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floridastu Jan 23rd, 2013 07:26 AM

24 Day Cosmos Grand European Tour
My wife and I are in our 60's and active. We are considering our first trip to Europe and visiting all these countries is appealing to us. We realize we will just get a taste of each one but then we can decide which ones to come back to and spend more time in.
Has anyone experienced this tour? And/or touring with Cosmos?

adrienne Jan 23rd, 2013 07:41 AM

Normally it's considered polite to post a link to anything you are asking people to review. Here's a link to the tour I believe you're asking about.

I sometimes take tours but would never do any tour like this because it's too much time on the bus and too little time seeing the sights.

IMHO you won't get a taste of each country; you'll get less than that - you'll get lots of seeing highways.

You will get varying opinions about this type of tour. Plenty of people will say that what they see is enough for them. Decide what type of person you are and if you'll be disappointed by running all over Europe in 3 weeks.

When you examine the tour information you need to look at hotel locations (many times outside of the main areas) and if you will actually visit sights or just zoom by them on the bus (visit or see).

Cosmos is a budget tour and you will get what you pay for in terms of hotels, restaurants, sightseeing, guides. If you can afford to spend more on a tour I would do so and I would limit the number of stops and countries.

There are tons of threads on this board about taking this type of tour. Do a search for them.

nytraveler Jan 23rd, 2013 08:00 AM

You need to understand the basic facts and language of tours:

Typically you have to have you luggage outside your door at 7 am and be on the bus at 8 am for a long day of driving

There are often stops for "shopping" you may not want

For this type of budget tour hotels are often modern motel types out by the highway rather than actualy in towns

Meal provided are often americanized version of local food in separate hotel room with minimal choices

Many things you will want to see and do are "extra" tours so understand the price they list is NOT what you will pay

In terms of attractions:

View - means you see it out the bus window as you drive by
Stop - means a 5 minute photo op out front
Visit - is the only time you will go inside - and your time may be very limited - don't assume you will see the whole sight

We are independent travelers and my only 2 experiences with tours was very unsatisfactory - and that was more expensive ones with better hotels and meals

But if you want to rush through a large number of places in limited time this is the easiest way to do it.

I very strongly reco you search out info on the hotel locations when picking a tour though - since you don;t want to be stranded at the end of hell and gone on your "free evening"

hollywoodsc Jan 23rd, 2013 08:38 AM

I did a "if it's Paris, it must be Monday" tour years ago. I remember the back of the bus seat in front of me.
If you prefer the ease of a tour look around at several companies that offer tours and compare their itineraries, the 'Extras" (every single day trip, side trip, dinner, etc will be a cost add-on).
Perhaps you have a couple of cites you'd really like to see? Plan a few days in one to start, take a tour for a week and end in your other chosen city for a few days.
Or pick a country for this trip and see several cities in just that one.
Moving every day is very tiring and you really wont get to see or experience the people or culture.
You wont have time to just sit at a cafe with a glass of wine and people watch, or window shop, or wander and maybe get lost and have to ask a local for directions.
Those are the moments that make a trip memorable.

floridastu Jan 23rd, 2013 08:49 AM

I appreciate the quick replys. I am new to this so I did not put the link in. It is

I did look at the hotel locations on kayak and almost all are on the outskirts. There are available modes of transportation to get in to town. Hotels are just so-so but we can live with that as we hope to be out and about.
Out of the 2 days there are only 7 dinners. 23 breakfasts which are all in the hotels. Can't imagine that the food will be all that great and we will be eating out a bit. And the excursions they offer are not listed so it is hard to figure out what is and what is not offered. I have yet to talk to someone as I like to research first and narrow down the questions.
I have looked at some more expensive, less extensive, tours and a lot of them seem like they offer breakfasts at the hotels. And not all include dinners either.
I wish there was more to choose from other than cosmos, globus and trafalgar for budget minded people like ourselves we would appreciate it.

