smarTours makes it possible to experience more once-in-a-lifetime trips. Since 1996, more than 200,000 travelers have taken a smarTours trip to 40+ exotic destinations around the globe. Our tours are priced "all in" (with airfare from U.S. origination airport) and require only a modest deposit to reserve. Some smarTravelers have taken five, 10 or even 20+ trips with us. smarTours is the smarter way to see the world.
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SmarTours owes me my $1,200 deposit for two trips that I booked, $600 per trip. The first was a trip to Budapest, Vienna and Prague May 6-16, 2020. Smartours cancelled it on March 14, 2020. The second trip was to Cape Town Dec 9-17, 2020. Given the Covid-19 outbreak, that trip will not be running. On March 9, Smartours sent an email stating: “Your health and safety is our number one priority. Therefore, effective today, we are modifying our cancellation policy for all tours departing March 14-June 30. We want you to have peace of mind when you travel and trust that smartours will guide you safely through your must-see destinations. If you wish to cancel your trip, we will provide a full credit on what you paid (minus trip insurance and airline fees) if you wish to book a different tour or date to depart before the end of 2021. If you wish to cancel a tour departing after June 30, our normal Terms & conditions apply.”
I am not a bank: I do not want to lend Smartours $1,200 for an indeterminate amount of time. I cannot afford to do so. It is simply not fair, honorable, or good business that they are keeping my $1,200 deposit for these trips – a trip they cancelled and another that will certainly not run. No one from Smartours responded to my email or phone calls. On Dec 5, 2019, owner Greg Geronemus had sent us an email stating that the company had been sold: the new management is headed by Christine Peterson. And therein lies the problem. I always found Greg and his partner David a delight to deal with, as they were fair, honest, and accessible. We spoke at travel shows and at cocktail parties.
The new management, headed by Christine Peterson, is not acting in good faith. Just the opposite. Let’s be frank here: Smartours and all the other tour operators who treat their customers unfairly like this will likely be out of business before they can rebook or substitute anything. Ironically, their new booking policy does not require any deposit. Sincerely, Laurie **.
I booked a tour to Italy, over $5k. Smartours canceled it. Cannot get an answer about a refund. Insurance for travel with Tripmate is slow to respond also. I have a bad feeling about this. We need a class action lawsuit.
Despicable company policy. Obviously they have canceled my May 2020 trip to Greece and have forced me to accept rebooking next May. Whoa to anyone in my group next year because I will be very unhappy to have to travel with this company next year or ever. I called, I emailed, I wrote the president a letter asking for a refund. How dare they continue to have the use of my money – full payment – when they failed to provide services I contracted for? I have also requested info re travel insurance for the 2021 trip and, no surprise, no response. Horrible company. So many more trustworthy brands out there that care about their long time biz - I suspect this company is destined to go bankrupt and that is why they are keeping the money.
As mentioned in our responses to your other posts, we're sorry for the frustration you experienced and for this late reply. Like many businesses, we lost much of our staff during the early and toughest days of the pandemic and struggled to keep up with our customers' needs. Due to the extraordinary circumstances that the pandemic brought, we updated our cancelation policy to offer a future tour credit in place of a refund. We understand the frustrations caused by this outcome.
Booked a trip to Italy for 9/20. Wanted to reschedule to 9/21 due to Covid19. Company is not at all willing to negotiate anything. In fact they asked us to make our next $600 ($300/person) deposit by 4/20/20 or we would lose our original $600 deposit. We figured we’d rather lose our deposit than our lives. Company totally unresponsive. Everyone else we know who has had trips booked with different companies have found flexibility in rescheduling for a future date. Smartours is dumb.
Hello Linda - We appreciate your feedback and we're sorry for the frustration you experienced. Like many businesses, we lost much of our staff during the early days of the pandemic and struggled to keep up with our customers' needs. We have made updates to our policies to offer affected customers such as yourself a future tour credit for any monies paid including the deposit. We're working hard to restore the levels of service you expect and hope you'll consider using your credit with us.
I took the SmarTours Splendors of Egypt trip on 2/18-3/1. It was just so-so because the trip leader and day guides were so-so. The hotels were nice, but I won't travel with this company again because of the lack of organization. When I arrived at the Marriott Cairo, SmarTours left no information on where we were to met. I'm used to a welcoming e-mail ahead to give us information like I get from Overseas Adventure Travel. Yes, you get what you pay for!
