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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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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.
We have used smarTours about a dozen times over the past 10 years. Their tours are not for the uninitiated traveler. We like them because of the freedom their tours afford, in terms of free time to explore and the ability to choose your own restaurants for most dinners. If you want to be completely coddled and shepherded around for 12 hours every day, this is not for you.
The guides are usually above par, and most of them are contracted, so they might be the same guide Tauk used the week before. Your colleagues are generally experienced repeaters of smarTours, and are usually well behaved and knowledgeable. Don't crab about paying 3% for foreign credit card charges (use the RIGHT card), or their travel insurance company (We had one trip cancellation claim, and they were great.).
Just returned from SmarTour's trip to Spain: Madrid, Cordoba, Seville, Granada, Valencia and Barcelona. It was simply majestic. Buses were modern (albeit with no facilities but provided stops every few hours at excellent rest stops). Our guide was respectful, funny and very informative, as were the specific guides to various specific sites we visited. He coordinated each facet of the trip and everything was done on time. Hotels were top notch with memorable meals, often located in the city center. I'm already planning another trip with this company and am totally impressed with the way we were treated and all the accommodations afforded to us.
We recently took your Thailand /Cambodia trip on Nov. 15-Dec. 1, 2016, utterly disappointed by your airline arrangement with Air China. They were rude, crude and did not treat us with respect. Food was atrocious. As you know we paid full fare in Business class ($12000/) and still got lousy treatment. Had we known, we could make our own flight arrangement with other airlines like Singapore, Etihad, Thai, etc. we would have done it and joined the group in Bangkok. You never gave us that option?? There are so many other issues I will have to send you several emails to vent our frustration. Hope you will respond to us.
In response to the many reviews of smarTours I'd like to comment that this is not a truck tour outfit. It's geared to the active traveler who wants bang for the buck, knowledgeable tour guides who help navigate your explorations, very good to tolerable and usually well located hotels. The groups are large - up to 40 but generally peopled by experienced travelers, often well heeled who know how to cope and behave in a group. (Usually.) No fancy extras. The company is above budget level, supposedly a bit better than Gate 1. The number of meals and accommodations depend upon the country visited.
I've visited Turkey, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and South Africa with smarTours. No complaints at all. Didn't love every hotel. I'm a female traveling alone so admittedly, a bit fussy. I was treated well as an older single, love the itineraries. Service is improving by leaps in spite of some of the nonsense noted correctly by reviewers. smarTours goes for the cheapest airfares and routes which can cause ridiculous layovers. Agreed - can be tough. But then, staff killed themselves to help me with a visa problem and made sure I didn't feel abandoned in Shanghai where I got stuck while trying to work on it. We succeeded. Give them a shot but raise your issues.
My previous complaint against SMARTOURS has been satisfactorily resolved and this complaint can be removed and retracted.
On April 16, 2016 we paid (by personal check) a deposit of $600 to hold a place on a SMARTOURS trip to China scheduled for Sept. 15-Oct.1, 2016. On May 24, 2016 we sent a $298 check also to SMARTOURS for travel insurance. Unfortunately, my wife, Diane, who has a history of asthma and significant hypertension, developed a worsening of these conditions raising concerns for her safety on this trip. Because of this she saw her physician on June 16, 2016 who advised that Diane should not undertake this trip. We did not take the trip.
When this documentation was submitted to TRIPMATE, the insuring company, they denied our claim in writing, as well as on my phone call to a supervisor. We would like to recover the $600 deposit. Recently I have learned that the TRIPMATE company has had hundreds of similar complaints against them, and I would strongly recommend that anyone planning travel anywhere not use them for insurance protecting the need to cancel due to illness. Had I known of their reputation I would have purchased insurance elsewhere.
I also blame SMARTOURS for using this unreliable company for travel insurance. When I spoke with a SMARTOURS representative they said they were not responsible, though I pointed out that the $298 check for insurance was made out to SMARTOURS, not TRIPMATE. I find this very troublesome and can only hope SMARTOURS ceases to use TRIPMATE in any capacity.
This letter will be sent to the BBB, the CEO of each of the above companies, as well as Consumer Affairs. I would be surprised to receive any reply from these CEOs. The reason this complaint was delayed is because I wanted my anger to abate and we have had additional personal medical problems to deal with in the interval.
I, along with several friends (3 of us being tour directors) went on highly recommended SmarTours. Many aspects of the tour were wonderful--Japan Air, 4 hotels, buses, trains, venues, 2 optional so, and cherry blossoms which reigned supreme. However, our tour guide was deplorably awful. He was a last minute fill in for the original whose father became ill. On day one we complained to the company in Tokyo who had hired him. They promised to replace him and keep us informed which they never did. Our guide had very limited English and worse knowledge! He was totally in over his head.
Our numerous complaints to Smart brought an extremely small monetary compensation and $200 credit toward another trip. Most others on the trip said they had been with this company before and this had never happened. The tour guide is the "nuts and bolts"--we were cheated and their compensation was paltry! I won't say never to going again with them, but I'd be wary.
Both my husband and I have travelled extensively both on self-guided trips and tour guided trips. We found smarTours to be one of the best, most affordable companies to travel with. Arrangements are good; tour guides knowledgeable and professional. Like some whose reviews are posted here, we were a little dubious at first in simply sending off a check to a company who was a virtual unknown to us at the time.
We have travelled to Vietnam, Cambodia,Thailand, Machu Picchu, The Galapagos, China & Hong Kong, Patagonia, and more with this company. Often we found other tour groups on the same path we were on but staying at inferior hotels and paying significantly more. Arrangements are not like those in the States and we were fine with that. We wanted to experience the people in their homes, tastes their foods and understand their culture and we will always be grateful for the guides and their knowledge and desire to have us understand the local cultures. Thank you smarTours!
First time with smarTours. I want to talk only about the booking, as I haven't gone on the trip yet. Will not take a credit card for the initial reservation. Have to send a check and only a check through the mail. Very unsafe practice these days so I had to send it certified. They are way behind the times. Will only take a credit card for an extra $100 and will not take the credit card info over the phone, Must mail it in a form with the credit card number. Very unsafe. For the Australia New Zealand trip, told it was nonstop to first. NO. Actually we start in New Zealand but they have us flying from Sydney, Australia first then to Auckland to start trip adding 7 hours to the already 15 hour flight to Sydney. There are many direct flights from many airlines to New Zealand. Very bad, plus they misrepresented the flights.
