Opinion Needed

I have a great time with Tauck my last three trips in 2023.

I think I will have further travel with Tauck. However, I am heading to a country, either Korea or Malaysia, that Tauck does not offer any tour to next year. I have signed up with Abercrombie & Kent (Outrageous Single Supplement) and have been thinking of Gate1 Travel also.

When I was with Tauck A Week in Portugal, I was actually adopted for a short few hours with people from Gate1 and prefer the companionship with Gate1 than Tauck (bigger group, more adventurous with local cuisine, more unaccompanied free time, less dependence on VOX- short introduction and you are off on the your own, younger, quicker and more generous with their credit card and purse). The two or three people I hang out with at Tauck A Week in Portugal are usual Abercrombe & Kent clients. They prefer A&K to Tauck.

Any thoughts (good or bad) are welcome so I can decide on Abercrombie & Kent, Gate 1, or Tauck.



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    It depends on what your preferences are. I prefer a small group, and I like that Tauck handles everything. Tauck keeps you busy - little free time. If free time is what you want, maybe Tauck is not the best choice for you.

    I've never used A&K but I hear good things about them.

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    Tauck gives you more and more free time these days. I prefer to be busy the entire tour and to see a lot more sites without having to figure out when to book an extra tour or activity.on your own. We have come across both Gate 1 and Abercrombie and Kent people staying in the same hotels as Tauck

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    I've taken 15 tours with Tauck and 2 with A&K. They are comparable. They stay in many of the same hotels and use many of the same local guides. I give the edge to Tauck, though. I've found the Tauck tour directors to be better -- though I acknowledge that I might just have hit some mediocre TDs with A&K because of the small sample size. If I wanted to go somewhere that Tauck wasn't going (which happened to have been my case), I wouldn't hesitate to use A&K.

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    I have done three tours with Tauck, two cruises with Uniworld but have never tried Abercrombie & Kent. I heard that the TD tend to be slightly not as good as Tauck's. I am very impressed with all the TDs I have met on my Tauck tours.

    Any other differences? I know that Tauck and Abercrombie & Kent often use the same local guides, local airport transfer and similar hotels but I heard that the meal choices may be slightly different.I also heard that Abercrombie & Kent has more city slickers and international.

    Also, from my research, Abercrombie & Kent has more active excursions involve significant walking on more treacherous terrain and they tend to go to the local restaurants more. Any truth to that?

    I just don't know how to justify the insane single supplement from Abercrombie & Kent.

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    edited December 2023

    henrypoon_66 Hi.

    I'm happy with Tauck. 10 tours so far... 2 schedules.

    A&K it's a rip-off- the single supplement it's OBSCENE!!!!!!!!!! . and their schedule and hotels 98% of the time are the same as Tauck, so there isn't a real reason for the cost of the single suppl. to be that high.

    Anyways, your observation about the activities and adventure side of the Tauck tours it's the biggest issue, now a days people want to do more than just the visits and down time at the hotels... . I personally schedule my own xtra's but of course at an extra cost, another issue it's the demographic (of course not everyone (younger crow) can afford the cost- so their demographic it's mostly retired- which it's okay- also in most cases they are active but there is always the ONE! that will slow things down... and lately some new to Tauck participants are not as friendly and self-center...new generation of easy money - no class or education gang.
    So, you'll have to decide if you want to just relax at the hotel or adventure on your own.
    But I do understand your point. - I myself have question if Tauck still a good option for me as I'm still fairly young and active, but I love their hotel selection, schedules, incredible service, the certainty of my personal safety (I always go solo) and the TD's friendliness and knowledge.
    If I was you, I would go with the one you had the best experience specially and offers most of the activities and places you would like to do & see.
    Do not pay for the single suppl. with A&T.- it's outrageous!! It's a 1-week tour with Tauck.

    Hope this helps. :)

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    From what I have heard: Abercrombie & kent tends to be more activities focused and its iternitary would not hesitate to pack the day; you like it or not.

