“The itinerary for this tour varied significantly from that which we received at the time we booked. The first day's itinerary called for an early afternoon arrival followed by the afternoon and evening at our leisure with a brief meeting with the tour guide to go over the agenda for our tour at 8 pm. The following day called for a guided walk thru Yu Yuan Garden and a visit to the Shanghai Museum with the remainder of the day after lunch at our leisure. The evening included an optional acrobat show.
A "guided stroll" thru the Bund was scheduled for the next morning before departing for Beijing. What we received was a late night arrival, no meeting, and an early wake up and departure followed by a bus ride and a brisk walk to the Bund where we were given 45 minutes to explore on our own, followed by an equally brisk walk back to the location where we waited for the bus which took us a silk factory for a demonstration/sales pitch. This was followed by lunch and another bus ride to the general vicinity of the Yu Yuan Gardens for a long but quite brisk walk to the Garden.
The "guided walk" described in the itinerary turned out to be a strenuous forced march up and down numerous steps where we were frequently forced to forgo taking photographs or otherwise enjoying the Gardens in an effort to navigate the crowds and try to keep the group in sight. Although there was a tour guide and a local guide, they were usually together at the front of the group. Not being unaccustomed to the pushing and shoving that occurs in China, it was difficult to keep up.
I inquired about finding a spot to rest while the rest continued on and rejoin the group on the return trip, I was informed that the group would be returning that way. (This all or nothing route planning was a recurring theme for the entire trip with the exception of the Zoo.)
We arrived in Shanghai exhausted from our long journey to get there and looking forward to the relatively light schedule upon our arrival. Because of the arbitrary changes to the itinerary we were provided, we started the tour exhausted and never had a chance to recover.
There were several other instances where activities were compressed, etc. into a shorter time frame or took place on different days. This had a significant negative impact on our ability to enjoy the tour. When we voiced our concerns to the Tour Guide he responded condescendingly, "You do know this is a 'walking tour' don't you?" The short answer is NO, if we did, we would not have booked it. We subsequently learned that most of the others on the tour had received a different itinerary than we did.
The description of the Yangtze River Cruise is TOTALLY INACCURATE. Had it been accurately described we would have booked the less expensive option that did not include the cruise.
Finally, with a couple of exceptions, the meals provided (except some dishes on the ship) were bland and insipid. We learned during the "farewell dinner" that rather than serve authentic Chinese cuisine, the menu had been tailored to someone's idea of the "American palate". Again, had we realized this, we also would have selected a different company to travel with.”
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