Cautions re Tauck’s Iceland Fire and Ice Cruise

We took Tuack’s “Iceland: Land of Fire and Ice” cruise from July 6-13, selecting it based on the places that we were going to visit as well as the Tauck name. Although we had never been on a Tauck tour, we had heard others highly recommend their land tours.

Here are our cautions:

1. On several days, we spent half (or less) of the time docked actually touring; the rest of the time we were forced to be on the ship where we were offered scarf knotting, Zumba lessons, etc. No advance indication of this free time (which was a waste of time, as there was nothing you could do on your own in these ports) was given, either online or by calling Tauck with specific questions about itinerary details.

While Tauck's other cruises provide detailed itineraries, including free time, the Tauck Iceland tour only lists the places that one will see and visit, and never mentions that there will be free time, leading us to the erroneous conclusion that these were all-day excursions. Definite red flag which we stupidly ignored.

2. Although we saw all the places listed in the tour brochure, we were rushed through the sights; for example, we were given 25 minutes to enjoy a magnificent waterfall, Gulfoss, which is on two levels and just the walking takes at least 15 minutes. You could easily spend over an hour taking in this beautiful place, especially if you wanted to take photographs.

We would not have minded the rush-rush attitude if the tight schedule was to enable us to see more places, but the rush was usually to get back to the ship and do nothing for hours.

3. Certain scheduling of events left one wondering “Why?”. In Helmaey we left around 8 AM to take a (too small) boat around the island seeing birds.

a. First of all, not surprisingly, it was foggy, with extremely reduced visibility, although by the afternoon the sun had burned off the fog. So why couldn't we have left later, since the ship was still in port? (Their “Documents of your journey” boasts that Tauck frequently offers sightseeing early to avoid crowds; along similar lines, when circling an island where it is likely to be foggy in the morning, shouldn’t the boat ride be offered later in the day?)

b. Secondly, the boat went too fast to actually see the birds, except for one stop.

4. The schedule for the next day was often not delivered until very late (9 PM), so that by the time we found out that we were going to spend half the time in port on the ship, it was too late to try to make alternate arrangements.

5. The schedule for the next day was often inaccurate or incomplete, so we were never quite sure what we were doing and when.

a. The scheduled Tauck-led walk in Grimsey was replaced by a wander on your own, so information from the accompanying naturalist (who was very good) was a hit-or-miss proposition.

b. No notice was given that lunch in Akureyri would not be served until after 2 PM and no snack was provided on the bus.

6. The coordination between the ship, the 4 Tauck cruise directors, and the Icelandic guides and buses was unbelievably disorganized—e.g., the Tauck signs posted to indicate which color-tagged bags (and accompanying passengers) were to board which bus on the day of departure were inconsistent between two documents we were given, and disagreed with what we were told, leading to confusion on the part of the staff and passengers.

Talking to long-time Tauck passengers, gave us the feeling that this tour is not representative of what they have come to expect from a Tauck tour.

On the positive side, the ship was beautiful, food adequate (although the room service menu was extremely limited), dining room staff extremely courteous, well trained, and went out of their way to please and delight you! In addition, the shore guides were outstanding, which seems to be the norm in Iceland!

Bottom line, be aware that much time is spent on the ship, not touring as one would be led to believe from Tauck's brochure and on-line description. We don't want you to have the expensively disappointing glimpse of Iceland we have had.
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Comments

  • Goodness. Words fail me. Almost.

    No doubt you have already communicated your displeasure directly to Tauck. Posting here is to salve you psyche, I presume.

    This is a cruise and surprisingly, this cruise is conducted on a ship. On the ocean. The Captain of the ship is in charge of when, where and at what pace it sails, when it docks and departs. That is the base line that passengers need to understand. The alternative is the Costa Condordia disaster. Does that appeal?

    The bottom line is that you can't choose who you travel with … as far as the bulk of the other passengers or guests are concerned If you wish for another configuration, you can always buy out the entire trip. Many groups do just that. Perhaps that might be your future aim, thus leaving the other paying passengers to delight in their choice of scarf knotting or Zumba, with time to enjoy the "adequate food" and … limited room service menu. And really enjoy the privilege of bird watching from small, unobtrusive boats.

    Expectations need to be tempered by reality. And experience. You can't please everyone. You just can't. Not even Tauck. But in my experience, by Hecla, they try. Sometimes, I wonder why they do. Some people are just not happy. Some people are, as my late Mother used to say, just like bear with a sore head. All you can do is be quite then move on as quickly as you can when it is safe to do so. Bear gone. Nothing to see here.