    For the 2023 Tauck Venice and Croatia cruise with Ponant, most hiking and swimming excursions were either cancelled or attended by 1-2 people. There were a wave of complaints regarding putting Krka National Park and Mestrovic Gallery on the same day. This year Mestrovic Gallery was replaced by a river cruise in the afternoon. Many simply focused on dressing up for the nightly dinners.

    For the Tauck Japan tour, Bamboo groove and Torri Gates were not included due to the fitness level of the Tauck members.

    I have met with the people from Gate1 in Portugal. They are more independent and have a better fitness level. They tend to have a wide range of age and background.Also in that particular excursion they were given a short introduction and were allowed to go at their own pace at the exhibits without being tied down to VOX box. The Tauck frolks tend to be within a few inches of each other, moving very slowly.

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    There appear to be more and more people traveling with Tauck who just want to relax, especially on river cruises and small ship adventures. So we have found another company which asks you for all your medical issues and medicines, and if you are over 80, you have to send a signed Dr’s note. The level of fitness for the specific tours are stressed more than Tauck stresses. This has worked well, apart from one tour where three people were traveling together and in poor shape, but as one was a doctor, I suspect he signed the form, thankfully, they arrived with Covid and we got rid of them from the tour. There is hardly any down time on the tours and we get to see way more than on a Tauck tour. We still love Tauck, but they keep adding more and more free time and ‘find your own meals’ So really they are getting less and less inclusive on price. We have two tours booked with them next year, we have had up to six a year on a couple of years.

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    edited December 2023

    I like the tours to have lots of activities. There is always a choice to just skip an activity if one wants to relax. Too bad about the Metrovic Museum - We loved it and would not have known anything about the artist otherwise.

    Our last tour was a disappointment with few activities, just "time to relax and enjoy." One cancelled activity was not replaced. If I want to "relax and enjoy" I book my own trip. Have 2 tours booked this year with Tauck. Usually we are booked 2 years out but waiting to see how we like this years' tours. Looking at altenative companies so I like this discussion. We are in our early 70s and have done 18 tours with Tauck.

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    I would not judge your experiences with Tauck on river cruises and small ships to be representative of Tauck in general -- I have found river cruises and small ship cruising to be much different than land trips. Land trips tend to be much more active, it seems. My husband and I do the small group trips and have never had a problem finding lots to do in the event of free time. The tour directors generally have suggestions for additional activities and often accompany the group to a place not on the tour generally. We will be taking our 23rd and 24th tours with Tauck in 2024. We have also traveled with other tour companies for nature and adventure travel and always enjoy the Tauck difference when on a Tauck trip. We really have seen much of the world with Tauck, having taken our first trip in 2020. The Tauck exotic trips are quite action-packed compared with the more civilized destinations. You may want to try some different types of trips before you decide whether Tauck is the right travel company for you.

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    We've been traveling with Tauck since they first introduced the "Yellow Roads of Europe" in the '90's and have been on 16 tours over the years - all land tours. We are active and like the fact that there is free time in each city rather than being scripted. What we are interested in seeing may not be what others do. We like museums and churches and going off the beaten path. To us having half of a day free is preferable to having the entire day scheduled. We don't sign up for additional tours but rather explore on our own. We also sign up for the traditional tours rather than the small ones.

    As an example, while in Dublin we went to Evensong at St. Patrick's Cathedral. We walked back from the EPIC Museum stopping into some museums (to see the bog bodies) as well as Merriam Square. We also experienced graduation at Trinity College - people really dress up for the occasion! Others probably returned to the hotel but that is not necessary. Get a good guidebook and map and decide how you want to wander through the city. You may miss some of the must sees but you get a good feel for the city and the people who live there.

    In Kilkenny we wandered across the street from the castle when the tour ended. We found a secluded garden which contained blocks from a tower that the IRA blew up in Dublin. We sat there eating some fruit. While it was relaxing, it is not a place that others had found and brought us a connection to the beginning of the trip in Dublin.