We're happy to hear you enjoyed your accommodations but are sorry that some other aspects of your trip didn't meet your expectations. Based on feedback like yours, we've we have already implemented changes that will help upon arrival. We appreciate you providing the feedback because it helps us improve our offering for all of our guests. We hope you'll consider us again in the future.
The smarTours Team
We booked a tour to Croatia and Slovenia scheduled to depart 5/13/2020. They cancelled the tour due to the Coronavirus pandemic and have refused to refund our money. They are offering a credit towards a future trip, who knows if or when this will ever happen or if Smartours will still be in business after the pandemic. I used them several times in the past, but this had taught me that they are unscrupulous company! To be forewarned is to forarmed!
Thank you for your feedback and we're sorry for the frustration you experienced. We believe we were able to work with you to resolve this offline but if you have any additional comments or feedback, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at feedback@smarTours.com.Thank you,
The smarTours Team
I recently returned from a 21 day Around the World Tour to London, Cairo, Bangkok, Bali, Sydney, and Fiji. It was my first trip with smarTours. The price of the tour was so reasonably priced that I did not have high expectations. I was so wrong. The hotels were wonderful. I’m sure I gained 5 pounds from the breakfast buffets. At each destination we were given a driving overview of the city. The included excursions were educational and enlightening, usually about their specific unique culture. The guides each brought their unique perspective and background demonstrating their love of their country.
I especially loved the free time we had (except in Cairo where we were escorted by “tourist police” for our protection.). We were given options for extra excursions or we mapped our own plans for dinner, theater, museums, or shopping. Several times our group of 18 requested a special trip and the guides made it happen. I hope to travel with smarTours in the future!
If I could give smarTours zero stars I would. I have been in a dispute with smarTours for four months now. smarTours made a mistake on my last name and never fixed it! Luckily, the day before the trip I called to ensure my name was correct on my ticket. It wasnt! The day of the trip I was calling back and forth with smarTours until they came to the conclusion that they needed me to pay 150$ to fix a mistake they made or I can chose to not go on the cruise and wastes thousands! With months of calling and filing complaints on the BBB they promised me a refund and lied to my credit card company saying they did give me a check. They never did. They never call you back when they say they will. The customer service here is the WORST EVER. The stress smarTours has given me the day of my trip really set a horrible mood for my trip I was planning for a year. When putting so much money into a trip like I did you want to make sure you have good customer service and a fast response in case there are problems. Go to a different company and be stress free!
Went on Best of the Orient tour. The travel time was very exhausting. Flight from LAX to Hong Kong was 14 hours and 20 minutes. Waited at Hong Kong Airport for Three hours, then took a flight to Thailand. The flight time was 2 hours 30 minutes. Arrived at Bangkok airport and waited two hours to tour guide to collect everyone, then over one hour ride to hotel! My wife and I became ill in Hong Kong along with other passengers. Our guide contact the hotel manager requesting a doctor. The doctor gave us antibiotics. The hotel charged a $100 concierge fee to attend with the doctor. The medical doctor charged $1,074 U. S. Dollars for his services!!
We submitted our claim for medical cost to Tripmate on December 13, 2018. The insurance did not acknowledge receipt of our claim until January 28, 2019. We spent many hours dealing with this insurance company. They never answered the phone. You select call back option and if you miss the call you need to start the loop over. They indicated they could not process our claim unless the had a letter from Medicare that out of country travel is not covered, This Request was just to delay payment. We call SmarTours to see if they could investigate. They said send and email to support. We did and received a response that someone will be in touch with you in six weeks. They were of no help and would not intervene, yet this is the insurance the offer their travelers.
We finally received reimbursement today, August 15, 2019. We met a lot of nice people and saw some nice sights, but unfortunately our trip was ruined because of the greed of the Hong Kong doctor and hotel and the non existent service my Tripmate and SmarTours. PS: I tried to place a review on the SmarTours website but they only allow positive reviews. Don’t use Tripmate and choose a tour company that will probably vet their hotels and third party service staff.
Tour was not as advertised when we paid for it. Many cities, shore excursions, additional land tours were deleted from the itinerary last minute without explanation. Shore excursions were cut short by up to 2 hrs without explanation.. The riverboat was changed to a lesser vessel with very small, cramped, accommodations. We had issues with a public bathroom flooding into our cabin. We were not told our trip was booked during a German Religious Holiday, consequently most cities visited were shut down..
