London & Paris plus Rome » Review by Travelholic
I took this tour at the end of May. I wish someone had warned me not to and told me how disorganized Contiki tours were or how rude the people working for them are!
When I arrived in London the morning my travel documents stated that I would be staying at the Imperial Hotel in Russell square. However after paying a taxi to get me there when I went to check in I was told that I was moved to the Royal National Hotel. No explanation provided was just told to go there. After waiting in another long like to check in, the Royal National tells me I should be checking into the Contiki Basement. At the C.B I tried to inquire and possibly check in early (I had made this request when booking and was told they would try to accommodate it) the girl at the desk told me that she would not speak to me until 2pm. No explanation to the hotel change, no courtesy whatsoever. Finally at 2pm (4 hours after I got there), they acknowledge my presence and check my in. They gave me a drink voucher for the inconvenience and and a free breakfast for my extra day.
However when I tried to redeem the drink voucher that night I was told by hotel staff that they had never seen it before and didn’t know where I could redeem it. After traveling over 7 hours to get to London and getting the run around for at least 3 hours by Contiki staff I was in no mood to find this free drink.
I tried to use the breakfast voucher the next morning and was told that I had to pay $5 if I wanted the English breakfast, so I settled for the continental breakfast. When I joined the group the next day I was told my card needed a stamp which said ‘English Breakfast’ that others on my tour had but I did not.
The bathroom ceiling in my room was full of mold. This above all else is a sanitary health concern. When I told my tour manager her response was that this is London standards. I have friends in London who visited me in my room and assured me that this was not London standards.
The first night of the tour we went on a ‘walking tour’ off London. Which may not have been the smartest idea after a long day especially since this was the night that London was hosting the soccer final of two German teams. The streets were packed to say the very least. Halfway through the tour the group was split up when a large group exited a pub splitting the group up. We didn’t have a chance or hope to find the group. A few of us stuck together with the hopes of at least finding our hotel, which we did hours after walking around looking for the way back. Our tour manager was not clear about what our next stop was so it was impossible for us to try to find the group. When I let her know the next day she claimed she waited. When I reconnected with the group the next day the few that were able to stick with her informed me that she did not wait for us and she had just made a comment about how we must have decided to split off and kept walking.
The other big blunder we felt was when we arrived in the airport in Rome. I understand that the Rome portion of the trip is unguided. However in all travel documents and what we were told when we left Paros was that a Contiki representative would meet us at the airport and would be holding a Contiki sign. After a half hour of waiting patiently reading all the signs that didn’t say Contiki we decided to split up and figure out where the representative was. After what was at least another half hour we reconvened to learn that a few people from our tour called the hotel (paying for long distance charges) and were told that the tour guide was not meeting us at the hotel and instead we should look for a Contiki bus that was picking us up. Another group of people found the driver who was driving an unmarked van and said he was our driver and also informed them that the Contiki representative was meeting us at the hotel not the airport. I can assure you if I wasn’t with a group of people I would not have gotten into an unmarked car in a foreign country! We finally get to our hotel and meet the representative who gives us our metro/bus/subway passes. When any of us asked him a question like where is a good place to eat his answers were vague or often “I don’t know”. He said he could only talk/answer questions for a few minutes as we were late (like this was our fault) and he had somewhere else to be by this time.
My stay in Rome was the best part of my trip. I no longer had ties to Contiki and could rest assured that nothing else would go terribly wrong. By this time I had made friends and spent time with them in Rome seeing the sites without the stress of Contiki.
I emailed my concerns to Contiki and received a letter about a month later. They ‘regret’ the things that happened and offered a less than satisfactory 5% off my next tour. I hope I have made it clear that I will NEVER be travelling with Contiki again and hope that I can save someone from making the mistake that I did. The only way I would even consider another Contiki tour is if they were offering me one for free. And even then I’d have to think if it was worth my time. The least they could have done was offer me a percentage off the tour I already paid for as I did not get my money’s worth!!!
Review written Aug 2013event 0.3