Why doesn't Tauck use more comfortable buses?
I recently returned from a trip with another tour company (Insight). Their buses were much more comfortable, which is their "claim to fame." The group is the same size (40 max), but their buses have the extra rows of seats removed and there's 6-8 inches of additional leg room between rows. Tauck is a higher-end tour company. Why to they use a lower end bus configuration?
Maybe Insight goes to the more typical tourist places. As far as I know, Tauck gets the best available in the countries they go to. I’ve only used one other company just once.and that was enough to send us straight back to Tauck. We only used that company because Tauck did not go to the destination we wanted. There was more concern about other things than a crummy bus.
Could you call or write to Tauck and see what they say and let the forum know.
I went to their website and looked. Yes, that is nice to have the extra leg room and the WC at the back might allow someone other than a midget contortionist to use it. One advantage of the coaches Tauck uses is that the group can spread out more and have room if they want to bring a larger tote on board and stash it in the back for accessibility. All of which I've seen on multiple tours. I needed to elevate my legs on one tour and being able to go to the back and sit sidewise in an empty seat helped a lot. We also had some people with colds on our ESW and they opted to sit in the back away from the group which we appreciated. One couple of solo travelers traded daily who got to sit in the assigned seats alone and the other sat in the back. It gave them a little space from one another. The only time I've been uncomfortable on a Tauck coach was in London when the driver insisted we all wear seat belts (yes its the law but most ignore) and they were incredibly tight across my shoulder/collar bone.
I suspect another advantage is that more people are towards the front of the bus and less likely to experience motion sickness.
British - just sent an email via their contact link. Unless they object (I asked in my post), I will copy their response here when I receive it.
Regarding destinations, they tend to be fairly similar, although their hotels are a level down from Tauck. When I did the Tauck Scandinavia trip last summer, we crossed paths with an Insight group at one of the stops. After one of our group members, who had traveled with them in the past, commented about their superior buses, a few of us poked our heads in their bus and noted the extra spacing between rows (and wifi).
Interesting about the hotels. I also noted they aren't as accommodating wrt airport transfers. Only included if "If your arrival and/or departure flights are as per the itinerary start and end dates, then transfers are available at scheduled times." Otherwise it's extra even if you book extra nights at their hotel.
On the other hand they have a Scotland land tour that includes much more than other tours including Tauck and some islands so I might have to do some serious considering.
Claudia - Unlike Tauck and A&K, their trips aren't a guaranteed go when listed unless they reach a certain number of travelers. On their web site, under each trip's schedule, they indicate when this has happened for specific dates. So if you do book with them, don't buy airfare too early in case the trip is cancelled.
I have only been on one Tauck tour and one Insight tour. I do agree from these experiences that Insight had the better buses. It was very hard to see out of the small windows Tauck buses used in Spain. Also, the Tauck bus was elevated at the rear of the bus which caused a few of us to stumble because the steps are not well marked. However, we were told not to use the toilet on the Insight bus unless it was an emergency. In fact, the people who used it were made to feel a little uncomfortable. Howver, the air conditioning on Insight's bus was better. Your question addressed only the bus. However, I think it's only fair to compare the two your companies with regard to other factors. Is the bus that i!important to you? That's just one factor. Tauck has better hotels, customer service and prestige, so that when you 're on a Tauck tour, you are treated with extreme courtesy and deference by service personnel in hotels and in other places. Luggage handling is more seamless and they allow more bags to be handled by hotel staff than just the one bag allotted by Insight. All excursions are included and there are more included meals with Tauck. You also aren't taken to kick-back places when you could be spending time in a city or town where you'd liked to be. The tour guides on the tours I went on were both excellent, and local guides on the Insight tour were actually a little bit better, perhaps because we had to queue up and tip them after each presentation. Tauck pays the local guides but maybe the fee doesn't add up to as much as the individuals tips do.Overall, I would give Tauck an A-minus and Insight a B-minus, all factors considered. It depends on what you want. All told, I think Tauck's value for the money is better, and their customer service is excellent.
I agree with you that Tauck's service and accommodations are better. That's why I posed the question - their buses are their weak link.
Do buses make the tour? Certainly not, however, on some trips, there's a lot of bus time. For example, 6 months ago, I was on the Tauck Patagonia tour and the buses in Argentina were the most cramped of all their tours I've been on. It's one area where there's room for improvement and the Insight bus proves it can be done. FWIW, on my Insight trip we were told to feel free to use the bathroom on the bus.
We're taking our 7th Tauck Tour this summer. The buses have all been the same from Ireland, UK, Germany , Eastern Europe and Switzerland. All cool and comfy with penty of extra seats in the back!