  • I think that this writer has raised some very specific and fundamental concerns about this trip. If the posting had just said "there were not enough activities" or the "itinerary was not carefully planned" or " the departure was a mess"' I might have blown the comments off. But these critiques were very specific, and, in my mind legitimate! I do know that Tauck's job is to "manage expectations"' and that was clearly not done for this guest (don't think it would have worked for me, either...after,12 trips).
    And, Jan, I think your comments are a bit harsh. If I read correctly, this guest would have preferred some off-ship,activities/explorations on his/her own but felt there was not adequate preparation time due to a confusing itinerary and late next day bulletins. Again, Tauck's job to manage the experience for each guest. We did not have the best riverboat experience, so I guess I can sympathize a bit more.
    I am probably not a good evaluator of ship itineraries/activities as I am not a good cruiser/riverboater....not enough shore time and immersion into countries visited...but our Treasures of the Aegean trip aboard the Windstar, and our Galapagos trip aboard the Isabela II were nothing short of phenomenal! I am pretty sure bearsfolks wanted that same experience.
  • joycesw wrote:
    And, Jan, I think your comments are a bit harsh.

    I am probably in a grumpy mood today, Joyce. I purposely didn't comment on the detailed complaints about the management of this particular trip because I haven't taken it. I know there are plenty of people on this forum who have and will no doubt comment on the particulars. I just wondered how the complainant came to the view that it was Tauck's fault that the ship moved, docked … whatever … in a particular way. That's down to the Captain on the day. I don't know why the itineraries were delivered late. There might have been a reason beyond the ship's stewards running late. I am sure, as I said, that the poster complained directly to Tauck on his wishing and hoping form. And as you know, Tauck do take note of those comments. For all we know, the Tauck TD might have been ill …. who knows what went down with the management of this particular voyage. Someone else who does will no doubt tell us. But you would think, given that this trip has been offered for some years now, that someone else would have posted about any generic failures before now, wouldn't you? Besides this poster's first forum post, I mean.

    I'm probably not a good advert for "cruising", either. I can't stand them. It's always the destination that intrigues me, not the getting there. I prefer the expedition experience if I really have to go by boat to get to where I want to go. I always seem to come across people who are just totting up ships or times travelled while complaining about the weather not being to their liking. I keep wondering why they came in the first place. Perhaps it's just another notch on the door frame.

    Off to partake of the cup that cheers.

    Cheers,

    Jan
  • A first-time poster, but a well written and specific critique. Just to get a balanced view, I would like to hear from another traveler on that tour.

    I have no idea whether this was the case, but having sailed the world on big gray ships taught me that when it comes to ships, port scheduling can be difficult. Even in the relatively placid waters of the Mediterranean, and certainly in the North Atlantic, and other locales, on many occasions I was stuck onboard the ship instead of enjoying the town during my free time, or I was stranded ashore when I was supposed to be at my duty station (oh darn! :) ) because there was too much fog (fog doesn't follow a timetable), too much wind, the seas were too heavy (there were big waves), or all of the above, etc. so the ship itself or its smaller launches couldn't safely dock, couldn't get underway, had to get underway early, or couldn't transport passengers back and forth to land safely. Many times that situation developed in just a few hours.

    That being said, from my experiences and many posted by other travelers, that is where Tauck usually shines- seamlessly handling contingencies, often without the travelers being aware. I can see a single guide having a bad tour, but not 4.
  • Gosh, I am very sad to read of Bearfolks experiences as they are very detailed. Once I read Alan S's interesting possible explanations, my memory got jogged. A few weeks ago about the time the aforementioned tour was taking place, I was getting constant travel warnings from my UK.GOV website about Iceland. Unfortunately I never opened them because I was in Africa and obviously was only seeing email infrequently compared to usual. I am now wondering if whatever this was had an impact on the Iceland tour that Bearfolks is unaware of.
    I do hope Bearfolks reported all his issues with Tauck and I would love or hear what they had to say. I just read the itinerary and it looks very full, something must have happened out of Tuack's control, surely!
  • I am sorry that this tour didn't meet your expectations. I did it two years ago and it was great.
    The detailed schedules were delivered while we were at dinner which was at 7:30 every evening as the ship had only one seating. These schedules told the Tauck activities as well as the "fitness" options for the non-Tauck travelers. On our tour, the schedules were so detailed that every hour was accounted for. On Grimsey, I chose to wander away from the naturalist who was giving the Tauck led discussion that you hinted at.

    On any tour, I understand that some people might want to spend additional time at certain locations. It is not possible to do this on a tour as any tour company is trying to cover as much of an area as possible. I cannot comment on your particular tour because there might have been issues that occurred that were out of Tauck's control. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone as it is an experience to a different culture.

