Treasures of the Aegean--Northbound

My husband and I are on the July 27th cruise; this will be our third Tauck tour. Anyone booked for this cruise? We are arriving in Athens one day early.

Comments

  • We...my wife and a neighbor couple...will also be on this tour. Very much looking forward to the trip. We will also be arriving a day early in Athens. Certainly monitoring events in Turkey.
  • I am going on the Northbound 9/21/16 Greece to Turkey trip anyone else? Concerned that Istanbul airport was just bombed. Anyone else concerned that the State Department issued traveler warnings?
  • we are on the september 21, 2016 greece to turkey as well and we are very concerned with the security issues in turkey. we are seriously thinking of canceling our trip.
  • Same Sept. 21 trip and also nervous.
  • We were scheduled to go on the 9/14 trip but decided to cancel after the attack on the Instanbul Airport. Interestingly, we originally had a non-stop flight from JFK to Instanbul on Delta but this was changed to include a stopover in Amsterdam and a change to KLM. We have since found out that the change was because Delta no longer flies to Ibstanbul because of the terrorist problems there in the past several years. Frankly, we are surprised that Tauck has not taken any affirmative action regarding this itinerary given the State Department advisory. We have traveled extensively with Tauck and always assumed that they placed the safety of their clients above all. Unfortunately, we believe that they may have dropped the ball in this instance.
  • I am scheduled for the August 24th Treasures of the Aegean. Very concerned about returning home out of Istanbul on Sept. 6th. Anyone else on my radar?
  • We were scheduled to go on the 9/14 trip but decided to cancel after the attack on the Instanbul Airport. Interestingly, we originally had a non-stop flight from JFK to Instanbul on Delta but this was changed to include a stopover in Amsterdam and a change to KLM. We have since found out that the change was because Delta no longer flies to Ibstanbul because of the terrorist problems there in the past several years. Frankly, we are surprised that Tauck has not taken any affirmative action regarding this itinerary given the State Department advisory. We have traveled extensively with Tauck and always assumed that they placed the safety of their clients above all. Unfortunately, we believe that they may have dropped the ball in this instance.

    I don't think you gave Tauck time to respond before you cancelled. After all, your departure date is about 10 weeks away and they are probably dealing with other customers who have departure dates before yours. Istanbul/Turkey has been unstable for a long long time but you felt secure enough to travel there. I just think it is ridiculous you think that Tauck would risk their reputation, their staff and customers just for profit. They are having to deal with these situations constantly these days and I am sure they have procedures to follow. Maybe others will respond with howTauck deal with their departures before they are condemned for sending people into the lions den when it is probably unjustified.
  • Windstar has cancelled the July 6, 2016 sailing so Tauck has cancelled this trip.
  • edited June 2016
    I agree with British- give Tauck a chance. They aren't rookies at this game and don't typically respond to an incident such as this with a quick knee-jerk reaction.

    I'm sure there are a lot of factors that go into their decision-making. Their first priority, however, is always safety of their travelers.

    After that there may be a number of different and sometimes competing factors they must consider. For instance- what are the security issues- typically after such an incident, security in the target country will be really stepped up. Will it be enough for Tauck? What about Kusadasi/Ephesus and Bodrum? What about the waters of the Dardanelles? Are there alternatives to flying into, spending three days, and embarking the ship at Istanbul? Can changes be made quickly so travelers will be safe, and still have a typical Tauck experience.

    Once a decision is made to cancel, travelers must be notified, refunds arranged, hotel reservations and side trips canceled, etc. I'm sure Tauck is insured for all this, but it can be a big economic impact on the host countries and businesses.