The Patagonia tour did have less comfortable buses than is usual, but hey it is Patagonia. I only remember this because it’s only been a few months since I did that tour. I really don’t remember much about buses otherwise. Tauck can only use the buses the countries provide. They pretty much have their own buses everywhere else. I’d never travel with Insight after reading what is said here.
Strivercarla, never been to Spain with Tauck, but never seen buses like you mention on any of their tours. Tauck appear to be providing more and more of their own buses rather than contracting them.
But who has the purdiest buses??
They are not always like this, but the murals are really stunning like these samples of what we had on our buses during England,Scotland, Wales: (Reststop in the shadows of Jedburgh Abbey)
Ultimate Alps & Dolomites: (Grossglockner pass on the High Alpine Road)
Romantic Germany: (Sankt Goarshausen on the Rhine)
Thanx for the warning. I could live with less fancy hotels and fewer included meals but location is. And we'd hate the required tipping. Just wished Tauck had a more extensive land tour there. I may have to invest in Dramamine and go for the small ship tour. That or take the shorter land tour then maybe go out on our own.
Got an answer from Tauck, pasted below.
AlanS - you are probably aware those customized Tauck bus pics you posted are vinyl wraps that peel off.
Thank you for your email to Guest Relations.
In terms of how our motorcoaches compare to Insight, I cannot speak to the exact specifics of their brand but I can tell you that Tauck has our own standards in place regarding what type of motorcoaches we use on tours.
We have specific requirements across all markets concerning the age of the coach, seat pitch, maximum capacity, and amenities offered to our guests.
Insight is heavily focused on North America and Europe land tours and markets themselves as having the most legroom in the travel industry as a selling point.
We (as you know, having taken many of our Exotics trips) have a much more varied worldwide market. Therefore the consistency of our motor coach styles may vary more depending on region the world. However, they should all adhere to our minimum standards.
I shared your email with the Director of Worldwide Operations at Tauck and she would like me to thank you for taking the time to alert us to this area of opportunity.
We are always looking to improve our tours and our overall guest experience.
I have no objection to you posting this reply in a forum, but Guest Relations does not monitor those so there won't be any replies to follow up questions there from myself or this department. I only kindly ask you not share my direct email address or phone number on the forum.
Please let me know if I can be of further assistance, and I hope we will have the privilege of welcoming your back soon.
That’s a nice response. I had no idea Insight just travels to Europe and The US. There’s your answer, they are not exotic enough to have to cope with third world travel challenges.
Tauck still could do better bus-wise in North America and Europe.
I didn't start this thread to plug Insight (just one tour with them and no plans for another), but if you go to their web site, they also cover the Middle East and Turkey.
Tauck’s response says “heavily focused” not exclusive to North America and Europe. We can only speak to our Tauck coaches on our three European tours, but they have been new, clean and very comfortable. No complaints.
Just a reference point: on our recent Switzerland: Europe's Crown Jewel trip, the bus:
as was normal, the Tauck seat rotation policy was used which kept it from being a scramble for seats or claiming one for the duration of the tour
I sure do miss the seat rotation on the river and small cruse ship tours, .the same people always seemed to bag the frontish seats on the buses.
I've never missed it mainly because we usually head to the back door. There always seems to be a slow line of people getting on at the front and getting off. The real trick is to select a cruise with minimal bus time. Our one weeker on the Rhone was the best. Almost all the stops you could walk right to sights or had very short bus rides.
I used to head to the back door, too, until my Danube Christmas Markets tour last December when my knees had gotten so bad that I could no longer use it. I came home and had both knees replaced in March. Hopefully they will be much better by the time of my Rhine, Swiss Alps and Amsterdam cruise this October and I can go back to getting on the back door!
Arg, knee pain. I'm trying to avoid surgery.
FYI, the "heading to the back door" option works fine on tours where they drive on the right - the driver sits left and both doors are on the right side so the driver generally opens both. On our UK and Ireland tours the driver and front door were switched but not the back door so the driver never opened it. Fortunately both our trips ended up small group (one by a fluke and the other planned) so it wasn't a problem.
Claudia Sails. I’ve been resisting my wife’s pleas to get my knees done for years. Got the right one done four months ago, and now fully operational. Can’t wait to get the other one done ... Sept. 6th. Just did a small boat Spain and Portugal with lots of walking and stairs. I had ‘few’ problems. The ‘new’ knee is way better than the yet to be done knee. I used a walker infrequently for two days, and never used crutches or a cane. That being said, I would not recommend having both done at the same time unless you are otherwise in ‘really’ good shape.