Few meals are included mostly only breakfast. Few included tours- many optional tours to purchase. Have to pay cash for tours in dollars or must pay a 3% extra for using a credit. Do not take debit cards. You may ask why I am using them. I wanted to go with some friends and this is the company they were using. If the trip is not absolutely great, I will not be using them again. They need to get with the times. I have never had these issues with any other tour company and I have used many.
SmarTours often requires you to take their flights. When we receive our tickets to New Zealand we discovered with horror that our flight to Auckland went via Sydney, Australia adding 7 hours more to a long trip and losing a day in Auckland. When confronted with this problem smarTours indicated we were on this flight because Sydney was a Quantas hub. Air New Zealand had numerous, inexpensive nonstop flights. This has happened to us before with smarTours. BEWARE OF THEIR FLIGHTS.
We joined smarTours' "Incredible Patagonia" tour in December 2015. The tour in general was very good; however, we were very disappointed that we were unable to see penguins as advertised for this tour. Magellan penguins in the wild can only be seen in this region near Antarctica. We were told that the Otway Bay Penguin Reserve was closed in March 2015 and smarTours had been notified months in advance. Instead, the penguins tour was replaced with a trip to a ship museum. We are unhappy. SmarTours chose not to notify its customers about this in advance.
Traveled the world in my younger days as an independent traveler. Having discovered smarTours, the days of searching for a hotel room, finding a way to get to some site, and booking flights are over. I've taken smarTours to Vietnam, Thailand, Southeast Asia, South Africa, Eastern Europe, Cuba, and Greece. I'm currently booked for Dubai. The vast majority of hotels were in categories that I couldn't afford on my own. A few were less elegant, but I've stayed in worse. Don't expect The Ritz in rural areas of third world countries. Guides are NOT employees of smarTours. They are contract workers, usually provided by local tourist associations, and are the same people you'd have with other tour companies. You really get your money's worth with this company. The majority of their customers are seasoned travelers and adapt well. I've only encountered "Ugly Americans" on one tour.
Subject: Cruise of the Czars. Just came back from the cruise on Sept. 8, 2015, this was the worth time I had experienced in my traveling life. And the reasons are as follows. Your advertising of the trip are nothing short of teasing information's at the best, prior to paying in full for the trip you never reveal the true story even though I asked for it and never got it. Old ship with very small rooms included the upgraded rooms. Gratuity amounts and the non-stop mentioning of it. Change of linens and towels schedule. Not an elderly friendly ship, no elevators, steep steps, tight spaces in the cabins and hallways. Credit card payments used on board are charge at high premiums.
Food was at subpar. And to my complaints about it the answer I got is "food is not the main reasons you are on the cruise." Being on the boat for seven days and nights the choice of entertainment was nothing short of a joke. After booking an option tour within few hours you cannot get a refund after cancelation. It felt that in any corners that could be cut to save a dollar it was succeeded. If in fact I knew all the facts and the conditions prior my trip I would never had booked this kind of cruise. Your advertisement as a VALUE cruise is misleading, you only get what you paid for and LESS.
Magical Ireland. This was a perfect trip!!! Our tour guide ** was very knowledgeable and funny. He helped make it an amazing trip. It would be a great addition to include Scotland. We could see it but couldn't touch it!!
I took my first trip with SmarTours 5 years ago. Kenya and Tanzania, a trip of a lifetime! Everything was perfect, we stayed in great game lodges, our tour guides were very helpful and always put our wants first. I have since gone to Ireland with SmarTours and again, another great vacation! Don't let the reasonable cost throw you off....this is a first class travel company. Can't wait to choose my next adventure with SmarTours.
It was a very nice trip and went smoothly. Good food, great guides and tour leader did an excellent job. The hotels were very nice but only 1 had a swimming pool. The environmental hotel/spa was great and got to see many plants, hummingbirds, butterflies and some animals. The Caribe Hotel was very nice and only across the street was the Caribbean ocean.
I recommend you to everyone.
A wonderful trip bringing us into a world beyond our imaginings. Beautiful country, unbelievable people, and incredible scenery made us yearn for simpler times without all the technology of the modern world. We loved every minute of it. Some of the restaurants left a little to be desired, but the lodgings were terrific.
We have enjoyed every one of the tours that we have taken with SmarTours. We are constantly looking at different destinations and look forward to taking our family on a trip with SmarTours in the very near future. Thank you for helping us accomplish our travel goals!
It would have been 5-stars except for 2 things: (1) the number of unnecessary air flights, changing planes when there were direct flights for a total of 11 flights - we lost a lot of vacation time; (2) the absolute chaos when we were dropped at the airport, particularly in Melbourne - we couldn't have been dropped any further away from the check-in point inside the terminal. We had to drag our own luggage!
We have been on several smarTours (from Israel to India). Guides are outstanding; hotels have been great and prices are the best deal around. We have met friends on trips who we have traveled with us on 2nd and 3rd troops with smarTours. I have recommended this company to several people. I love that there are optional tours so that a person can choose to go or not. Our trip this year was to Croatia and we are looking into the Scandinavia excursion.
I have taken both the South African tour and the China Sampler. Both were great trips. I loved the itinerary of activities. I would travel with smarTours again. I noted a couple of items that could be modified. The China Sample was very rushed! All of the guides shuffled us so quickly from place to place, we could barely see anything. On the South Africa tour, the hotel was less than desirable. We were literally put into a closet and had to request another room. It took over an hour to finalize our room after an 17-hour flight. The staff was not pleasant when dealing with the clients. I would not use the hotel again. Also as I have traveled several times with smarTours, there are no referrals discounts or incentives for repeat clients.
I have used smarTours several times. I found them to be an exceptional company.
We were in China with Yangtze Cruise in 2010. Good organize, good hotels, good Guide.
Couldn't have had a better time. All tour guides were very informative and helpful. Hotels were top rate. Everyone on the tour got along wonderfully.
I have enjoyed all of the old offers with smarTours and am now starting in on the new tours. They have all been well planned, fabulous, and for the most part cost-effective. In the old days customer service was rude, abrupt, and unforgivable. I am delighted that most recently that has changed and now one can feel good about the total experience. Before, the tours and customer service seemed like two very different arms on the same body. Customer service needed an implant and got it. Thank the Universe for hospice.
