Access to Tauck Director

I will be taking my first Tauck trips. Does anyone know if I will have to access to a trip's Tauck Director in advance of the trip so that I can plan what to do during free time?


  • bruce78787 -

    If you are adding pre-tour days on a land trip and are staying at Tauck's designated hotel, the tour director is usually at the hotel one or two days prior to the start of the tour. When you check in at the hotel, there will be a packet from the director with suggestions of what to do on your own.

    It always helps to do some research of your own of the area prior to your arrival. The hotel concierge will also assist you. Good luck!

  • I have never had the experience of learning who a Tour Director will be, much less meeting with him or her before the day the tour starts. I always plan things to do on my own either before or after the tour ends. The forum is good for ideas as is, as kfnknfzk suggests, the hotel concierge. I also check Trip Advisor's "Things to do in ....." If you're looking for things to do during what might be a free afternoon mid-tour, be careful. Sometimes lunches and return to the hotel can run late. I like to fill my free time, too -- but sometimes a nap or a swim is in order!

  • As MCD says on-tour free time can disappear or be changed significantly in a flash, with little or no prior warning. Go ahead, research and plan, but if possible avoid hard bookings that require you to pay up front unless they have a liberal cancellation policy. Sometimes entire days are rearranged- during classic Italy our days in Rome looked nothing like the pre-tour itinerary. We went to the same places but at different times, on different days because the after-hours tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel were at the mercy of Vatican scheduling which changed.

  • We've only once had contact with a TD sooner than the day a tour starts. On River Cruises they usually have a desk at the Tauck hotel where those who arrived early are staying and where you get picked up to go to the ship. On land tours typically we've had info packets received when we checked in at the hotel. Our French tour this past Sep, we did get an email from the TD about a day ahead of time with information.

    Be careful planning additional sightseeing during free time. The schedule doesn't always go to plan. Not to mention that you may change your ideas once there or you're more tired than you thought you'd be.

  • I totally agree with everything that has been said. I have never not gotten a Welcome packet from a tour director before the tour begins. Sometimes you have to ask for it because the front desk forgets, or sometimes if you arrive the day before, it is not there and might appear under your hotel room door the next day. Also, always be sure to identifying yourself as a member of a Tauck tour when you check in, you would be surprised how differently you are treated. I would say it is more unusual for the TD to be around much before the tour begins.
    I’ve traveled once with two other tour companies, one of them, the Tour director emails or calls you a few days before the tour, the other one, has a whole list of tour Directors and which toirs they will be leading and on what dates. This is not how Tauck operates and I’ve taken several tours where the TD has mentioned they are a last minute replacement.

  • The excellent TD on my recent trip to the Balkans, Matt Mazanec, was a last-minute replacement for another TD, who had been called away to do a New England tour. In fact, the packet that I received at check-in included the name of the originally-scheduled TD. A TD doesn't need to know the area; he or she needs to know how to coordinate with the local guides, deal patiently with the tour participants, and handle emergencies. It's a completely different skill set than knowing a particular area of the world.

  • MCD..A TD doesn't need to know the area; he or she needs to know how to coordinate with the local guides, deal patiently with the tour participants, and handle emergencies. It's a completely different skill set than knowing a particular area of the world.

    MCD In my opinion it is so much more interesting when the TD is familiar with the area. On my Russian Glories Baltic Treasures tour, the TD had studied Russian History. She made the tour so much more enjoyable, especially during the long drives between locations. It was a wonderful history lesson.

    During my Grand Australia New Zealand tour, the TD was clueless. He knew nothing and added nothing to the tour. He was constantly on the phone. Many people complained.

    I also had a wonderful TD on the Portrait of India tour. She was so very knowledgeable in all things India and how to handle emergencies and difficult tour participants--which for some reason, there were many people issues on that particular tour.

    In my makes a difference!