Robert2533 Jan 23rd, 2013 08:54 AM

Tours are great, as long as the group is small, fewer then 20 would be ideal. And as already noted, a 24-day bus tour with Cosmos would be grueling to say the least.

If this is to be your first trip abroad, then you should sit down and decide what to want to see and do, do a little research on the area and keep the trip reasonable in length. 24 days on the road is a long time.

adrienne Jan 23rd, 2013 09:10 AM

Tours are expensive. That's part of the reason so many people plan their own trips - it's much cheaper to do it yourself.

Can I ask how much you're playing for this tour and what other tour companies you've looked at?

Tours offer breakfast at the hotel since it's so much easier to have breakfast there and then gather your belongings for the day. Herding 40 people to a cafe and back to the hotel and getting ready to start the day is not reasonable. Hotels offer breakfast buffets including cheese, meat, pastry, yogurt, fruit so it's a large meal. You wouldn't be able to get that type of breakfast in a cafe, especially when you have to pay for each cup of coffee/tea.

hollywoodsc Jan 23rd, 2013 09:11 AM

Check out AARP's travel site for info.

I did a 21 day multi-city tour in my 20's and found it exhausting. In my 40's I prefer to actually stop for a few days and see the city before moving on (or not :) )

hollywoodsc Jan 23rd, 2013 09:14 AM

Have you considered a European River Cruise? That way you only unpack once and you can relax on the boat between sights and cities.

BigRuss Jan 23rd, 2013 09:18 AM

<<And the excursions they offer are not listed . . .>>

That's incorrect. The excursions are stated but you need to understand itineraryish.

For example: "Tonight maybe a leisurely cruise on the River Thames?"
" take the optional Rhine River cruise"
"A grand selection of optional activities completes the day: a cruise on the fjord-like lake or a cable-car ride to the 10,000-foot summit of Mount Titlis."
"the optional gondola trip"
"The optional trip to Toledo . . ."

And there are a good number of sales stops - Venetian glass-blowing, a French perfumery, Amsterdam diamond-cutting, etc. These are demos where the shops try to sell you their goods and cut a % to the tour guide.

jamikins Jan 23rd, 2013 09:27 AM

Another option is to use someone like Gate1

They offer independent options so they take care of booking the transit and hotels, but you arent stuck to the grueling schedules during the day or their expensive optionals or their bad food.

Hotels on the outskirts, even with transit options, means you will be far from the sites so wont be able to walk to dinner or sites in the evening and will be somewhat stuck using their 'optional' dinners. It also means you will have to pay for that transit on top of your tour if you dont do what the group is doing.

adrienne Jan 23rd, 2013 09:28 AM

OMG - floridastu - you're considering spending lots of money on this trip and you didn't read the itinerary? LOL BigRuss is correct - it's all spelled out in black and white. Most of them are not hidden - they are called "optional." I didn't catch this because I did not read the itinerary but I'm not considering this trip.

Please do yourself (and your bank account) a huge favor. Read the itineraries of any tour you plan to take.

kybourbon Jan 23rd, 2013 10:26 AM

That's probably one of the worst tour itineraries I've seen. Every other day is traveling so out of your 22 days, you are only traveling for 11 of them. They are only give you one full day in major cities. Could you see NYC in one day? LA? Chicago?

Most hotels that tour companies list are sample hotels. They typically reserve the right to change to comparable hotels.

Look at tours that spends 3-4 days in a city. Many colleges offer alum tours so you might check that out.

It is very tiring not to be able to settle in for a few days somewhere. I don't think you will find packing/moving every other day pleasant.

AJPeabody Jan 23rd, 2013 10:37 AM

I have had two experiences with the guided tour life, my first trip to Europe when I was a teen, and a tour through Portugal, Spain , and Morocco with my wife. The first was "If this is Tuesday, It Must be Belgium" style, with a cool 50% of the time in transit, and with almost everything included. My most vivid memory is of the one free day in Rome. Come to think of it, most of the best memories of the second trip also were of free time. We never bought anything at the staged and time-wating artisanal buy it here stops.

