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Which tour Co for Italy

Old Dec 23rd, 2004, 06:01 PM
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Which tour Co for Italy

My first trip to Europe want to use an escorted tour company. Confused, as to which tour company is the best. We want to see Venice, Florence, Rome and Pompeii. Any suggestions?
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Old Dec 23rd, 2004, 06:12 PM
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Do a search above to get the names of companies and opinions from some Fodor's travelers. Collect brochures from the cos in question and review them VERY CAREFULLY - to find out

What sights are really included (what is a visit? which are photo ops? which are drive bys?)

Where the hotels are (at the edge of town? in the next town? or in a decent location?)

Which meals, tours etc are included vs optional - and what do the options cost?

What is the profile of the other tour members? (age - all seniors? income? interests?)

Then - if I were you - abandon the tour idea and plan the trip yourself. IMHO - you will save money and have a much more enjoyable trip.



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Old Dec 23rd, 2004, 06:41 PM
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Buona Sera Sue,

Totally agree with NY Traveler!

Buon viaggio!
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Old Dec 23rd, 2004, 08:36 PM
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You do not mention how much $$ you want to spend, that is very important. My parents did a 2 week tour of Italy with trafalgar going to all the places you mentioned, and were very happy. www.trafalgartours4less.com discounts the land base fare at 14% per person, a huge savings. Have used this agency twice. On the other end of the spectrum, we did a Maupin tour of Italy last year and it was great. But the prices have gone up considerably this year, due to the week dollar.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2004, 09:56 PM
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I did a Brendan tour..they actually are the same as Globus..not sure what the connection but once we got to Europe everything was Globus...anyway it included parts of Italy. I did this in 1999...first trip to Europe...the price at that time could not be beat for the things included. The hotels were all three and four star with the exception of London...the one thing is, the hotels are not usually centrally located but on a tour it's not as important and if you DO have free time, there is usually good transportation in the city you are in. In most of the brochures I have seen from the various companies, the places that you actually go into are highlited. If they are only mentioned, they usually will just drive by. Tours are fairly fast paced usually..even if you have two or three nights in one city you are touring most of the time. Most of the companies offer optional tours and they are usually listed in your brochure with the price...it is up to you whether you want to take them or use that for free time. I don't think you have to sign up for them when you book...at least I didn't...so you can decide pretty much at the last minute what you want to do. The Globus buses have fewer seats than some so are pretty comfortable. I think a lot of the enjoyment of the tour will depend on your director. Ours was really good..very knowledgeable and then for some portions they would use local guides. A lost of meals were included...buffet breakfasts..usually pretty good..lunch usually on your own..a lot of dinners..I didn't do them all even though they were included..I haven't felt the need of late to do the tour thing but certainly am not down on it and can't say that I never would do again depending on the destination. There are a ton of tour companies out there...the one thing about Globus is, they are huge..all over the world and I believe are financially sound. Another thing about the tour companies is that you don't wait in line at the places you visit...where ever you go you get right in...really no waiting. The advice is good to get the company brochures, read them carefully, find out what they offer, what their policies are as far as payment, cancellation etc. They do reserve the right to change hotels...Globus gives a list and the ratings of all the hotels they use, and also if you are single they don't guarantee that you will always have your own room...they will try if that's what you prefer, but they might pair you with another single traveler if the situation warrants. So do your homework, try the tour company message boards and good luck. What ever you choose I hope your trip is wonderful.
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Old Dec 24th, 2004, 12:12 AM
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All good suggestions above except that I don't see why the location of hotels would be less important when you are on a tour than when you are on your own. A lot of time can be wasted going back and forth to hotels that are outside of the city centers, even if there is a transportation system or shuttle buses.

I think that tours have two major advantages: not having to plan your own itinerary (though for some of us, that's a disadvantage), and not having to worry about your luggage handling. But, a lot of time can end up being spent on buses and not actually giving you a chance to explore on your own.