I learned about smarTours from a neighbor who’s a frequent smarTours traveller. When I had my tour with them, the tour guide was a little rough getting started, just in her personal skills. But her knowledge-base was outstanding. Once we got the hang of her, she was great. Interactions with sales and customer service was very good. We had some travel hiccups and ** did a good job. We had a nice time with them and we plan on using smarTours to book our next trip in the future.
We've only been on one trip and it was wonderful. The tour guides and customer service were great. I would recommend them and we might book our next trip with them.
The first time I went on a trip with smarTours was 12 or 13 years ago. My travel experience on the trips I've taken with them have all been excellent. The guides are wonderful and the hotels are excellent. I'm looking into taking one of their trips to France this summer. I haven't taken any trips for several years since I went to London in 2012. But they are my first choice.
I was looking through the internet for some kind of trip that will best suit our intention of touring and we really enjoyed it the first time with SmarTours. The second time was in Greece, with my daughter–in–law and my son. And then last time was LaRue. I highly recommended SmarTours to my friends and families. However, when I refer something, I don’t get anything. But with others I got $100 or $200 per referral.
They were reasonable but they're not the best. We had no bad experience as far as the tour was concerned except that the tour guide was not very good. He was supposed to be the coordinator but it looked like he had no interest in the job. So a lot of people wrote to them and they sent back a letter to us saying that they will fix the problem and offer a $100 credit plus a subsequent travel. So we signed up with smarTours again for a Yangtze, China cruise to give them another chance and I hope they do the best this time. Although certain information seemed a little bit fuzzy since when I talk to them about the $100 credit, they say they don't have any letter and asked me to write them an email about it.
Also, there were some other things that could have easily been resolved and done but was not very efficient. For instance, when the money was collected 75 days in advance and everybody is a couple, why couldn't we get the seats together in the plane? But when I contacted the airline directly, they were able to give it to me. But in coming back, we were so mad about the seating so they called the airlines already and they were able to give us the seats, so there was no problem there. I've never had an experience before like this with anybody but there were certain areas they can definitely improve on. These small things make you start getting a bad taste in your mouth on a vacation. A couple is spending about $8000 to $9000 and that's not a small amount to get that kind of a treatment.
We had a wonderful, thrifty tour with smarTours. We found out about them in 2001. We took a tour in Bali and it was wonderful. The travel part of it was great as far as getting there, and they really are cheap. The tour guide we had in Turkey was phenomenal. He was with us the whole time for the full-fledged tour and he was excellent. He was actually a professor of economics, so we got a lot of interesting background.
Their sales team was also great. They have their little quirks, know what they want and what price they're able to offer. The service was done very well, too. There was a time we were even questioning whether we should go to Turkey because of what was going on in Syria but smarTours kept track of their ground team there in Turkey and knew that there was no problem and stated so to us. It was one of the best tours we've ever had.
I recommend smarTours to a lot of people. They were excellent. We went to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The tour guide who was with us most of the way was fantastic. Every once in a while they would pick up someone more familiar with the local area and all of them were great.
SmarTours is excellent. I have taken them twice, in 2004 and 2005. The hotels and the tour director I had in Southeast Asia and South America were excellent. I would use them again but have been doing a lot of cruises.
I've traveled to China, the Adriatic and India with smarTours and have recommended the company to many friends, all of whom raved about their experiences. smarTours is a great value -- excellent itineraries, accommodations and guides. Identical to other more expensive tours. The average group is about 40 people, larger than some other group tours, but the size never affected my enjoyment.
I've taken like 18 trips with smarTours, and they've all been wonderful. The directors and the tour guides have all been very professional and easy to understand, they didn't start spouting off with a foreign language in the middle of the tour like some tour companies I had taken before. Everything was in English and easily understood. Also, their drivers are the best ones I've ever had. I've gone all over the world with smarTours and I have thoroughly enjoyed it, that's why I've taken them so often. The only time I'm not going is this year because I'm going all over the United States and have weddings all over the place I have to go to. They're the best tour company for the best price, and I would recommend them.
On that tour to So America you had the worse tour guide we have ever met. He flirted with the single women and gave out little or zero info when asked about the tour. The worse part is when I ended up with my military disability taking effect (Tullio phenomena) noise induced vertigo. A waiter in the restaurant dropped a tray of dishes next to me and I went into vertigo. My wife heard that tour guide tell the local guide that I was drunk. He never asked if I was OK or cared if I was alive or dead. We gave zero tip to him. He made it the worse tour we have ever been on and we have been on tours all over the world. When I reported this matter to smarTours we received no reply. That made us ANGRY. That really put the frosting on the cake. We did manage to warn a few travelers because of our experience.
Heard about SmarTours through my husband. He has traveled for years and after we got married, we traveled. They're just wonderful. The accommodations and their tutor directors are good. The places we stay in were nice so I will recommend them.
This is the second trip I have taken with smarTours and I have been very pleased with both. The hotels and rooms are first class. The tour guides are very knowledgeable and speak English well. Speaking of the trip to Myanmar the only complaint I would have is the trips by horse and carriage. They were rough. Everything else was fine. We saw all the beautiful golden pagodas. It was lovely.
Went on the South Africa Highlights & Safari tour, plus the Victoria Falls extension in January 2013. The tour guides work very hard... ** was our guide in South Africa and he is extremely knowledgeable. ** never sat down; he was constantly talking giving us the history and interesting facts about South Africa. Half-Day Cultural Heritage & Township Tour, Blyde River Canyon, Kruger Park safaris, wine region were just a few highlights from my trip.
We like SmarTours and have traveled with them at least 6 times. WE enjoy not having all the meals included in the package as we like to be adventurous and visit local restaurants on our own. We would like a few more tours included rather than being optional. The optional tours are sometimes too expensive, no value.
I've enjoyed many great trips.
India/Nepal 14-day Mar 2-16, 2015 - The tour and itinerary was comprehensive and engaging if a bit strenuous at times. The escort, **, made the trip an unforgettable experience for everyone and was the single greatest satisfaction factor. The hotels were a little over the top, less luxurious accommodations would have been fine. Constantly having to tip different local guides and drivers was a bit annoying.
We would have preferred this to be included in the tour price. Would have preferred a more thorough description of the optional tours before booking them. The seats on Air India were most uncomfortable and the layover in Delhi (seven hours) on the return was unreasonably long. Another carrier should be considered. SmarTours should offer a distinct discount to clients after a tour is completed as an incentive to book another with them.
