Tauck Scandinavia Tour

Old Dec 5th, 2011, 11:51 AM
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Tauck Scandinavia Tour

We took this tour a few months ago. It was not our first Tauck tour. We really enjoyed our first Tauck tour. Tauck is billed as a high end tour and the price goes accordingly. This was not a high end product.

Three of the hotels and the ferry were fine (Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo) , the others were uncomfortable, buggy, dirty and sadly worn. Partially eaten candy left in dish, mosquitos (many), stained carpeting, poor ventilation, sweat box and at best, sadly out of date and depressing. At two hotels we received luggage from other members of the tour in our room. And at one hotel our luggage didn't arrive in our room at all. After a few hours my H went to look for it and found the bags sitting 2 hallways away, by an elevator, unattended. So much for service.

Every morning there was a huge breakfast. Unfortunately we don't eat a huge enough breakfast to sustain us for the rest of the day. Most of the lunches and dinners were plated or buffet meals with poor quality, unappetizing or weird food. The food that was OK was of very limited quantity. I'm not a huge eater and even I was hungry. One of the other guests, a larger man, often politely asked if I was not going to eat my food could I please give to him? We ate a lot of rolls and desserts to fill up.

The tour director was more of an administrative representative for Tauck, not really a guide, and readily admitted to little or no knowledge of Stockholm when I asked. I was handed a pamphlet and directed to the hotel concierge for sightseeing and restaurant information. Seriously? Why bother with Tauck? On the way out of Stockholm the tour director THEN had some suggestions for things to do in Stockholm...again, seriously? on the way OUT, as in leaving?

I found the tour director's remarks/behavior around some of the Tauck guests offensive. It appeared as though the TD didn't like some of the other guests (veiled sarcasm and nasty comments made behind people's back). I would think personnel in the tourism and hospitality business, especially with a high end product like Tauck, would have more sense than to do that. There were 1-2 difficult people on our previous Tauck trip but the tour director handled it well.

I filled out the tour review card at the end of the tour and a two weeks later received a form letter from the company CEO, saying how sorry he was for the experience and that someone would contact us shortly. That was just shy of 2 months ago and no one from Tauck has contacted us.

What an expensive disappointment.
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Old Dec 5th, 2011, 12:28 PM
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We took this tour last year for our 50th and had a totally different experience. One of the meals was in a private dinning room. Tour Director, a women was fine. I don't remember any poor quality food and always had enough. Our major complaint was the weather in August. In Copenhagen one day it rained all day. Bergen it showered off and on. Should have been better prepared for the weather. Six other people joined us and we all had a great time. It's too bad the poster had a bad experience, as it is an expensive tour. Richard
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Old Dec 5th, 2011, 01:53 PM
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A shame you had such a disappointing trip.

Would you mind naming and shaming the hotels? Good ones as well as the bad. It may help others avoid a similar disappointment.
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Old Dec 5th, 2011, 02:32 PM
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Sorry you had such a dismal experience,, which is a bit surprising since I too had heard Tauck was high end..mind you some of your complaints were subjective ( "weird food" , well you are in a different country, food may well be considered good to them and different to you) but regardless you should have all always been at least given enough at each provided meal.. and luggage going to wrong room is not a big deal to me at all.

It does sound like you like alot of service on a tour,, so I will recommend you try a Rick Steves tour with the caveat that you will carry your own luggage,, and not every meal is provided, but the tour guide was excellant, the places were clean and central, we were treated respectfully at all times, and the bus was super comfy and although they use the large buses for 50 people ,, the tours are limited to no more then 26-28 ,, so lots of room to spread out.. |Plus the small group was nice.
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Old Dec 5th, 2011, 02:34 PM
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We did a Tauck tour to Italy several years ago. The itinerary was excellent and, with the exception of our hotel in Sorrento, the hotels were good to excellent. The meals were generally disappointing, but the real problem was our guide. She certainly had an attitude, was often disrespectful to gust and ungracious. During a free afternoon in Rome, she had suggested that everyone rent a limousine and tour various spots in Rome; we were the only ones that opted out and decided to tour on our own. She made it very clear to us that she was not happy with our decision and even questioned why we wanted to see Santa Maria d'Aracoeli. At the end of our trip she issued a very angry retort ( she blew up ) at Mr. History when he asked about departure times ( less than 24 hours from departure from hotel to airport, we had heard nothing about arrangements). She apologized later but the incident should never have happened. He wasn't the only one that had endured her wrath obver the same question.

I've led several small tours and am fully aware of the problems that can occur and the duties involved. I found her extremely lacking. At Tauck prices I expected much better. In fact she would have been a disgrace as a tour leader at any priced tour.

