Green Books

As of this morning I've received the emails with the links to our green books for both of our upcoming tours. I'm fine with Tauck using the digital format but have to say I'm unimpressed with the information provided compared to the sacrifice of having to print the parts I'm interested in. Here's a quote from the book, "Please take the time to carefully review the itinerary section of this document for the latest information and updates." Other than the tipping recommendations and that there won't be a group photo, I've learned nothing new reading either of the two green books we've received.

Covid impacts aren't anything that hasn't already been mentioned elsewhere on the website and nothing is said about the new french requirement for a QR code to get into restaurants, museums, etc. During group activities I'm not concerned with needing it, but when we go off on our own I want to make sure we don't have an issue. Hence I've applied for ours without waiting for Tauck guidance. Hope others on the tour don't get caught unprepared.

As far as providing the most up to date itinerary, if anything there is less information. The Normandy/Brittany has always been listed as beginning at either 2:30 or 3pm - way earlier than the usual welcome reception. Unofficial comments here on the forum have been that they will include tickets for a tour of the chateau Versailles which I was also told verbally by an agent over a month ago. Zero mention of this in the green book. Also the book mentions a Louvre tour but not when. While I don't do a lot to plan off tour activities, this makes it really hard to do any planning. We get to Versailles on Sat - the day before the start of the tour - and if tour tickets aren't provided I worry it will be too late to book my own.

Digital green books? Meh.

Comments

  • Claudia - Perhaps a bit harsh. I found the digital green book for Iceland to be as good as the print version. That said, the real information wasn't available until we arrived in Iceland. That's when we found out what the actual itinerary and excursions would be. I'm sure this is all because of the very dynamic nature of traveling these days with daily changes in Covid requirements, facility visitation requirements, etc.

    So in these Covid days, I think we're all forced to just go with the flow more than we're used to. The ability to pre-plan all free time on a tour may be a thing of the past, until all of the Covid dynamics are behind us. Certainly it makes no sense to try to pre-plan every minute (unless the planning process provides enjoyment), ala AlanS and his Petra hikes, until things get closer to pre-pandemic days.

    Even though things on the Iceland tour changed (some to the better) a fair amount from the web and digital greenback information available prior to the tour, the tour was still outstanding. Your ability to adapt on the fly and accept things being somewhat different than what you'd expected may go to your level of enjoyment.

    No matter what the changes end up being I think you'll have a great time.

  • edited August 19

    Yup, as people say, everything is a moving target. That was also the problem with the app. It wasn't much good if it wasn't kept up to date.

    Claudia, it almost sounds like you wish you had waited until 2022? :D

  • I’m not sure which way I go on this. Except to continue saying that Tauck is not up to date on some really important issues to even enable customers get to the tour. I’m expecting a flag!

  • Sam, I think you're right that really knowing the plan and what to expect is going to have to wait until actual arrival. I just think saying you're going to wait and send travel documents later to give you the latest and greatest, but in fact not really delivering anything that reflects that is misstatement - at best. It this is a first Tauck tour for someone, then the documents are useful. For any experienced Tauckterians it wasn't.

    No, Alan not regretting going this year. Lots of reasons for this.

    British, I know Tauck is trying hard to keep up and I wouldn't want to be the person trying now. One aspect of the tour documents not being better is they're just pushing the questions off onto their agents to answer.

    One thing I have noticed in both my books is no mention of seat rotation on the bus which has been in the green books for previous land tours. Makes you wonder what system will be used this time.

  • Maybe the seats will be literally "on" the bus! - beach chairs bolted to the bus roof! :D They will need to leave room on the bus for a 55 gallon drum of sanitzer!

  • Maybe they can borrow some double decker buses from the UK.

    Short of something really awful happening, I'm up for an adventure this year.

  • Good for you Claudia, I think you are right, I know you will keep a good mask on properly.
    I hope there is seat rotation, you only have to go on a no Tauck tour to see how selfish people can be about seats.

