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Norwegian Fjords

Tauck says it is full so wondering if anyone here is on the June 21st sailing?

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    We just booked this tour for 2025. Please post a review!

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    The Norwegian Fjords and all of Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden), even Finland are wonderful and unique to visit in their own right. Of all of the tours I took of Europe, those countries were some of the most beautiful experiences for me. I encourage everyone to put Scandinavia and Finland on their travel list. You will not be disappointed. :-)

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    My wife and I just returned from our third tour with Tauck. Unlike our first two tours, we were
    disappointed to find that this one was not up to the standards that we had experienced previously.
    We currently have three more trips tentatively scheduled with Tauck for later this year and in 2025,
    and based on our experience on this last trip we are considering cancelling all of them.
    I thought you might be interested in hearing about some of the things that happened on this last tour
    that we found very disappointing, and which are probably going to lead us to look elsewhere for our
    future travels. This tour was your “Scandinavia” tour, which for us started on May 27th. Here are
    some of the issues we had that made us feel that this tour was not up to Tauck standards:
    1. The amount of time spent on the bus was excessive. We learned that in previous years this
    tour used flights between Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Oslo instead of the long bus and ferry rides
    that we had to take. Flying between those cities would have significantly reduced the excessive
    amount of time we had to spend on the bus, and also give us more sightseeing time. We understand
    that some customers didn’t like those flights, and I’m not sure what the answer is, but what was done
    here, especially on the trip between Stockholm and Copenhagen, is clearly not the answer. We were
    on the bus for 7-8 hours to get to from Stockholm to Toftaholm, and then another 5 hours or so to
    get to Copenhagen. Way too long to spend sitting on a bus.
    2. During the first two or three days of the tour we had two different buses, both of which were
    larger than the one we used for the rest of the tour. The third bus, on which we spent most of our
    traveling time, was much more cramped than the other two. Not only were the seats narrower than
    on the other two buses (to the point where some of the larger people on the bus had to get separate
    seats from their spouses because they didn’t have enough room), but the legroom was considerably
    less than on the other two buses. While it was theoretically possible to recline the seats, it wasn’t
    really practical to do that because of the lack of space between the rows of seats. This made the
    many long drives for the rest of the tour even more uncomfortable than they should have been.
    3. One of the things I was looking forward to the most on this trip was going on our “private,
    after-hours visit to Stockholm's Vasa Museum... without crowds ...”. “ But instead of having the
    relaxed private after-hours visit we were promised, we left the hotel at 4:00 and were rushed to the
    museum, arriving there at around 4:30. The museum closed at 5:00! There was no private after-hours
    visit, so at 5:00 sharp we were told we had to leave. That gave us 30 minutes to tour a museum that
    you could easily spend a couple of hours in. It was way too short, and we were not the only ones who
    were very disappointed that we did not have the private after-hours tour that we were promised and
    thought we were paying for.
    4. As a result of having to drive the entire tour route, we ended up spending one night in each of
    four of the hotels used on the tour. It gets very tiring having to unpack when you get to a hotel and
    then re-pack the same night so that your bags can be picked up first thing in the morning. Having to
    do this in 4 out of the 8 hotels made the trip more stressful and hectic than it should have been.
    5. Because we were driving from Stockholm to Copenhagen instead of flying, we had to make a
    hotel stop in-between at the Toftaholm Herrgård hotel. This hotel might have been interesting from a
    historical standpoint, but was not up to the hotel standards that we expected and thought we were
    paying for. The room was small and dated, as was the bathroom. While it is possible that this was the
    best hotel in the area, this stop was the direct result of Tauck deciding to make this entire trip by bus.
    We trusted that Tauck had done this itinerary before and that the driving distances were reasonable,
    but this was not the case, and apparently this was the first time (based on what we were told) that
    this tour was done this way. It certainly taught us that we needed to look at Tauck’s itinerary more
    closely than we have in the past.
    In addition, the original itinerary indicated that we were to have a “private dance performance”
    at the hotel. Instead, when we got there we were told that we were going to have instead a
    storyteller and two musicians/singers. Then we were told that the storyteller lost her voice and had
    cancelled, so we were left with two not very good musicians/singers playing a violin and an
    accordion. While certainly not the most disappointing thing that happened on this trip, it was another
    example of things being changed after the fact and not being up to the standards that we expected
    from Tauck.
    6. The Phoenix hotel in Copenhagen was another change from the Radisson, which is where
    people on this tour have stayed in the past. The Radisson was right in downtown Copenhagen, a 5-
    minute walk from Tivoli. The Phoenix was a 25-30 minute walk to Tivoli, making it very inconvenient.
    To top that off, on the second morning, when we had to check out of the hotel to travel to Oslo, we
    all woke up to NO WATER. I don’t mean just no hot water; I mean no water at all. No water to shower
    with, brush teeth with, shave, flush toilets, etc. While Tauck may end up getting a credit from the
    hotel for this, I doubt that those of us who were impacted and not able to shower that morning will
    be seeing any compensation for that significant inconvenience.
    7. In Oslo we noted that some people had large rooms with saunas, while the rest of us didn’t. I
    think that all your customers should be entitled to the same level of accommodation. Also, we had a
    tour of the “Stave Church”, which would have been interesting if the guide that Tauck used knew
    anything about it. He was a Ukrainian whose English wasn’t great and whose knowledge of the Stave
    Church was based on the paper from which he was reading. It would have been more useful to just
    hand those out. We all just felt sorry for the guide. Again, we expected better from Tauck.
    8. Finally, in Bergen the hotel was also changed, in this case from the Norge hotel to the Bergen
    Bors hotel. I don’t know whether this was an upgrade or a downgrade, but we should have been
    informed of it. This was probably the worst hotel in terms of the breakfast and dinner selections at
    their buffet, and the only hotel that didn’t have oatmeal available at breakfast. The Chef's response to our request of oatmeal was "what you see is what you get." This would not be a big deal to most people, but it is one of the few things that my wife, who is allergic to dairy, is able to eat for breakfast, which we had informed Tauck about. Every other hotel we stayed in, not only on
    this tour but on the previous two tours, had this breakfast staple available, and my wife was not the
    only one to note its absence.
    9. As you can see, this trip was full of disappointments for many of us, and we didn’t feel that way at all
    in connection with our previous two outings with Tauck. I hope you will reconsider some of the
    choices you made for this tour, since the end result of this disappointing experience may be that you
    are going to lose two customers who plan to do a lot of traveling over the next few years and who
    had 3 more tours booked with you. But at this point we are not sure whether we feel confident
    enough in Tauck’s ability to provide the experience that we had come to expect.