The guides in Peru (**) and Ecuador (**) were excellent. We couldn't have asked for better guides. The trip to Lima was hurried and may be not necessary. We could have stayed more in Guayaquil. The whole trip was very well-coordinated. The itinerary was hectic and we needed some "down time" to recover some days but outside of that, everything was great! I would highly recommend this to anyone.
Patagonia - Tour guide's great. Hotel's wonderful. Food so so.
I loved this trip! It was professional, informational, varied, and affordable. Loved the sights, the food, the guides, the accommodations. Cusco was delightful. I would do it again, but I would like to spend more time with local people. The highlight of the trip for me was our visit to a weaving and crafts CO-OP. All the Incan ruins blew me away. I'd always dreamed of going to Machu Picchu and we had two days there. I was traveling with a bird watching friend who fell in love with Galapagos, plus our guide in Peru was very knowledgeable and she could barely keep up with all the birds he identified. All in all, a dream fulfilled for both of us.
So far, I've gone on a trip just once with smarTours to China and I booked it online. My travel experience with them was fine -- The price was right and the hotels were fine. Maybe when I retire, I'll book my next trip with them.
I have taken several SmarTours over the past few years and have always found that my vacation was great. The guides and planning has always been top notch, the hotels are hit & miss; sometimes very high end, and other times just acceptable. I have met repeat customers on a couple of my trips (those that I have traveled with before) & many of SmarTour guests have taken more than 6 of their trips. I have recommended SmarTours over and over again.
I've taken two trips with smarTours--to South Africa and Borneo--and consider both of them to have been excellent value for money. Like others, I was skeptical about how they could conduct excellent tours with international air included for low prices. But I was convinced. The local guides were excellent; they used what seemed to be top-notch local companies and the hotels ranged from good to outstanding. There are only two drawbacks. First, their groups can be large; filling a bus is one way to achieve economies of scale. Second, they apparently contract with certain airlines, which can result in awkward routings and long layovers. Still, I would--and may--travel with them again.
My husband and I have traveled to Peru/Galapagos, The Best of South America, Israel and Jordan, Cambodia and Vietnam and have recently booked Vienna, Prague and Budapest with smarTours. The value and reliability is what draws us back time and again. We have been very pleased with the quality of the tour directors on every trip. On our most recent, the escort not only took care of those who got ill, arranged for special meals for several in the group, he took pictures throughout the journey which he made into a CD for each of us to bring home. We have recommended smarTours to a number of friends and relatives who too have enjoyed the tours.
I travelled with smartTours at least two times and each and every time it has been a great experience. We stayed at very nice hotels and I will certainly travel with them again.
All of our land trips have been with smarTours, and we have been satisfied and happy with every experience. Our first major retirement trip was in Thailand. We have toured South Africa, east Africa, Scandinavia, China, and several other countries. All accommodations were superior; guides were excellent, and all tours were well planned. We recommend smarTours whenever we talk about great trips.
I have never rated on the internet before so this rating includes several trips I've taken with you (India, Thailand, Peru). I have always gotten more than my money's worth with smarTours! And had a delightful time. Our guide for South Africa was not our favorite, but the guides in the other locations were EXCELLENT and went above and beyond.
I like SmarTours because they are efficient, well-priced, & don't bombard me with emails or snail-mail or big packets of blah-blah. I know, when I sign up for a SmarTours tour (I have gone on quite a few), exactly what to expect; only the essentials will be covered in the literature; I won't have to read pages and pages and pages of stuff; and all the people touring will be fun and adventuresome. Tour guides are always competent and enjoyable. Thanks, SmarTours. I <3 you.
I certainly enjoyed my trip to Ireland with smarTours. It was just great! My guide was always very friendly and easy to talk to but I didn't have any special needs or requests so it wasn't a problem for him. The customer service team was cordial and the tour was exactly as it was described and advertised to be. We also fortunately had wonderful weather. Ireland is not necessarily known for a day after day of sun but we got it and enjoyed it. It's a real possibility that I would use smarTours on my next trip again too because some of the things they do in Europe are very interesting to me. I just have to look around for a little bit. Overall I had no disappointments at all.
Since SmarTours no longer matches singles, I cannot travel with you any more. In well over 65 countries, I have NEVER paid a single supplement. It's really too bad since I enjoyed my 4 tours with you.
SmarTours gives a Big Bang for the buck... great hotels, knowledgeable tour guides, great itineraries, all make smarTours a great value.
I really enjoyed my experience with smarTours. We've done a number of tours with them and I'd recommend it to my friends. I don't think there was anything that we didn't like about them.
Purchased a Vietnam Angkor Wat tour and Travel Protection from SmarTours for Mar '15. SmarTour refuses to acknowledge that I have bought travel insurance from them, even when so requested by telephone. Feels like they want to keep it open whether they have or they do not have a Contract with the consumer.
Hi Paras, I'm glad you were able to work with Trecia on our team to clarify the issue and come to an understanding!
I went to South Africa with SmarTours this past November, and I can confidently say that choosing SmarTours to lead me on that 2-week safari adventure was one of the best decisions of my life. They made the entire experience effortless; from the moment I arrived in Cape Town and met my smiling tour guide, Ron, and the rest of my travel companions, the two weeks that followed were seamlessly prearranged and organized better than I ever could have done if I arranged the trip on my own (not to mention sizably more wallet-friendly too!). As a group, we travelled all throughout South Africa. We visited Swaziland, visited Nelson Mandela’s home, went on a leisurely walk with clumsy one-year old lions, observed magnificent animals in Kruger Park from merely inches away, and that’s only to name a few.
All the while, I didn’t have to think about or plan a single thing; I simply got to enjoy myself and bask in the lifelong memories I was creating each and every day. I would recommend SmarTours to anyone looking to safely explore the world’s most incredible destinations, meet wonderful people from all over, and not break the bank in the process. I look forward to booking my next overseas journey with SmarTours as soon as I can make up my mind where to go... After touring South Africa with SmarTours, I frankly can’t imagine traveling any other way :)
I want to be fair in my review, but I also need to be completely honest. I am giving smarTours three stars because there were some parts of the trip that I felt were outstanding, like our tour guide in Shanghai, Allie, she was amazing! College educated as a tour operator and it showed in everything she did. Our tour guide in Beijing is another story all together. His answer to everything was that he had been doing this for twenty years! It showed! He was a long-time disgruntled employee and it would be highly advised for him to seek another line of work. Name withheld for obvious reasons!
