We think this travel agency did a good job setting up a pretty complicated trip to the South Pacific for us. Our emphasis was on World War II sites and we were able to visit several very significant but out of the way areas. However, there were some hiccups. The travel company made a last minute change to our itinerary in Guadalcanal which was a bit unnerving at the time because it broke up our tour there with a two day gap, but in retrospect saved us from a potential problem where we could have missed an international flight had we stayed with our original itinerary. There was also a miscommunication where we expected to be met by a tour guide couple when we landed in Gizo and then taken on a personal tour with them the following day, only to find out they had nothing to do with meeting or guiding us. What we thought would be an all day tour ended up only being about three hours with only a boat driver, no commentary that would normally be done by a professional tour guide. We were also not told about needing money to pay for visiting sites we landed on, including Kennedy Island, and for purchasing local crafts. Then we were told by our tour company that there was only one flight out of Gizo in the afternoon instead of early in the morning, which would mean missing the second half of our tour in Guadalcanal. Fortunately, the flight problem was rectified and we did make the Guadalcanal tour. We had another problem in Honiara when we were trying to upgrade our Cairns flight to Business Class and the airline instead cancelled our flight altogether. This required us to call San Diego on our own personal mobile to get our reservations reinstated.
We had friends living in Fiji and Australia that we hadn't seen in many years so that was one of the highlights of our trip. Also, we were able to visit places where both of our fathers and an uncle fought during WWII which was very moving for us, realizing the hardships they had to endure and the valor they showed being so far from home under quite harsh conditions. The South Pacific is very beautiful to look at but fighting a war there is far different.
We would limit how many places we were trying to see in such a short period of time. There were several very unique and beautiful locales where we would have liked to stay longer, but could not due to our very tight itinerary. We did not realize how far distant some of the places we wanted to visit were, which required multiple air flights and very early departures. We would also emphasize to anyone planning to visit the Solomon Islands that they be flexible with both their attitude and their schedule, as difficulties can and will happen, as they did to us. However, the people there are extremely friendly and want to please and things can be worked out with patience, perseverance, and a good cell phone plan.
TRAVEL COMPANY COMMENTS:
We are pleased that the clients enjoyed the majority of their 3-week adventure in Australia, Fiji and the Solomon Islands! It was a complicated trip, with many moving parts, so we were pleased we could accommodate specific requests and nail down an itinerary that touched on all their interests. We were determined to find the most knowledgeable guides for their WWII site visits, as we knew how much it meant to them, and we were happy to find tours that would still be educational and interesting in such remote areas.
There were a few concerns noted in the review that we would like to address. We did have to change the itinerary around last minute, but we were able to make the adjustments and create a more relaxed experience so that they wouldn’t have to worry about missing any international flight connections. Unfortunately, this did cause some worry for the clients. There was also some miscommunication with ground operators in Gizo about who would be running the tour, so that was a disappointment for both us and the clients. We won’t be offering tours with these local operators in future. It is too difficult to locate dependable guides and guarantee quality of the experience
We’re also happy that in light of the situation, the clients do understand the type of atmosphere that the Solomon Islands provides; and even though it can be a difficult place to travel when you have a complex itinerary, they still enjoyed the people and their time on the islands.
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