    Sent this 5 days ago, no response.

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    nps;dr
    (no paragraph spaces; didn't read)

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    Sereneleen, I would imagine you will get a rather lengthy response from Tauck regarding your letter. I've always found Tauck to be responsive. That said, for some reason my mind goes to more than a few meetings being held at Tauck HQ regarding what happened and it may take a while before you get the response.

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    Serenlene, you alarmed me when I read your post, but you’ve posted it on the wrong part of the forum for the Scandinavia tour. We had the Scandinavia tour booked for 2020 and never rebooked it because of the negative reports before it was changed. I think I recall that flights did not work because they were often canceled, but I can’t really recall, maybe someone else can.
    While I do think most of the things that were wrong, I would have also not been happy about, I do find your complaints about the long bus rides invalid. Surely anyone booking a tour only has to look at a map of the country/countries they are going to visit, to figure out if long bus rides will be involved.
    I can’t figure out whether you have written this same letter to Tauck as no-one from Tauck regularly monitors the forum. I think a phone call to Tauck Customer Relations would be best.
    The other thing I’ve learned over the years is never to book a brand new tour, I’ve done that several times and there has always been wrinkles.
    Maybe you can post again to tell whether Tauck addresses any issues for you.

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    Scereneleen, I'm sorry you had such a bad tour. As British mentioned, the forum isn't monitored by Tauck. I'd recommend calling Tauck and choosing the option "have you recently returned from a tour". As for posting it here, it would have been nice if you'd also said what you liked about the tour. Did you like the other hotels, was the food good, did you enjoy the sights, etc.

    We have this toured booked for next year so I have a couple of questions for you to put it all into perspective.
    What other tours have you taken with Tauck? What was your group size? Was the switch to a small bus after arrival in Oslo? Was there a reason given for the switch like the roads are too narrow?