When filling out the tour evaluation we mentioned the problems with the guide and suggested she might have been overwhelmed since she had just flown in from leading another tour. We even followed up with an email. The response from Tauck was that essentially we were the ones in the wrong. We were not but, even if we had been, a simple apology would have been effective. At least it would have been good customer service.
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Old Dec 6th, 2011, 10:06 AM
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I'm just going to say that we have had six tours with Grand Circle Travel that have been excellent in every way. Ditto with Road Scholar programs and years ago with Globus. Should we be offering thanks!
Bill in Boston
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Old Dec 6th, 2011, 10:26 AM
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It sounds like this tour was definitely sub par. But some of the complaints were definitely subjective. Food some people may think of as "weird" - lots of herring at breakfast, reindeer etc - is the local cuisine - and should be expected by everyone going to Scandinavia. (Although I don;t care for herring we always found lots to eat and much of it very good quality - although not inexpensive.)
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Old Dec 7th, 2011, 08:27 AM
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I appreciate you were not thrilled with your Tour but some of your comments are unfair. I have been a Tour Director for 2 years and hosted groups all over the world. You need to back off and think about some of your own actions.

You can't complain about not liking food. You are in a different country, the food is different. That means what one person thinks is quality another may think it is garbage. “Weird” food you say, well you are in a foreign country after all! As for the small meals. You are in Europe, the quantity of food is actually normal. It is only in North America that we see the glutton of food that you have clearly come to expect.

You mention hotels not being of good standard. Please consider when you are out of a major city a hotel that is "best in the area" is often used and nobody can do a thing about it. Depending where you travel you may have some pretty shabby digs.

Luggage handling is done by the lowest worker in the hotel, so they made a mistake a few times. Your luggage made it to you. I don't understand why you would wait "hours" to go looking for you undelivered suitcases. If they don't come you call the front desk/tour director. You did not give them a chance to fix it.

A Tour Director has an incredible amount of administrative work to do. They spend at least 1 hour per night writing reports, doing accounts and evaluating the tour. It is unfortunate that you saw the Td doing this. I suspect with the problems on the tour they were having a very difficult time keeping up with the extra reports.

It is not uncommon for a TD to refer to the hotel for booking tours. Number one not all local companies will deal with a foreign td, and typically the local staff know what company is a sham and what one is good. All the little details - which constantly change - are impossible for any TD to master. Please think about the miles you covered and how much the TD needs to know. No company provides a 'script” of information for the TD to regurgitate on the coach. They buy books, research online and create commentary in their spare time.

The TD veiled some sarcasm. If you were one of the “good” guests complaining about the “weird” food then I can’t imagine what ridiculous complaints the TD had to listen to. Really do you think that the TD is able to do anything about half your complaints? They are just a sounding board and frankly the complaints get a little stupid. If they got sarcastic so what. They have hard days too!
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Old Dec 7th, 2011, 08:28 AM
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I appreciate you were not thrilled with your Tour but some of your comments are unfair. I have been a Tour Director for 20 years and hosted groups all over the world. You need to back off and think about some of your own actions.

You can't complain about not liking food. You are in a different country, the food is different. That means what one person thinks is quality another may think it is garbage. “Weird” food you say, well you are in a foreign country after all! As for the small meals. You are in Europe, the quantity of food is actually normal. It is only in North America that we see the glutton of food that you have clearly come to expect.

You mention hotels not being of good standard. Please consider when you are out of a major city a hotel that is "best in the area" is often used and nobody can do a thing about it. Depending where you travel you may have some pretty shabby digs.

Luggage handling is done by the lowest worker in the hotel, so they made a mistake a few times. Your luggage made it to you. I don't understand why you would wait "hours" to go looking for you undelivered suitcases. If they don't come you call the front desk/tour director. You did not give them a chance to fix it.

A Tour Director has an incredible amount of administrative work to do. They spend at least 1 hour per night writing reports, doing accounts and evaluating the tour. It is unfortunate that you saw the Td doing this. I suspect with the problems on the tour they were having a very difficult time keeping up with the extra reports.

It is not uncommon for a TD to refer to the hotel for booking tours. Number one not all local companies will deal with a foreign td, and typically the local staff know what company is a sham and what one is good. All the little details - which constantly change - are impossible for any TD to master. Please think about the miles you covered and how much the TD needs to know. No company provides a 'script” of information for the TD to regurgitate on the coach. They buy books, research online and create commentary in their spare time.

