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Highlights
  • Discover the car-free Channel Island of Sark on a horse-drawn carriage excursion.
  • Sail to idyllic Tresco to discover the subtropical Tresco Abbey Gardens.
  • Explore tiny Bryher’s diverse environments from arable fields to heathland to sandy beaches.

This trip has been discontinued. Instead see

Heart of Ireland in 8 Days Tour

Best of New York, Montreal & New England

Scotland




Alive with birdsong, festooned with brightly blooming flowers, the Channel Islands and Isles of Scilly offer a delightful experience of spring. Navigate crystal clear waters and go ashore on white sand beaches that wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean on this expedition voyage. Stroll through magnificent gardens on Sark and subtropical Tresco, explore the tiny, seldom-visited isles of Bryher and Herm and learn what makes island environments unique from expert naturalists.

30
Road Scholar Travel Reviews & Ratings
87% Recommend

4.5 out of 5
Excellent 23 Great 3 Average 1 Disappointing 1 Terrible 2
Value
4.5 Guide
4.6 Activities
4.5 Lodging
4.3 Transportation
4.4 Meals
4.3
The Splendor of Spring in the Channel Islands and Isles of Scilly

No reviews yet for this trip. Browse other reviews below for Road Scholar .

K

Does Not Recommend

Road Scholar Owes My Mom A Huge Apology and Refund. Highly advise AGAINST using them. May 2018

1.0
  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 1.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
Let me preface this story with some background about myself: I backpacked through most of Europe by myself when I was studying abroad in Ireland. I suffered through horrendous bus rides, getting kicked out of seats on trains, sleeping in questionable hostels, and going weeks without being able to really do laundry. I know how crappy it can be to actually get from one place to another, and how worth it is to suffer through all of that just to lay eyes on something magnificent.

And yet, Road Scholar has, without a doubt, managed to give me the single worst travel experience I've ever had in my entire life, and we didn't even make it off the ground. I would never, ever, EVER recommend them to anyone looking to go anywhere, and as far as I'm concerned, Road Scholar needs to seriously reconsider their travel-making procedures and give my mother a huge apology and refund. (Also, I'm only in my twenties, so I have a lot of years ahead of me to make referrals.)

It all started with Road Scholar not getting us flights. We claimed our spot on a trip to the Lake region in Northern Italy, but no one ever called us back about any travel arrangements. It appeared we were on the trip IN Italy, but no one had bothered to make any arrangements to get us there. My mother called and left messages, emailed people, and the only response we got was that our flight should be booked at some point in early May (when our trip was set to start on May 22). Road Scholar urges people to book their flights through their preferred travel agency, which is who didn't call us back. Road Scholar, to market themselves as educational tourism rather than shallow "I just want to see things" tourism, partners up with different educational institutions, and ours was through Trinity College. The director of the Italian programs called us asking for our travel information, since she didn't have it yet. Interesting news to us. We were then told that we could make travel arrangements of our own (even though we were paying Road Scholar to do it for us) and then inform the program of our travel plans and how we were getting to our hotel. So we started to investigate making our own plans, when someone finally called us back saying that they were taking care of our travel arrangements, and they "didn't know why we hadn't had them made for us already." The director of the program was happy to hear this, because the Lake region of Italy is not as easily accessible as other areas.

We asked for upgraded seats because my mom has had both of her knees replaced, and while that doesn't inhibit her in the slightest from being active, it limits where she can sit on planes. In a cramped regular economy seat with no leg room on an international flight that was going to last 8-10 hours, she wouldn't have been able to walk off the plane because of how her knees would cramp up. But they said they could make the arrangements (which is also advertised on their website) so that was that. We got our itinerary, accommodations, and were all set. We were booked through United and Lufthansa (neither of which either of us will EVER book through again), so I downloaded the United app onto my iPhone so I could check us in and make sure we had mobile copies of our boarding passes in addition to the paper ones my mom printed out. We were all set to fly from Cincinnati to Washington D.C., from D.C. to Frankfurt, and from Frankfurt down to Verona where we would be meeting up with the group -- which, by the way, we never received any information regarding where the group was meeting, the transportation to the lake resort, etc. Nothing. Just "after you get there" stuff.

