Working with our travel specialist during covid was a mixed bag. While the trip planning started out well, there were more than a few things that created more stress than pleasure. We were willing to try almost anything but made it clear that our reason for going to go to Iceland had to do with it’s ruralness. We did not think they were particularly good at keeping that info front and center in their planning.In addition, when we finally got the full itinerary, about three weeks before the trip started, there were multiple errors that really didn’t need to be there if a close reading was done before sending the itinerary out. We ended up going directly to some of the providers to get information because our travel specialist didn’t seem willing to do so.In one case, we found that a tour scheduled for one time wasn’t actually in the tour provider’s online schedule. In another case, we found that an excursion required 7 hours in a bus with at least 2 other people in addition to the driver. And we learned from the tour company that they didn’t even have the additional two people so the tour was likely going to be canceled unless we agreed to pay an additional $600 for a private tour.None of this was ever told to us, it was just listed as “confirmed” on the itinerary. And the description was just pulled from the website of the provider so initially we weren’t even sure if it was considered a public or private tour. When we went back to our travel specialist with specific questions and concerns, we received an answer that it was a great tour. Thankfully (in a weird way) we went to the provider directly and learned that a) it was a public tour in a closed vehicle and b) unless two other people signed up, it would be canceled. None of this was told to us by our travel specialist, not initially when we were in the planning stages and made it abundantly clear that covid issues was front and center (we would have clearly nixed a 7 hour tour in a closed vehicle with strangers) nor when we received the itinerary and it showed as “confirmed” with no explanatory information.We ended up canceling the tour directly with the provider which we were able to do because they didn’t have the minimum. But it was very stressful to have to do all of this on our own, within a week of our departure.And then of course that left a pretty big one day gap in a 13 day schedule where we were in a location for an extra day specifically to pick up this excursion.
One more matter that needs to be expressed has to do with the need to get a Covid test when leaving Iceland. They gave me the name of testing facility and suggested that we make the appt 3 1/2 hours before our flight home was to depart. We had a rental car to return, and we had been hearing rumblings of long waits at the departing airport in the media. I was concerned about all of this and asked them if they could provide me with a timetable for that last day, what time to leave the hotel, how much time to allow for transport between these places and returning a car rental and allowing enough time to get to the airport etc etc. Their response was something along the lines of “no we can’t help you here because this is a self guided trip not a tour”. My husband and I have traveled extensively both privately and on tours. Sometimes we’ve planned it totally by ourselves and at least in one instance used a zicasso tour company to help us with a trip to New Zealand. I’ve never experienced a response like that.
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