  • edited August 2014
    Having read the comments, let me clarify/reiterate a few points:

    1. In several of the ports, we spent about 4 hours on a tour, and the rest of the time was “free”, something that we did not know until the night before. We could have gone (and did go) on shore during the free time, but there was nothing/very little to do there. These were not ports like Akureyri or Reykjavik, but either fishing ports, or places where it was convenient to dock and from which to take buses to natural attractions. In one port where I knew we were scheduled to be on board ship for several hours after the tour, I arranged with the local guide and the driver (all of whom were excellent, by the way) to be dropped off on the way back several miles from the ship. I walked back from there, so that I could at least enjoy the scenery and the birds longer, rather than sit on the ship.

    2. We have been on other cruises where part of the time in port is described as free time when we could either stay on board and enjoy the ship's activities, or make arrangements to do things on shore. Our complaint is that the fact that the tours on this cruise often only accounted for half or less of the time while the ship was docked was never mentioned in the literature describing the tour, leading us, erroneously, to believe that the tours occupied the whole day. If we had known that the tour was only going to be for part of the day, we would have either not gone on the cruise, or made alternative arrangements ahead of time to hire local guides, if there were any. Making such arrangements, of course, also assumes that Tauck provided us in advance with the hours of their tour, something it seems that they were incapable of doing on this cruise until very late the previous day.

    3. Of course people differ in terms of how much time they want to spend at various sights. What we objected to was being rushed at most stops, not because we had a tight schedule to keep in order to see everything, but in order to go back to the ship, which then did not leave for another 4 hours! Again, our complaint is that this is not mentioned in the cruise description.

    We have written to Tauck, in fact, we did so detailing these issues while we were still on the cruise, in the hope that things could be improved. To date, the response of their Guest Relations has been to offer to connect us with the Tour Manager in their office, who would be “better able to explain in detail why the itinerary is designed as it is”. Tauck has every right to design the cruise as they see fit--that is not the issue. I just wish that it was described accurately and completely in their brochures so I could have made a more informed decision.
  • edited August 2014
    This is sounding more and more like expectations not being met, but expectations that may have been based on erroneous assumptions and/or second hand accounts of travelers from other Tauck tours.

    If you read Tauck published itineraries for most/all tours they are not detailed, for a number of reasons- things change. I, like many, also like the surprise, the unexpected activity Tauck usually adds to their tours. Tour directors must often make adjustments and all contingencies can't be anticipated. As an example, on our recent Alps and Dolomites tour, we were scheduled to ride a cog railway followed by a gondola to the top of Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze. Unfortunately, the cog railway experienced mechanical problems just before our arrival. Our guide quickly handled the situation- rerouted our bus and made new reservations for another gondola that started at lower altitude but that would still get us to the top. Was I disappointed we didn't get to ride the cog railway, sure. Was there anything anyone could do about it- no. The mountain gods weren't done with us yet, however. Once we arrived at the summit we discovered it was totally enveloped by clouds! There were never any breaks, so we were unable to view what should have been fantastic vistas of the Alps and the countryside. There was nothing our Guide could do about mother nature. Some of our group elected to ride down early and wander around the small town at the bottom of the gondola, but time was limited because we had another activity scheduled after that. Others stayed at the summit and had refreshments until our scheduled gondola ride to the bottom.

    Let me comment on being rushed- I've heard that mentioned by others and have said it myself on occasion . . . . but while I may have wanted to stay longer at a particular castle because I REALLY like castles, others in our group were more than ready to move on- "once you see one, you're seen them all"- that sentiment can change from location to location, and group to group. Putting myself in your situation- I'm not a "birder" so generally could care less whether I had a chance to see a rare American White-winged Scoter or an Arctic Redpoll. It is tough for Tauck, the Tauck guide, or any tour company to judge the "right" amount of time to spend at a particular stop- a "damned if you do and damned if you don't" situation. They make their best guess and adjust as necessary, when possible.