    As for whether you should cancel your future bookings, I'd suggest carefully reading the itinerary and visiting the website of the planned hotels to see if you're happy with the ambience, location, etc.

    For all, the Tauck agent I spoke with earlier this year said that SAS kept screwing up the flight schedule hence why they went back to a coach tour. That does make for some long days but then we've had those on other land tours as well. River cruises get bad rap for only seeing things near the river but they also don't have many long coach days (unless the boat gets stuck somewhere or it's the D-day beach visit).

    Also the Copenhagen hotel has already been changed for 2025 to the NH Collection. Looks to be fairly new and modern with a rooftop bar. It would be nice if all Tauck guests got premium rooms but for most of our stays it's been a mix. Some truly wonderful rooms and some perfectly average ones. The same Tauck agent said hotels in Scandinavia can be a challenge for them to find luxurious ones. I'm fine with that as we plan a couple of extra nights there and I'd prefer one well located but not necessarily break the budget either. The hotel in Toftaholm looks to me like somebody's wealthy relative's country house. You're glad they invited you to stay but it ain't 5 star luxury.

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    Sereneleen - Based on comments about the Scandinavia tour it appears to be one of the Tauck tours with the poorest quality hotels (relative to other tour’s Tauck hotels, albeit they made be as good as are available). In addition to the hotels there have been several negative comments about the bus ride from Stockholm to Copenhagen. I think over time Tauck has tried both bus rides and plane rides between Stockholm and Copenhagen.

    Based on these various issues it appears putting together a tour in this region has many unique issues compared to almost all other areas - not an abundance of high quality hotels like people have learned to expect on Tauck tours and transportation between sites (Stockholm to Copenhagen, Copenhagen to Oslo) with no good option (long bus rides with minimal worthy sites to see along the route or relatively short plane rides with the associated logistics of getting to/from an airport and getting through security, on both the departing side and the arriving side.

    People may need to have different expectations if they want to take this tour since various formats have been tried but they all seem to have more than normal negative comments.

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    I think it needs to be made clear that we are talking about the Scandinavia tour and not the Norwegian Fiords tour. I am taking the latter tour next year and I’ll be sure to post a review, it’s a small Ship cruise so no worries about hotels. Anyway ,it’s the sites I’m interested in.

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    Sereneleen, out of 10 Tauck trips, the Scandinavia land tour is the only one that I would not take again, and we had the flights. So I would encourage you to at least do one more before you cancel all of your trips.

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    sereneleen, sorry to hear about your experience. Let me contrast your experience with what I experienced on the same tour (Small Group) back in 2016 in June. I think it was the 2nd year of that tour and it started in Copenhagen then Stockholm then Bergen, up the coast then back to Bergen for the flight to Oslo. I remember the bus ride from Copenhagen to Stockholm and the overnight stop; a small place with a zillion Tesla chargers. Yes, we did have the local folk dancers. In Stockholm we had a private performance at the Opera House after dinner there and before the evening's performance by the tenor and a piano player. It was wonderful!.

    The flight from Stockholm to Bergen was cancelled late the evening before due to a pilot strike and this where I think Tauck and the TD worked their magic. The morning we were suppose to leave, the TD arranged for later flights from Stockholm to Copenhagen then to Bergen. That morning he gave us each something like $50 equivalent and told us to enjoy Stockholm for the afternoon and meet back at the hotel late afternoon for the first flight. When we arrived at the airport in Copenhagen to change planes it was after the food concessions had closed, but our TD had pre arranged for the concession to put out a dinner buffet spread in the departure gate area just for us while we waited for the Bergen flight. We were very grateful.

    It was our first Tauck tour and to this day I recommend it to anyone who asks, not just for the beauty of Scandinavia but for how Tauck handled this last minute "glitch" that was out of their control. I know your experience was no where near mine or what you expected but keep the faith with Tauck.

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    I am sorry for the bad experience a traveler had with this Tauck tour. The tour that I had back in 1983 of "Norway/Sweden/Denmark and Finland" was with another travel company and the 19 days were excellent well organized and used bus/plane/boat/train for the travel. Unfortunately that company is now defunct when the owner/travel guy died about a decade later. I still love Scandinavia and Finland, beautiful countries, and unique travel wise for Northern Europe.