    Remember, something like this can happen anywhere in the world, not just Turkey, like say NYC, Boston, Texas, San Bernadino, Orlando . . . .
  • edited June 2016
    We did this trip eight years ago, and security in Instanbul at that time was quite high. Interestingly, we really felt quite safe. I would venture to surmise that right now the safest airport to use is in Istanbul, followed closely by the one in Brussels. We have experienced two cancellations with Tauck. One was a riverboat trip that was cancelled halfway through due to flooding on the Danube, and the second was a trip to Egypt in 2013. Neither trip seemed to be cancelled in haste. For the riverboat trip,they kept busing us to places on our itinerary. Four days after we had tied up, and the flooding was not subsiding, they cancelled the trip. You can imagine the logistics of dealing with 100+ people and their travel plans. Some of us had already done half the trip (from Bucharest) and the majority had embarked in Budapest, gone 6 hours, and the boat never moved again!
    For the Egypt trip two days before the final payment the trip was still on, two days later not so. So, I guess I am suggesting patience at this point. By the way, Tauck was extremely generous in both instances, especially with the Egypt trip. The offered a stipend, got us booked on another trip, and picked up.our airfare change fees.
    So, adopt a wait and see attitude, and it wouldn't hurt to have another trip on the back burner, just in case.
  • edited June 2016
    just out of interest, when we were on our India Tour, our tour director gave us a full account of how Tauck managed the situation when the hotel in Mumbai was attacked some years ago and Tauck had guests caught up in it, I can't remember all details, but Tauck was first in line to get their customers out on flights before they were all taken, they actually also have a charter plane on standby for any incident like this that they can call on. By the way, one of the Tauck customers bitterly complained because their flight home was supposed to be in business class and on the emergency flight they were in coach, yes Tauck has some demanding customers! I think there were two Tauck tour directors who were trapped in the hotel when the terrorists were there, Alan, one of them was Rachel who you met on your England tour with Tauck.
    Another incident. Some years ago when we took our second Costa Rica tour with Tauck, (yes we like Costa Rica and going on another different tour next year) we met a nice couple, who emailed us several months later and asked if we were interested in taking the Tauck tour to Egypt with them, we said no, we both have no interest to see Egypt, I think it's because we had mummies and numerous visits to the museum rammed down our throats all the way through school, plus my Dad always reminded me that when he was in Egypt during the war, he was disallusioned by seeing that the pyramids were so near the city and not romantically out in the middle of no-where. That's where he got malaria too and was extremely ill. But anyway, the couple went and there was a major incident, shockingly these attacks are so common, I can't remember the details, but Tauck had to get everyone out and gave the group a very good alternative vacation and the couple were impressed.
    Last year we were in Tanzania when there was a terrorist incident, I think that is why we were all asked to carry our valuables with us in the Safari vehicles, just in case we had to high tale it out of the country.
    I have said before and say again, we have written our wills, the children know we love to travel, we will continue to be free to travel with some extra cautions, but we won't be beaten by a bunch of terrorists or they win.
  • i think what you are saying is very insightful and i do agree tauck has a history of doing the right thing for their guests. the only issue that is out there is if someone is uncomfortable with the risk associated with this particular trip they may have to make a decision before tauck communicates any possible change in plans. if you purchased the tauck cruise protection plan you have to decide 60 days before departure to cancel for any reason to receive a full cost of trip back less the cost of the cruise protection plan. otherwise, there are from 25 percent to 50 percent loss on the cost of the cruise if you wait closer to departure.
  • Has anyone actually called Tauck? What are they telling people who want to cancel this trip now, regardless of days until departure? For those affected, the best bet is to call them instead of speculating here on the forum.

    In case anyone hasn't read the Tauck insurance policy, here is one section of it (from the "Before You Go") that may be of interest:

    "Under Tauck’s all-inclusive Cruise Protection, you can cancel your cruise for any covered reason up to the day before departure and receive a money-back refund (except in Extreme Circumstances*) on the cruise cost, based on your original method of payment. The following conditions apply:

    Section I Cancellation Waiver – Provided by Tauck: Should you have to cancel your cruise for any reason, Tauck’s Cancellation Waiver reduces the regular cancellation fees outlined herein, provided we are notified of cancellation before your cruise departs. Certain terms and restrictions apply (see below*).