  • I'll add one more thing about early contact with a TD- it happened only once in over a dozen tours. Our K&T TD contacted us via email several weeks prior. But as I said things can change and I doubt few if any TD's will send you the daily go-sheets which have more detail, usually hour-by-hour, than the basic website and green book.

    If you want more detail for a specific tour day you can usually get slightly more over the phone from a Tauck reservations sales rep. Your best bet for the information you are seeking is right here on the forums. But, again, remember it is all subject to change.

  • Cathy - If Antarctica is like the Iceland tour there was a head TD that mostly interfaced with Ponant and then 2+ other TDs ( I say + because we had a trainee in addition to the two CDs). The TDs ran the day to day activities, excursions, etc. Based on my two small ship tours and one river cruise (we had three CDs on the river cruise that split the work) the interaction with the TD is much greater on a Land based tour than on either of the ship based tours. The TD you had on a daily basis for ship based tours was a function of what excursion you signed up for.

  • I agree with PureLuxury that a tour director who is knowledgeable of the area, customs, cuisine, history, language, et al, is so important to the overall enjoyment of a tour. Knowing how to coordinate all the logistics, what-if scenarios and dealing with guests are certainly important, but should be minimum requirements for the job, in my opinion.

    Only once did I have a tour director who fell solely into the latter category.

  • I don't disagree that a Tour Director who knows the area can make the trip more memorable. My TD on Grand Australia and New Zealand was half Maori, and his personal experience was a wonderful addition to the trip; maybe that is part of the reason that that was my favorite trip.

  • The land tour directors have way more interaction with customers and are so much more important than the ship ones.
    Tauck uses so many local guides these days that the tour group hooks up with as the tour goes along, the TD can get by without a lot of knowledge. In fact, guiding laws in some countries demand you use a local TD with tour groups in addition to the Tauck TD. While it is much better if the TD is knowledgeable or better still, lives in the country, I think Tauck are relying on the locals more and more.
    We once had a very late replacement TD and they had to rely on the bus driver to know exactly when and where to go and it worked out fine….in fact. don’t underestimate the impact of the bus driver!
    We have had some incredible tour directors, they are a treasure to Tauck

  • If you watch the video on ‘page one’ of the Antarctica tour description you will see our TD from the ‘Treasures of the Med. Isles’ that we just did. He’s the guy with the beard talking, and later holding up a chunk of ice. He was the lead TD of four. There was a designated Tauck/Ponant liaison person, and it was not the TD. There were local guides, but the Tauck TDs were directing the show on the ship and ashore. The TD’s were everywhere and we had the lead TD’s phone number so we could send him texts which he always responded to very quickly. We actually have had this TD twice before, and he is amazing.

  • Cathy, did you have the same TD each day on ship cruises regardless of the excursion you picked. On ours the TDs were assigned to specific excursions. As such, depending on the excursions you picked you would interact with a different TD each day. That isn't the case on a land tour. Yes the Local tour guides provided the commentary (in all cases - ship and land), but the one TD was present every day for the whole group. Because of this I felt I got to know the TD on the land based tours much more than the TDs on the ship based tours.

  • edited November 2021

    Neither the ship, boat or the Africa safaris are truly representative of a land Tauck tour. The land TD’s have to deal with all manner of problems in comparison because there are so many more components to the tours. I think some of the River cruise TD’s are possibly newer Tauck recruits who can be supported by the more experienced ones present.
    It’s funny that Pureluxury should mention India. We had a very experienced TD and we also had a very difficult tour member. She handled her very well but it was difficult and disrupted for all of us. It was the TD’s last tour of the season she was tired, even fell ill and had to go snd get an IV to rehydrate. That was when the bus driver saved the day and he and the local guide took us on our tour schedule that day. Thank goodness it was not a travel day.

