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Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT), is a travel company that caters to adults over 50. I have gone on 6 trips with them and have paid for another one this summer. My husband and I had planned to travel to China and Tibet with OAT on March 23, 2020. Bad timing! OAT, understandably, cancelled the trip but refunded our insurance premium, flight and trip costs, and upon receiving our receipts, will refund the China Visa application fees we had incurred. In addition, they have offered us $500 discount each on any trip we sign up for in 2020. Our trip to China was a last minute deal and they will give us the same price if we book the trip in 2020. Until we know that COVID19 has been contained, we are not likely to take them up on the last offer, but the how they have handled the rest of the cancellation truly reflects excellent customer service!
I have found the places we have stayed in all over the world to be better than any we could afford on our own: palaces in India and 5 star hotels in Morocco, for example. Their guides are excellent and always attentive to the group's needs. The company keeps to their number of 16 people for their trips so we get a lot of attention and it is easier to get into places as a smaller group. Grand Circle, the parent company, does take more people, but I am addressing OAT. I highly recommend OAT and often do to our friends!
We have done 9 trips with OAT and most of them have been very enjoyable. Their air department has gotten better over the years, but we find using miles to be best. You would think that after 9 trips we would get better rooms as has been mentioned in other reviews, but this is often not the case. We were in a coffin like room in Porto and a room with no heat and hot water in Patagonia. The trip leader did not believe me after my cold shower until they checked out the room. This is my major complaint. OAT is very affordable and if you book with them do not expect anything over a 3 star hotel or the worst rooms in a 4 star.
Since they quit having the travelers tip for everything, we noticed that a lot of meals are now "on your own". We think using OAT for exotic destinations, i.e. Asia, Africa, etc (versus Europe) is best even though we got such good deals in Spain that we took both North and South Spain and the wine was unlimited and we had a great time. We agree with other reviews, do NOT buy their insurance. Use the Chase Sapphire card's insurance and buy supplemental evac when in Africa.
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I was logging on to get the link the the OAT site to book a trip for next year and spotted this review site. SO sorry for the folks who have had a bad experience but need to say we've done 5 trips and every one of them has been outstanding. And the service complaints, wow, we've had great help from these guys. On virtually all our trips we've done some self hosted travel on either or both ends, and OAT has been able to make that work out much more economically than I could trying to stitch together the flights myself. OAT tends to provide experiences outside the normal travel agency, small groups, run by local folks, spending quality time with local folks. They have a nice balance of independent time on the trip with help sorting out what makes sense for you and your interests, abilities, and physical limitations. At this point I'd have to say I would not want to travel with any other travel company. 5 stars in my book.
As I am about to take my 13th trip with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) I am astounded by the number of whiny comments that seem to make OAT look like a bunch of boogers looking for any means possible to ruin one's travel plans. Come on folks, if OAT were that bad a travel company, how on earth could they have remained in business for this long a period?
Understanding that nobody or no company can be perfect, I have had NOTHING but excellent experiences during my SOON TO BE 13 TRIPS. OAT's team leaders are uniformly superb in their knowledge of their respective tour areas and all have exceptional communications skills. The trips are designed TO BE ADVENTUROUS, so if you're counting coup on whether your hotel is five stars or whether your fellow traveler has a two vanity bathroom and you don't, YOU'VE MISSED THE WHOLE POINT OF THEIR TOURS!! Perhaps you'd be better off with a Viking tour that costs twice as much or even a National Geographic Tour where you'll pay three or four times with the guarantee that they'll tuck you in and kiss your behind each and every night.
As for me, I'm a big boy and can handle the reality that a person who has traveled 43 times with OAT (yes, I actually did meet one of these folks) might and should get a bit better room than I. And as for travel insurance, I'm 71 and all I really need is airvac insurance that one purchases for a fraction of the price for a whole year. And air travel: hell I've been flying now for 51 years and have learned to take nothing for granted.
But OAT brings the richest of travel EXPERIENCES! From having mint tea in a Bedouin's camel hair tent, to cooking your own veal marsala in Sicily, to eating Mopani worms in a mud hut in Zimbabwe, it's all an adventure that one remembers for lifetime. If I wanted everything to be perfectly ordered and planned I'd stay home and be bored: get my drift??
I have traveled with OAT almost every year since my first trip to Thailand in 2000. I have seen parts of the world that I would never have seen otherwise. A visit to an: orphanage, school, and a home hosted meal are standard for all of my trips....wonderful experiences that I would never have had without OAT. Ever been to the snake charmers village in India or a Masai village? The trip leaders are all local people that know their countries and are very willing to share their political / cultural insights, priceless.
Our trip leader Nelson in Patagonia made the comment that in his view there are two kinds of visitor to his country: (1) Tourists and (2) Travelers. OAT is for World Travelers and not tourists. World travelers can expect bumps in the road. It's just life. It's how well your trip leader copes with the unexpected that makes OAT a great way to see the world. OAT is not for everyone...some would like the Club-Med experience at the higher cost? Your choice, but mine will always be with OAT.
This would have been my 12th OAT trip. In March 2020, booked a trip to South America for Nov. 2020 departure, 8 months in future. OAT Tripadvisor promised I could cancel any time for any reason and get 100% refund, which is stated in their contract, and I agreed to take travel insurance, for which she pushed hard ($2300). Had to cancel for unforeseen medical reasons following month. Had paid $1000 deposit to OAT. OAT refunded $400, then told me I had to contact a company called Allianz to whom they had given $600 of my deposit to without my knowledge. After months of filling out Allianz's online forms, plus sending them hard copies and a physician's letter, since it was impossible to reach anyone there by phone, I gave up being stonewalled by Allianz and recontacted OAT.
