We are on this tour with three other couples. Guess we will be 1/3 of the group. Anyone else going? This will be our third Tauck Small Group tour.
We did this tour (small group) last September and it was wonderful. Enjoy!
As you can probably guess, our trip was cancelled. We booked for 2021 and have our fingers crossed.
Bummer. I'm waiting for the same. We're sked for the 4 Sep start. Which date in 2021 did you move to?
I guess I have an extra year to study French and a little German.
I was rebooked from the cancelled June 14, 2020 journey to the September 12, 2021 Switzerland: Europe's Crown Jewel.
Sep is popular. We wanted that again but all the Sep starts for 2021 are small group. The extra $1000 per person was a bit hard to swallow.
Hi, Claudia. I know the extra charge for small groups can seem steep, but, to me, it is so well worth the added expense. Less people translates to more time spent at various sites. And the Tauck "extras" are always delightful!
I saw in a different post that you live in NM. We are finally going to return there within two years to build an adobe-type home. It has been our dream to do that ever since we left Albuquerque in 1976.
Sorry for the digression.
Claudia Sails: Did you consider the August 29, 2021 Switzerland Europe's Crown Jewel (Classic Journey).
kfnknfzk, We have done small group - once because a classic tour wasn't full and once by choice. We enjoyed them but in this case decided to spend the extra for more time in the country. My grandfather came from a small town north of Zurich and we want to go there and see it. Who knows with the way traveling in going how many will actually be on our tour.
Re, NM I'll send you a private mssg.
Derek, yes we have a reservation on the 29 Aug 2021. It was the closest to the date we had chosen for 2020 and the last Classic of the season. Not sure why they made all the Sep 2021 starts small group. We want to avoid the summer rush as much as possible. The Sep and Jun dates for 2020 sold out first. We booked our 2020 reservation last Jul prior to the prices being set but the Sep dates were already filled or limited. Part of why we went ahead with our 2021 reservation fearing that the options were disappearing fast. Just wish they'd formally cancel the 2020.
Claudia Sails, we always do the small group. They are well worth it. Ours is booked for Sept. 6.
CathieOK, we enjoyed our small groups as well. On our ESW, tour it was supposed to be a normal sized sold out group but we ended up with 28 people 8 of whom were a family. In essence we had a group of 10 couples who had a great time together. Ended the tour at the Savoy and all of us that didn't have early flights kept the party going at The American Bar. We paid extra for small group in Ireland and that was good too.
It's just this time with the delta being $1000 ($900 for 2020) per person, decided to spend the extra on other things and hope the tour isn't sold out. Spent the extra on 3 nights in Zurich and a little towards business class airfare. It may be that we won't get some of the perks (like I've heard you may get an upgrade on the Glacier Express) but still think we'll have a fabulous time. We were supposed to be on the 4 Sep 2020 date but most likely will be of the 29 Aug 2021. Would have preferred a little later.
It's always a balancing act deciding where to put the money. For future tours we may well opt for small group, just wasn't our priority this time.
Small groups can also be a disadvantage. We had one couple on one of our K&T trips that was so nasty they didn’t even like each other. At one lodge they put out thirty chairs for our thirty person group, but this couple sat separately and put their stuff on the adjacent chair to prevent their ‘mate’ from sitting there. So two people had no place to sit. I’ll end it there ... it does go on.
Of course that could happen no matter the group size. Most obnoxious traveler I've ever had on a Tauck tour was on a river cruise with 60-70 passengers.
The one problem we did have on the ESW tour was with the family group. Caused an issue one night at the Bodnant food center. First they all showed up late because they had the time wrong. Then when we all went into the room for the food demonstration none of us were really paying attention to who was sitting where. Apparently they couldn't all sit at the same table for a 30 minute demo. Not sure if they said something to the TD or not but when we moved into the dining room for dinner the TD made some of us move to another table to make sure the family could all be at their own table. It was kind of like two different tour groups just sharing a bus for the entire tour. The last night one of the adults came up and said gee we didn't get a chance to know you guys. Ya think?