  • I’m just stating my opinion, I know it’s not the opinion of everyone. I only know that I’ve been on tours where the TD may not have even directed that tour before, but they are very experienced, which is why they are often asked to to lead a tour at last minute. When you are experienced, it doesn’t take you long to pick up the facts and figures that most people are interested in. Of course, there are often, yes often people who don’t want to be bothered with information judging by the talking that goes on on the bus at times when the TD is speaking. The same with the lectures on the boats I have been on, they are not well attended.
    Safaris and River boats are relatively new ventures for Tauck. Safaris lead a much smaller group of people, River boats and small ships have more than one TD so they can support each other. You don’t really get to know the boat and ship directors like you do on the land tours. Many land tours have forty plus people on them, I just think the TD’s have to work even harder.
    The Galápagos tour we took with Tauck, which did not include Peru. The TD was adorable, but he really had little work to do, the ship people conducted everything until we got on land again for just one day. Maybe the Antarctica tour will be the same once you get on the ship, I’ve no idea. Could you comment on that when you return Cathy.?

  • On both of my recent tours, Hawaii and Adriatic Treasures, we had a second Tauck employee shadowing the TD to train to direct each tour. In both cases, the trainee had worked for Tauck on riverboats in the past. Not good or bad, just fact.

  • Cathy - In our case, the Iceland tour, I believe the presence of the TD Trainee was Tauck ramping up staffing again as tours resumed followed the Covid hiatus. Tauck, like most travel/leisure companies reduced staff during the hiatus. Our Iceland tour was one of the first international tours to return following the lockdown.

  • Even before covid Tauck would have new TDs training up. That's especially common in cruises where multiple TDs are the norm. Our Seine cruise back in 2017 had a TD who was experienced with the Danube cruises but new to the Seine. Then at the end of the cruise one of our other TDs was being sent up to Iceland to learn that tour.

  • While TD's come and go, Tauck rarely hires rookies. New hires often have degrees in business or travel related fields and have worked in the travel industry for a number of years before joining Tauck. And they stay with Tauck for a long time. A number of Tauck webpages say TDs average over 10 years with the company, but I saw one article a few years back that said Tauck TD's have on average 15 - 20 years with the company, with some having as many as 30 years!

  • We have had Rob, the TD in the Antarctica video, on both land and small ship tours. He was prominent and available on both. On our “Blue Danube” river boat cruise the TD’s were more in the background except during events on the boat. The local tour guides were prominent at each of our stops. Our small boat to Russia was similar. All of our Africa TD’s were prominent everywhere, but the drivers did most of the ‘guiding’. The TD’s were always in the picture.

  • AlanS
    A number of Tauck webpages say TDs average over 10 years with the company, but I saw one article a few years back
    that said Tauck TD's have on average 15 - 20 years with the company, with some having as many as 30 years!

    These types of metrics can be looked at both ways. They can mean that Tauck is a stable and good place to work that retains its workforce. It can also mean that they aren't growing very quickly (adding more types of tours, new destinations, new itineraries). If they were then they would have to hire more TDs and by definition the average amount of seniority of their TDs would drop. An average of 10 years seems to indicate a more vibrant company than the 15-20 year number. As with all sustaining companies the average seniority of their workforce is cyclical thing. Based on the numbers you cited the Tauck number may cycle between 10-20 years of seniority for TDs.

  • Our Antarctica trip had 3 young tour directors. All three were lovely and helpful when getting gear on and off. We had a very rough crossing both ways and they were always available. They were visible and available but not that important for the success of the trip. At least not noticeably. The ship staff and naturalists were in charge. BTW, it was a wonderful trip in spite of the Drake Passage.crossing which provided lots of stories and bragging on our part.

  • Smiling Sam
    These types of metrics . . . . can mean that Tauck is . . . . a stable and good place to work.

    Oh, also, according to a couple of non-Tauck business and trade publications, Tauck perennially is at the top or very near the top of "Employee satisfaction" and best places to work in Connecticut (and home :D ).

  • Thank you all for your comments. They were extremely helpful.

