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AnthonyGA Jul 30th, 2005 11:22 PM

You say ten minutes for Notre-Dame, but you don't give the total length of the trip. If you had only a day in Paris, ten minutes in Notre-Dame is very reasonable. It doesn't take very long to see the cathedral, anyway: it takes about ten minutes to walk the circuit inside, plus another 10-15 minutes to walk around the outside. If you want to climb up in the towers, it takes considerably longer. Many kids have had their fill of Notre-Dame after 30 minutes.

hester Jul 31st, 2005 09:53 AM

AnthonyGA we had a total of 10 minutes. That was it. Inside, outside whatever you could do in 10 minutes. Our kids were very disappointed and wanted more. I don't know of anyone in our group who got to see the outside. To me, that's a shame. We were suppose to have 3 full days in Paris but ended up with only two due to our 36 hours of flight, alot from Seattle. This is just one example of things gone wrong.
kybourbon, Our kids didn't party. As we all jokingly called our trip, scenic boot camp. Even if there was a chance they were to tired. There were a lot of days that we ate breakfast at 7am and returned to the hotel at 12am. A few times it was after that. Our teachers are also very strict about drinking/drugs if you do and are caught you are sent home immediately on your parents dime. It has only happened once since this teacher has taken this trip. The student was on his way home before he could blink his eyes. Everyone knows about this. Also, our teacher is very much admired and loved by his students. Our teacher stated at the end of the trip he would NEVER use Ef again. About the extra money, our kids needed to spend more money to make sure they had eaten enough. At one museum Ef charged 20 Euro for our entrance fee, as we went in the cost of the museum was 7 Euro. A very good profit for EF. Some in our group wanted their money back. We wanted to see the museum so I just seethed and went in. The museum was wonderful even if EF ripped us off. That again was only one example of over charging us. My daughter and I travel a lot together and we have decided we should just continue to travel on our own, with maybe the exception of a group tour to Africa. This was just our experience and I posted that I would give a trip report when we returned. I waited a month so I could write a clear headed report. I am happy that Ef has worked for others. Europe can be such a wonderful experience for students and broaden their horizons.

kybourbon Jul 31st, 2005 04:41 PM

Hester - I didn't mean to imply that your group partied or spent their money on partying. I've just seen it happen with other groups. I met a teacher from Michigan on his tenth EF trip and he turned the kids loose the minute they landed. As long as his kids were on the bus in the morning he didn't care what they did or where they went the rest of the time. All the kids at that high school were aware this was a party trip every year but the parents have no clue.

I found that most of the places EF actually includes are free to visit anyway. If it was something that cost it was extra or just viewed from the outside. Most teachers will buy the kids snacks and food because they are getting free trips and cash. Some teachers give the parents free trips or discounts for helping supervise. Your teachers qualified for either 5 free adults or the 2 teachers + cash probably in the range of $2000-2500.

I'm no longer doing any student travel unless my now college age daughter wants to take a friend or two somewhere and then we will just make our own plans.

gforaker Nov 28th, 2005 10:20 AM

Just to post another reply to this thread, some people say it dissapeared and could not be searched.

My experiences with EF tours and student travel haven't been as bad as some. Maybe because we filled the bus with our own students only and had a bit more control over students and chaperones. It is not that EF is always bad, they aren't, but most teachers can do better by choosing another more responsive company who puts more of the money into the trip and less into advertising.

CHA, NTSC or "The European Intitute" can tailor a custom tour or put you into a catalog tour on a little higher level than EF, for almost no extra money.

While our tour with EF did have some problems, we took care to never let the kids know and they still had a good trip (with our intervention).

skerns123 Jan 25th, 2006 11:42 AM

Anyone have a problem with flight arrangements with EF Tours and how did it get resolved. My mother is traveling wih my son on a school trip from an alternate airpotrt and her flight arrangements are horrendous. Leaves at 6 a.m. with two very long layovers before she leaves the country at 6 p.m. She is in her 80's and this is unacceptable. Has 55 minutes in Paris on the return all by herself to change flights and airlines. No way to do it under the very best circumstances. I have tried to talk to EF and they say too bad. Offered one meal voucher.

kybourbon Jan 25th, 2006 12:48 PM

skerns123 - Good luck! EF does not guarantee most things (flight times), in fact, they have many disclaimers listed.