    Your feedback is important to them for just that reason. Tauck continuously evaluates and adjusts each tour as necessary. It can take up to two years to develop a tour and one or more dry runs before it is made available. After every tour each Tauck guide must complete and submit a lengthy critique that the company reviews along with traveler's critiques. Then they decide if a change is necessary to the literature/tour expectations or to the tour, itself.
  • I'm not sure why I am posting again because the only cruise I have ever been on was on the Tauck Galapagos that I actually want to do again at another time of year so we can see the Albatross. The thought of a regular cruise is not my cup of tea. Oh and I do like birds.
    Wanting to know if any of the other guests felt the same as you did Bearsfolk. I do feel you are justified in your complaint from what you say, but it looks as if the guides were accommodating by letting you off the bus for the extra scenery and birding and offering some on- boat activities. Sometimes Tauck offers optional, but included afternoon trips, though there are generally few free afternoons on any tour I have been on. Let me talk about the three I remember. Number 1 Tauck India trip, a fantastic afternoon tour to a palace, only my husband and I and one other person took the trip, they took us in a limo because there was only the three instead of a bus and then stopped short of the palace so we could ride up there in a tuk tuk taxi, no one else on the tour got that experience. Number two, one of my Costa Rica trips, a long afternoon boat ride with opportunity to see other parts of the canal and more wildlife, only us and again one extra person, again fantastic. Number three this past month in Tanzania, an extra game drive, only one couple took that one and it wasn't even us for a change! Three very diverse trips, very little uptake from customers, I am wondering on balance this is why Tauck don't schedule every part of every day because some people want downtime. My next Tauck tour has been booked and I have noted from this forum that a couple of years ago someone posted that there was too many free afternoons on the tour, they did get a response from Tauck so I will be interested to see how it goes for us, whether it has been changed. Whenever there has been free time on a tour the Tour Director has given us a long list of options, so long we don"t know what to chose.
    Please Bearsfolks, do let us know what happens, Iceland is somewhere I'd love to go. Also, please ask about a tour like this in extra detail if you ever now have the guts to do it again. Sincerely, Britishl
  • bearfolks - I guess that the tour must have been modified even though when I read the catalog overview it is identical. We never had the opportunity to spend four hours on the ship in port because we spent all of the time doing activities that Tauck had arranged.

    Iceland is a small island country with small towns and population. Prior to going, I did research the area to see what other possible activities that I might want to do. What was being done with the small ship gave me the opportunity to see the smaller villages on the coast. I added some extras before the tour began. I determined what those extras needed to be because I called Tauck and asked for more specific information on places we were seeing.
  • Dear Bearsfolks,

    I’m very sorry to hear that you were disappointed with your recent trip to Iceland.
    I know you’ve spoken with our Guest Relations team about your concerns, and I’ve also passed your posts here on to them as well. As you said in your initial post, you did see all the places listed in the brochure, and everything that we advertised was delivered, so I’m glad that your trip was positive overall. We take concerns and comments like yours VERY seriously, and take them into account when planning new tours or making adjustments to the ones we already run. We are continually evaluating and adjusting our itineraries in response to changes on the ground and guest comments, so I would like to thank you for passing all of this valuable feedback along. Lastly, the manager directly responsible for this particular trip will be reaching out to you personally; a letter from him responding to your concerns is being put in the mail today. Please expect to receive it shortly.

    Best,
    Tim
  • edited August 2014
    Let me summarize my response to comments, especially yours, “TauckTim”:

    British”, our quarrel is not with the Tauck tour director or the local guides—they were good and accommodating. Quite honestly, the feeling I got (and I have no evidence to back it up) was that the Tauck guides were trying to make the best of the lousy situations in which they found themselves.

    Kathy18, it would have been great if our tour was like the one you took two years ago, where you had no free time in port because “Tauck had arranged activities” and “every hour was accounted for”. That was what I had expected based on the description, which you said was the same as yours. However, given that our tour was significantly different, one would think that any company with Tauck’s reputation would have clearly noted the changes, i.e., the down time, as they do on their other tours. (“Alan S”, please see the description of days 2 and 7 of French Waterways, the first cruise I pulled up after reading your comment about Tauck not listing detailed itineraries). And that is the primary reason for our negative reaction to the tour. If we had known that so much time was spent in ports where there was little if anything to do, and little if any access to other places, we would not have gone on the tour. So, “TauckTim”, although we did see all the places listed on the brochure, it gave no indication of “free” time, giving us the impression that the entire day was to be spent on tour (as Kathy18 experienced last year). Also, I’m completely baffled by how you deduce from my original posting that our “trip was positive overall”.

    You say that “We take concerns and comments like yours VERY seriously”. Neither the content of your posting nor our experience with your customer service rep would validate that, as you’ve both ignored our issue of the incomplete, and thereby, misleading description of your itinerary.

    People on this board have asked to be kept informed of Tauck’s actions which brings me to Tauck's CEO’s letter. Towards the end of the tour, the Tauck tour directors emphasized the importance of handing in the tour evaluation, which we did, referencing the e-mails that we had exchanged with customer relations. We received the attached letter from the CEO that perplexes us, as it begins with: “… we hope you look back at your experience as one that provided you with positive, good memories”, and ends with “We hope it exceeded your expectations”.

    We will keep this board informed of any actions he may take upon receipt of the detailed letter we sent him after we got back, as well as any concrete steps by your Tour Brand Manager in his letter (beyond the “we take your comments very seriously”).

