Overall enjoyed the trip and the itinerary. Would have spent fewer days in Auckland and not used the tour provider booked for the Barrier Reef nor the hotel in Sydney. For the trip itself, I would rate 4 out of 5. For the travel company, 1 out of 5. Our travel agent lacked attention to detail and I had to spend a significant amount of time reviewing and contacting her to correct her mistakes - up until the day we left. Thank goodness we had 6 months to get things done correct. Flights were incorrect which both of us had to drive to the airport ourselves to fix because neither the travel agent nor one of the travel company owners would admit there was an issue. I had 15 flight segments when I should have had 8. The other 7 were booked on wrong dates or not needed at all; my aunt could not check in because the travel company had not completed her booking which was discovered the day before we left. When we got our final itinerary my Barrier Reef tour was wrong despite 8 emails telling her which tour I wanted. We had to follow up multiple times to get things booked them follow up to get them corrected because she did not read emails. I finally escalated to the owner, and it went better, but still had to deal with the travel agent. She could not even tell me the final amount I owed for the trip! I contacted her, got the total, realized it was wrong, then once again had to correct her. Basically, I spent more time making sure she did her job then I would have if I had just booked the flights, hotels and tours myself. I may have paid more, but I spent probably 5 - 10 hours a week for 10 weeks getting her to do her job. Not worth it. We are going back to Australia in 2014 and I WILL NOT be using this particular travel company again.
Cairns Zoo, Featherdale Wildlife Center, Milford Sound Helicopter Tour and Blue Mountains.
Less time in Auckland. Not use Quicksilver for the Barrier Reef and go with a small, local operator. Quicksilver was very overpriced and way too crowded to enjoy the reef. We are both experienced snorkelers and told this to our travel agent, yet were put with an operator that caters to people that have never been in water. It was not worth the money and I saw many other operators with better offerings for a lot less than we paid.
Travel Company's Comments:
There seems to have been some communication issues with this client for which we apologize. This client came to us because she was not happy with the responsiveness of the previous company she had been dealing with. Sadly, I guess we did not meet her expectations either.
At the end of the day we were pleased that they would rate the vacation a 4 out of 5.
With regard to the air booking – there were many changes to the travel dates, so there were many different flights booked, canceled, then rebooked on many different occasions. But there were never more sectors booked than necessary.
In regards to the client aunt’s inability to check in online – as I said to her on the day, that was an issue with United Airlines website - it was nothing we had control over. It is not possible for us (or tour operator or travel agent) to issue an airline ticket without the booking being ‘complete’ - with the appropriate TSA requirements, confirmed sectors and full payment.
There are several different Great Barrier Reef cruise companies that cater to different markets, budgets and travel styles. We work only with the companies that are professional, licensed, insured and cater to North American visitors. The reason the travel agent used Quicksilver for this client is because they told her they were experienced snorkelers and Quicksilver always have a qualified marine biologist to lead experienced snorkelers on expeditions of the Reef. True, Quicksilver also caters for people who do not want to get in the water. But they also cater for experienced scuba divers too. I am sorry she was not pleased with them.
We hope they have a great time when they return to Australia.
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