I thought the hotels were fine, but surely not the 5 star hotels that they had promised in their tour description, not even by China standards. Thank goodness for the amazing breakfast buffets at both hotels, it completely made up for the absence of the couple of dinners that we were told would be included. My husband and I both feel very blessed to have gone to China and to have met so many amazing people on our tour. We probably would not have been able to afford it without smarTours, but I think they should be more accurate in their tour descriptions. Be honest about the hotels and what's included. We certainly would have still gone, knowing the hotel was only a 3 star and that only breakfast was included.
Terrible tour guide. Guide gave wrong instructions for airport embarkation... my daughter almost got left behind in Buenos Aires. Lousy hotels, food and service.
My husband always says "you get what you pay for." I have been on three Smartours, and two were marginal at best. The Jewels of the Adriatic was fantastic due to a great itinerary and a superb tour guide named Roc. Most of the people on the recent South American Odyssey felt the tour was lousy; many said they would never take Smartours again. Some of these people had taken many other Smartours and felt this was not up to snuff.
Vivian, thank you very much for your feedback. We are glad to see that you are booked on two additional trips with smarTours, and we will reach out directly to better understand your concerns about this tour. The vast majority of the travelers on this tour wrote overwhelmingly positive feedback to us directly.
Several weeks ago I sent a deposit to smarTours for an April trip to morocco. Shortly after, the ebola situation appeared and I decided it was unwise for me (or anyone) to go to Africa until we know it is not a threat. I contacted smarTours less than 3 weeks after I sent in the deposit. I know they hold the deposit but I thought under these unusual circumstances, they would refund the $300. I was told they wouldn't but if I took another trip within the year, they would apply the deposit. That seemed a solution. Today I got a letter saying they would apply the deposit AFTER taking $150 off for a change fee. I have been a customer for years, although that is not significant, but I think it is unconscionable that under this unusual health threatening situation they would penalize me (and others?) for what I consider a logical decision.
Hi Annette, thank you for your feedback, and we're glad that we could clarify everything with you.
I had been on a SmarTours in 2011 to Turkey and very happy. We joined with 5 others on a tour to Scandinavia. We were disappointed with SmarTours this time, and will NEVER join another SmarTours; in fact, there were about 16 total on our tour that basically said the same thing - and some had been on SmarTours numerous times.
First sign was when we had to take our own luggage from the bus to the hotel and later, bring it down to the bus. We had NEVER been on any tour in which this was done. SmarTours skimped on paying porters. The only time that luggage was not lugged by us was the last day in St. Petersburg (extension) as we were being taken to the airport to go home.
Another sign was the original writeup on the Website gave certain hotels that were certainly 4-stars; however, in one instance, the Copenhagen hotel was switched from First Vesterbro hotel to SP34, very much a downgrade. We had to move our luggage about 1/2 block to the hotel, go up 2 steps to get in, then another 3 steps to put into an open "library room" temporarily because our rooms were not ready by afternoon, where we had to retrieve them later ourselves; there was some worry that luggage could disappear in the meanwhile. SP34 rooms were small; you had to be careful to step UP into the room, as well as the bathroom, requiring a bit of care to make sure you didn't stub your toes. Instead of the usual closet(s) storage, there was a sliding door on an exposed track where it was very easy to stub - and cut - your toes.
There was no a/c in the room, because "Danes are extremely 'green' and it seldom gets this hot" - this hot being 86+ degrees and humid. So, we had to open the windows, no screens, and was serenaded into the early mornings with music, laughter, and roaring motorcycles. When we mentioned this to the tour director, we were told that NO hotels in Copenhagen has a/c. A quick check on the Internet showed that this is totally incorrect; in fact, First Vesterbro hotel HAS a/c! Breakfast was ... extremely skimpy, closer to being a Continental breakfast, with a few cold cut meats type and that was basically it. We were told that the hotel was undergoing renovation - thanks, SmarTours.
Tour guide initially seemed very dictatorial, insisting that I move from a bus seat as "we are all rotating seats" - which only lasted that ONE day; after that, everybody sat where they wanted! She did seem more cordial later, even going with us on an "open day" to different sights. She did not go with us on the St. Petersburg extension, notifying us about 5 or 6 days into the tour; apparently, not enough of us signed up to make it worth while for SmarTours to pay her, plus expenses, to go to Russia.
SmarTours itself -- there doesn't seem to be any extra help if needed, and their hours where you can reach them is practically normal business hours, M-F -- and NO 'emergency' telephone number to call during non-business hours. The attitude is "the tour starts with the plane ride to Stockholm and ends when you get back to JFK airport, and there will be a tour guide to help you during this time" and anything outside of that - you are on your own. There were about 15 of us that needed the documents for the tour ahead of the " we send out the documents ONLY 10 days before the tour starts". Some of us were on another tour and obviously cannot be home to receive the documents. Nor was an option of email given out. Very inflexible. I do not want to think of what little help SmarTours could give us in a situation the previous year, where with another travel company, a couple in our group had flight delayed almost 24 hours due to T-storms and missed the first day of the tour. That company worked overtime, working with airlines, etc., and got our friends there a day later - I don't think SmarTours would have done ANYTHING to help in that situation, since "the tour hadn't started yet". "Ain't our problem" seems to be their attitude.
Finally - tour guide in Russia was good, knowledgeable, helped us throughout the extension ... but did seem to have a bit of an attitude. If you asked a question, sometimes he takes it the wrong way and thinks that you are knocking Russia, or he would tell you that things CAN be different outside of US. Listening to the questions objectively, none of us thought we were challenging Russia or him, and yet, he did seem to think we were tearing Russia down. Bad attitude or maybe complex. He did his job well, humorous, knew a lot of things, so can't fault him there.
My issue with SmarTours is that they are holding me to a non-refundable deposit agreement which I did not agree to, when we had a medical condition that caused us to cancel in sufficient time. I have filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau of New York and have taken my complaint to the Attorney General - Eric Schneiderman. I would encourage all who have had issue with SmarTours to do the same. Consumer Hotline 1 (800) 771-7755.
Hi Toni, thank you very much for your cooperation on this matter, and we are glad that we could come to a resolution/understanding on this!
