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All Rick Steves Tours cancelled through August 15

Received this email

I'm so very sorry to tell you that we are canceling your Best of the Adriatic in 14 Days Tour starting Tuesday, June 23 due to travel restrictions around the Coronavirus.

We take your travel dreams very seriously, and this is not a decision we make lightly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that US travelers avoid most of Europe, and the US government has imposed restrictions on travelers coming into the US from the EU. As a result, we are canceling all of our tours through August 15, 2020.

We will refund 100% of your tour payments within 14 business days to your original method(s) of payment, which can take different amounts of time to appear in your account depending on the method of payment. Please allow up to 2 weeks for your total refund to appear in your account(s) once we have processed your refund.

If you've made other travel arrangements outside of your Rick Steves tour, we recommend you contact the business(es) directly to discuss your options. Many hotels and airlines are offering flexibility during this situation. If you have travel insurance, we recommend you contact them as well in case of any non-refundable expenditures.

If you have questions about this situation, please visit our FAQ page. If your question is not answered there, you can contact us at tour@ricksteves.com. We thank you in advance for your patience as our staff deals with an unprecedented level of inquiries.

Thank you for being a part of the Rick Steves touring family, and I hope we can take you to Europe in the future.

Best regards,
Rick Steves

Rick Steves' Europe
Tel: (425) 608-4217
tour@ricksteves.com

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Posted by
4601 posts

Carol, I was just about to start a new topic: our June 22 Best of South Italy tour is cancelled. We got the same email you did, basically.

Crap.

We knew it was coming; that doesn't make it any less disappointing.

Posted by
759 posts

WOW, surprised by the August 15th date being announced now. Not that it isn’t a realistic picture but just the timeline. They have a substantial number of tours to be cancelled, emails sent, and refunds issued in a short time window (14 business days).

Posted by
318 posts

I just got the email three minutes ago. I knew it was coming but it is still...☹️

Posted by
12383 posts

It said All the tours? They need to update the website as it shows still selling the Best of Eastern Europe leaving June 24

Posted by
759 posts

They notify tour holders first as a courtesy. People should hear from RS first and most will as most tour members do not use the forum. The date of that formal cancellation letter also starts their refund deadline.

After notifying current tour members they will update the FAQ and tour pages, Business 101. Try and register for a tour and you will not get a tour confirmation. There are zero issues with not updating the web page until after all cancelled tour members are advised.
RS is doing things properly.

Posted by
80 posts

I am sure our email will becoming too.. we aren’t scheduled until August 24th.. My Way Alpine tour..very disappointing but what can we do but listen and “Stay home” so that we can reschedule for 2021..
Rick Steves must be pulling out his hair..
Thank you Rick for so many wonderful tours, memories and friends we made along the way..we will see you again.
Sue

Posted by
4601 posts

James E, they'll probably update the website later today. The last time we had a tour cancelled (3 weeks ago!) we received the email and a phone call several hours at least before the website was updated.

Posted by
12383 posts

Maybe so. I picked Eastern Europe, but many of the western europe tours will canceled into August.

Posted by
1943 posts

The St Petersburg tours in July and the first half of August are cancelled and the website is updated. The August 24th tour is still on the schedule.

We had signed up for the July tour, as a backup to our cancelled May tour, though we backed out of that when it became apparent that Moscow and St Petersburg are behind the US curve of illness and restrictions and would be nowhere near ready for visitors by July.

Posted by
1954 posts

The FAQ page is updated now. I feel sadness but I think RS has made the right decision to give travelers 3-1/2 months advance notice to adjust their travel plans.

My tour date is 9/08-9/17 so I will prepare myself for likely cancellation. But I will plan to sign up again for a future tour.

Posted by
1939 posts

Carol, I feel your pain! My family and I were scheduled for this tour to begin the day after yours. We are hoping to reschedule for next year, same time. I will be watching (and hoping!) to see a tour schedule for 2021 come out this summer when we can try again! Positive thinking!