  • Hello.
    bruce78787 I normally start researching before I book the tour, so I'm always sure about what I'm getting into.- see what the country has to offer, make sure it's what you're looking for, what attracts you... once you select the perfect tour.. start researching top 10 sights - most see- top things to do, best itineraries for a # of days -best places to visit etc...
    Make a list, then compared with Tauck's itinerary and also call Tauck customer reps. they can give you the departure and time of arrival for each day during the tour. (always consider traffic, so go by 1 hour later then told) .. so you will have an idea of how much leisure time you'll have..
    I always get to the destination 2 nights before the tour starts so that gives me a full day and half for any xtra activities. Do not count on... having much free time while on tour.. if you have any particular interest, it is easier to acommodate those visit outside of the tour time.. unless you get lucky and it is a Tauck surprise! beacause Tauck does includes visits that are not listed- they are a gift to you from the company. Do your homework- every country has an official webpage -
    visit...... .com
    Also good sources- Tripadvisor,, and much more..
    One other tip, email the hotel coincerge, let him know you are going to be there with Tauck! they will go the xtra mile...
    Tauck is a golden key that opens doorss... but do not abuse it and be respectful.

    Now ,as I'm reading the above... I think the term TD ( tour director ) is getting mixed with TG (tour guide.) .
    Yes, it is always a plus for the TD to have some knowledge of the country, that's up to each individual , but their job is to run the tour, the logistic, to make sure everything works -Tauck 's quality standards and every trip becomes best ever for the client.

    TG is normally a local guide that knows the history and events of each country , the person that represents the country and sales it to you through his knowledge. This is a popular gig for art/ history educators... and xtra income during school vacactions of as they retired.. They are well educated fellows...

    There is several schools that train TD's and TG's , here in US - there is a great one in San Francisco & also 1 in Canada - Tauck does hire graduates from the SF academy which it's excellent. not cheap and highly qualified.
    Hope this hepls...
    HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!!!!!!

  • Tauck's TD's and CD's have been wonderful in my experience. You just have to know that they have difference responsibilities. Sometimes they overlap, which is just a bonus. The only exception to great CD's was on the Antarctica trip. The CD's had nothing to really do when we were on the water. The boat crew and staff took care of the day-to-day operations and off-boat excursions. The CD's stood at the back of the auditorium and gave candy to participants at the end of the daily schedule announcements and lectures. The CD's, since they had little in the way of responsibilities, did a lot of partying as well.The just didn't have much to do. I assumed they had one or two "on duty," while they others enjoyed their time at the bar. However, on land, they did a great job keeping the schedule going and getting us to the places we needed to go.

    Most often, the CD's and TD's were very familiar with any places we were visiting and served, often, as unofficial TG's as well. I know our directors on the cruise from Istanbul to Athens in 2011 had a wealth of local information, they were great on and off the boat. I think that trip has changed a lot. We were on a small boat (not a sailboat) with 60 passengers and 55 crew members. If you thought you needed something, they had it before you could ask them.

    Seth, in T and K (he was also on the I to A cruise as well), was very knowledgeable and just a great organizer. Mary, in Best of Ireland, was fantastic and knew more than most of the TG's we had. The TD (sorry, forgot her name) in E, S, and W was also wonderful. Yellowstone in Winter (two times) TD's were great.

    On other company tours/cruises, or times I have just driven or flown somewhere on my own, I typically hire my own local drivers and guides for excursions (it is usually a wash, expense wise) and get wonderful service from them ( Roberto's people are flexible and easy to deal with and he sets all of this up just about anywhere, not just Italy. I will be doing that for my early day in Amsterdam (May) before the Tauck riverboat trip to Brussels, the extra days in Brussels, and the extra day in following the Tauck trip to Paris and Normandy, etc., after the land tour there (June).

    This forum is also a prime source for information for specific questions about a tour.

  • On Jan 3rd our Tauck Director Zack Pennington for the Jan 11th Tauck Yellowstone in Winter sent an email to all guests with updates on the tour and instructions on how to contact 2 hotels for dinner reservations one week prior to the tour.

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