    While we will wait for the letter “TauckTim” refers to, and any other correspondence from Tauck, the post-tour experience with Tauck to date has done nothing to improve our perceptions of Tauck.

    As an aside, I am very pleased by the fact that most people on this thread have responded rationally, and not made ad hominem comments.

    Letter from Tauck's CEO:


    [url=TauckletterfromCEO08122014Largea.jpg]Tauck CEO letter[/url]
  • Hello Bearsfolks, I am not sure you should be posting your address on this website, I would remove that part of the letter if I were you, you never know who is reading this website. It turns out I live only a few miles from you, in fact, your name seems familiar! I haven't taken flower arranging classes with you have I?
    It looks like you received one or the standard letters that Tauck sends out just after you get back from a tour and noting that you were not positive and put a 'maybe' somewhere. I think you will find that someone Will be getting back to you. Of the many tours we have taken with Tauck, there was one where the last day was described in the final paperwork as 'enjoy you morning at leisure, then this afternoon fly back to....' It turned out that they had us leave virtually pre-dawn for a flight and many of us spent un-necessary hours waiting for flights that left in the middle of the night. My husband wrote a nice letter pointing out our disappointment and confusion, but certainly not asking for anything and we were sent a most generous refund. That's how Tauck usually responds from what we have heard others say. There is a comment on the Israel trip right now about how Tauck refunded people for flight changes after an act of war that insurance would not cover. But please, it is good to hear your updates. Funnily enough after your reports, I looked at the Iceland tour and definitely would like to do it sometime in the future. Good luck with your pursuit of this, British
  • edited August 2014
    I think we are interpreting "detailed" differently. When I said Tauck doesn't post detailed itineraries on their website, I didn't mean they don't provide a "rough list" of places you will (or may) tentatively visit, like the French Waterways itinerary and that of most other tours. What is published online and in their brochures may or may not list ALL places that will be visited, but detailed time schedules are not. Depending on each tour director, those are distributed every few days or daily by individual tour directors, are subject to change, and may be routinely revised.

    Tauck won't engage in a "she said - he said" dialogue here. Posts quickly slip into forum history, which, based on repeated posts of previously answered questions, is unfortunately rarely queried. Also, while those who frequent this forum may have had at least one or more issues with aspects of one or more Tauck tours in the past, they are generally big supporters of Tauck which is why they are on their 8th, 10th 18th+ Tauck Tour.

    All that being said, it appears you have alerted Tauck and visitors to this website about your disappointment. Once all is resolved, please post the outcome. Unless you have other motives, there is not much reason to belabor the point beyond that.
  • Thanks, British, good point and change made. And, yes, you have taken flower arranging lessons, so now you have us curious, as you have the advantage of us! :-)
  • edited August 2014
    Alan, although it is clear I have met bearsfolks, it was a long while ago, and it is hard for me to even remember what she looks like. She is still posting because a couple of the regular forum participants asked her to let us know what happens with Tauck. Many people spend time asking complicated questions on this site and people like yourself go to a lot of trouble answering and then you never hear anything back from them. After reading her complaints again, I still. Think there was something going wrong with this particular tour. I even thought that maybe Bearsfolks was given the information that was intended for the non-Tauck clients on this ship--Kathy18 gave such a different experience and mentions they got different itineraries. Maybe she ended up on the wrong bus and got the non-Tauck tours? As I have said, I have only taken one non-land tour with Tauck and that was Galapagos and it was wonderful, I want to do it again. Don't forget you have only taken 3 tours isn't it with Tauck, so you have had less time to observe potential things going wrong on tour. I am a big observer of people, even to the extent of on the first day of one tour, looking at one man and saying to my husband he looked as if he was not fit to do the tour which was going to be at high altitude and a couple of days later he had a heart attack. I have done some tours where one or more of the group have quite frankly been a huge pain in the ass for both the tour director and the group, the group could ignore the person/s but the poor tour director could not, but handled things with such grace. I have been on a couple of tours where the tour director was sick, again, for us, things still happened seamlessly, even though I know one of those directors had to get an IV and drugs while we were out for the morning. I really am so intrigued as to whether this Iceland tour was going wrong or Bearsfolks did have the wrong expectations, from what I read on the brochure, I would have also expected pretty full days, if not touring, maybe lectures but not Zumba classes. So much goes on behind the scenes that we know nothing about, and that is how I expect it to be with Tauck, we are paying for someone else to have logistics problems rather than cope with them ourselves. That's why we take Tauck tours as opposed to taking them independently. I hope bearsfoKs is sorted and she is kind enough to let is know one way or the other because I doubt Tauck Tim or anyone else is allowed to comment about things like this too much because of customer confidentiality unless they post more details for all to see here.
  • I agree completely. All the old hands can certainly point to issues with one or more tours, but those taken as a whole in the long run, are like dust bunnies under the couch- you know they are there, you gotta look close to find them because they are hard to see, but don't amount to much. :) When you compare them to the horror stories from people who have taken non-Tauck tours, Tauck issues pale in comparison. Tauck really does try their best to handle all issues, big and small, at tour and individual levels. You can often read about them here- innumerable, examples- heck there were two leading up to our last tour- like I mentioned in an earlier post there were issues with the hotel in Cortina in 2013- Tauck changed it. Also, there was an issue with what was going to be provided at the hotel in Bad Wörishofen. The Tauck website says, "After lunch, you’ll return to your hotel for a presentation on the history and concepts behind the Kneipp approach to wellness. Tour the spa facilities and herb garden and then enjoy your very own relaxing, individual water treatment." From that description and reports from previous travelers on this fairly new tour, it was not clear what to expect - a lecture, a tour, a demonstration, or an actual Kneipp water treatment.