    *Extreme Circumstances: In the event of an act of God, war (whether declared or undeclared), terrorism, accident, natural disaster, outbreak of disease, or other event or circumstance beyond our control that contributes to or results in cancellation rates above our historical cancellation rates in the absence of such event or occurrence, Tauck reserves the right to issue a credit to you in lieu of a money-back refund, applicable to a future Tauck journey."

  • edited June 2016
    Interesting about insurance plans...we usually always use Tauck's insurance , but on on our planned Egypt trip we had insurance with another company which did not inusure us against "civil unrest." Tauck was so wonderful about applying our deposit to another trip and giving us a stipend. However, we did take a bath in airfare through British Air...the gave us no break in changing our flights and class (went from premium economy to business) for our substitute trip. I guess that might be another reason to consider using Tauck's booking service for airfare.
    We did have to cancel another trip about ten days prior to departure due to a medical issue and our insurance covered everything completely...Tauck took our non-refundable deposit and put it onto our "dream account" to be applied to our next trip, which we used a year later.
    Again, patience, while very difficult, is needed for those booked on this wonderful trip.
    By the way, British, we, too, heard the story of the siege of the Taj Mahal Hotel while on our Portrait of India tour , and especially Rachael's experience. It prompted me to read "The Seige" which was fascinating. I guess our TD's tour had just ended, and he was flying to Newark unaware of what was happening in Mumbai. By the time he landed, saw news accounts, and phoned in, Tauck's big-wigs (don't want to mention a name as my memory is sketchy but think it was the CEO) were answering the phone and working on the situation. Very impressive.
  • Thank you Joyce, I have just ordered the book!
    Totally off the original post on this thread, but we have had Rachel as a tour guide on two trips and we are extremely fond of her. I am hoping there is an outside chance she is leading our Botswana tour in September. When we were with her last, she was on a 'Raw' diet and at the time I was reading a book I think called something like Catching Fire, about the importance of eating some cooked food/meat. So I expressed my concerns for her, and just managed to finish the book before the end of the tour, giving it to her on the plane, later she came up to me and said she was going to have a steak. We have had some great laughs with Rachel. She always also seems to get all the drama--- out of all our tours, the one we remember where some of our group were omplaining and obnoxious beyond reason were on her tour and she handled it so well.
  • I have called Tauck and that is how I know they cancelled the July 6 trip. Was told to wait and see. Also, the rep said she was sending an e-mail to her supervisors so they know of my concern and they should respond to me prior to final payment which for us would be July 23. Apparently Tauck will follow Wind Star's lead.
  • Fox Travel News: Cruise lines (Celebrity, Seaboard, Windstar, Cunard, Queen Victoria, Crystal, Disney, Norwegian, Regent and Oceania) cancel Istanbul ports of call after airport attack. When will Tauck let us know what is happening with our trips? Companies have posted their decisions on their official web sites.
  • I'm not Tauck, so I can't give anyone a definitive answer, but I was on the June 8th Southbound trip, and I will tell you all that I think it is extremely unlikely this trip will resume anytime soon.

    Most of you will recall that on June 7th, a smaller attack occurred (right before I left on my trip). People thought I was nuts to go on, but I didn't even consider canceling.

    When I arrived, I found out that Tauck had been in an emergency meeting the previous day to decide whether to go on with my trip or not. They did decide to proceed, but re-routed one of the visits on the itinerary due to its proximity to that attack's location. Additionally, our group of only 19 was provided with two very serious contracted security guards the entire time we were touring in Istanbul. The two gentlemen were not rent-a-cops -- they were quite clearly THE REAL DEAL.

    So I guess what I'm trying to tell you is that it was already touch and go for Tauck in Istanbul prior to the bombing at the airport. I'm guessing that in the wake of what was clearly a much more serious incident -- one that targeted tourists, whereas the one prior to our trip targeted the police -- there is no way Tauck is going to do this trip anytime soon.