  • edited August 19

    I think everyone must remember, despite all the doom and gloom and isolated horror stories, the vast majority of current travelers aren't reporting (ranting about) significant problems- there would be big headlines, the airlines would shut down, etc, etc. In practice, the policies may not really be as bad, nor as strictly enforced, as people fear, and those involved may be willing to work with people and adjust as necessary.

  • OMG, I got a flag on my last comment? What, you can't post about double decker buses or having an adventure??? There is no rhyme, no reason.

  • It's funny, on our last river cruise when the Viking ship took out the Main lock and we had a couple of days of confusion, changed itinerary and ultimately a ship swap, there was one guy who had been kinda grumpy about stuff on the tour. Thought he was going to be a problem when that all happened, but he was like... oh, that's fine, Tauck's handling this well.

    Part of it's the attitude of the guests and part is how the company handles the changes. When the above happened, the TDs and CD were really good about keeping us informed and were honest about what they knew and didn't know.

  • edited August 19

    I just received my digital "green book" for our upcoming Canadian Maritimes trip. I too was disappointed. The COVID entry requirements for Canada were either misleading or false in several aspects. In fairness to Tauck, the requirements may have changed and updating the info is surely a daunting task for all of the active destinations. I'll be posting a summary of corrected information in the forums in a day or two for other travelers. I was also disappointed that the itinerary had no specific updates and that they said they may inform us of changes near to our departure.

    One thing I also missed was the "Expectations vs. Reality" section (a.k.a. the s**t happens section). While I am well aware that things may not always go as planned, I liked being able to refer whiners to that section. :D

  • There is one thing I will say about changes and expectations vs reality. I know it is not always possible due to last minute issues, but If at all possible, I personally would rather know ahead of time if there is a change affecting the itinerary and if something I had been really looking forward to gets dropped. I would rather get the disappointment out of my system before the tou, so I can focus more on what is than what could/should have been.

  • AlanS - I personally would rather know ahead of time if there is a change affecting the itinerary and if something I had been
    really looking forward to gets dropped.

    Alan, everyone would prefer to know ahead of time! It's just a logistical nightmare to try to do it any other way than how they are doing it. If they know of a change at the time the digital green books are finalized then the change is included. If the change occurs after that, based on what happened in Iceland, they give you the updates upon arrival in country. They don't have the resources to do multiple updates/transmissions of the digital green books. What you're seeing is the best reality we can hope for in the near term. You just have to do rapid re-planning once you get the final information upon arrival in country. If that means you can't schedule special, extra tours on assumed off hours, then so be it. If that is too much of a hardship, then postpone to a later year when things will return to how they were. In the near term, like I said previously we all need to adapt on the fly.

    Ken from Vegas - I liked being able to refer whiners to that section.

    Sounds like you might have to refer yourself to that missing section. :D

    AlanS, Claudia, etal - the problems you're concerned about may be (or are) a larger issue on Land Tours vs the Small Ship or Riverboat tours. On the Land Tours you always have more free time to explore on your own, with the hotels right in the heart of everything. Knowing when those free times are is what allows you to plan. In the near term, this issue with Land Tours may make the Small Ship or Riverboat tours more attractive, even for people that with all things being equal prefer the Land Tours.

    I just hope things don't get any worse than they are right now.

  • Claudia Sails - I find the books sadly missing in info. We took the Loire Valley tour several years ago. Even then there was no mention of the Versailles tickets. We found out by accident from the hotel concierge. I find out through the years that these secret bennies of tauck tours are not publicized. We often seek out the Tour directors to find out options for pre tour options, etc. Sometimes they are bozos! They know notiing and are afraid to tell you anything. Others are fabulous. It would serve them well to let us know so in that we, their clients would know there is something extra included at our option. It is especially important in this tour since the hotel is right there and there is no room in the itinerary to see Versailles! That is why we came early as historic gardens are my passion.