Then this morning, I woke up to a notification from United Airlines (and a text message alert that I had set up) saying that our flight to D.C. had been cancelled due to weather. Obviously I'm not blaming Road Scholar for that. What I am holding Road Scholar accountable for is what happened next: my mom called the Emergency Hotline (which is a recording -- and I HIGHLY recommend that they change this, because when I studied abroad, we had two emergency hotlines, both of which were always answered by real human beings, one for anything happening in the United States, and the other for the program, which was a different number for each location and a direct line to one of the program directors on the ground in the country you were actually in). We left a voicemail, someone named Mike called us back, and he was an absolute asshole. When you book your flight through a travel agency/group travel organization, if anything happens to your flight, it is the THEIR responsibility to take care of it. We were told by Road Scholar, and it's available on their website: "When you book your airfare through Road Scholar, we're there to help you in case of any emergencies." When Mike called us back and we told him that our flight to D.C. had been cancelled, he told us that he couldn't look up any other flights (on both United and any other airlines) for us to potentially get on to get to D.C for our transatlantic flight. Instead, he told us to call United ourselves and to go to the airport and talk to the desk agent. I then ended up on the phone (and on hold) the entire drive to the airport, which resulted in nothing because tons of flights had been cancelled due to airline politics and weather. We finally got to the desk agent at the airport, had a hell of a time getting rebooked on another flight, and weren't able to get the upgraded seats that we paid extra money for. When we called Road Scholar and Mike back to ask if during the course of our day when we would be traveling (and unable to make phone calls) he would call Lufthansa to at least make the airline aware of our need for better seating due to my mother's knee replacements, he was unhelpful and rude, at first attempting to refuse calling on our behalf and finally agreeing to, but only after repeatedly telling us "there's no guarantee of those seats" (something we definitely understood because we're not stupid).

Our rebooked flight wasn't set to leave until 7:45 PM tonight, putting us in Verona at 4:05 PM the next day (4 hours after the group transfer to the hotel), so we returned home instead of waiting around the airport for 12 hours. We got on both United and Lufthansa's websites and discovered that not only had our original itineraries not been removed, we had been double booked, one for a flight out of North Carolina to Munich through Delta, and another out of D.C. (the 7:45 PM flight) which had a 23 hour layover in Munich. A call to Road Scholar resulted in us being told that we had to contact the airlines. My mother was on the phone, talking to either United representatives or Lufthansa representatives, from about 9:30 AM to 2:00 PM. We were told we had reservations but no tickets, told we had tickets but couldn't see the numbers, told there were seats available for us to get upgraded to but we would have to try to get the desk agent in D.C. to arrange that for us, told that there was no guarantee we could get those seats, and more. It was incredible the amount of bureaucratic bullshit we had to put up with, especially since each airline wouldn't take any responsibility for us getting the seats we paid for and on a new flight, telling us "we'd have to talk to the other company about that." We finally called Road Scholar to see if there was anything more they could do, who encountered the same mess we already had, and all they did was eventually advise us to go back to the airport (a 45 minute drive) and talk to the desk agent to see IF they could put us in the upgraded seats -- ones we had already paid for and my mom couldn't make the trip without!

Then when asked how they would be getting us to our destination in the Lake region (which is not an easy place to get to, as I looked up the train and bus schedules myself, because - remember - I have tons of experience at this point traveling on the ground across Europe), they wouldn't outright say what our plans would be, which could've been anything from picking us up in the airport in a car, giving us a damn rental to drive ourselves, or simply paying for tickets and expecting us to haul all our luggage from the airport to the shuttle to the train station in Verona, take the 2+ hour train to a town an hour away from our destination, have to catch a bus to the actual town we were supposed to be in, and then walk the rest of the way there. Seeing what all happened, I would bet it would've been the latter, which isn't a problem for someone like me, but is an issue for someone like my mom.

The moral of the story here is that my mom and I shouldn't have had to be on the phone with anyone other than Road Scholar, PERIOD. Seeing as we paid well over $10,000 for this trip, the minute the flight was cancelled, Road Scholar should've called us to let us know that they would be making other arrangements for us to get to our trip in the Lake region of Italy. THEY should've been the ones on the phone, dealing with the airline bureaucrats, working their hardest to get us any combination of flights to get us to Italy in the seats that we paid for. Or, if it really came down to it, they should've made arrangements for us to be on this trip at another point in time, offered us another excursion in its place, or simply given us a refund. Instead, they didn't want to do the jobs that we paid them to do, and we were the ones that had to take time out of our day, which was already scheduled to be a hectic and stressful time because traveling is simply just that, to do Road Scholar's job. They didn't look out for us one single bit and completely and utterly RUINED what was supposed to have been a wonderful trip for me and my mom.

My mother has an adventurous and curious soul and hasn't gotten to go to Europe the way she always wanted to. Since I graduated college, my mother suggested taking a mother-daughter trip. This was supposed to be incredibly special for the both of us, getting to go somewhere new together (I hadn't explored Northern Italy much and that's where we decided to go), learning about the food and the culture, and bonding over all the amazing things we were going to be able to do. I think my mom was even more excited about this trip than I was, voraciously reading all the required/recommended reading, practicing Italian in her room so she could order correctly at restaurants, not giving up when we hit little bumps in the road along the way. Instead, we have been nothing but doubtful at best in the entire planning of this trip, and deeply disappointed and angered at worst. I will never again recommend Road Scholars to anyone looking to go on group trips. Instead, I will steer people away and recommend that they either find a better travel agency, book the trip themselves, or go through Rick Steve's program.