    As for the Windstar, there were only 82 passengers on our cruise portion -- the ship was almost half empty. (Great for us -- not so good for them.) So again, given the escalation since my trip, I can't believe they will get even 60 passengers on a trip right now.

    It's a terrible shame -- Istanbul is a wonderful city being hurt badly by people who don't even live/belong there. But it is what it is at this point.
  • Your very informative post should be of great use to everyone.
  • edited July 2016
    I don't know when it was posted, but for anyone who hasn't been to the Treasures of The Aegean trip pages here is what has been posted recently by Tauck:

    "Note: Our cruise partner, Windstar, has made the decision not to operate in Turkey for 2017. All guests currently booked on 2017 Treasures of the Aegean will be contacted as more information becomes available. Please keep an eye on this website for revised cruise sailings itineraries and schedules as details become available."

    Note it says "for 2017" which I assume includes the remainder of 2016 too. That is a big chunk of trips! Maybe they will add an island or two and and make it an Athens-to-Athens trip. Though a lot more out of the way, Bodrum and Ephesus are big tourist areas that they may not want to pull into either since the announcement says they will not "operate in Turkey."
  • Looks like this posting is a bit out of date. A visit to the WindStar Cruise site shows the following: "TRAVEL ADVISORY – JUNE 29, 2016 Windstar Cancels All Visits to Ports in Turkey by MSY Wind Star in 2016
    Replaces Turnaround Port Calls in Istanbul with Athens on 16 Cruises". My wife and I are booked on the August 24 Northbound trip and have not yet heard from Tauck. It appears that Windstar has added to ports of call in Greece which don't appear too exciting. Contacted travel agent today and will wait for a response from agent and Tauck. I am sure they have their hands VERY FULL at the moment.
  • edited July 2016
    Well, at least I guessed right about Athens - Athens and adding ports.

    As far as the new destinations-

    Kalymnos is a Greek island located near Bodrum. Until disease wreaked havoc on the sponge crop, it was known for sponge diving and an old Medieval town ruin.

    Nafplio is a port town in the Pelopennese. Over the centuries it was ruled by Byzantines, French, Greeks, Ottomans, Venetians, etc. like Kalymnos. In 1685 the Venetians retook Nafplio and made it the capital of their "Kingdom of the Morea". They strengthened the city by building the castle of Palamidi, which was in fact the last major construction of the Venetian empire overseas. It was also briefly the capital of Greece.

    We will have to wait and see how Tauck handles this.
  • Tauck shortened the tour by 3 days, will start and end in Athens, and offered a partial refund as compensation. Also offered a complete refund except for insurance if you choose not to go. Offered $500 per airline ticket to compensate for airline change fees. All seemed reasonable and, frankly, we would probably have signed up for Greece even without the Turkey component. Perhaps, someday, politics in Turkey will settle down and will be reinstated as a tourist destination. Better to be in USA wishing you were in Istanbul than to be in Istanbul wishing you were in USA.
  • Aveline wrote:
    I am going on the Northbound 9/21/16 Greece to Turkey trip anyone else? Concerned that Istanbul airport was just bombed. Anyone else concerned that the State Department issued traveler warnings?
    Hi Aveline,
    I too am booked for this trip, have not heard anything from my travel agent or tauck. I'm expected to arrive in Athens 9/20/16.
    Where are you traveling out from?
  • I am flying out of Charlotte and connecting in Philadelphia on 9/19/16 and arriving in Athens 9/20 for the 9/21 tour. Also, since our plane doesn't leave until after 12 noon on 10/1, we must stay an extra night in Athens upon return. Disappointed in not going to Turkey, but quite relieved that we aren't. This will probably be a more laid back trip than we imagined when we initially booked. Still, looking forward to going. The world is in such a crazy state.
  • Aveline, I arrive the same day in Athens as you so let's get together that night for dinner!!!
    Brenda
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