I am not surprised that Sun Tours does not care about its customers' comments noted on this site. The only thing that Sun Tours is concerned with is that its customers precisely follow every word of instructions. There can be no deviations, no changes for any reason are allowed and Sun Tours ensures that the customer will spend time and money because it did not follow Sun Tours' often senseless rules.
Several years ago, we took their guided trip to India; it was wonderful but we were charged an additional $400 when we wanted to spend an extra week there. We wanted to go to Moscow before the riverboat cruise; our request cost us additional funds for smarTours and then smarTours delayed emailing the location of the ship until three days prior to embarkation.
The ship itself, the Surikov, was awful: the very small room had separate twin beds that were actually wood planks covered with 3" mattresses and there was an impossibly small bathroom with a shower as part of the unit; intermittent television and Wi-Fi, poor A/C, and incredibly boring food. The good news is that the crew and especially the guides and staff satisfactorily performed the Herculean task of keeping the customers content notwithstanding the wretched conditions aboard the ship. Otherwise, the journey was great. Go, but be prepared for uncomfortable surprises.
March 2nd to March 12th. The experience was really, really cool. I must admit that I was a little nervous from the beginning! Their company doesn't really provide any information to you over the phone (They all sound foreign, their call center obviously isn't based in New York like they claim), you're just expected to read their site and then set a reservation! So the 4/5 was due to this issue - I mean, I mailed $600 across the country to them and just HOPED I wasn't being scammed. Thankfully, I wasn't and had a great time with my brother. I didn't do too many of the actual Tours while I was there because I wanted to go solo on my own, but both of the guides were pretty decent guys! The crowd was typically an older one, but we met some really nice people.
The seating on AirChina was pretty good, but not reserved. My brother & I requested the "Emergency door seats" for extra leg room. So I recommend either getting to the airport early, or make sure you call ahead to get great seats. We were satisfied with hotels, they were pretty great and what you can expect for a 4-star hotel. Side note: the hotels they chose actually had Foreigner-friendly plugs so I wasted money buying one myself. We stayed in the Penta Hotel while we were in Beijing, and Holiday Inn Downtown while we were in Beijing. They were both pretty prime spots!! Penta was right smack next to the New World Mall, so many beautiful parks, and about a 10-minute taxi ride to Tienanmen Square/Forbidden City. The Holiday Inn was literally the building RIGHT in front of the Shanghai railway (Leads straight to the Bund) which I highly recommend you take a ride on because it is super cheap.
China was a spectacular and very culturally shocking experience. I was shocked the SECOND I got off the airplane by the massive airport and unique smoggy smell in the air. I'll never forget it... So I definitely recommend it - I will go back someday! And you definitely cannot beat the price... $999 for a March date?!! (Don't forget about Visa costs). Below are two pictures I took... In front of Penta, and the view from Holiday Inn.
We toured China and also took Yangtze cruise. Our Tour Director was a freelance person. He never cared enough to wait for everyone on the tour to get their luggage and then go to the bus. Never. Brought bus to the terminal while arriving at a new town. We almost lost four of our fellow travelers. Repeated request by our group members that did not eat meat, were not properly addressed. As a minimum, I would like to see Smartours drop this young tour director. But, the Hong Kong person was absolutely outstanding. He said he could have been our tour manager in China if they wanted it.
Overall China-Hong Kong trip was good but I did not care for the flight arrangements. Smartours has no respect for our time and our health. That is why I will not go with them any more. May The Lord give them better discernment. Unless the business slows down for them, they will not Change. Hotel, looks like First hotel is great, and then there seems to be a downward trend.
I was travelling alone to Kenya where I was to meet my daughter and join the group (of 9) from SmarTours. Since I left from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, I was not with any other participants. There was no one at Kennedy Airport in New York to meet me or tell me where my plane was leaving from. I boarded the plane on time and landed in London where there was an 8 hour layover. There was no one to meet me there. I hung around for an hour roaming from place to place and had SmarTours paged to tell them I was there. No one responded. I finally checked into a hotel room near the airport for some well needed rest. I met the plane for Kenya at the proper gate in time to see the other people on tour. They knew that there was one more person and they knew my name, but the person in charge (from SmarTours) did not page me or look for me.
At the same time, my daughter was meeting me in Kenya and was traveling by herself from Australia. I told her that I had paid for transportation from the airport to the hotel. No transportation was made available for her. She made her own way to the hotel. These were two instances of complete inattention to customers. The trip itself was a delight, but it was scarred by these deficiencies. Their prices were undeniably low, but there is no excuse for their rudeness and lack of customer care.
Our tour guide was excellent, and the first three of five hotels were nice, not great, but nice. The last two hotels were the worst. No porters to move luggage, which meant flagging luggage on our own. I fell at the last hotel, and cut my hand. The hotel told me that smarTours did not pay for porters so that is why there were none. Food was horrible, and breakfast lines at day two hotels were very long.
The office in New York is rude and condescending, not helpful. I am on a smart tour to Scandinavia. It is total confusion, long bus ride of 10 hours today, totally unnecessary, poorly planned and organized, guides and tour operator uninformed. I have traveled extensively with many companies in the past. I will never use smarTours again. This is my first and last trip with them
I was on the SmarTours Danube Discovery Tour from Budapest to Vienna in October 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, and all flights to JFK airport were cancelled. Our return tour tickets from Vienna to the USA were through JFK. The SmarTours tour director proceeded to dump us at the Vienna airport knowing that all flights were cancelled and then disappeared for 3 days. Austrian/Lufthansa arranged food and lodging for 2 days and nights and told us to return on Wednesday morning, which we did, only to find out that nothing had been done in the intervening time to arrange our return to the USA. SmarTours had not even released our tickets so Lufthansa could book alternative flights for us! After our group held up the Austrian/Lufthansa check-in counter, so that other passengers could not check-in until we were taken care of, Lufthansa managed to get us all booked back to the USA by the following weekend. They then arranged additional food and lodging for us until our various departures. The tour director mysteriously reappeared on Wednesday night long after Lufthansa had made these arrangements.
To date, I have not even had the minimal courtesy of an acknowledgement of a problem from SmarTours. Needless to say, do not use this company. If there is a problem, you are on your own even though you have paid them for the trip, accommodations, transportation and supposed expert tour guide.