OAT's answer was that they could do nothing to help me and that I had to deal directly with Allianz. So I lost $600 of my deposit and the $2300 in travel insurance all in a period of one month. By the way the OAT insurance Company??? it was Allianz. Definitely a conflict of interest. Bottom line...After being an OAT customer for more than a dozen years, I will never again trust OAT with my money.
We have previously enjoyed four tours and excellent service with Grand Circle Travel (parent of OAT). Our 2020 OAT tour to Israel and Greece was cancelled due to COVID-19 (understandable). Customer care since then has been awful. Originally OAT offered a full refund and future travel credit. When we opted for a refund, we were notified that refunds were no longer available and we were required to rebook the same or different tour for future travel. I protested this and was elevated to a manager who told me they would not make an exception.
We then reserved a 2021 tour. When the invoice for the new trip was received, it was nearly $2000 more than quoted by the Reservation agent. I protested the higher cost and was told they would investigate the travel credits that had been offered by the agent. We were at the deadline for receiving the "Good Buy" discount for the new trip so I paid the full cost of the invoice under protest. OAT then applied travel credits so that I had a credit balance of -$1989.35 on an invoice date June 17. I called to ask for the credit balance to be refunded. OAT said they would send a refund in 90 days. Instead, I receive a new invoice on 8/11/20 with Miscellaneous "COVID Certificate Issued" cost of $1989.35 added to trip cost, so now my credit balance is zero. No call or email to explain the additional cost.
A call to OAT indicated these "COVID certificates" are for future travel, even though I was told it would be refunded. I once again asked for the money to be refunded and was told my request would have to be submitted to a manager as an exception. Very disappointed that OAT is clearly forgoing customer service in favor of their own financial protection. OAT and Grand Circle are not to be trusted at this point.
Updated on 08/27/2020: This is an update to an earlier post of 7/29/2020. I have been informed by OAT and their insurance company "Allianz" that I am to get a full refund and to expect same within 8-10 days. This was almost a month ago and I have received "nothing". Just thought consumers should be informed as to what type of company they are dealing with. Should I get a refund from the above company I will post a response when that event happens. Steve **
Original Review: Purchased trip to Egypt on 10/26/2019 which included trip insurance with the provision I could "cancel for any reason". On 5/1/2020 OAT sent a letter saying my trip was rescheduled for a year later. There was absolutely no communication between OAT and myself and I had no input in the matter. I have since requested my money back and OAT has refused. I am out my full trip, airline and insurance expense. They still have not contacted me and the only thing I can do is warn everyone to avoid this company at all costs.
My wife and I booked a Sicily tour for spring 2020 and paid over $17,000. OAT cancelled the trip due to COVID-19 and originally offered a full refund as an option (as required by Mass state law). Without any prior notification, they withdrew the refund option and instead booked us on an identical tour for 2021. They ignored our written request for a refund and did not provide any satisfaction when contacted by phone. We filed a complaint with the Mass attorney general and a dispute with our credit card company. Luckily after a waiting period of 60 days, we received a full refund from Visa. OAT obviously valued short-term monetary benefits over long-term customer loyalty and in our case, lost.
In 2016, I began my first OAT trip in the Peruvian Amazon. The next stops were Lima (Macchu Pichu), Quito, and, finally, the Galapagos Islands. Upon stepping off the plane in Lima, my chest severely contracted -- the first time ever! Clearly, I had developed High Altitude Sickness, severely exacerbated by our direct travel to an artisan village at an higher altitude than Lima. Within two hours, I was very ill....parched, dizzy, exhausted. I now understand that our very competent guide was communicating with his 'local' supervisors who made no attempt to provide medical assistance, even oxygen, for three days until I was hotel bound in Quito.
OAT in Boston later claimed that there was no medical facility in LIMA to treat me. It was our guide's personal friend, a high altitude specialist, who confirmed my illness and connected with my travel insurance company in Canada. I was given no option but to return home ASAP (2 days later) although by that time I had recovered. Unfortunately, HAS did spark asthma which continues to affect my life....ALL BECAUSE OAT'S ITINERARY IGNORED THE NEED TO REMAIN FOR A DAY OR TWO AT THE LOWER ALTITUDE TO ACCLIMATE.
For many weeks, OAT in Boston (Including top management) refused to accept ANY responsibility, even claiming that Lima had no medical facilities to treat me!! Initially, I only requested reimbursement for the second half of the trip. I was refused -- not their fault that I became ill in Lima. Eventually, I contacted the Attorney General of Massachusetts (also in charge of Consumer Complaints). A day later, I received a FULL REFUND for the entire trip from OAT. That is the way to go!!
I have since traveled two more times with OAT and been generally very satisfied with OAT. I later learned that the itinerary from Lima has been changed to a night or two in the Sacred Valley -- at a lower altitude than the artisanal village. I am now booked for travel in late May 2021. No travel insurance covers Covid 19-related travel disruptions. I don't want to pay in full close to departure date in late May. At age 75, I might not be able to travel at a later/safer time.
Overseas Adventure Travel Company Information
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