  • I like that Tauck always seems to deliver more than they initially promise. Smart. The Versailles thing is frustrating because we have the extra day with Gift of Time and could easily purchase a ticket online now.

  • I agree but a major item like a pre tour opportunity should be disclosed. Otherwise money is spent where it need not be. That could prove irritating for some. Knowing about it makes you feel grateful.

  • Claudia - For your piece of mind, if the ticket isn’t prohibitive in cost then just buy it online. Worst case, you’re out a little cash, but at least you know you will get to see Versailles. If you buy it and then Tauck provides maybe you can exchange it when you get there.

  • Something to think about Sam. 18 euros each just for the chateau. Drop in the bucket considering. Actually, reading the terms of sale, I could probably get away with selling it for cost to someone else (can't make a profit) but the kicker is that tickets have to be printed on A4 paper or on a smartphone. I'd need to find some legal length and cut it down. Too much trouble.

  • Smiling Sam
    5:51PM
    Alan, everyone would prefer to know ahead of time! It's just a logistical nightmare to try to do it any other way than how they are doing it. If they know of a change at the time the digital green books are finalized then the change is included.

    I disagree with you on that- once set up it requires no effort at all to send out a group email to every person on a tour, post an update on the website or, even better, post it on a section of the website or sub-bulletin board dedicated to specific tours or specific departure dates. Obviously if a change occurs after arrival in country that will require the TD update everyone either with info provided in the welcome packets you get upon check-in, the first meeting with the TD, or at the Welcome Dinner. That still doesn't make the medicine go down any easier! There are many of us on our third attempt at multiple tours.

    They don't have the resources to do multiple updates/transmissions of the digital green books. What you're seeing is the best reality we can hope for in the near term.

    I'm not so sure about that. If they don't have, they should. One person should easily be able handle multiple tours. - type the new info, check a few boxes, and hit send.

    You just have to do rapid re-planning once you get the final information upon arrival in country. If that means you can't schedule special, extra tours on assumed off hours, then so be it.

    And there's the rub!! Not all "so be its" are created equal! :D

  • AlanS - Unfortunately that’s the travel world we’re in right now. If it is too big an issue for you, then postpone until things return to pre-pandemic days or you’ll have to adapt your preferred way of doing things to the new reality.

  • That's why our next trip is in March. :)

  • If the famous and now defunct app had ever worked and Tour Directors had bothered to use it and add messages, they could have easily let clients know of a significant change if they knew about it before the tour started, or include it in the Welcome letter that you get from the TD before the tour begins for those who arrive early. If we are not given a welcome letter on check in, we always ask, ever since a desk clerk forgot to give us one years ago.
    I have traveled with another tour company where the assigned TD actually contacts you about a week before the tour and you can ask them anything. That would be perfect for something like ‘Are tickets included?” questions.
    TD’s do sometimes contact people before a tour begins. On our very last tour with Tauck, K and T and Rwanda, our TD was going to contact the next group and emphasize the need to bring the correct footwear because several people on our tour had brought inadequate shoes for the gorilla trek. We actually had to stop and drop one person off at a mall in the outskirts of Nairobi to buy shoes because she had brought little more than flip flops for a muddy and nettle bordered trail and possible fire ants.
    Like Alan, we have deferred our first tour until March 2022 because we don’t want to be messed around, not necessarily with Tauck, but flights and changes in requirements and things like that….and yet Tauck is contacting us by email and letter and almost ‘begging’ us to take a 2021 tour. When you look at dates now, they are almost all totally open. Obviously, people are more anxious about details of a tour than ever under current circumstances. Many might prefer to defer a tour, an expensive tour, if they think they might not get to see something originally included on the tour that has been removed.
    We did try to book a US tour several weeks ago but gave up after 45 minutes on hold…and there was no call- back option that day. Soon after, we decided not to bother and have booked an independent trip.

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