Credit Card Payment Refused/Deposit accepted and not returned: In March of 2012, we sent a deposit of $600 to the above mentioned company in order to secure two places on a tour to South America. At the time, it was very clear to the company that we reside in Israel. As proof, we sent copies of our Israeli passports. The company had no problem with our residence and cashed our deposit check immediately upon its receipt. When the balance of the payment was due, in order to expedite its arrival, we sent a check for $7,656.00 to the company via Express Mail Service. Unfortunately, this check was held up by US customs and therefore it did not arrive in time to secure our reservation. The next option suggested by SmarTours was to pay by credit card. To do this, we had to add $100 per ticket to the price of the tour. We agreed to this option since the check had not arrived and furthermore, by using our credit card which was issued in the United States by JP Morgan Chase, we were assured of travel insurance.
As requested, we photocopied the front and back of the card and filled the authorization form and faxed it to SmarTours. When they received it, they informed us that they could not accept it because the billing address for the card was in Israel and not in the US. Note, the check for $600 that they cashed also had the same (Israeli) billing address as the credit card and was based on the same bank and account. Reviewing their terms and conditions, there is no mention of restrictions on billing addresses for credit cards. Again, our card is a US issued card, but has a billing address in Israel which is where we live and SmarTours was well aware of this.
In light of all this, we asked for our deposit back due to the fact that cancellation of our participation was not due to a decision of ours. It was SmarTours who rejected us. Even though they state that deposits are nonrefundable, nowhere do they stipulate that you cannot use a US credit with an Israeli billing address. We are turning to the Better Business Bureau to intervene on our behalf since we believe we are entitled to our $600 deposit due to the above mentioned facts. We seek a return of $600.00.
In early January, I called to book a trip with Smartours.com to go to Turkey on 10/3 to 10/16, 2012. I was told over the phone to send in $300 to hold my place, so I sent in a check. I called today and told them due to ill health, I could not go. I spoke to Esther and she said the $300 was non-refundable but they would offer a credit of $150 for another trip within a year. I told her I was never told the $300 was non-refundable and had sent the check on 1/13/2012. The invoice with the information that the deposit was non-refundable was not sent out until 1/23/2012. I said the trip was 7 months away and I was not told, but they will not refund my money. I am 82 and need the money now that my health is bad.
We recently returned from 2 weeks in Israel with smarTours and had the best vacation we've ever had. The tour guide was excellent, the hotels were top of the line, and the sight-seeing was wonderful, traveling aboard a luxurious tour bus. Not having cancelled, I can't speak to their policies, but we did purchase insurance just in case.
Had to cancel trip due to extended family illness that was not covered in the trip insurance policy. We canceled 4 weeks ahead of time. The whole trip was canceled by Smartours for a full refund of those who did not cancel. Moral of the story, do not pay in cash! I will not use this group again.
Smartours customer service is extremely rude and disrespectful. When asking questions that couldn't be found on their website, customer service reps consistently interrupted me and the operations manager even hung up on me after she was done talking. They were condescending and over-powered the conversation by talking over me.
The operations manager refused to answer basic questions and demanded an email be sent instead. When inquiring about changing my trip plans (this costs $150 per person), customer service refused to provide me with policy details for this change (what trips it applies to, whether the original trip deposit is used as a future deposit or the cost of the trip, how long in future I can schedule new trip, etc.). Instead, customer service said I needed to cancel my trip plans first and then they would provide me the details. I originally gave Smartours a "non-refundable" deposit of $600 for a trip. After speaking with their customer service, I do not want to go on the trip because of the way they treated me.
Hi George, we are sorry to hear about this experience, and we have worked very hard to improve our customer service over the last several years. It is always a work in progress, but many of our longstanding clients have been remarking about the improvements we've made.
This is a commendation not a complaint. My grandson and I went to China last year with them and it was excellent from start to finish. I was so pleased that I am trying to set up another tour this year, with another grandson.
Thank you, Joan! We hope you enjoyed your next trip!
This is in response to Emily of Los Angeles’ complaint of Jan. 29, 2010 regarding her smarTours of Thailand. Trip insurance covers most of the expenses you paid for and did not get to use. You should contact them. I am surprised that smarTours didn't point you in their direction. If you didn't have trip insurance, the person that is trying to profit from your tragedy is you and you need to grow up. SmarTours clearly defines their refund policy in the terms and conditions section of their website.
I purchased two trips for the Amazing Thailand tour as a present for my mom's birthday. Several months before the trip, I lost my job and was having a tough time in general. A few days prior to the departure, we had a tragedy that occurred and I didn't think that we would be able to go on the trip. I called smarTours and spoke to a manager and explained to her my situation.
I told her about the tragedy that occurred and also about the fact that I have been out of a job for several months and that this trip was the only thing that we were looking forward to. I explained that I didn't know if we would be able to travel because of this tragedy. She seemed to understand our situation and told me that she would help us out and that if we cancelled in writing she would be able to give us credit for any money they would be able to get back, minus whatever fees would be applied for the cancellations. The credit was to be applied for a future tour. I hesitated before cancelling in writing but she insisted that it's the only way for her to help me. I did as she instructed and cancelled in writing.
A few days afterwards, I called and spoke to the same manager. She assured me that everything was fine and that it will take some time before all the money is refunded to them. Several weeks passed and there was no communication from her. I called to check up on the progress and she told me that she was very sorry but that they were unable to recover any refunds. She said that both the airlines and hotels didn't refund any money.
I was very upset to hear that but accepted it as truth. The next day, just to be sure there wasn't any misunderstanding, I called the airline and spoke to a manager and she told me that everything minus a small fee was refunded back to smarTours all the hotels on the tour also had a full refund policy minus some fees. When I called back to speak to the manager about this, I was connected to another person who said that yes, they did get most of the money back but that they were not going to give me a credit. If I wanted to book another trip I have to pay full price.
