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Insight coach tours of Italy & France

Old Sep 26th, 2010, 05:07 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 67
Insight coach tours of Italy & France

We’ve been fans of escorted coach tours for quite some time having had some wonderful experiences in Switzerland, Italy and Iceland. I’d been ill earlier in the year and it was apparent that we would only have one more chance of a good holiday together so we decided to lash out on the best that we could find. We settled for Insight Vacations “Grand Tour of Italy and Sicily” together with “Country Roads of France”. The marketing from Insight suggests that they have more legroom and toilets in all their coaches, superior hotels, plenty of inclusions, English speaking tour guides and more leisure time.

They certainly lived up to their claim of more legroom, there was plenty of space on both coaches but the first thing that the tour guide explained was that the onboard toilets were for emergency use only and it was impossible for all the passengers to use them anyway because the coaches could not carry sufficient water. We seemed to spend most of our time travelling along motorways where we would stop for breaks, generally we had to pay at least 50 Eurocents to use filthy smelly toilets of third world standard. The tour guides worked very hard but honestly their English was not up to the standard that we expected, when you hear sentences where a hard A is added to every word it becomes rather tedious when you have to listen to it for two weeks, imagine “we-A will-A now-A go-A and-A have-A tour-A of-A the-A cathedral-A …”, the French tour was similar except that ER was added to each word. On both tours we seemed to spend a lot of time visiting churches and cathedrals, there was little of any value and to see anything interesting was a highly priced optional extra.

The hotels were rather disappointing, most were well on the outskirts of town and were mainly very tired and worn out older buildings. Every room had some problem such as lights not working, safes that would not lock or toilet roll holders hanging on by just one screw. Most had inadequate lighting, two or three low power tables lamps just bright enough to help us not bump into each other or the furniture. My own 24 x LED torch indicated that the décor was way past its refurbishing date and things like the carpets were quite filthy.

Breakfasts were very disappointing. Most of the time we were segregated from the other guests. The cereals were so disappointing, usually something like rice bubbles of some chocolate product more suitable for young children. We ended up buying our own from the supermarket and just using the bowls and milk in the hotels. We normally look forward to a cooked breakfast but most of them offered greasy croissants or stale Danish pastries, certainly not the vegetarian meals that we had expected. Only two hotels had heard of teapots, half a cup of lukewarm water and a poor quality teabag is not a good way to start the day.

In all this was a very disappointing holiday, we had paid a high price for what we though would be quality trips but instead experienced something that might put us off future coach touring.
NigelWaring is offline  
Old Sep 26th, 2010, 05:59 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
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Nigel, I am sorry to hear that you were so disappointed with your Insight tours. Had you taken land tours in the past? Did you know what to expect? Options excursions (costly, but, in my opinion, but mostly worth it) are part of most tours. Although all bus tours advertize that they have bathrooms on board, the facilities are most rudimentary. Scheduled stops are timed to meet the needs of most passengers.

I have taken several Insight tours and have not been disappointed. Maybe my standards are lower because I am so delighted to be in Europe that I overlook some inconveniences. Also, I have done the “independent” route with trains and car rentals which to me were more demanding than escorted tours. Another point, taking two such extensive tours “back to back” would be exhausting for most people especially if one were recovering from an illness. I know that I could not do it myself. Twelve days abroad for me is max!

Re: lighting. I have been in dozens of hotels in Europe, including several 5 stars, and few of them had the lighting we are used to at home in the US. Bottom line - it is very difficult to read in bed!

In any case, Nigel, I wish you better luck the next time….
latedaytraveler is offline  
Old Sep 26th, 2010, 07:42 PM
  #3  
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Yes, like I said at the beginning "We’ve been fans of escorted coach tours for quite some". We have been on several of them, all cost much less than Insight but gave much better value for money with hotels of far higher standard. One of the best was a couple of years ago in Iceland, it was meant as a quick fill-in just before we went on a riverboat cruise but it turned out to be the trip of a lifetime. I have a report with lots of pictures at http://www.travelblog.org/Europe/Ice...og-329642.html Every hotel was really nice, 3-4 star standard with good evening meals and more than adequate buffet breakfasts. We also found that most of the hotels had free internet, a rarity at the time but the rest of the world has since caught up with them. I think the problem with our Insight tour was that it was during the peak season and they could not afford to use their normal venues. We have spoken to other former passengers who had been on the same tours but had smuch better hotels.
NigelWaring is offline  
Old Mar 26th, 2013, 10:51 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2013
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I took two tours with Insight through Europe in 2009 and one trip included a uniworld cruise up the Danube. I was very impressed as the hotels were excellent as were the breakfasts and I paid the single supplement. In St Petersberg and Moscow the accommodation was excellent. The tour director was okay and the trips were long days of travel but I was happy. In 2010 I went with a friend to Europe and then to England scotland and Ireland and while the Cosmos hotels were probably 3 stars the first tour director and our drivers were ^ stars. Kind, educated and professional, yet friendly. i am going by insight to France with same friend and then to Balkans with Cosmos. All comments and tips appreciated.
2468mary is offline  
Old Jan 31st, 2015, 09:25 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
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To NigelWaring,
Could you share which tours you did have a favorable experience with?
Thanks
Sasha2 is offline  
Old Jan 31st, 2015, 11:59 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2004
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Sasha2, it looks like NigelWaring hasn't posted here in three or four years. If you have questions about bus tours, you'll probably get better responses if you start a new thread.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
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