We were promised a half day in Rotterdam and a full day and a half in Amsterdam. The former was completely eliminated and we arrived in Amsterdam at 3:00 pm the day before departure allowing for a fast paced walking tour of a small part of the city lasting 21/2 hours. Flights were scheduled so early travelers were asked to be up and on the bus by 4:30 am to depart for their flights not allowing any time at night in Amsterdam. When brought to the attention of smarTours my mother and I were given a very small refund $200.00 for the inconvenience of the cabin flood and told they would not discuss the "bait and switch" trip.. All without explanation.. Our weather was perfect, the river was at a perfect flow.
My wife and I went on a Scandinavian tour with an add on for St. Petersburg, Russia. I found that the guides for Sweden, Norway and Denmark were adequate but there were too many free days where we were left on our own. The hotel rooms were good for backpackers but not for senior citizens. Most of the time we had to carry our own luggage which on other tours it was always done for us. Many of the hotels did not have porters. We found that the guide in Finland was horrible. She changed the political history of her country to favorable. After googling what she said, we found out she lied. The nicest part of our trip was to St. Petersburg. The hotel was very nice and the guide that we had was extremely knowledgeable and helped us with all of our needs. Also the tour booked all the air flights for the tour my wife and I were never seated together, how absurd. This was my first tour with smarTours and also my last.
This may look like a reasonably priced tour, but be aware that many highlights such as the 4 famous piazzas of Rome and the Uffizi in Florence are OPTIONAL tours! Many of the travelers had traveled with smarTours before and were not happy with this one. The accommodations were average. Some of the guides were excellent; others were fair. The company requests feedback, but I waited 19 days before I received a perfunctory response and that only after I contacted them numerous times. I will not travel with smarTours again!
I recently visited India’s Golden Triangle—Delhi, Agra and Jaipur with a stop at Ranthambore to see the Bengal tigers. Though India did not disappoint me, the accommodations chosen by smarTours and especially our farewell dinner did. I must say one thing remained consistently above excellence, our tour-guide Jasvir **. He more than made up for all the deficiencies in the hotels and the heat. Our Delhi hotel was good but every accommodation after that went in decline—faulty AC, noise, quality of food and service in restaurants. Our farewell dinner was practically inedible. Because of Jasvir’s knowledge of the history, geography, politics, culture, his personal experience, his clear English, wonderful humor, charismatic personality, caring ways and professional but interesting and engaging presentation of his knowledge, the journey through a piece of India’s heart was truly an incredible learning experience.
My experience was great until we were coming back home. We were all on stand by when we got our tickets. We all started to panic. There were 10 in our party and 33 overall on this trip. A few did get assigned seats but the rest of us had to wait until a ticket agent came. This should not have happened. We paid for our trip and expected full service all the way.
Jeremy's amazing breadth and depth of knowledge was beyond any I have experienced with a Tour Guide - and I have been on quite a number of trips through the years. From the current political situation, to the fascinating history of the country, to the flora and fauna, and so much more - he made this fantastic country all the more memorable. I am so grateful. And then there is the country itself - absolutely astounding. Even though there are so many places to visit on the planet, this is one I would love to return to. Not to be missed!
My wife and I just came back from a fascinating trip to Egypt. We used smarTours for the first time and are glad we made that choice. The tour director was Mr Khaled **, an archaeologist and Egyptologist with profound knowledge of ancient history and with patience to explain and connect all phases of the history of Egypt. It is important to indicate that contrary to the general perception, Egypt is very safe. The people are very nice and friendly everywhere you go. We highly recommend this tour for its price, value and life experience.
The tour itself was very good. The guide very helpful and knowledgeable. However, this tour included Airfare, which was non-negotiable. (No reduced price for making your own airfare.) I had to travel cross-country to catch the flight to Columbia in Miami. When I arrived at the Avianca counter I was told that the flight was full, despite being sent earlier in the month an electronic ticket. I had to pay to fly to Bogota, the starting point of the tour, or miss two days of the tour. Beware. All their tours are "Airfare Included". Not such a great deal!
