoy meeting locals when traveling, sampling new and exciting foods, and traveling in mixed-aged groups of 10-16 people, Intrepid could be a good fit for you.

It’s important to note, sometimes “ample free time” can be a blessing and a curse. It sounds great on paper, but if you’re looking to maximize your dollar and your vacation time, be sure you understand the implications of having a lot of free time during your itinerary.

For some travelers this is an absolute requirement, but for others it can be tough to branch off and explore independently - you also need to make sure you allocate enough travel money for independent meals. The tour leaders are great resources of information for how to spend your free time, but if you like having a full day scheduled from breakfast to dinner, Intrepid may not be the best company for you.

Lastly, if sustainable and responsible travel is important to you, Intrepid has poured millions of dollars into local economies, and has a very strong emphasis on responsible travel. So you can feel good knowing that your money helps support some of the innkeepers, vendors, and communities that you’ll meet along the way.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need Travel Insurance?

Yes. Most tour companies require you to have travel insurance, which covers medical emergencies, cancellations, lost luggage, and other unforeseen circumstances. There are many options for travel insurance, and Intrepid recommends Travel Guard, which you can purchase through them during the booking process.

2. Are flights included?

No, however Intrepid’s agents can help you find the best fares and routes to get to and from your destination.

3. Are kids welcome?

Intrepid has several Family Trips, where children under 12 are welcome. The age minimum varies based on the kinds of activities included in the trip. On all Intrepid trips, the age minimum is usually 15 with a parent or guardian present. Overland tours require that travelers be 18 or older.

4. How much luggage should I bring?

Bear in mind that on most Intrepid trips you will be required to carry your own luggage. So pack light - backpacks are recommended or an easily transportable small to medium sized suitcase.

5. Does Intrepid Travel have a loyalty program?

Yes! If you take 9 small group trips with them (single day and Urban Adventures don’t count), you will be rewarded with $1,800 (USD or equivilent in your local currency) toward your next trip with Intrepid Travel.

About CIE Tours

New Jersey-based CIE Tours, in business since 1932, is one of the largest operators of escorted coach tours through the British Isles, Eastern Europe, Italy, and Ireland.

Quick facts

Founded in 1932

Travel Style: Large Coaches, not handicap accessible

Single supplement required for those traveling solo

Group Size: Average 35, maximum 48

Typical Age Range: Older travelers 50+. Children are welcome, minimum of 8 years old, so families are common as well.

Average Tour Price: $2,233

Accommodation Style: 3, 4, and 5 star hotels, depending on the itinerary. 4 stars are the most popular, combining a decent price with comfortability.  

What Makes CIE Tours Stand Out?

CIE is a long-established company with extensive regional knoweledge in Ireland. They offers especially good value, with all-inclusive pricing. Also look for early-booking discounts as well as seasonal discounts for solo travelers.

As part of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), CIE ensures that their company goes above and beyond when it comes to their client’s safety. They also offer a wide-range of itineraries depending on the client’s budget, interest, and schedule.

Who Will Enjoy Traveling with CIE Tours?

Travelers seeking all-inclusive group tours of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as a few destinations in Continental Europe. Customers tend to be aged 50-plus and have an interest in history and wish to stay in nice hotels (ranging from three to five stars) with a choice of budgets.

Irish coastline walk CIE Coach Tours

The kind of traveler who enjoys a completely hassle free experience, with all activities, meals, and sightseeing planned out. Coach tours are generally enjoyed by travelers who like driving - daydream and gaze out large windows at the world passing by in comfort on your way to the next wonderful stop.

If you love learning about history, culture, with your days full of ancient cities, churches, and historical information their guide style would be a good fit. And with the occasional spa day at your hotel thrown in these all-encompassing journeys take care of the mind and the body.

Top Destinations

Beautiful England castle on lake

CIE Tours are especially known for tours in and around Ireland, and this is their primarily focus. They also travel to Scotland and Britain, with a small number of coach tours offered in Italy, Eastern Europe, and the Balkan Peninsula. Occasionally, river cruises on the Rhine and Danube are also available.

CIE Tours Travel Style

Most of their tours are on large, roomy, comfortable coaches, in the premium - luxury range. Amenities on board are basic, and coaches make frequent stops to avoid the need for using the restroom on the bus.

Traditional pub in Ireland CIE Tours

Group size is a max of 48, though 35 people is the average on the CIE Tours. Virtually all aspects of the trip – with no optional extras -- are included in the initial rate, which will not go up after booking, and departures are guaranteed. Itineraries range from 5 to 24 days, though the majority sit in the 8-10 day range.

CIE will also set up self-drive trips and homestay and B&B vacations for you if you want to travel on your own, or arrange customized tours for groups of 10 or more people.

Why Choose a Tour With CIE?

With more than eight decades of experience, CIE Tours offers dependable service and regional know-how. The company estimates that the average traveler will save $550 per week by not having to pay for optional extras during the trip. Their all-inclusive tours alleviate the stress of planning a vacation by providing daily guided tours, hotels, meals, and airport transfers.

Castle on banks of Ireland

CIE Tour guides are experts in Ireland and the other regions they travel through, so if you’re looking for comfort, inclusivity of price, plus a high caliber of knowledge and experience, this is a good place to start.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the CIE Travel Protection Plan?

Travel insurance is required on all CIE Tours. The Travel Protection Plan is an easy, convenient way to purchase insurance at the time of your booking, covering cancellation. See other travel insurance options  

2. Are there restrooms on the coaches?

Yes, most CIE coaches have restrooms for emergencies. Safety protocol means they are not to be used while the coach is in motion. CIE Tours make regular stops for travelers to stretch their legs and use the facilities.

3. Are CIE Tours handicap accessible?

No. Unfortunately the coaches are not equip to handle large wheelchairs or scooters. Walkers or foldable wheelchairs can be accommodated. Sightseeing tours require some walking over short distances, and some difficult stairs, such as when exploring castles. Uneven surfaces are common especially when exploring old sites and ruins.

4. What should I pack?

One large piece of luggage is permitted, which will fit under the coach. Layers are advisable for the weather in Ireland, which can be chilly. You may also bring a small backpack or purse. On “Supreme” tours, men will require a dinner jacket, but on all other tours this is not necessary. Comfortable walking shoes are a must.

5. Are tips included?

No, tips for your driver, porter, guides, and tour director are not included in the price. They are not required, but are a customary show of gratitude, especially if you enjoyed the trip!

6. What about airport transfer?

If you choose to purchase airfare through CIE, complimentary airport transfer is provided for flights arriving before noon. You can choose to purchase airport transfer if you elect to buy your airfare separately.


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