We were the first group to do this tour, so in a way we felt like guinea pigs. The countries on offer looked great, however, this tour was too short to get a good taste of all these countries. We got a good look around Italy, as we stayed the longest in this country. We also had 2 full days in Corfu Greece which allowed us to actually relax and get a good look around. The time allowed in Croatia was OK; we had enough time in Plitvice Lakes but only one evening in Split and 1 day in Dubrovnik. There was hardly any time in Slovenia, Montenegro & Albania which was a shame, as these were the countries I wanted to see the most. OH and the tour says you visit 7 countries including Bosnia but you literally only drive through Bosnia for like 15 minutes.
Overall the quality of the hotels was pretty good. Some were on the lower end and some were quite nice. The only issue was that a few of them were out of town, so you had to pay almost 30 Euro to get back to the hotel. It wasn’t so bad as most times we were able to get a group of people heading back to the hotel at the same time, so we were able to split it between 4 people.
My main issue was that I did a Contiki tour 12 years ago from London to Athens which included visiting Italy and Corfu Greece. I didn’t expect that 12 years later, I’d still be doing the same optional extras at the same places. In Florence we went to The Red Garter karaoke bar and in Corfu Greece we went on Georges boat – exactly same as 12 years ago! Ofcourse it was a long time ago and the experience would be slightly different with a new tour group but it was so strange telling people that I had done this already 12 years ago. It was exactly the same and I felt déjà vu badly! Understand Contiki has long running relationships with their partners but it would have been nice if they mixed it up abit after all this time.
Overall the optional extras were good but the quality of some of the food was quite poor. The dinners are quite expensive and although you get a lot of food, it’s not very tasty. I’d rather pay the same cost to get a 1 or 2 course delicious meal rather than 4 courses of average food. It just seemed mass produced and not authentic. This wasn’t for all of the dinners but most. The dinner in Corfu was probably the worst. It was sold as an authentic Greek experience with Greek dancing and plate smashing etc. The entertainment was OK but the host of the night was American – weird! The venue was also supposed to be a taverna but instead it was a giant hall that had random ‘greek inspired’ things stuck on the wall. The actual bricks on the wall were painted foam! I could actually pull the foam off. My mum is Greek, so this was not authentic at all. A taverna should be a small intimate venue with local greek people, better food and made from real bricks! I was quite disappointed and didn’t participate at all. The Amalfi dinner was also disappointing. On the other hand some dinners were really good. The build your own pizza night was awesome and the final dinner in Rome with the Opera singers was also really good. So overall I guess it was a mix of good and bad.
One other issue was that my tour was from Rome-Rome but when the tour got to Split, half the tour left there but a new group of people started. After 7 days, I had only just started to really get to know the original group so it was sad to see people go but it was even harder trying to welcome all the newbies. Ofcourse you want to meet new people but I had done that already, so it was quite exhausting having to introduce yourself and tell your story all over again. I made an effort with a few newbies but didn’t really get a chance to chat to all of them.
I think this tour would be much better as a 21 day tour where you spend more time in Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro & Albania. The quality of the food could be abit better if you reduce the number of courses and some of the hotels could be closer to town.