    I don't remember all the details, but our tour director presented the option and set it up so you could do or not do what you wanted. Some used the hot tub but I don't believe anyone one took the full Kniepp water treatment (typically an ice water bath). Some took a tour with the herb garden with the hotel guide, where they had the chance to experience walking barefoot through areas of water and mud. Some people had "hay treatments" administered in the morning while they were still in bed! That level of detail was not even listed on the "go sheets" provided by our tour director. I spent a little "down time" since I was still a bit tired from making the climb to Mary's bridge from Nueschwanstein and wanted to rest up for the farewell dinner.
  • We are posting this to keep people informed, as we have said that we would.

    We received a letter from the Brand Manager, who, while acknowledging some of the criticism, and saying that some of the problems we pointed out would be rectified in future tours, has neither said nor done anything to appease us, their very unhappy customers. Nor have they indicated that they would change the description of the tour to warn future customers that shipboard time like we experienced is much more likely to occur in Iceland than in other places.

    As far as we are concerned, this is the end of our unfortunate tour, as well as of our relationship with Tauck.
  • bearsfolks wrote:
    We are posting this to keep people informed, as we have said that we would.

    We received a letter from the Brand Manager, who, while acknowledging some of the criticism, and saying that some of the problems we pointed out would be rectified in future tours, has neither said nor done anything to appease us, their very unhappy customers. Nor have they indicated that they would change the description of the tour to warn future customers that shipboard time like we experienced is much more likely to occur in Iceland than in other places.

    As far as we are concerned, this is the end of our unfortunate tour, as well as of our relationship with Tauck.

    I wasn't going to post to this thread again, but what hey. Of course they would "acknowledge" your comments and attempt to rectify any that they feel valid with respect to the entire experience and appropriate for future tours, but no business is going to promise one customer that they will take immediate action based on individual criticisms until they have fully investigated their validity and weighed the impact of such changes. While it all may be 100% true, much of your criticism, especially "being rushed," is still perception. I may be reading too much into your posts and especially this one, but it seems to me that very little will appease you other than Tauck making a public apology for all the perceived failings, which is not likely to happen, and/or make a full or partial refund- who knows.

    I suggest you take a look at other tours. One tour run by another highly respected tour company, which I won't mention, but which is associated with a Nationally known Geographic entity, has a tour that similarly circumnavigates Iceland. But, depending on cabin you'll pay between $9500 - $19,000 per person for an 11 day tour. But, be advised their itinerary includes the following notes:

    "Please note: All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting"

    "Flexibility is a hallmark of our expeditions, and often the day-by-day itinerary will change . . . . ."