Only after that conversation did I realize why ** was putting so much pressure on me to cancel in writing. This way they got a refund back from the airline and hotel and kept most of the money. I had a bad experiences with other businesses before but this was the first time that I experienced a business that would take advantage of some one's tragedy to make a profit. I made several attempts to contact the general manager about this situation. Every call was answered with, "He's not available" and every letter was ignored. The cost for two trips was $2,900.00
I have always wanted to voice my opinion of smartours in print. This will be my 5th trip with them and they have all been awesome. I've met many people who have traveled on their tours more times than I have. For the value, bang for your buck, you can't go wrong. For example, my husband wanted to go to just Australia, plan our own trip, but I said, "Look, we can go to Australia, New Zealand, and Tahiti for $4000." There is NO WAY we could have seen what we saw for that money if we had done it ourselves. Tahiti isn't included anymore because it is SO expensive but even without, it's a good deal. The Thailand trip was unbelievable for the value. I took my niece on the Kenyan one and she still gives presentations on her experience at school. Have you seen the prices listed for a 12-day safari with other groups?? It's like $5500 and we paid $2800. My least favorite was the Tango Express... but I was in a bad mood and they don't have dates for it anymore. We leave for the Italy one in March and I will be very surprised if my mother, who likes to complain, has any. I can't say enough positive things about smartours. I love them.
The only thing I get a little annoyed about are the people on the phone in NYC. They aren't always the friendliest but who cares. It's NYC and you're not travelling with them. The second thing is sometimes you travel with people who complain. Not many though. I'd also like to say that on our Kenya trip... the morning we arrived we were late because of the traffic. Well, someone complained because we were too late for our included breakfast. A few days later our tour guide told us about the complaint and smartours gave us what would have been a an optional tour(20$) for free.
Thank you, Susan!
We were on a tour of Eastern Europe. All we got were a city tour and then everything else was an additional cost like on a cruise ship: an excursion. That didn't seem very fair. The Hotel Scandia had a nice lobby, but the rooms were NOT any 4 or 5 star rooms although they claim to be. Helsinki is VERY expensive. On the trip, we pretty much set out on our own, using the metro or public transportation. Concierge advice on where to go and what to do. We did SmarTours to India and it wasn't like this one-- it was exactly what it said it was going to be-- no excursions. If it was an add-on, we knew about it first.
This is in response to Barry of No-Woodmere, NY ((06/13/06) complaint re SmarTours Russian River Cruise from St.Petersberg to Moscow May 29 to June9.
My wife were on the same cruise at the same time. Barry must be a chronic complainer as our experience was the exact opposite.First of all the cost was about half of what other tour companies charge. The cabins were small but no smaller than some cabins on cruise ships. All the rooms were cleaned and vacuumed daily. The food was not gormet, but quite good with normal proportions plus you always order more if you so desired. The bathroom shower configuration was different from U.S. ships but quite adequate. You did not have to buy bottled water. The ship had drinking water avilable but passengers were advised it tasted different due to the factthe type chemicals used to purify were different from the U.S..
Finally in the SmarTours literature sent prior to the trip it stated: Do not compare to American standards. The river vessels were specifically built for cruising Russian Waterways; therefore, though quite comfortable they should not be compared with ocean cruises.
It is not fair to give SmarTours a bad name just because you expected first class accomodations for economy prices.
next time Barry should stay home.
Thank you, Kenneth. We would be thrilled to host you on a future trip!
RE Russian River cruise St Petersberg to Moscow May 29 to June 9, basically my complaints are about the ship 1-i didnt expect to find large size cabins but this was ridiculous, twice the size of a phone booth. My wife and I couldnt stand side by side and had a hard time passing each other.
2- my 6 year old grandson would just about fit on the bed. The mattress being about 1-2 inches thick and looking and feeling 20 years old. Sheets were changed only one time. 3- room was not vacuumed properly and appeared dirty . 4- there was no regular shower in bathroom -- hand held shower head in sink and large drain on the floor. I felt i was back in the army. 5- the food was atrocias. the portions minuscule for adults.micro pieces of meat in stews etc. Ate lots of bread with soup. I could not eat many meals as the food not only looked awful but tasted bad. 6- you had to buy water otherwise you were told not to drink the water from tap as you might get sick.
We took the Smartours 11 day trip through Eastern Europe. For reasons of economy, I assume, we were routed from JFK through Helsinki to Budapest. The time between flights was 40 minutes. When we questioned Smartours we were assured that the plane would be held if it was late. The plane was late and the flight was not held. We were told that the reason was that there was only 6 people from the tour on the flight and this was not sufficient to hold the flight. The next flight to Budapest was 8 hours later.
The result was that: 1. We lost most of a day in Budapest 2. We were late to the Welcome Dinner. We questioned the tour guide who basically told us that nothing could be done to compensate us. In fairness, the rest of the trip went reasonably well.
Booked trip to south america, was there 6 days, and when group arrived in buenos aires, tour escort told me my trip was cancelled and had a strange man take me from the domestic airport to the international airport and send me home with no explanation, no change to prepare for an international flight, and over half of my trip was aborted at that point. I did not want to leave,had paid for this trip months ago, and there was no reason for this. if the tour company had a problem, they should have advised me not on sat. afternoon, but thu or fri at which time i could have contacted the company in new york, as of course they are not open on sat, and i was not properly packed for an international flight of almost 15 hours.
My wife and I were supposed to leave on vacation to Vietnam on 2/17/03 from Fort Lauderdale and connect with Korean Air for the tour's transantlantic flight at JFK. As a result of the “snowstorm of the century” all flights to JFK were cancelled. When called smarTours for help, we only got a recitation of their rules and policies, such as no rescheduling of our vacation to another date, no refund of any kind and no offer of assistance with Korean Air who would only agree to rebook us on a flight either from JFK or LAX five days later.
We did get a good suggestion though from Sheila: “lose your paid vacation and book a new one with us”. Korean Air stated to us (also stipulated on their tickets) that the tickets are non-endorsable but are refundable, however, if we cancel the entire air portion to take another airline, a refund would only be made to smarTours who just told us they will give us none.
Smelling a trap and no other choice, we had to buy, completely on our initiative and expense, a new, one-way ticket from Miami to Bangkok on another airline, and got there a one day late to join the group. In spite of our request, their local agent specifically told us he received no instructions about our late arrival nor the authorization to provide the local services we lost.
When, on our return, we asked Sheila for a refund of the unused flight segment and the lost service in Bangkok we were, just as she indicated before, denied both. Our first letter of complaint about their service, by regular mail, on 3/11/03 was ignored. A second, sent by registered mail on 3/31/03 deserved an answer saying our claims for lack of help are untrue, a hearsay and conveniently ignoring the issues of the refunds by shifting the responsibility to a travel insurance. We have the Korean Air tickets in question and the name of the agent who tried to help us on 2/17 if needed.
The total economic damage resulting was $1713.80 consisting of the cost of two one-way tickets to join the group and one lost tour day.
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