Started with receiving an email before the trip started asking us to please inform our trip leader if we were travelling with our partners / friends to let her know so we could be roomed together. Both myself and my partner emailed our leader and informed her were are a couple and would like to be roomed together, only one of us got a response and was told it would probably not be possible.
Told later on we could room together with our partners although it would need to be 4 couples per room (8 people), we all passed that up as it would be awkward in a room with other peoples partners getting changed etc., the whole point was to feel comfortable with our partners on the trip. The one night we did get to share with our partners it was in bunk beds, like great I would love to cuddle up to my giant boyfriend in a tiny single bunk bed, kind of defeats the purpose of sharing a room.
Had to do introductions on the bus on a highway where the bus was going quite fast, had to walk down the front and use the handheld microphone to say our names, where we were from, what we were most excited about and "Name our sex life with a movie title?". Firstly, it’s quite unsafe going down the front of the bus when it is going at such high speeds, I think it would have been safer and easier to just pass the microphone around the bus and ask people to stand in their seats so they can be seen and don't need to come down the front where it is unsafe. Secondly, inappropriate question, lots of people including myself were in relationships with our partners on board and that was uncomfortable for us to explain our sex lives to a bunch of randoms, secondly, it’s just an awkward imposing question that not even the bus driver felt comfortable answering. Something like favourite band, movie or country would have been more appropriate. We also had a group trivia night which also included sexual comments which again made people uncomfortable.
Multiple occasions where the trip leader used the words "not my fault, you sort it out" for things that went wrong that were obviously her fault. Like the fact we were not informed where breakfast was located and people went to the hotels breakfast and were asked to pay as breakfast was not at that venue, the hotel reception staff had to direct us to the right venue, as our trip leader was nowhere to be found. That breakfast was also horrible and not worth our money.
Multiple hostels were below average for the bathrooms and food offered, with bathrooms being smaller than a jail cell inclusive of a toilet, sink and shower with no shower curtain or hot water, and breakfast being a slice of ham and slice of cheese. I understand this was a hostels tour but come on this was disgusting.
Truck stops were literally just that, a truck stop. Only once did we stop somewhere nice (a waterfall) for lunch and got to enjoy the views and scenery, every other stop was basically a service station or small shopping mall. I’ve done 2 months on a Topdeck tour and almost every stop was a nice place, small country town or something exciting. We also stopped at a weird **** sex park and were asked to copy the statues in the park, in the pouring rain?
Before my Topdeck started we were given a huge information pack explaining day to day in thorough detail with ALL of the optional extras listed, Contiki did not give anywhere near as much information with added optional extra’s explained on the bus as we went along including some that were not listed on the pack. Also was not informed that we would be using ferry / boats throughout the journey, this would have been a great piece of information to provide somebody who gets very ill on boats so they could purchase tablets to cure this before departing.
Several times we were dropped into towns without a map or information and just told to meet back up with the bus here at a certain time, or told as we got off the bus to quickly take a photo of the map or look on Facebook. Unfortunately the map didn’t ever make it all the way down the bus and 60% of people on the bus only had access to Wi-Fi and not data to access the map on Facebook.
Topdeck gave out maps on the bus prior to entering new countries, with a map included with our hostel circled, and heaps of good things to do around the city also circled with a price and opening hours also listed. This map also included helps words to know in that countries language, none of this was provided on Contiki.
The trip leader had very minimal knowledge of the places we visited and made no effort to educate herself to explain things to us along the way. A few times she suggested places to visit that were closed for the day or under construction, a simple google search would have told her this.
The bus driver was lovely, but unfortunately didn’t really speak much to the guests on the bus. Few times he had some very hard braking on highways, but overall he was a good driver.
We were all spoken to one morning on the bus about bullying and how it was important not to leave people out and asked if we all made sure we understood. Later that day on the bus a person on the bus made a smart **** comment towards another person’s laugh on the bus, to which the person laughing asked them to repeat themselves and the first person said nothing. The person that made the first comment was sitting directly behind our trip leader in the front row when this comment was made and she said or did nothing about it, but was later heard joking around with this person about how ‘good the comment was’, after we had been spoken to about bullying just the same day?
The last day of my trip was in Stockholm, Day 9 of the trip we were pulling up to a truck stop and informed everybody that was departing had to stay on the bus, so we did. The bus was then locked and stopped in the car park, the survey explained briefly and then our trip leader basically tried to guilt trip us that if we didn’t score her and our driver a 9 or 10 that they would lose their jobs. We were also told on multiple occasions that we need to tip the trip leader and bus driver as we were in Europe. We were told it would only take 10 minutes to complete a 4 paged survey that required short answers. We asked if we could complete it later as we were hungry and wanted to use the bathroom and still had a few more hours to drive but were told no, that it was compulsory to complete the survey at that point. It took most people about 30 minutes to complete he survey, we asked if we would be getting that time back as it was taken out of our lunch but we were told no, and that we had to hurry back to the bus. This was downright unfair, unprofessional and quite disgusting behaviour.
Overall, the sights on the trip was outstanding and really made the trip something special, and I met some fantastic people along the way. But Contiki, I will NEVER use you again, this trip leader has ruined it for me.