This was the most unorganized trip. Our itinerary times changed frequently. Waking up at 3 am. to catch flights. Lots and lots of waiting on the bus. Excessive talking from guide which cut into our time visiting sites. On what was to be a free day, I booked a tour with another company since there was not one available with smarTours. Our guide did everything possible to thwart our going on the tour. Fortunately the security guy was able to escort us to our pick up destination by taxi. Memphis Tours was fantastic. It was the best day of our trip to Egypt. Also there was always an added expense to the tours we took. The tipping was beyond anything I've ever seen before. Talk about nickel and diming. We all had the runs from the river cruise ship. Would not ever use them again. Too bad!
The Kenya/Tanzania safari in September 2016 was excellent. I highly recommend this affordable safari where we saw plenty of wildlife up close, had excellent accommodations, and food, along with a wonderful friendly and knowledgeable guide. Don't miss out on the hot air balloon ride over the Masai Mara followed by a champagne/cooked breakfast on the Mara. Also be sure to visit the Samburu and Masai villages. This is the trip of a lifetime and smarTours does an excellent job. I felt safe and well cared for.
I booked a tour with SmarTours for October 2018 to South Africa and we paid our deposit earlier in the year. After booking the tour my travelling companion's daughter is having a disabled child in October and she had to cancel the whole tour but she and I were travelling on to Victoria Falls so I had to cancel my extension since she was not going. I was charged a change fee of US$150 yet my friend that cancelled got a voucher of $150 for future travel and yet she was the one cancelling her whole trip. I complained only to be ignored by all. This is highly unfair and Liza that I emailed does not respond. It took 3 emails to even get a correct bill out of SmarTours. Totally incompetent travel people. I can only hope that this is not the kind of service we get on our South Africa tour. I want my US$150 back. It is unreasonable and very bad customer service. I will never travel with SmarTours again.
I was on the 4-city tour in July: Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Helsinki. The itinerary suggested: Four-star hotels throughout but the hotel in Budapest is under renovation with plaster coming off the walls and rust in the sink/bath. Both hotels in Vienna and Prague were very ordinary and not in either city center. The Helsinki hotel is more of a 3 -star: the room was awful (tiny shower with plastic curtain) and the dining room was dirty. The outward bound flight was shown to be from JFK to Budapest when in fact there was a stop in Helsinki with only 40 minutes transfer time. We missed the connecting flight owing to a flight delay so spent 6.5 hrs after the transatlantic leg sitting in Helsinki airport. Missed half a day in Budapest out of 3 nights.
The itinerary is not clear about the amount of time on buses - you don't get as much time in the cities as you might want. I anticipated arriving in Prague around 1-2pm after departing Vienna around 8.30am. We didn't get there until 7pm after leaving Vienna at 8.30 am. A whole day in a bus with a lunch stop at a horrid cafe at the border - another half day in the city lost. SmarTours does not have check ins at the hotels until after 6pm. The three dinners that are included? Don't bother. Very disappointing. About 2 weeks prior to traveling after paying for the booking 3 months earlier, I called SmarTours offices asking for the flight vouchers and detailed itinerary - the representative was very rude telling me "all the information is on the website", which it was not. Only a couple of days later did I learn about the connection in Helsinki - I would not have booked had I known of this flight route.
SmarTours was initially unresponsive to a 2.5 page detailed letter giving them balanced feedback. I acknowledged the extra trips I chose during the tour were worth it and the bus driver was always on time. However, I stated I was disappointed with the overall quality of the tour after it had been advertised as "superior first class". In particular, I felt the tour company was negligent allowing only 40 minutes between connecting flights which resulted in my outward bound trip from Washington DC to Budapest ending up being over 28 hours long instead of 14.
I eventually spoke with someone who implied I was naive about traveling (I actually travel frequently to Europe and elsewhere). I was upset and then annoyed by her constant interruptions and particularly when she told me, "You knew this was a bus tour". I told her I did not sign up for a bus tour although I knew buses were used for transfers between two cities. We actually spent almost 2 full days (out of 11) in a bus when the travel time should have been considerably shorter.
The tour company representative admitted there were issues needing to be addressed - more accurate information before booking, better customer service and improved accommodation and meals. I was offered a $200 credit toward a future tour but I asked for a partial refund. This was denied. My letter was addressed to the two CEOs that head up SmarTours but I did not hear back from either of them: I was unable to speak to anyone beyond middle management.
