The trip to Ireland was a wonderful experience. This travel company earned high marks for locating an outstanding guide/driver for the first week and, for the most part, identifying quality accommodations. There were, however, notable lapses on this agency's part:
1. In my initial conversations with a travel company representative, she strongly advised taking a nonstop Aer LIngus flight from Washington-Dulles. The flight was fine, but it arrived at 5:15 a.m. local time and the travel company itinerary said we were to visit sights only 45 minutes from the airport that did not open until 9 a.m. This left us with the necessity of finding ways to occupy ourselves during our first 1.5 hours in Ireland. The sequencing of sights should be altered.
2. One of the events the travel agency described as a highlight of the tour was "An Evening of Fun, Folklore, and Fairies" our last night in Dublin. On the merits, the event was worthwhile. However, two separate documents provided to us by the travel company reflected different starting times--6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. We discovered the discrepancy, but felt reassured when we received a text message telling us that the event started at 6 p.m. When we arrived at the restaurant, we learned that the event started at 6:30 and we could not be admitted to the room until 6:30.
3. When we received the initial proposed itinerary, I exchanged emails with the travel coordinator expressing our lack of interest in seeing Kylemore Abbey--a castle-like dwelling constructed during the 1870s. The travel representative assured me that it was worthwhile, particularly the view. It was not worthwhile and the view was not one of the best five we saw that day.
4. When we initially received the itinerary, we were shocked to discover that without any input from us (a married couple), we had been booked in rooms with twin beds. To the travel company's credit, when we expressed disappointment, they were able to have the accommodations changed.
Any one of these lapses in isolation may appear trivial. None of them spoiled the trip. Our guide was wonderful. We identified sites and tours ourselves that were often better than the tours included by this company. They do, however, suggest substantial room for improvement.
1. The "Free Derry" museum in Derry's Bogside and, in particular, the tour led by the brother of one of those young people killed on Bloody Sunday in 1971.
2. The 1916 Rebellion Walking Tour in Dublin.
We selected both of these tours ourselves. Neither was provided as part of the the travel company.
3. Dining at Aniar in Galway.
4. Listening to traditional Irish music, particularly at a bar in Donegal.
5. The extraordinary coastal and bog-land scenery.
6. The Book of Kells and the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin.
Plan it ourselves.
Travel Companies Comments:
1. I apologize if you felt that the plan was not set correctly for your first day. That is certainly not how we want any of our clients' experiences to start off. Your original itinerary was confirmed before flights were set and then once the arrival time was arranged, it was discussed with you about timing and how that morning would go. We do try our best to make sure everyone's expectations are set correctly so there are no unexpected surprises but we do apologize if you felt that you weren't prepared correctly.
2. We are very happy to hear that you enjoyed the Evening of Food, Folklore, and Fairies at the Brazen Head pub! Our sincerest apologies that the timing on the voucher did not match the time on your own custom app provided from this travel company and that the message of arrival had you there too early. Hopefully, that time did not affect the overall evening and you still had a great experience!
3. I do apologize that our views on what we find on certain experiences and attractions in Ireland are not the same. Everyone has very different ideas of what is important to them and it seems as though since you knew you did not want to visit this attraction, and although we really do love it, we should not have then suggested it to you. I hope you did enjoy the other sights suggested along the way!
4. During the planning process, an important piece of what we discuss with our clients is bedding in the rooms, so expectations are set correctly. We discussed that typical standard double rooms will have one double bed. In our conversation, you mentioned that you would prefer Queens or Kings but if they were not available or within the room type selected, you would be happy in two twin beds. It seems as though this was then not the case, and we were pleased that we were able to make the changes at your request.
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