Firstly, our group had a great time. Although the medicane produced rains and winds we did not let the weather damped our spirits. We loved Greece, and several of us would return to spend more time in Athens and to visit the other islands. Second, I have used many tour agencies for small and larger group trips around the world so I hope you will take this in the context of someone who has traveled extensively, and has used services like this before. Finally: I spend 4-5 days a week traveling and living in hotels. So do two other of our participants so we know hotels well.
Our trip: One thing worth noting with the trip was the names of the participants. This was no issue for the sign in the bus (i.e., Smith X 8) but it became a major issue: When 2 members checked in, to meet the group of 6 persons our ambassador put them in a cab to go to the hotel and check in on their own. This was ok however all the rooms were under my name and they had a very hard time checking in. Your agency knows our names yet they were constantly wrong on reservations, only the airlines (thank goodness) were correct. The Hotels: The first hotel had a great location but was not a top hotel. We had to change rooms due to bathroom smells, broken window, and even notably found women's underwear hanging in the shower of one room. Also one room wasn't ready at check in. The Andromeda had a great location but also had a few missteps. The first night they put four couples in the deluxe room, but placed my husband and I in a very strange rooms outside of the exclusive area with two bedrooms, no in unit Jacuzzi and a very steep set of wooden indoor steps. They were going to leave us there and we had to stay one night until our actual room was ready. If we had booked ourselves we would have asked for a refund as that first room was awful. The breakfast was also sub-par. Participants liked the hotels but did not feel they were a good value for the money or 'top of the line'. The transfers: Great coaches and drivers, cannot say enough positive things about them. All top of the line. The Tours: Although weather played a part in this, our group has the following tour recommendations: Please spend more time at the Acropolis slopes and museum. This was very rushed and we ended up on our free morning buying a separate ticket to the Agora when we could have gotten the 30 Euro pass and explored all the ruins in Athens. Highly recommend a day long walking tour of Athens and the Acropolis, forget the city bus tour. On our own we did Hadrian's arch, Agora, the market, and other ruins from the outside. our last night we also climbed the hill across from the acropolis to get evening photos. Delphi was amazing, absolutely worth the trip. However skip Sournion as the temples is not as impressive and the drive is long, do not recommend it. On Santorini: we loved the hike and the bike ride was a tremendous hit (the food was the best on the bike tour)! Both are must dos.Recommend you add Akotiri and the museum in Fira. We added those on our own and they were fabulous. The boat weather was far too rough, we asked to go in early as several people felt sick due to the rough seas. Also we NEVER recommend to go bike and boat back to back. We rushed the end of the bike tour at the beach missing cocktails and time in the sun and the boat we had a tremendous issue, as you are aware with the passports which we resolved on our own without help from the agency. We also didn't have our swimsuits or any boating equipment because we were originally supposed to go back to the hotel in between but there was no time. Therefore we didn't use a transfer and there was no reimbursement for that. On the boat. I know there was a lot of confusion about the passports and the boat, however the names on the manifest the captain received where 95% wrong. Only 1 persons was correct. The rest were misspelled and some people were not on the list, one person was left off, I was on twice with different name spellings. This should never happen. You had our passports-so not sure why you wouldn't step in to help us despite our numerous emails to you. The Food: The first dinner at Kuzina was misleading, with the use of the Michelin term, participants understood we would be eating at a Michelin star restaurant. We found Kuzina to be mediocre and in the future recommend a different restaurant or do not say Michelin. Our group really enjoyed another resturant instead. Also the three course lunch in Delphi was middle of the road, nothing special. We had to find the best restaurants on our own, we found the restaurants you recommended in Santorini to all be high priced fine dining, very few reasonable places. In past tours our travel services provided us a list of personal recommendations in a variety of price ranges and that was really missing here. The Guides: The shining stars of the trip were the people. We have some constructive feedback on our Athens guide. She focused only on myths, not history, she faced the front of the bus and gave long lectures and ignored our questions. When we tried to look at something on her own she got angry and threatened to 'just wait for us at the end if we weren't going to pay attention to her'. She was not like all the other Greek people we encountered who were friendly, helpful, and accommodating. We do not recommend this guide. Our contact on Santorini was very overwhelmed in our first meeting due to the weather. She was staying at the airport to wait for other groups so we had to wait in the bus while she gave us explanations while we could have been on the way to our hotel. Then, she claims she texted us extensively (and showed us the texts) but we never received any of them. Why wouldn't she call us or email us when she didn't hear back? She was very apologetic at the airport, but was more justifying her positioning, showing us all the texts and making us wait outside the airport while she explained to us. Several members of the group said that we would never again use Zicasso or our this travel agency due to the issues we encountered on the trip. Although we were able to enjoy our trip, we had to do a lot of extra work and deal with several individuals who were not helpful or supportive. This is a real shame as we have never encountered as much difficulty with a tour group. In summary: Our group feels like our travel agency did not manage our trip to our expectations (especially given the high fees paid) and therefore we should be reimbursed for:
Typically we do not ask for reimbursements but there were so many errors in our trip and we feel there was not the value for the fees paid-this trip was not inexpensive. Unfortunately we are very disappointed in this travel agency and Zicasso.
Things we loved:
1. Our own self-guided tour of Athens
2. The restaurants we found on our own!
3. The Acropolis museum
5. Santorini's hike and bike rides
See above for detailed suggestions!
We would do the trip 100% on our own and not use the tour agency.
For the $$$ we expected a lot more value and attention to detail and we were disappointed by that.
We love Greece and the people, but not the tour agency!
TRAVEL COMPANY COMMENTS
Thank you for your review and we do appreciate the feedback.
Even though the hurricane was creating major problems throughout Greece and causing massive disruption to itineraries; I do agree with you that some issues were definitely avoidable and do require attention.
In respect to the issue at the first hotel, which indeed is a new and 5 star with good reviews, the owners have written an apology letter and are refunding the one night for the room in question. It is definitely not something that should have happened and I fully understand your comments.
As far as the hotel in Santorini and the room allocation. Again you are right in the fact the hotel room allocation was an issue, and I do apologize – but it should be noted that due to the hurricane and ships not sailing the hotel was facing a very serious issue with clients that could not depart due to the hurricane. I understand your point 100% ; and we did our utmost to get the best possible rooms We will refund the one night that the room was subpar.
In Santorini, regretfully you were on the island when the hurricane was going through and the tours on the one day were seriously disrupted. Even though we did try to combine the sailing tour on the same day so as that not to miss out on the experience; it did not work out properly. We will refund the amount of the transfer from your hotel to the port for the cruise. As I personally sent out the details to the sailing company I am afraid that these were misplaced by them; it should be noted that identification is required when taking boat trips as it has to do with coast guard regulations. All of Santorini on those days was having serious issues which caused many of the local tours to be redesigned and passengers reallocated. That of course doesn’t mean that your contact should not have called; she should definitely have and you are absolutely correct about this.
As you noted that you spend so many days travelling per year, the issues you raise are to the point and I would wish to apologize for any inconvenience. We will be reimbursing the amount of €711 in total. This will come through on the account that you paid us within the week.
I would like to add that personally and for each booking I feel as if I have a guest in my country – and through our emails a friend in my country. I understand and appreciate your comments and thank you for your input and for travelling with us.
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