Beatle Jan 25th, 2006 02:04 PM

As a High School teacher, I've led 4 EF tours- 3 great and 1 terrible. Even though they may have disclaimers, I always give the tour consultant my "must" list up front- Non-stop flight, no Americanized hotels, knowledgable tour guide etc. So far so good except for one of my first trips- live and learn! I do not like the catalog trips since I am leary about joining other schools and running into problems. I have had great luck with the customized tours. I loved the comment from CarolA about adults. I too limit adults on student tours! Also, as I've said on a previous thread, I NEVER make any tour a school function requiring Board approval. NONE of my tours are school connected, too much of a job risk!

UNCalum Jan 25th, 2006 02:17 PM

Even without terrible flight arrangements, I am concerned that a woman in her 80's will have great difficulty keeping up with a tour designed for teenagers. There is a great deal of walking, stair climbing , etc. involved. Perhaps she should give this some more thought.

hester Jan 27th, 2006 09:23 PM

Skerns123, I hate to say this but I would really think twice before sending my son and 80 year old mother off with EF tours. Please read my experience, our trip was 36 hours from Seattle to Paris! The trip home was even worse, to think about it gives me nightmares, and I have been to Europe many times before. If we didn't have the teachers we had with us it would have been a total waste of our time and money. I guess to be fair to EF I also must state that I have come to realize that I am not a tour person. But I also must state that a tour shouldn't include 36 hour flights, accomodations one hour out of city limits, in the drug dealing, burnt out warehouse parts of towns, bug infested motels, food so badly burnt you can't tell what it is several nights in a row, tour guides that don't know the sights, I could go on but you get the picture. Others will say it was our teachers inexperience, that's not the case. He has worked with EF before, but after our tour never again. So I guess what I am saying is read the posts and weigh it out. Good Luck!

Beatle Jan 28th, 2006 05:09 AM

This thread reminds me of one about Carnaval Cruises- Oh, the horror stories, but we had a great time. I too had a bad experience with EF, but also 3 good ones. Again imo it's the quality and quantity of the group that's so important, granted you don't want unsafe hotels and lousy tour guides. After my bad trip with EF, they seemed to go out of their way to keep my business- and the result was 3 more great tours. (But I also have not been in 3 years). kybourbon(great name) has perked my interest with CHA so I may check them out since I'm thinking about doing a mostly adult tour to BO, Lake Como, and Tuscany next year.

ebflo Feb 17th, 2006 04:00 PM

It's interesting that no one has yet reported on Explorica. I've used them for two trips already and am now working on my third. France/Italy in 2002 and Spain/Andalucia in 2004. Both trips went extremely well. The hotels were all centrally located and everything was as promised. The tour guides were extremely knowledgeable on both trips.

I'm now planing an Italy/Spain trip for summer 2007. I am again very happy with the planning and responses I've received so far. The prices have gone up significantly since 2004, but they are right in line with what other tour companies are now charging.

Our district won't let us take any foreign trips (even to Canada which is about a 1/4 mile away across the Niagara River).

It's a non-school sponsored trip and everyone is fine with that.

kybourbon Feb 17th, 2006 06:25 PM

Explorica is essentially EF. It was started by a group of EF employees that left EF (in 2001 or 2002)to start Explorica. The first year they undercut all of EF's prices because they were able to access information about EF. EF then sued Explorica for that (you can google the court results) and EF won.

I know a group that had 36 hour flights with Explorica from Newark to Rome. They use the same hotels as EF and pretty much operate the same way.

Beatle - None of these companies are for adult tours - they are for student tours. EF owns Go Ahead which does adult tours - nicer hotels, more inclusions, better meals, wine,etc. You can still organize/lead and get a free spot if that's what are you trying to do. I would only use CHA or ACIS for students.