    "You’ll have a choice of activities . . . . . Choice also includes opting to relax, too. Enjoy the view from behind [the ship's] panoramic glass windows. Or visit the fitness center with its generous views of the vistas, or ease into the sauna or a massage in the Wellness Center."
  • So sorry to hear about your parting of the ways with Tauck, but after reading the dialogue on this thread, I think that is for the best. It sounds as if this experience has left such a negative impression on you, that any other trip would be measured to this one (and, not in a positive way...that's only human). I hope you were clear with Tauck about exactly what you wanted from them. Sometimes we are dissatisfied but fail to make our expectations for resolution clear. But, I doubt that is the situation in your case as you were so specific in your evaluation.
    Interestingly, on our second trip with Tauck (many years ago), we received a letter about a week prior to departure that our two night stay in some chateau would be replaced with another location. We kept asking about it, and our TD seemed to be avoiding the issue. When we got there we saw why. It was somewhere between a Comfort Inn and a Motel 6 next to a highway cloverleaf and at least two other tour groups bellying up to the buffet in the morning! Many of us wrote letters of complaint and received a small rebate. However, it still left a bad taste in my mouth. But the event was past and there was really nothing else Tauck could have done for us at that point. For us, personally, we are glad we did not let this one experience taint our feelings toward Tauck as we are about to embark on our 13th trip with them. We have had such wonderful travel experiences since that trip with unique Tauck "surprises" along the way (those are those little things not listed in the itinerary...gondola ride in Italy, sunset cocktail reception at Uluru, sunset dinner at the Celsus Litrary at Ephesus, an anniversary surprise in each hotel during our Southeast Asia tour, and many more...by the way, some of those unlisted experiences have made their way into the listed itinerary since our trips).
    I am certainly not trying to talk you into traveling with Tauck again. I understand and sympatized with your displeasure. Alan is correct in mentioning differing perceptions. I think maintaining a balance between expectation and perception for each individual guest must be a very difficult thing to master. But, in 99.9% of our experience with Tauck, they do a pretty good job of it! Hopefully, you will be able to find a company that will work better for you.
  • Based on conversations with our TD as well as the letter from the Tour Brand Manager, one reason that a schedule is not provided on this tour is because in Iceland there aren’t enough guides or transportation equipment to adequately support large-scale tourism. It is, therefore, more likely in Iceland than in other European countries that passengers, like us, may have to spend more than half the time in port aboard ship for reasons other than the always-possible bad weather.

    As reported by "AlanS", National Geographic/Lindblad forewarns its patrons that changes can occur to its schedule. Tauck apparently does not think it has a responsibility to inform potential customers of this additional and unexpected possible problem, so that they can make a more informed decision as to whether or not to go on the cruise, but appears to prefer to keep them in the dark, as they also seem to have done to “joycesw” on her second trip.
  • Gosh Bearsfolks" in fact Tauck does forwarn it's patrons that there could be changes to it's itinerary, it is clearly stated in the Before You Go section of every Tauck vacation I have ever been on, but many people never bother to read this part, possibly because they book through a travel agent, which we never do. Half the questions people ask on this site can be answered if people read the Before You Go section. As I am sitting here relaxing with a cuppa, I decided to look at the National Geographic website and it says the exact same as Tauck, it does not make an extra point of saying the itinerary may be changed. In addition it appears to be a longer tour on National Geographic but it is just the way they count the travel day even before you leave the US as day 1 rather than the day the tour begins. It is also over half as much again in price, that means I for one just could not afford it's prices for essentially the same tour. Before we took our Tauck Galapagos tour, to date our only 'cruise' we spoke to a friend who had taken the National Geographic/Lindblad tour and they even loaned us their personal video of the tour that was made for them. It was essentially the same tour but cost an unbelievable amount more money.
    It appears that you did in fact experience everything Tauck promised on this tour and you even were told about the shortage of guides. That seems to be a unique problem for this destination and so it is a shame that you happened to pick Iceland, but if you wanted to see Iceland on a tour it looks as if there would be the same problem whatever tour company you chose. The only way round it would be to take the tour independently by land and book all your guides well in advance. I still think I would like to take the tour because I would rather see the wonders of Iceland than not, even if I was spending a little more time on the ship. Not everyone likes to spend every waking minute doing something on a vacation. As we are not of retirement age and my husband has a stressful job, he particularly needs time to relax on a Tauck vacation because 90 percent of the time there is barely a minute to yourself on Tauck tours. As I have mentioned on an earlier posting, it is not uncommon for the vast majority of an optional side trip forgo it and chill or sleep. We like to have the odd spa treatment, now someone said to me on this forum, huh, I can do that at home, but my hubby can't very easily.
    I would like to comment again that it appears your particular tour was possibly affected by more than would be anticipated by lack of tour guides and buses. I am surprised that there are no other comments on this forum because it is more usual for the public to make negative comments than positive and I have not seen any negative comments about the Iceland tour anywhere. There must be someone other than Joyce who has taken it, it is supposed to sell out very quickly each year
    I suggest that Tauck Tim speaks to whoever necessary that if there is a true problem with getting enough local guides and buses that it is even more transparent on the itinerary for the Iceland tour.
    Every time we book a new Tauck vacation, I think in the back of my mind, maybe this is the one that we will hate or goes wrong in some major way, but thank goodness so far all has been wonderful. I suppose I think this more than the average person because my dear father died while he was on a vacation in a foreign land, unfortunately y not with a company like Tauck to help out, my Mom had to cope on her own.
    I do wish you would reconsider trying Tauck again Bearsfolks. The only continent I have not tried with them is now Antarctica I believe.
  • edited August 2014
    British...correction, correction, correction!!! I have never been on the Iceland tour, and, frankly, it is not on my bucket list-long or short! We do not fare well on cruises, especially those in remote places! I have tried to make my comments on this thread about the Tauck Experience, in general.
    My experience on trip #2 was a Southern France to Paris Tauck trip (no longer available), and, as I stated, we are about to take #13, so my point was that one small bad experience (in an otherwise glorious trip) and a so-so response from Tauck did not deter us from continuing to travel with Tauck! Since that initial experience, we have had a number of odd snafus on some trips, and we have always been more than pleased by Tauck's response. We are so glad we did not judge them by that first problem.
  • joycesw wrote:
    British...correction, correction, correction!!! I have never been on the Iceland tour, and, frankly, it is not on my bucket list-long or short! We do not fare well on cruises, especially those in remote places! I have tried to make my comments on this thread about the Tauck Experience, in general.
    My experience on trip #2 was a Southern France to Paris Tauck trip (no longer available), and, as I stated, we are about to take #13, so my point was that one small bad experience (in an otherwise glorious trip) and a so-so response from Tauck did not deter us from continuing to travel with Tauck! Since that initial experience, we have had a number of odd snafus on some trips, and we have always been more than pleased by Tauck's response. We are so glad we did not judge them by that first problem.