    We are not cruisers and have never taken a river cruise or an ocean cruise with Tauck. (We did take a Princess cruise to Alaska which included a week on land.) We are scheduled for our first cruise on the Duoro in 2024. We are concerned that we will only get to see a small amount of what the area has to offer. We will wait and see. We have friends (active and in their 70's) who took the Duoro cruise with Gate 1 this past fall. Their cruise did not include the major cities - beginning and ending in Porto. They enjoyed it and would travel with Gate 1 again.

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    edited December 2023

    Each of us has different preferences. I enjoy seeing things outdoors … scenery, animals, people, even buildings. But, I am currently ‘museumed and churched out’. Our next two trips, one Windstar, and one Tauck, are outdoor trips. Then we do a Tauck river trip that probably has a few museums and churches, but probably more wineries. Those of you that are most into the land trips … have fun. I don’t like traveling on a bus … anywhere. We did a Canadian Rockies tour on the bus, and have agreed that we will never do that again. (we were with our favorite Tauck TD … he was great) I know there are many here who love it, and it is how Tauck began, but we prefer boats. So I understand that all of the land tour people will have a wonderful time.

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    Thanks for all the input.

    I feel much more at ease going with Abercrombie & Kent Land Tour and their Ponant/A&K Cruising the Greek Island this year. I know I will be back with Tauck, may be the second half of 2024 and definitely 2025 for the Ponant/Tauck Sicily and Amalfi Coast.

    I am so glad I went to Portugal with Tauck this year before they cancelled the half day trip to Tomar, the visit to the Mestrovic Gallery and Pula on the Adriatric Coast cruise. I will be able to make it up with A&K going to Inari Shrine and the Bamboo Forest in Kyoto in 2024( never on Tauck's itinerary).

    I think the key is inappropriate free time and skimming on excursions to cater to certain fitness level, personal likings and Tauck's demograhics. I notice the Tauck group traveler tend to very focused on what other people are doing, what they will have for dinner and lunch, and what are they wearing for dinner.I absolutely don't mind sitting at the back of the tour bus, go off the beaten path, have fast food in a foreign country instead of meat and potatoes in Marriott ( some of the meals in Portugal were like dorm food) the whole trip.

    I heard from folks who has done Japan with A&K, they have tried shabu-shabu and ramen. I haven't done that with Tauck.

    At the Tauck Croatia cruise, Fewer than ten have climbed the Walls in Dubronik( Again the question of leisurely paceand fitness level).

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    We all like what makes us feel comfortable, and for many people that is the familiar. Tauck is a familiar brand for all the experienced travelers on this forum so I realize I am preaching to the choir about how I sometimes need to get out of my comfort zone to really enjoy a travel adventure. That being said, I would never take a land tour in Europe or America because I can and have done that independently without a group or trip leader. For more exotic locales, I want the small group tour expertise and experience. When traveling solo, I have used Overseas Adventure Travel because, unlike Tauck, there is no single supplement. I also chose to go to Morroco with OAT rather than Tauck because I liked the itinerary better. As an example, why would I go all the way to the Sahara if I couldn’t spend at least two nights in a tented desert camp? For river cruising, I have enjoyed travel with Viking. I do not like ocean cruises on huge floating cities with a thousand people. So, each to his own, but the one thing that recommends Tauck over many other tour companies is that there are NO HIDDEN COSTS. Happy winter solstice and happy travels!

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    Hopefully someone at Tauck is reading this thread.

    I haven't been to Croatia with Tauck, but have been to China. There, we walked the Great Wall. We were given the option of "the steep way" to the left or the easy way to the right. About 8 of us went the steep way.

    Re ramen, we went to a ramen place in the bowels of Tokyo Station during free time. There's a "street" down there called Ramen Street with probably 20-30 ramen restaurants.

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    December 20
    . . . .We will be taking our 23rd and 24th tours with Tauck in 2024. . . . We really have seen much of the world with Tauck, having taken our first trip in 2020. . . . .

