smarTours is a leading provider of direct-to-consumer, affordable travel experiences to exotic global destinations. The Company offers travelers curated, pre-packaged itineraries to over 40 destinations across the globe. By offering tours directly to consumers, the Company provides premium-quality experiences at value prices, and as a result, has cultivated a highly passionate and loyal community of repeat travelers. More than 200,000 travelers have taken a smarTours trip since the founding of the Company in 1996. smarTours is… the smarter way to see the world.
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"The tour was very busy and we saw a lot. There were quite a few dinners included which we liked. Our tour guide was ok but he did not post our itinerary in the hotels, nor did he see to it that we all knew what was going on. Sometimes we couldn't hear him in the bus. That was a little frustrating.
But overall, the tour was "a lot of bang for the buck"."
"Excellent Safari. The Driver/Guide Evans was excellent, extremely knowledgeable, helpful & friendly. However, there seem to be a breakdown in communications between SmarTours & Pohlman. There was no SmarTours rep to meet at the hotel, no desk set up, we were left to our own devices. No introductions made when their rep met with the group, and he gave us a lot of conflicting information. We hardly got to know the rest of the people in our group until the last evening when our tour guides/drivers called a meeting and had us introduce ourselves.
Some of the lodges had no phones in the rooms connected at least to the reception desk. It was concerning, considering that we were in the reservations where the rooms were in the wilderness far from the reception areas, completely cut off from any hotel personnel, too dangerous to open the room doors and venture outside due to the roaming animals. Critical in the event of an emergency."
"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."
"It may be unfair to hit the “Poor” button, as certainly there were acceptable aspects to our Ireland trip. But it just didn’t measure up to the other trip we have taken with your company. I think you tried to cover too many sites in too short a time; people were tired of rising and reporting so early so often. But the major weakness of the trip centers on the leader. First, the bus driver was the tour director, lecturer and bottle washer for all but a couple of days. We got only his view, only what he may know about Ireland or it’s history, sites, etc. More specifically, we got his OPINION, which I felt to be irrelevant to my desire for a coherent narrative of history, and especially of the Troubles. I would add that on the only other trip we have taken with your company, our tour guide was almost constantly with us, to lead, point out, answer questions, etc., and he attended the group dinners as well. The Ireland trip person, by contrast, drove us to sites, dropped us off, then disappeared until time to pick us up. He attended no group dinners, left us off at hotels, warning that is there were problems to take them up with the hotel, not with him, and drove away to stay in a different, unspecified hotel. I blame the company for some of his behavior; I don’t see how one person can be expected to do a good job of both driving and performing the various tasks of a tour leader. All this leads me to question whether or not we would travel with you again. Your prices are very fair, but at what price?"
"We chose this tour because of Norway in a Nutshell. It did not disappoint. We enjoyed our accommodations, food quality, tour guides and opportunities to explore in all the featured countries. A little more time in Finland would have been appreciated."
"This was my seventeenth tour with smarTours, so I have obviously been very pleased with your tours. This one was up to par, so not very many criticisms. Only this: the tour vehicles were not very comfortable, to say the least, and we spent most of our time in them! Of course, there is no control over the dusty, bumpy, pot-holed, rippled, unpaved roads that bounced us around like kernels of corn in a thrasher, but arm rests, working shock absorbers and above all, a stepstool in each vehicle would have helped enormously. These are minimum and inexpensive items that would have made a world of difference in comfort on these long, all day sojourns--and getting in and out of the vehicles. As well (and I'm not sure how much control you have over this), some of the drivers did not bathe or wash their clothes and anyone sitting anywhere near them was sh__ out of luck all day long! AT a minimum, instructions should be given to personnel who maintain close contact with their charges should be advised about the importance of hygiene under such stressful travel conditions.
The lodges were fabulous! The tours were terrific, though some were unduly long; everyone was exhausted at the end of the day--each and every day!
The organizer on the very first day (at the hotel in Nairobi) was really quite inept and disorganized. Other than that, the guides were uniformly good.
Overall, a very positive experience!"
"Great trip, especially for the price, given that other tour companies charge two to three times for essentially the same experience and don't include airfare. What I liked: it was my first trip to Ireland, so with no previous experience there I can't imagine how it could have been better, with only a couple of exceptions I'll mention later. I found the people wonderful, the country safe and clean, the music and culture engaging, the history gripping, and the food acceptable (who goes to Ireland to eat potatoes three times a day anyway?). The landscape, especially in western Ireland, is stunning. We had adequate time to see and do what we wanted for the most part. Our Dublin guide Gerry Cooley was a hoot, engaging and informative. Our main guide/driver Peter Murphy was adept at maneuvering our bus along the narrow Irish roads and a bottomless source of information and good humor, though he was a bit chippy on occasion. Our lodging and included meals were better than what I had expected, given the trip's price point. Flying into Dublin and out of Shannon is a great idea, since we can clear customs back to the US at Shannon airport. I highly recommend this tour.