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    I took the Scandinavia tour in 2022, we flew from Stockholm to Denmark, some of the hotels were not like other Tauck hotels but that's because of the area and not Tauck. I loved the tour.

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    I took Tauck's Scandinavia tour years ago even though I am from the region. I wanted my husband to experience the magnificent fjords of Norway. The itinerary has changed drastically since then. Yes, the bus rides were long but what better way to appreciate the beautiful countryside? I do not think they include the Flåmsbane railway tour in Norway anymore and, in my opinion, that is unfortunate.

    I spoke once before about the hotels. I prefer the ones in the countryside because of their quaintness and hospitality. The hotels in the larger cities, primarily Oslo and København are geared more for the business traveler, not the tourist. Nonetheless, they are clean and efficient.

    Food might be more of an issue for some than the hotels. If your palate craves for American "fast" food, you might be disappointed. Try some regional food. Fish is plentiful, as are root vegetables. Besides, who doesn't like Swedish meatballs? Actually, Danish meatballs are superior, especially when served the traditional way with fresh lingonberries!

    For those who are apprehensive about the tour, I recommend doing some research beforehand. If we take our preconceived notions of what "should be" with us, we will surely be disappointed.

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    I"m not put off by the "review" posted. Most of it I already had factored into my expectations and some of it I don't care about like finding food we want. We don't have any dietary restrictions and are willing to try most things at least once. The only things I hope they fix before next year are the Vasa Museum tour, local guide and a more comfortable bus. The rest I'm good with. Having an experienced TD and a "go with the punches" group means more.

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    I think it is important to keep in mind that we are talking about the tour itself and not the geography or the culture, which in my opinion definitely merit a visit.

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    I forgot to comment on buses. By law, only Norwegian nationals are certified and licensed to drive tour buses in Norway. I could be wrong, but I believe the legislation remains.

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    Sereneleen: I am sorry to hear about the negative aspects of your recent trip to Scandinavia. It seems that lately, travel is filled with stress and uncertainties due to the increase of people traveling across the world. I also experienced a few negative issues on our recent River Cruise to France due to changes in the Itinerary and Hotels from the original booking and unexpected detours, however, Tauck did their best to overcome the negatives and provided an enjoyable cruise in the end.

    The itinerary for the current Scandinavia Tour is somewhat similar to the Tour I took with Tauck in 2005. I was reviewing a copy of the trip report I posted on the Tauck Website back then and noted many similarities to the current itinerary. Yes, there are many hours on the buses, but this is really the only true way to tour these countries in order to soak up the beauty of the mountains and the landscape of Norway is so amazing. I seem to recall that Tauck did break up the long bus rides with various sites in between.

    Our visit to the incredible Vasa Museum, back then, was also very short. It wasn't an after hours tour, but I could have definitely spent at least another hour or so viewing the exhibits. I think we only had about 15 minutes after the tour to view the exhibits. I do feel that this portion of the tour deserves additional time.

    In addition, I really enjoyed the ferry from Denmark to Norway, it was alot of fun and very comfortable. I agree with kfnknfzk that the Flåmsbana railway tour was wonderful but no longer offered, such a shame. They need to bring that back.

    All said and done, it was a wonderful trip. If you enjoy scenery, you will love this itinerary.

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    edited June 17

    Regarding the Vasa Museum, when I first visited it during a non-Tauck 19 day tour of Scandinavia and Finland in 1983, the ship had only recently been raised and displayed in the museum there. The ship was still being sprayed with salt water all around it as it was still very fragile and only recently raised for display (we could only briefly see it from a distance then). Quite interesting, even with our short visit to view it then. :-) Also, that 1983 tour I was on included the Flamsbana railway tour or at least a ride on it down to Oslo with views of the waterfalls along the way. :-)

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    This is very confusing. This topic is about the Scandinavia land tour. It on the Norwegian fiords small ship cruise header.

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    Regarding the raising of the Vasa ship, hopefully while on the bus you will be shown a video of the effort made to lift the vessel from the harbor and the subsequent building of the museum around it. There was a PBS documentary of it--fascinating. I believe the clip still runs inside the museum. You might be able to view it on the internet if interested.

    Just to clarify, the effort started in the late '50s and was completed in the early '60s. No worries, tomh.

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