Road Scholar should issue my mother a refund and an apology or risk being sued.
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Operator Road Scholar

S

Does Not Recommend

They take advantage of the elderly May 2018

1.0
  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
I had high hopes for Road scholar. However, when I was diagnosed with cancer I got no sympathy from Road Scholar. The agents and management kept saying you should have purchased insurance. But the insurance was extremely expensive and would not have covered the cancellation fee either. I ended up attending anyways because I didn't want to lose my money. I felt sick the entire time and could barely complete the activities. The group leader was wonderful. But the program was very strict and I felt that they over charged for everything. They demonstrated shocking behavior for a non profit that is supposed to be all about education and supporting the elderly. Yet they constantly are sending catalogs and pushing expensive programs. I highly recommend taking your money elsewhere. They do not respect their customers and only care about money. They took advantage of a cancer patient and according to the others on my trip this is common.
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Operator Road Scholar

S

Does Not Recommend

A BIG DISAPPOINTMENT August 2017

3.0
  • Value 3.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 3.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 2.0
  • Meals 3.0
I would have enjoyed this trip much more if I felt I was being treated as an adult, the educated, enthusiastic traveler that I am.
Unfortunately, I took a fall and broke my arm near the end of the trip. I was shocked at the very insolent, uncaring attitude of Road Scholar. I received two calls from the insurance program my husband was encouraged to pay for for the trip (we usually use Travel Guard who is great). Both calls were very negative. Neither expressed concern about my condition and both apparently had called to state that ROAD SCHOLAR
WOULD NOT PAY FOR ANYTHING! WOW! A WAKEUP CALL FROM HELL. I WILL BE SHOUTING THIS FROM THE ROOFTOPS SO NO ONE ELSE
HAS THIS EXPERIENCE. DO NOT PURCHASE ROAD SCHOLAR INSURANCE -- IT IS A BOONDOGGLE!
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Operator Road Scholar

LG

Does Not Recommend

Don't go! March 2017

2.0
  • Guide 1.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
  • Value 2.0
  • Transportation 2.0
I took a four day bridge class at Jekyll Island Club Hotel. The class was mediocre. And I came home with over 50 BED BUG BITES! Please beware.

Operator Road Scholar

TCtssvawmc

Recommends

Excellent coverage of major cities and Guizhou Province January 2017

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Road Scholar (also known as Elderhostel) offers hundreds of tours worldwide, using local tour companies, sometimes universities. I have taken RS tours to Africa, China, and France and look forward to more. This was my first "tour" of China, but my 20th visit, with the rest on business. Our guide, Mei Mei, was one of the finest I've seen on tours. We started with Beijing and continued to Xian and then to Guizhou Province for a week in this fascinating area, which was new to me. We were able to meet the people in the villages, thanks to our guide, and enjoyed the chance to see and photograph such a variety of places in China. Hotels were excellent and appropriate to this type of tour (usually centrally located and very fine). Meals were family style and always good. Road Scholar makes its tours educational and doesn't push shopping as so many commercial ones do. Touring in China is very safe. You do have a lot of walking and RS tells you this in the tour, but it seems that a great deal of the walking is in those huge airports! I recommend Road Scholar and always turn to their catalogs to choose my next trip.
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Operator Road Scholar

Itinerary

Day 1: Flights Depart

In Flight

Evening: Flights to London depart the U.S.

Day 2: Arrivals / London, England

London  D  Club Quarters - Trafalgar Square

Afternoon: Meet with your group for introductions, a review of the program itinerary and site orientation.

Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel.

Day 3: London, England / Embark MV Sea Explorer

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Sea Explorer

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Check out of the hotel and meet your local guide for an exploration of London.

Lunch: At a local pub.

Afternoon: Transfer to Portsmouth (approximately 2 hours) to embark the MV Sea Explorer.

Dinner: On board the ship.

Day 4: Guernsey & Herm, Channel Islands

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Sea Explorer

Breakfast: On board the ship.

Morning: Arrive this morning on Guernsey, the "Island of Flowers". There will be the option of a walking tour of St. Peter Port including a visit to Castle Cornet, a 12th century battlement which guards the entrance to St. Peter Port Harbour. Alternatively, enjoy a panoramic drive during which we will see the beautiful coastline and beaches and also visit the Little Chapel, built in 1914 as a miniature version of the famous basilica at Lourdes and covered in fragments of shattered china.

Lunch: On board the ship as you sail to Herm.

Afternoon: This afternoon we are on Herm, just one and a half miles long and half a mile wide. Herm is perfect for exploring on foot. You will have some free time to explore and perhaps take a stroll over to Shell Beach.

Dinner: On board the ship.