What could make it better: our hotel in Dublin, Camden Court, was just fine and conveniently located downtown, but adjacent to a pub which disgorged late night revelers below our window until three in the morning. Since we spent our first two nights, Friday and Saturday, there I got little sleep on top of not sleeping on the overnight flight from JFK. I suggest finding another hotel for those first two nights not next to a pub. Our first gathering in the Dublin hotel was at dinner. It would have been nice if Peter Murphy had given us a few moments to introduce ourselves to one another. This is common practice with other tour groups and makes for a more enjoyable experience, especially since Smartours does not provide name tags/lanyards. I could have used more time at Kylemore Abbey. The two hours we were given to tour the gardens and mansion, while eating lunch, we're not nearly enough time. These were minor inconveniences. I can't say enough good things about this tour."
"This was a good trip which covered all the places we wanted to see. Renata is a very good tour director. Can't say enough good things about her. There is plenty of free time to explore on your own and we took advantage of seeing the sites on our own. There are two long days on the bus getting to the next destination but totally worth it. Only one down side... there is no need to use Finnair when you can easily get non-stop flights from JFK to Warsaw (or Prague to JFK). Finnair must offer Smartours an incredible deal on flights. Please reconsider the flight operator and use non-stop flights whenever possible. (There is nothing wrong with Finnair, other than waiting at the airport for connecting flights)."
"We had a great time on our trip to Bangkok, Singapore, Bali, and Hong Kong. BUT we were disappointed with the hotel in Singapore. The hotel in Singapore was not as nice as the other hotels. The rooms were outdated and the beds were very small. The rooms needed to be renovated, it was not the standard that we normally expect OR have with smartours. The lobby of the hotel had been renovated, but the rooms were not. We would recommend finding another hotel. We use smartours over and over again because we know that the standard will be high. But in the case of the Singapore hotel room, we were very disappointed with the outdated room. Thank you! James and Barbara Boney"
"The hotel in Fiji had alot of ants in it. That is not acceptable. The tour guide was hard to communicate with. The rest of the tour was good. I loved Cairo and our tour guide was excellent the same with Sydney."
"We really enjoyed our "Magical Ireland" tour. Our tour director/bus driver, Peter Murphy, made the trip extra-special with his Irish wit and interesting historical stories about Irish history. We would highly recommend this journey."
"Tour on the whole was good. Tour guide was good, very sweet.
Problems - I filled out a food preference form and sent it in before the trip. There was a welcome dinner where my husband and I could only eat salad because Yuko had not received the form, and the hotel could not make anything else. At another dinner, we did not receive sushi even though we listed the type of fish we could eat. On other tours, hotels were able to come up with last minute meals if we could not eat the provided food.
There should be some optional night activities. I would have liked to experience a tea ceremony.
Weather was very hot when we were there, and we were only given a bottle of water if we had a full day tour. Water doesn't cost that much and it would have been nice to have water every day. Everyone on the tour shared this opinion.
I enjoyed the optional Nikko tour - one of the best optional tours I've ever taken. The stop to make postcards was fun. It also gave us a chance to buy reasonably priced souvenirs and gifts."
"Taking 3 planes to arrive in Berlin was exhausting. A flight from Boston not JFK would have been much better. I will pay closer attention to this in the future.
Upon arrival at hotel we had about an hour to pull ourselves together for a walking tour of Berlin. It was too much on a travel day.
Our guide Oliver was very nice and considerate of our needs and comfort. Always counting and checking on us
Staying in only 3 hotels was very good.
The cruise on the river was hot and crowded. The staff cranky.
A death march back to the bus. Maybe over a mile walk in hot sun. Awful. !!
Overall it’s a trip I learned a lot
A pleasant group overall."
"Traveling with family and friends is always fun! Your daily agenda was very well planned. That is my kind of vacation. Did not like the 1st hotel in Dublin with no air conditioning so we had to keep our windows opened. Windows faced the bars which patrons were loud in the wee morning hours that was a barrier to sleep which was already wearing from the long air flight and day's tour. Loved our bus driver/tour guide, Peter Murphy. He was very knowledgeable about Ireland's history and blended in where the local guides left off. He kept us on a time schedule which was needed to accomplish all the sights. Peter is a delight and broke up the long days of walking and doing with his enormous sense of humor. He even gave us points of views to see with what to avoid. Yes, I will be interested in another tour but will have to start on my saving fund. Guide(s) can make or break tours. Peter created a memorable lifetime of memories that I will be talking about for eternity. I only hope that the next guide(s) will be as excellent as Peter. Kudos Peter!!!!"
"As always, smarTours was very good and so was our tour leader....hotels,
meals, and a knowledgeable and caring tour guide made our tour an
Thank you again, and we will be looking forward to our next trip (WHENEVER) with smarTours.
Don Deutsch and Roberta Daniels"
"The time I expended with smart tour was great except the 2 days scheduled to Suzdal, I feel that there was no need to go outside Moscow 5 hours in the middle of not where, when in Moscow is so mach to do, I really feel that with those days we can took more of the trip and be less tier."
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