Our schools don't consider any trip with a teacher taking students as "non-school". If you are employed by the school and traveling with students they think they will be sued if anything happens and of course they would be. We've had problems in the past and all trips involving students must go before the school board. A few years ago the school board canceled a trip at the last minute because of terrorist events and all the kids lost their money. The parents didn't realise that one of them could have replaced the teacher as group leader and taken the group without the teacher. They also didn't realise that the teacher didn't lose any money because she wasn't paying any money. They thought she lost her money like they did and felt bad for her. She never told them any different.

ebflo Mar 5th, 2006 01:18 PM

I'm sorry, but I couldn't disagree with you more on the following comment:

"If you are employed by the school and traveling with students they think they will be sued if anything happens and of course they would be."

That is incorrect. I know because I AM lawyer and chose to become a teacher (and am much happier for it). I have students and parents sign numerous legal forms that absolve involved parties from liability.

As for your school's trip that was canceled, that happened to one of my trips (it was to Disney in Florida) and I took the students anyway because they would have lost their money otherwise. The superintendent had no problem with this once the students signed legal forms indicating their knowledge that it was not a school sponsored trip (it was drawn up by the legal department and I continue to use a similar form).

Finally, you are correct regarding the founding of Explorica. However, I can only go by my own, personal experience. I can honestly say that my previous trips with Explorica went extremely well and I'm expecting more of the same for our upcoming trip. Additionally, I know three other teachers that have used Explorica and they were also happy with their experiences.

I'll continue to recommend Explorica for student travel as long as they continue to deal with me in the way they have in the past.

Christina Mar 5th, 2006 02:16 PM

well, I have little opinion on these as I never took EFtours nor know anyone who has, but ebflo, surely you cannot say that a school will not be sued. Whether one wins or not, or has signed any paper or not, I would be willing to bet that one would be sued anyway. What kind of lawyer were you, anyway, to not know that people sue others for lots of things regardless of papers signed,
and you can even successfully win certain cases regardless of what you've signed, because there are certain legal rights and other things that by law you cannot sign away, even if somebody tries to pretend you can. Now that may not be the case here, but I would say you can bet someone can and will sue for anything in the US.

wondering Mar 5th, 2006 02:27 PM

Well, I guess I feel the need to chime in here...As a teacher,I took two trips with Explorica (spring 04 and 05). One was wonderful and one was horrible. The itineraries on these student trips are pretty interesting, but I think the outcome of the experience is all one big roll of the dice. What will make it a pleasureable and exciting experience is the leader you happen to have. And ours last year was so bad that I would never recommend the company again and we requested our district take them off the approved list. The worst part was the company's reaction to our very valid complaints. It was a basic "cya" letter to the participants and an insulting discount on another one of their trips. The very least that should have happened was the termination of the incompetent guide! So sending you child will be a gamble in my opinion. You may win or you may lose...

Beatle Mar 5th, 2006 04:00 PM

Does anyone know if Explorica or CHA does any adult tours, similar to what EF does with GoAhead Tours?
Wondering- Would you mind disclosing the name of the incompetent guide with Explorica? I had a wing-nut a few years ago with EF but have since found out she is no longer there.

kybourbon Mar 5th, 2006 04:18 PM

Christina - I was wondering the same thing. Any lawyer would know a student can't sign a contract until age 18. In America, lawsuits make the world go round.

Beatle (love your name) - I'm not aware of CHA or Explorica providing adult trips but most will arrange a private tour with just your particpants for a price. Try calling their 800 numbers listed on their websites. I'm not sure why you would be interested in using a student oriented tour company instead of an adult one though. Most airlines will give you a group rate with 10 people. Many hotels will kick-in a free room if you booking several or give you a discount. I think even the regular tour companies will comp you something if you book a group with them.

My wing-nut was named Lola (EF). Still there last time I heard.

Beatle Mar 5th, 2006 04:30 PM

Thanks kybourbon(great name also). The only reason I was thinking about Explorica was that a few years ago I had a really good guide with EF who jumped ship to Explorica. Yes, I am planning on checking with a few regular tour companies. Some friends had a great time with Trafalgar. Thanks again for the info..

Amy Mar 5th, 2006 05:19 PM

Beatle, have you checked out OAT/Grand Circle? They have a similar deal and come pretty highly recommended. (I used them for Peru and was quite happy, and I've seen lots of good stuff about them.)

Beatle Mar 5th, 2006 05:36 PM

Thanks Amy, I will add Grand Circle to my list..

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