    Whoops, it was Kathy who has been!
  • Tauckies do get around and you have to keep up! You never know where we'll turn up.

    For me … just not in Iceland. Yet. And I have definitely decided I won't be sailing with "that" company after speaking to the scion face to face. He actually told me … I repeat …told me, face to face, that Americans don't care about cabins. After you pick yourselves up off the ground & dust yourselves off, just think about that. (We had been discussing the point that they only made one or two of the worst cabins on their ships available to solo travellers. Do check with Tauck to see how they treat solo travellers.) Viva la difference, Tauck, for not discriminating against us. Not that the original poster would care. Cocoons, and all that.

    Okay, chaps. Enough of playing the man and not the ball. (You might need a world view to understand that. Silly me.) Hey, guys? Enough is enough. Can we all move on? And you naughty children in the back? Could you please be nice?

    George. Don't do that.

    George!
  • where have you been Jan? Though the name of the actress escapes me, I certainly remember George!
  • Joyce Grenfell. I don't have her skill in dealing with recalcitrant toddlers, British. And life's too short to dwell on trivialities, when there are so many Really Important things going on in the wider world. ;)
  • I was on the first Iceland cruise this summer. I have to say it was great. I could care less about taking pictures as I never look at them after and feel they take away from my immersion in the experience. Also, have seen many waterfalls so unless they are spectacular, I don't want to spend a lot of time doing that. Tauck did it right from my point of view. We spent some time doing these things but didn't overdo it. When you travel with a group you have to take into account many peoples' different desires and finding a balance is not always easy. If people want a lot of time doing certain activities, they need to find tours geared specifically to those things.

    We had time in several locations to do things on our own. In fact, in the Westmann Island, a new museum had just opened commemorating the volcanoe's eruption there . The tour directors didn't know this until we got there. They arranged for everyone to get in free and even obtained a bus for people who didn't want to walk there.

    I enjoyed seeing some things in the fog (weather can't be controlled by the tour company)-it gave things an eerie and mysterious look. I think you have to be ready to go with the flow and make the best of weather conditions. One of the best trips I ever had was in Alaska on a regular cruise where it rained every day, but we had a spectacular time-just put on our rain gear and did everything.

    The one thing I think should be changed is including the night in the hotel before the cruise starts. It is almost impossible to get to Iceland from the US in a timely fashion in time for the tour which starts at noon on that day. Most people come from the US and there aren't many airlines that serve Iceland. I know there is the gift of time but that only applies to previous Tauck guests. Many people, including us, had to stay an extra night at the end also since we couldn't get flights until the next day.

  • I am the traveler above on the first Iceland tour this summer. Forgot to add that what I loved was seeing all the geologic formations from lava, the beauty of the Westfijords, and the abundant bird life. We also had a great time in the Westmann's just walking around and talking to some local people. Another highlight was the charming, funny, and engaging guide we had in the Westfijords. She made the day. There is much to like on this trip.
  • We are taking Iceland trip end of July. This is our first cruise with Tauck. Have taken couple of land tours and booked on couple of others for the future. Having high expectations from Tauck, it is scary to read the negative comments since we have persuaded three other couples to join us. Could someone be just little specific what we do and don't do. We have an extra day in Reykjavik . Is it worth going to jokulsarlon or do something else. Would really appreciate the input for suggestion
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