If you get a family or a group of friends traveling together, especially in a Small group, I’ve seen it cause problems several times. 3 of my 5 Tauck Africa trips were like that, it was as Claudia said, like two groups sharing the same bus. I would never pay extra for Small group. I’ve been on a couple because the date suited is more.Tauck offers more and more small groups so it is hard to avoid them. I’ve been on a few regular size tours where they have not been full anyway.
In principal, I agree with British on this matter, but the one exception (and there certainly are others) that I have spent the extra cost for a small group is Classic Italy, as I love the smaller, boutique, well located hotels and a few more family type dinners. Is it worth the extra cost? Probably not, but my feeling is that if I'm going to splurge, do it in Italy.
We’ve taken only 2 small group tours, one of which was unintentional. Four years ago when we did Treasures of the Aegean just as things were heating up in Istanbul, many had canceled leaving us with a group of only 12. In my estimation it was too small with not much opportunity to circulate as we were always with the same people! We did get to know some of the other 84 Windstar passengers however. Last December we did Costa Rica in a small group and it was a very congenial group and lots of fun. We generally prefer classic tours, but we did schedule a small group when we do Israel Jordan in 2022.
You're right British about it getting harder to find a classic sized tour. Of 40 Switzerland Crown Jewels tours in 2021 only 7 aren't small group and none in Sep when we want to go. 2020 only had one.
Generally, I agree with those who prefer the Classic Tours to the Small Group Tours. We did a "small" group tour to Spain and Portugal last year and there were 28 people on the tour. At that size, it provided no advantage over the larger group. This is particularly true because we had some people on the tour who weren't fit enough for the activity level of this tour. Any time we might have saved with the smaller group got eaten up by the laggards.
There are some tours where the itinerary is different for the small groups. Depending on your interests they may be worth the extra money, just for those differences. Classic Italy was already mentioned. The Best of Ireland, Small Groups has substantially upgraded accommodations on some nights. Does anyone know of any other tours where there is a difference in the itinerary or accommodations between the Classic and Small Group tours?
There are also two tours that I know of that are offered only as small groups. Tuscany and Cinque Terra is one and Provence is the other. These are the tours formerly marketed under the "Culturious" brand that are for travelers looking for a more active and culturally immersive experience. There are definitely smaller, averaging 18 and 22 people respectively. We took the Tuscany and Cinque Terra trip a few year ago and it was great. Our small group went places and did things you could never do with a bigger group. One of our favorite trips.
Jordan & Egypt Small Groups spends 4 nights on the river boat Oberoi Philea (vs three on the Oberoi Zahra for regular tours), and one night (vs two) in the Hotel Sofitel Legend Old Cataract in Aswan. It appears the itineraries are the same. Some small group departures (not all?) also travel south from Luxor to Aswan instead of north from Aswan to Luxor, but the stops/sites appear to be the same. You won't know this detail until you get the Summary of Purchase or unless the agent tells you- it was a bit of a surprise to us.
There are quite a few other small group only tours- Botswana, SA, Zambia, Yellowstone & the Tetons: American Safari, Yellowstone in Winter, British's Kingdoms & Dragons: Singapore to Bali, Northern India & Nepal, Manitoba: Polar Bear Adventure, A Week In... Tuscany & Umbria,
Yes, small groups do get some perks like after hours tours to museums etc. If that item is particularly important then the extra fee might be worth it.
The TDs do have some discretionary funds to spend during the tour. I wonder if the per person for that is higher for small group.
Most of the higher cost for Small Groups is to pay the Tour Director an extra amount, I’ve asked them about that....or what TD would want to lead a small group of people where they would earn far less in tips.
Most of the higher cost for Small Groups is to pay the Tour Director an extra amount...
Most of the higher cost for Small Groups is to pay the Tour Director an extra amount...
That's what I figured. I suspect the other cost increases are for costs fixed per tour rather than varying by person. Such costs would include the bus, local guides, etc. and would be spread among fewer people. I suspect that there is also little extra profit margin per traveler.