The take home conclusions on guided tours are pretty much as has been said: You spend a lot of time on the bus. The hotel may or may not be convenient for anything independent. The food is OK, and never more than that. You learn to pack and unpack quickly (a useful skill for the remainder of my travels, however). If there are three important sights at a location, you will drive by one, stop for a photo op at another, and get a tour of the third, which will be an off the rack tour bookable at any hotel by anyone.

On the other hand, my love of travel was established by that first tour, and I discovered that one should not order Tartar Steak without knowing what it is.

janisj Jan 23rd, 2013 11:07 AM

"<i>have looked at some more expensive, less extensive, tours and a lot of them seem like they offer breakfasts at the hotels. And not all include dinners either.</i>"

That is a good thing IMO - being stuck for breakfast every day w/ the same 40 other people for 3 weeks is bad enough, but having massive group dinners too -- I'd kill somebody :)

You don't want the sorts of dinners provided by budget tour companies.

"<i>Hotels are just so-so but we can live with that as we hope to be out and about.</i>"

Not necessarily possible - many hotels are on the outskirts w/o easy transport. They want you on the tour bus.

thursdaysd Jan 23rd, 2013 11:35 AM

Rick Steves is unpopular here, but I've done a few of his tours, although not the Europe overview one, You get good guides, central hotels, no tipping, very few shopping ops and usually fun travel companions. The groups are 22-28 depending on the tour.

Most of the outfits that do small group tours (10-20) don't have Europe overview tours, or many western European tours at all, since it's so easy to travel there by yourself. Before you sign up to be herded around in a group, take some time to read up on independent travel in Europe.

nytraveler Jan 23rd, 2013 12:44 PM

Agree - all the info is in the description - it's all that optional stuff - most of what you do.

And hotels are at the end of hell and gone: "Amsterdam area?" what's that? Venice hotels are on the mainland - not in Venice.

And for a tour like this understand every seat on the bus is likely to be full, meaning very fast pit stops twice a day - and some companions who will be late all the time or whining or just plain obnoxious.

Really study this carefully, ass in the costs of the extras and then see if a better tour is really more expensive. And you don;t want dinners included - since you won;t want the food.

If you aren't comfortable doing everything yourself I would look at packages from Gate 1.

historytraveler Jan 23rd, 2013 01:32 PM

One of the hardest things for first timers traveling to Europe is to limit their itinerary. Not surprisingly, they want to see it all. If budget is a real concern,you would be far better off visiting a few countries in two weeks than seeing very little of 8 countries in three weeks. There are better tours available.

Have a look at Rick Steves. He's really not unpopular here except for his guide books on Britain. Not the best! Elder Hostel has changed their name, and I can't recall what it's now called, but they have some very good tours. Even a river cruise along one of Europe's major waterways would be a vast improvement. I haven't traveled with them but know that Viking is currently offering 2 for 1 prices. Their tours look considerably better than the one posted.

floridastu Jan 23rd, 2013 01:37 PM

Thanks for all the info. We are going to rethink this tour.
We are in the planning stages and all the info is real,real helpful.
I am thinking London, Paris, Venice and Rome. I see in London and Paris they have 2 and 4 day passes. Venice and Rome is ala carte.
My wife still likes the idea of a "guided tour" but I can see that we should be able to do this ok on our own.
Will post again after refining the trip for more great info.
And I did look at Gate1. Rick Steves are more money than what we really want to spend but I will consider it as it sounds really close to all inclusive.
Stu :)

thursdaysd Jan 23rd, 2013 01:45 PM

London, Paris, Venice and Rome are really easy to connect by train. Take a look at for lots of info on taking trains in Europe. You can book a multi-city airfare, flying into London and out of Rome.

If you want guides you can arrange/join day tours. For instance, you say you're active, and London Walks has loads of great walking tours in London ( ). I'm not sure what passes you're talking about.

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