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Kristi Jul 13th, 2003 05:36 PM

Cosmos tours-discounts?
We were thinking about taking a Cosmos tour in Russia in about 6 weeks and I was wondering if anyone has used one of the discounters such as Affordable Tours or Vacations to Go to book a discounted tour?

Is it possible to call Cosmos direct and try to negotiate a discount? Or maybe a travel agent?

I don't normally take package tours so I'm a little in the dark. We would require a visa for Russia so it's important that there's some customer service.

Thanks for any advice!

djkbooks Jul 13th, 2003 05:52 PM

First, you must be sure there's room for you on your dates. Specials for trips requiring visas are often "closed" some weeks prior to departure due to the time required for visa processing.

Russia is very popular this year because of the 300th Anniversary of St. Petersburg.

Normally, you should allow at least a month for visa processing, though you can obtain expedited service for an additional fee.

The tour operators do not acquire a visa for you, rather most provide one or more recommended services and provide forms and instructions. It is your responsibility to obtain your visa.

Kristi Jul 14th, 2003 04:57 AM

Thanks for the advice, I was going to call Cosmos this morning and see if there was availability, just wanted to know if there was any room for negotiation.

You can get a visa fairly quickly if you pay for expediting service, I think last time they turned it around in less than 2 weeks.

I checked the fine print on the Cosmos website after I posted this last night and saw that you had to obtain your own visa, the last organized tour we took was in 1989 and they did the work for you.

Kristi Jul 14th, 2003 05:49 AM

Just talked with Cosmos, they have canceled most of their tours this year as no one is going to Russia between 9/11 jitters and the situation with Chechnya. The only one available was the week after we were thinking of going.

djkbooks Jul 14th, 2003 10:43 AM

Maybe that was Cosmos told you, but we just returned from Moscow and St. Petersburg and both were very, very busy with tour groups.

ThinGorjus Jul 14th, 2003 11:14 AM

Be careful with Cosmos Tours. There is a reason these tours are cheaper than Trafalgar Tours. Your hotels are WAY out of town. Three years ago I became engrossed in a conversation with an American couple in Biarritz, France. They were on a Cosmos Tour of Spain and France. They told me that all of their hotels were miles outside of the cities they were visiting. It became a major inconvenience and expense for them because they had to take taxis back and forth to get into cities at night. (Not to mention trying to find a taxi and driver who spoke English and could find their obscure hotel.)

Rita Jul 14th, 2003 11:15 AM

Hi Kristi:

I called Cosmos, about three weeks ago, with a question about obtaining a discount if I didn't go through a travel agent, and their response was "they sell brochure price" whether a travel agent books the tour or if you call them directly and book it yourself.

I went to California with Cosmos in June, and it was one of the most pleasant group tours I have ever taken. The tour director was a native of CA.


ThinGorjus Jul 14th, 2003 11:26 AM

I accidently hit SEND before I was finished......Taking taxis at night in strange cities is not inconvenient if you are experienced, intrepid, young travellers, but this couple was elderly (70's). They were afraid to venture too far from their hotel. For them, this ruined their trip.

Kristi Jul 14th, 2003 11:38 AM

Gate 1 has a similar tour that stops in Tver and Novgorod but not Pskov or Staraya Russa so we're now contemplating that one, adding a couple of additional days onto Moscow.

Djkbooks, maybe they just aren't traveling with Cosmos then. But that's what she said.

ThinGorjus, thanks for the heads up but we've actually stayed in the hotels offered by Cosmos (and also Gate 1)and know where they are located. You are correct that they are pretty far out but the Moscow one is next to a Metro station and I think we used a tram to the one in St. Pete. Excellent advice though, it probably would ruin a lot of people's trips.

Jackie1214 Jul 14th, 2003 12:35 PM

I am going to Russia with Cosmos and have only heard good things about them. My friend just returned from Scotland with Cosomos. General Tours and Gate 1 are alittle higher and yes you can get a discount with an on-line booking. Just do a web search for Cosmos and most agents will discount 7-10% off the land rate. Russia is very busy right now and the NY Times has had some recent articles in their travel section. PS. The add-ons( extra signthseeing) with Cosmos are extremely reasonable vs. Gate One and General Tours

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