    Yikes!! 22 tours in 3 years which included the COVID years?!?!? This is either a typo (did you mean 2002 instead of 2020?) or do you go from tour to tour, hardly ever returning home? I read an article about a lady who went from cruise to cruise on the same large ship, essentially living aboard. It had great food, excellent personal service, all sorts of amenities, and was only slightly more expensive than retiring to a "home." :D

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    Alan S - you beat me to the same question for mwirtz! I reread the post to make certain I had not missed something.

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    Kathy M - If next year's Douro tour is your first river cruise, please note that Portugal does not allow cruising after dusk on the Douro. All companies' ships sailing the Douro will be docked overnight. The ships move only from dawn to dusk. This cuts into what can be offered during the day for activities. We were sometimes bussed after completing one activity to the next town rather than being on the ship. Like Sealord, I do not like bus tours/excursions. The Douro ship moved while we were out on land excursions/activities. On my other Tauck river cruises, we sailed to the next town and the crew maneuvered the locks mostly at night while we were sleeping. I enjoyed my Tauck Douro tour but prefer the others that sail at night and dock during the daytime.
    The Andorhina is a lovely ship but I missed having Arthurs available for breakfast and lunch, to order off a menu with a grill, as on the Swiss Emerald etc.

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    I'm in the "prefer land tours" group. The reason is that there's more flexibility in the land tour as to what you can see. For example, the Adriatic coast area. We looked at a cruise but realized that with a cruise, all the excursions were to things close to the coast. The Tauck land tour took us to places that were not possible (because of distance) for the cruise.

    I don't mind riding in a bus. The coaches used are always top notch and I find them comfortable. And it isn't like you spend a long time on the bus.

    For northern Europe, we've always done the travel on our own, using the train. That way, we can spend several days in a city, if we want to.

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    Sandy Feet - I agree that Viking river cruises are nice. I really like their ships' decor and with all the large windows, and heated floors in the bathrooms. But, as you mentioned, the cost with Viking really gets prohibitive if you sign up (at an extra cost) for the more in depth daily excursions. And then there is the additional fee charged at the end of the tour for all the tips. I took one river and one ocean (Ionian sea) with Viking. I have since only used Tauck for river cruises and one small ship cruise. Tauck's excursions place a much smaller number of guests with each local guide for a more intimate, meaningful and impactful experience.

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    I only looked at one Viking cruise, but my understanding was that they wanted full payment very shortly after booking, even if the cruise was quite some time into the future. My understanding my be wrong so someone who has traveled with them can provide the correct information.

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    Mike, that is my understanding of Viking,, the buy early get it half price type of thing.
    Also agree that with ship tours you are restricted to places near the river or sea.
    On the Japan debate here, it makes me laugh…having returned from Japan with another company recently, we ate nothing but amazing exquisitely presented Japanese food the entire trip. Ramen, it’s like McDonalds, a quick fast meal, it would not impress ,w of that was the only food we had been given. . I’ll try to find some photos of the food we ate. In fact, I’ve never taken so many food photos in my life, got fed up of taking them. We will take Croatia with the same company in the next few years.
    OAT, Surprised they are still in business after their terrible treatment during Covid. The husband of the couple died last year suddenly at home, never revealed cause? Did OAT once, never again

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    I think you get the idea from this random selection Guess it would not suit a lot of Tauck guests. Everyone on our tour enjoyed every bit.

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    great pics. - I would lose so much weight... I only like the rice and the chocolate.

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    British - Great pictures, but it’s had to tell what we’re looking at. Is each picture an appetizer, entree, dessert, etc. For me, I would be most interested in what is considered an entree. Several of the pictures, if intended to be entrees, then I’d be will Mil, losing weight. On the other had if a ‘meal’ typically consists of three or four pictures, then I wouldn’t be losing the weight.

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    British, the last OAT trip I took was pre-pandemic. I am sorry to hear they mishandled COVID. Can you enlighten me about the person who died? If not, that’s ok. I understand this is a TAUCK forum. 😉

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