The TD veiled some sarcasm. If you were one of the “good” guests complaining about the “weird” food then I can’t imagine what ridiculous complaints the TD had to listen to. Really do you think that the TD is able to do anything about half your complaints? They are just a sounding board and frankly the complaints get a little stupid. If they got sarcastic so what. They have hard days too!
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Old Dec 7th, 2011, 10:54 AM
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I disagree about the role of a TD. They are in a service- oriented business and that means the customer is always right ( even when the customer is wrong). A TD should know how to handle difficult people. In almost every case people only want to be reassured and know that their complaints are being listened to and addressed if possible. A smile and comment to see what one can do is the only reasonable response. If a TD is having a hard day then they need to deal with it outside the dynamics of a tour group.

As a TD I have changed hotels, talked to staff about service, arranged different dining options when the group was not satisfied, and changed assigned rooms when a person wasn't happy. Of course, this was made easier because of a the smaller size of the group, but I've always found hotels/staff are accommodating when approached with a reasonable attitude in regard to complaints.
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Old Dec 7th, 2011, 10:54 AM
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I'm not at all sure I buy this "the TD has to do other things" story. Of course they do - every jobs includes things that aren't seen by the public. But taking care of the guests is the first responsibiity of the TD - and if they aren;t doing that well (as long as guests are reasonable - then IMHO they are useless. And if the hotels are subpar complaining to the tour guide is legitimate, Tauck hotels should not be sub-par. Elderly friends of my parent shave used them quite a few times (granted not Scandinavia) and always found the hotels to be just fine and centrally located. If the company knows the only hotel is the area is poor - they should let guests know in advance.

And if a TD doesn't know the info about the countries they are guiding - what are they doing as a TD? Isn't the knowledge and license required before they are given the job? Any TD who has to do a lot of studying every night to learn about the sights shouldn't be in the job.

I know some tour members can be PIAs and idiots. I was on one tour with 1)a moron who kept losing things - including his wallet and passport at one point (dropped them in a canal) - and thought the whole tour would wait a day for him while he replaced everything and 2) a young couple who was late for everything - no matter how many times they were told to keep up by TD and other members. Dealing with people like this can be a challenge. But our TD kept her cool (sometimes with visible effort) and was pleasant to everyone else.
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Old Dec 7th, 2011, 12:24 PM
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http://www.bbb.org/.../tauck-world-d...lk-ct-87014289

A plus rated I have done 2 overall excellent experience

not Scandinavia though.

Scaninavia is an expensive difficult place to tour.

Hotels and food and service expensive and of variable quality.

Think it a bit unfair to Blame TD for 100% like missing

luggage Kind of like shooting the messenger...
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Old Dec 7th, 2011, 12:32 PM
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File a bbb.org complaint if you feel it rises to that

there are only 2 on Tauck.com both which were resolved

satisfactorily. from the tone of your post sounds like

you basically did not like TD showing partiality to some but

not others hence the grudge post here...find that proper

attitude of acceptance of little difficulties like this

goes a long way to improve my travel experience.
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Old Dec 9th, 2011, 08:21 AM
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Greetings Anonymous 123 –

On behalf of everyone here at Tauck, I was sorry to hear that your Scandinavia trip didn’t live up to your expectations. Although I don’t work in our Guest Relations Department, I’d be happy to make sure that department’s manager gets in touch with you personally to discuss your experiences.

If you can kindly send me your contact info I’ll be happy to make sure we follow up with you directly. Unfortunately, Fodor’s rules prohibit posting commercial e-mail addresses in these forums. However, if you do a Google search for Tauck and my name, you’ll see a link to a page on Tauck’s web site where my e-mail address can be found.

I look forward to hearing from you –


Tom Armstrong
Tauck
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Old Aug 24th, 2012, 05:23 PM
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We went on a Tauck tour of Burgundy, Normandy and the Loire in 2006, I think. The guide was a blonde woman named Frankie. She was excellent and very nice. Our hotels were lovely, the driver was very good and so was the food. We were made to feel very special and had a great time. Only wish we were in the 1% so we could go on another! They are vitually S/O every year and are really worth the price. Sorry that you got a bad one.
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Old Aug 27th, 2012, 12:27 PM
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I have been on 7 Tauck tours to Europe since 1999, and none of my experiences were like that of the OP.

The TDs I had were always first rate and went out of their way to offer optional (free, of course) walking excursions even when it was supposed to be free time. They were all extremely knowledgeable, and we had local guides too in any larger town or city.

On the rare occasion that I had an issue with a hotel room, I complained and was offered a selection of other rooms.

I also understand that the food in Greece is going to be different than that in Austria, etc.
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