Opinions from past winter travellers PLZ!


#1

Hello Topdeckers,

I just have a few questions for those of you who have done the winter tours with Topdeck in the past. I am a travel consultant right now a company that deals with student based travel and I’ve been meaning to get out on a Topdeck or Contiki. Before my current job, I was a tour guide for a Canadian company and I know the bus routine and packed itins that are expected. After hearing some reviews I’m leaning towards Topdeck quite a bit and I like the looks of the Winter Rhapsody (any opinions on this tour would be awesome!). I just have some questions for those of you who’ve travelled with Topdeck in the past. Your feed back is much appreciated!!

  1. Alot of complaints I have heard from Contiki travellers is that they spend “all” of their time on the bus and barely in the cities. Did you find you barely able to see the city you were in and it was all BUS BUS BUS or did you think there was enough free time/time well spent while there?

  2. Did you find the bus uncomfortable having to drive for great lengths? I have spent a good amount of time travelling by bus (24hrs straight in some cases) and understand how things work, but I’d be going to see Europe, not the bus.

  3. Did you find everything noticable less busy because it was winter?

  4. Are the days’ itineraries packed or do they give you a good amount of free time? I would prefer free time but with the safety and confidence of a guide who can give me the ins and outs of the city as well.

Thanks for the help! I’ll post more Q’s if I think of any :slight_smile:


#2

Hi Roxy,

I’ve done a couple of Top Deck tours and am now booked onto the Winter Spirit this year. I’ve also done Contiki and I would definitely refer my friends to Top Deck over Contiki, for the simple reason that Top Deck treats you like an adult. As for your questions:

1] Top Deck is really good at providing their passengers with options. The hostels etc may not always be smack bang in the middle of town, so the guides I’ve had have always provided the public transport details so that you weren’t reliant upon the bus. As an example, a couple of years ago on the Spirit of Europe tour when we were in Florence, we decided we weren’t going to wait for the bus which was leaving at 9:00am for town and caught a bus in at 7:30am (cost us a huge 1EUR). We also didn’t come back for dinner that night, but did catch the bus back after the evening entertainment around 11pm. As long as we told the guide where we were (as obviously they are doing a head count) there was no issues. The tours are really well designed in arriving in a late afternoon so that you have the whole next day in wherever you happen to be

2] The buses I were on were all relatively new and very comfy with room for shopping in the overheads

3] Winter is always less busy, particularly in the museums and on the streets

4] Taking a major city itinerary, the norm is that you would arrive and either get the orientation tour that evening or first thing the next day. Then basically you can do what you want - either an optional extra or your own thing. I didn’t do the orientation tour in Venice when I was last there as I had been there before but joined the group when they were doing the gondola ride. Same thing when I was in Paris - so you can make of the tour what you want, as long as you communicate with the Tour Guide.

Hopes this helps.

Stacey B-)