I attended one of your tours to Israel with my partner, Stephen **, in November 2017. Time passes quickly and I was remiss in giving feedback on my trip. It is never too late to give a compliment, so I would like to convey my opinion here and hope that my feedback is given to my tour director, Dan ** and to the owners of smarTours. Dan greeted us everyday with his passion and wisdom for Israel, its history, culture, politics etc and were inspired by his stories that will remain in our hearts and minds. He is a gem of a man, the guide of guides and smarTours is lucky to have him. Thank you so much.
I booked with this company- they later canceled because someone had “chartered the barge.” They refunded my deposit but stated that since the refund had been made, the insurance could not be refunded. In simple terms, they are making me pay for a service that won’t be provided. DO NOT USE THIS COMPANY’S INSURANCE- find your own and insure that trip cancellation. It appears to me that kickbacks or other shady business practices are in effect!
My husband and I booked a tour to Cuba and made a deposit. During the time between our deposit and the final payment I became disabled and now require the use a mobility electric scooter. They said they could not accommodate us and refused to return our deposit. The contract says deposit is non-refundable. We were willing to take the trip, they were unwilling to take us. It seems to me they're the ones cancelling our trip, not us. Nowhere in their ads do they mention this tour is not accessible for wheelchairs, etc. We have used smarTours in the past and enjoyed our previous trips and were extremely disappointed with how they handled this matter.
My last smarTours was some years back, but I am considering another one. I am a very experienced traveler. smarTours does an amazing job for the money. I went to South Africa with them, and had the best guide ever. One of the safari guides in Kruger Park told us our guide was the one Nelson Mandela used for heads of state! On the other hand, our guide in Australia was so-so, and the one in South America was really bad. So it is like other companies - the luck of the draw! Still, they do an amazing job for a very low price.
South Africa disaster. smarTours went cheap and ruined our vacation. They hired an inexperienced over the hill tour director with a nasty temper. They put us in hotels in bad areas or far from important sights. They did not include many meals to make the price lower by transferring the cost. They skipped sights which the tour director deemed a waste of time without telling us until it was too late. They ignored some of our special needs making have to make our own arrangements for included meals. We have taken many tours and never ran into this terrible atmosphere created by our director Gabriel. This was our first and last smarTours.
We recently came back from South Africa tour (Sept.19 to Oct. 5). My wife had requested vegetarian meal when we sent our payment. smarTours New York office personnel said for me to advise the tour director and they will be able to arrange the special meal. We did let our tour director - Jeremy know. But we were left on our own to make do with whatever was available. There were two other Indian couples with us with same problem. I believe, tourist should not have to worry about food in an organized tour. We have used other tour operators in the past and we have not experienced any problem with special meals. Victoria Falls extension was outsourced to local tour operator who provided transportation to and from hotel to the airport and visit to the falls. No representative from smarTours. That was unusual.
Traveled (smarTours Amazing Thailand) with my 16 year old granddaughter for summer educational experience and fun. Unfortunately, there were sitting problems on the bus which broke out in a fight. The tour guide's answer was singing "You Are My Sunshine". Obviously, this just made matters worse! Also, my granddaughter has a seafood allergy which was totally ignored. The guide was very knowledgeable about Thailand's history, culture, people, etc, but wasn't able to control her "smartpeople". This was my 3rd smarTour, and not willing to say my last... Crap happens.
We just finished (5/2017) a Smart Tour which was excellent. The tour included Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Montenegro. The areas visited were well chosen. The hotels selected were excellent. The guide was extremely knowledgeable and personable. Buses were modern with emergency toilets but potty breaks were appropriately timed. All facets of the trip were very well coordinated, even the hotel check-ins. As an added bonus, there was a good mix of those people sharing this journey (14-day tour of the Croatian area) with us.
I called smarTours to address a concern regarding the Dubai trip that I had booked with a friend, and spoke with a supervisor named Marian who verbally berated me for calling. I hardly got a word in during the conversation. Most of the time on the phone was her demeaning me for thinking there would be a problem on the trip. I can only guess that customers are not allowed to express concerns or ask questions about their safety when they book a trip with smarTours. I was extremely insulted by her behavior on the phone. She did most of the talking, and then she hung up the phone on me when I tried to speak. UNPROFESSIONAL.
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