Dear Zicasso Team,This was our second time using your services (as we did a trip to Peru that your team helped plan 2 years ago which we absolutely loved). The overall planning of this honeymoon trip in Scandinavia was done by my husband Duke and one of the travel agents at this travel company. As this was our honeymoon, we wanted to go with the best of the best even if it costed a premium. Unfortunately we felt that this travel company did not meet our expectations. The beginning phases were great, with thoughts going back and forth about what activities we wanted to do, what types of hotels we wanted to stay in. As this was a 23 day trip, there was quite a lot of work that went into it. Part of this may have been a language/cultural difference, however after getting to the final parts of our planning and adding a helicopter tour, we received a simple one word email of "okay". While this may be a small detail, we did feel that as we are going through a luxury travel agent, and it being our honeymoon, there should have been a more professional way of communication. Also at this point, we were also chasing travel agent on a few other things he said he would "get back to us on", but hadn't in over a week, so our frustrations were starting to brew. In our minds, while we were excited about adding activities like helicopter tours being added onto our itinerary, he seemed more burdened about going about it, and it was dampening our planning experience. We also shouldn't have had to chase our travel agent for responses at all, given what a high end travel company we were going through. I must say though, that when we were on the trip, mostly everything was great without a glitch in the beginning. The experiences we went on were fantastic and the guides that were chosen were all for the most part fantastic. Please see below for more information on the parts that we loved.
We did, however, run into a few issues in Norway. When we landed in Norway, we looked for our driver who was supposed to be there waiting for us, but he was nowhere to be found. We called the number that it said to call, but could not reach the driver. We also tried to call and message our travel agent but because of the time difference between Norway (11am) where we were and Los Angeles where the agent was, it understandably wasn't possible to immediately get a hold of him. We simply took a taxi to our hotel - this was not too big of an issue. We had a few hours to get ready for our 3pm tour, but when we went to the lobby to meet our tour guide, the man there asked "are you here for the tour? I've been waiting forever!" It seems that he was told he was given instruction to be there at 1:30pm to lead a tour at 2pm, but was not given the names of Duke nor I so he wasn't able to even ask the hotel to call up to our rooms. He said he also had another engagement at 4:30pm so could only do part of the tour. Of course, at this point our guide was frustrated thinking that we were the ones that were late, we were frustrated as our itinerary clearly showed 3pm start time. In the end, our guide did a wonderful walking tour for us, and also extended until 4:55pm so we could get the whole tour done. He was a nice gentleman and very knowledgable about the history of Bergen so we were happy with that tour, however we were a bit concerned that he was going to be our guide for the next two days as the next two days were supposed to be much more athletic driven with hikes and kayakingr, etc. When we first met our guide, he also had bluntly told us that he was given hardly any information about us and what we wanted to do for the next two days and asked us to show him the itinerary that our travel agent had. He even asked if we can email it to him. Duke and I were under the impression that all of this was set and discussed through our agent. When our agent had messaged us in the afternoon to respond to the message about the missing driver, he also asked how the hotel was. I responded that the hotel was not the same caliber as our other stays and seemed to us more like a business hotel, but that it'll suffice for our stay since it was just one night (When we checked into the hotel at 11:30pm, our room was not ready yet so we asked if we can just keep our luggage with the front, to which the front guided us to an unlocked room where people could freely go in and out of to "store" their luggage. Being on our honeymoon, we had quite a lot of valuable items with us so this process itself made us quite nervous and also probably made an impression on us that this was not the way a "high end" hotel would treat their guests' luggage). Anywho, our agent's response to me was that he himself had stayed there and would not consider the hotel a business hotel. This response quite irritated me I must say, as I was simply saying how I felt the hotel quality was, not trying to argue with him about the definition of the a business hotel. Quite frankly, I did not care much about his personal opinion, and as a travel agent his priority should be that his guests felt comfortable, not him trying to define what a comfortable stay is (in any way, peoples' opinions are relative so I'm not sure why he was trying to project his). Anywho, I also mentioned to our agent that while our guide was a nice gentleman and very smart, he may not be the most appropriate person to take us on hikes in the fjords as he seemed a bit older and more frail. Our agent again told me that another couple was with him a few weeks ago and they had no issues. At this point, I realized that giving constructive feedback to our travel agent was useless as he would simply try to just argue the point rather than try to find an alternative.We ended up staying with the guide as our agent said he couldn't find an alternative, but the day we went our kayaking, we rented kayaks from a local woman, and our guide was to be our guide. The local woman made sure that our guide had past experience, and we signed a waiver saying we were in the hands of someone with kayaking experience (our guide said that although he hadn't kayaked in a while, he was on the high school team ages ago so knew how to kayak...which honestly was a bit worrying that we didn't have a true professional, but there were no other options as there were no other guides). The day was a bit windy, and it was my husband's first time kayaking so the beginning was a bit chaotic. However, within the first 10 minutes, our guide had accidentally lost his oar in the water and essentially needed our help to help retrieve his oar in the windy waters with our kayaks, as he was at that point a sitting duck without oars. The rental lady was still nearby and came running towards us and as I was closest to the shore was yelling "what happened? How did he lose his oar??" She motioned for me to just come out of the water over the edge and told me "this is not a good start, perhaps you should rent some bikes instead, I can give them to you for free". It was obvious she was not confident in our guide's ability to lead us through the Fjords on kayaks. We ended up doing a hike on our own (without our tour guide) and spending the rest of the day driving to see some waterfalls and then just spending time at the hotel the rest of the time. This just reinforced the fact that we should have probably been appointed someone who was more outdoorsy. In this case, I hardly can blame our guide as he was just doing the best he could (he hadn't even known that he was supposed to take us kayaking until we sent him our itinerary that the agent created). However, in my message exchange with our agent when I mentioned our guide didn't know our names or our itinerary when we met him the 1st day, our agent said "he knows who you are as I have been talking to him and his boss with an idea of what type of adventures you would like to do in the coming weeks". Perhaps our agent was talking to our guide's boss, but the message was clearly not reaching our guide. In this instance, although it may not have been the agent's direct responsibility (assuming the guide's boss was not communicating what the agent told him to our guide), since he was our point person and managing this trip, we wish our agent had taken up more of the responsibility on himself instead of trying to defend his every decision. As such, while we loved our overall trip and all the adventures we went on, I must say we were quite disappointed in the communication with our travel agent, and actually would not recommend going through this travel company in the future. It is such a pity because most the tour guides were actually really great (please see below section for specifics). We have two friends who saw photos from our trips and are now planning their honeymoon in Scandinavia, but unfortunately we are recommending against them using this company. Knowing their high standards and the other trips they've been on with us, we know they would not be happy with the communication if they got appointed the agent. With the competition so fierce these days with travel agencies, we are sorry to say there are probably better trained agents at other places that can also put together a fantastic itinerary. We hope this feedback can help improve the services. We love Zicasso and had such a great time in Peru our first time. I hope that we can continue to trust the other local partners Zicasso puts us in touch with, but this past experience with our agent made this a bit questionable.
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