Day 5: Sark & Alderney, Channel Islands

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Sea Explorer

Breakfast: On board the ship.

Morning: Over breakfast we sail to Sark which until recently was Europe's last feudal estate. Zodiac landing craft bring us ashore for a visit to the enchanting Seigneury Gardens. Horse drawn carriages take us around this peaceful traffic free island which is alive with the songs of chaffinches, skylarks and mistle thrush.

Lunch: On board the ship as you sail towards Alderney.

Afternoon: On Alderney you will visit the island's only town, St. Anne, which has all the old-world charm of a Normandy village with tiny squares and pastel shaded cottages and shops. Enjoy a free afternoon walking along the pretty quiet lanes or heading to the cliffs. If weather permits we will run a Zodiac cruise around the gannets colonies to the south of the island.

Dinner: On board the ship.

Day 6: Tresco & Bryher, Isles of Scilly

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Sea Explorer

Breakfast: On board the ship.

Morning: Spend the morning on traffic free Tresco, walking its idyllic lanes from the beach to the famous sub-tropical Abbey Gardens. Defying the Atlantic weather this miracle of a garden is the perfect spot for a morning of plant and bird spotting.

Lunch: On board the ship as you sail towards Bryher.

Afternoon: Bryher is the smallest of the inhabited Isles of Scilly. Either enjoy time to relax, exploring independently or join our naturalists on guided walks as they explore the fauna and flora of the island.

Dinner: On board the ship.

Day 7: St Martins and St Mary's, Isles of Scilly

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Sea Explorer

Breakfast: On board the ship.

Morning: This morning we visit the northernmost island of the group - St. Martins. We have the morning to explore independently or maybe join one of our birders on a guided walk or climb to one of the viewpoints for vistas over the islands.

Lunch: On board the ship.

Afternoon: Our exploration of the islands continues with an afternoon on St. Mary's and the quaint capital of Hugh Town. You have the chance to wander around this charming town, visit the local museum or walk one of the coastal trails.

Dinner: On board the ship.

Day 8: St Agnes, Isles of Scilly

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Sea Explorer

Breakfast: On board the ship.

Morning: Spend the morning on St Agnes, the most south westerly community in the UK. Surrounded by rocks and reefs, this delightful tiny island offers marvellous coastal walks. The small island of Gugh lies across a narrow sandbar and here we find a single stone monolith called the "Old Man of Gugh" which dates back to the Bronze Age.

Lunch: On board the ship.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure as the ship sails back to Portsmouth harbor.

Dinner: On board the ship.

Day 9: Portsmouth, UK / Disembark / Transfer to London

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Club Quarters - Trafalgar Square

Breakfast: On board the ship.

Morning: Disembark the ship, and board your coach for a morning exploration of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, home to the Royal Navy. Discovery the historic ships HMS Victory, HMS Warrior 1860 and the Mary Rose Museum (opened in 2013). The new museum provides one of the most significant insights into Tudor life in the world and creates the new centerpiece to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Continue to tour the harbor, with unrivaled views of Britains modern frigates, destroyers and helicopter carriers, as well as historic buildings, sights and ships.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Coach to London to check into your hotel for 1 night. Afternoon at leisure in London.

Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel.

Day 10: London / Departures

Meals: Breakfast

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Group transfer to the airport for flights returning to North America.

Dates & Pricing

Price From

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Price Per Day:

NA per person
 
Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.
Details
Trip Includes
  • Free round-trip airfare from JFK is included in the program price. Other cities available at low cost.
  • 8 nights of accommodations
  • 23 meals: 8 breakfasts, 1 brunch, 6 lunches, 8 dinners
  • 7 Field trips
  • Learning led by expert instructors who are authorities in the field of study.
  • An experienced Group Leader attuned to the needs of Road Scholar participants.
  • Customary gratuities throughout the program that you would normally pay yourself.
  • The Road Scholar Travel Assistance Plan, which is purchased on behalf of every participant and provides 24-hour-a-day emergency assistance services coverage.
  • Taxes
  • State-of-the-art QUIETVOX listening devices
Trip Excludes
  • Passport expense
  • Insurance
  • Personal expenses
Meals Included:

8 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches and 8 Dinners

Flights & Transport
Only ground transport
Group Size:
Standard Group
Accomodations

Club Quarters - Trafalgar Square

2 nights  London

Sea Explorer

6 nights  Belgravia, London

The deluxe Sea Explorer is an all-suite yacht accommodating up to 114 guests. Built in 1992 and refurbished and redecorated in 2005, it has 57 suites. This small ship offers several advantages that mass cruiseliners cannot match. It can dock or anchor almost anywhere and are not limited to large commercial ports. The Sea Explorer can slip into small towns and tiny fishing villages. The ship's 70 officers and crew ensure personalized service.

Start City
London
End City
London

Trip ID#: TheSplRoa

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