If you have your own reasons for wanting a tour (uncertainty, or health issues) then do the homework suggested above.
Also check calendar dates for the tour stops. Mondays for example, are days that most national museums in Italy are closed. And on Sundays, the Vatican in Rome is closed. If your planned events are labeled 'schedule permitting', you don't want to be disappointed by closings. And remember that you are not a prisoner. If the group is going to lunch or shopping and you want to visit a church or spend more time in the museum, go ahead and do that, as long as you know where the bus is and when it's leaving.
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Old Dec 24th, 2004, 12:37 AM
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Elaine has a point regarding the hotel locations if you want to use some of the time alloted for extra tours to explore on your own. I think it's easier to get the buses in and out of hotels that aren't directly in the city center. It wasn't too bad actually..you aren't going there, but for example in London we were in Hammersmith..it wasn't too long on the tube to get where we wanted to go and it was on the Picadilly line so easy for Oxford Street and Covent Garden for example. In Paris the Metro was less than a block away. I will say that it WAS a bummer in Venice...we stayed in Maestre so getting into Venice proper was a pain, however, having said that, we were free to stay in Venice for the afternoon before meeting for dinner so we really didn't have to try to go back and forth and as I say, there wasn't all that much free time. You usually DO have some free time on most tours but unless you want to skip out on a lot of things that you have paid for, you don't have all that much and you usually have to be up and going in the morning even if you aren't moving on to another city. Some of the tours DO stay IN Venice and actually sometimes Globus does also...depends on the tour you are on. The other thing I liked, at least about OUR tour director, don't know if all of them do this, but she let us know some of the customs....ordering coffee after the meal..in the states in most casual restaurants you are offered coffee the minute you sit down...or the difference in service prices if you eat at the counter standing up, or sitting at a table inside the restaurant vs. outside..things like that. I know it helped me a lot..I think sometimes it's actually little cultural things like this that make travelers think that they are being treated rudely etc. It was just good to know these things and it's something that I wouldn't normally have thought to research...I think I got to see a whole lot of places, learned a lot, some places I have been back to on my own and have some others still to re-visit.
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Old Dec 24th, 2004, 04:24 AM
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..the discussion re central hotels is apt. try Insight as they advertize central locations...There is a company out of Boston or New Jersey which specializes in tours of Italy. I cant remember the name nor do I know anything about them. They do advertize frequently in the New York Times so just glance over the travel section. I do think you have had some good advice from some of the other posters. If you decide to do a tour, you must sit down with all the brochures and very carefully see what is included in each (as another poster said when the tour says see this may mean the bus goes by it and you wave) and whether what you want to visit is included in the basic price or is an add on trip. Also carefully check the location of the hotels and cross reference them on tripadvisor. It will take time, but it will be the only way to be sure you know what you are really buying.
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Old Dec 24th, 2004, 05:12 AM
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one more thing to consier is the food. Many of the tours include meals but they are not necessarily at the best choices for restaurants. A friend recently came back from Italy and most of her meals were in the hotels. Not the way I want to eat my way through Italy! Other friends did the Tauk (sp?)Tour and loved it (and the food) but it is very expensive.
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Old Dec 24th, 2004, 06:02 AM
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Before becoming a bona-fide Fodorite I did a tour with Cosmos. I have enjoyed other tours with that company, but not the Italy tour. The hotels were WAY too far from town, often not even in the city we were visiting. Most of the included meals were no good at all. Yes, you can get a bad meal in Italy. Don't go w/Cosmos to Italy.
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Old Dec 24th, 2004, 07:16 AM
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I believe the company that travelbunny is describing is "Perillo Tours" -- http://www.perillotours.com. They're more expensive than Trafalgar or Globus; they specialize in Italy and have been around for alot of years. I've never used any tour company for my Italy visits ... as everyone has suggested, carefully scrutinize the itinerary, look at hotel locations and read the fine print before you buy. Recently there was a thread posted about someone who booked with OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel) and then was notified they were being kicked off the trip.
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Old Dec 24th, 2004, 07:43 AM
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Re Perillo
They are a very reliable organization, but I've read complaints about the included dinners--you might want to go your own way when it comes to dinner plans.
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Old Dec 24th, 2004, 08:23 AM
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I am a big fan of Insight Vacations. The hotels are central and the included food is good. I've used several tour companies in the past, with Insight being the best among them (note, I have not used the VERY expensive companies, such as MaupinTours or Tauk).

Here is their website and their message board:

http://www.insightvacations.com/us/

(note: if you are NOT in the USA, remove the "us/" from the end of the url)

http://forums.insightvacations.com/eve/ubb.x

If you would like some journals from some of these tours, tips sheets on motorcoach tours, etc., just write to me at:

[email protected]

--Marv
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Old Dec 24th, 2004, 08:38 AM
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Hi sue,

>We want to see Venice, Florence, Rome and Pompeii.<

This is the standard Big Three itinerary.

There are hundreds of posts on this forum about hotels, restaurants, sight seeing, etc.

See Helpful Information: Italy
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34451044

Are you sure that you need an escorted tour?

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Old Dec 24th, 2004, 12:35 PM
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Here's a company we used years ago that offers three levels of tour: traditional fully escorted; what they call hosted; and independent.

http://www.centralholidays.com/

We went on their hosted tour to Italy (I don't see the exact same one on their website now). Included air, airport transfers, hotels, transport between cities, a few meals while in transit, hostess, and a 1/2 day tour the first morning in each city.

ther than the 1/2 day tour, we were on our own in each city, though the hostess was always available to give advice, make phone calls, etc. Because the tour only allowed 2-1/2 days in Venice and 3 in Rome at the beginning and end of the trip, we extended both ends by two days.

The hotels at that time were all well located--in Venice we even had a corner room on the Grand Canal that allowed us to look both across and up the canal. Don't know that it's the same 10 years later, but it worked well back then.
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Old Dec 24th, 2004, 12:53 PM
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.yes Perillo was the company I was thinging of.
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