Posted by
6337 posts

He should really try and update this soon

It appears that they are being updated, just that not all of them have been updated on the website yet. I noticed several still have their June and July dates listed. It will take time I'm sure and they are very busy.

Posted by
897 posts

Oh wow, that sucks. I’m sorry. And this definitely means my individual July trip won’t be happening. If Rick won’t go, then I sure as heck ain’t going!

Posted by
267 posts

I'm so sorry that your tour has been canceled. We all know that staying home is the safest thing for now, but that doesn't make the disappointment any less. I find that it has helped me to continue to follow this forum, read Rick's excerpts from his upcoming book while waiting for it to come out, and rewatching his travel shows. We just need to stay safe until we can again pack our bags.

Posted by
3465 posts

That must have been a tough decision.

I have no idea how much sleep Rick must be losing over this. But was it really a tough decision? The world is still closed. Countries that are past the peak, like New Zealand, are in no hurry to let outsiders in just yet (read the news, not going to post all the article links here). We just have to realize that even if an individual is able to go wherever they might want to, tour groups are just not going to go there yet. Too much is closed. Too much time will be required to reopen things to welcome tourists, and who knows how tourist sites will have to change to allow the crowds back in. Large parts of the infrastructure may never reopen to the level they were and if they do it will be years from now before that level is achieved. Quarantines will still be required in many places on first arrival for the near future.

Are tourists really going to want to travel to somewhere - let's pick Paris - and not be able to enter museums, the Eiffel tower, most cafes, and maybe get stuck in large chain hotels with limited services because that is all that is open? I think not. Now if your idea of a great trip to Paris is staying in your hotel or AirBNB and sitting on your balcony with a bottle of wine or 3 and listening to the sounds of the city, then maybe this is the time for you to go. For the majority of tourists, it just isn't.

If I sound frustrated, I am. I had lots of plans for the year. Even into the first part of next year. I have faced the reality that most of those plans will not happen and I will lose money. Right now I will be happy to complete my move from Colorado to Houston sometime in the near future which was supposed to be done already. I feel that would be about all of the traveling I can see in my immediate future. False enthusiasm, false belief that things are not really that bad, and false hope of a miracle will not help my frustration, only feed it.

Posted by
2828 posts

At least here in Europe, it is not as if attractions and museums are closed indefinitely. Several countries, Italy included, already announced opening plans for these places, in June, with limitations.

So I think the trickiest part will for restoring intercontinental travel will be the passenger movement restrictions, not the attractions or places themselves (except for high profile packed events like sports, musical festivals, open-air parades etc).

Something that could wreck the plans of many would be a reopening of flight traffic for passengers, but with required self-isolation after arrival for 2 weeks for anyone coming outside the EU. That would mean almost all international tourist to European countries is just not viable, although people moving on resident visas would be able to resume life with some normality.

Posted by
6337 posts

required self-isolation after arrival for 2 weeks for anyone coming outside the EU.

This, of course, will limit the number of tourists drastically. Few normal vacationers to Europe from the US have much more than 2 weeks for their trip and some plan less than that. That means that most of the average travelers are unable to go until the self-quarantine phase is over. From what I've read and heard that could be quite some time and probably won't be until sometime after summer and then may be kept in place longer in some countries. It makes sense that it would remain in place for those coming in from countries that don't have the virus under control.

Posted by
759 posts

Social Distancing
28 people on a tour- impossible to keep them 6 ft apart.
Even if you only had “couples” you would still need those 14 couples to be spread out 90 ft behind the tour leader. And then there is the 6 ft spread in the bus....

Posted by
12383 posts

All good points. There are between 44 and 50 countries in Europe depending on how you count them. 27 are in the EU. I would expect some uniformity in the EU, but the others could take significantly different steps. Sort of like the 50 US states taking independent actions based on their realities and values. Most everything in the news is speculative and a lot of it is twisted; such as the record in the US. Its wait and see what these countries do. I've got time and options. If Hungary requires a quarantine, depending on the definition, I could possibly live with that. If not, and Bosnia or Montenegro are open, then I go fishing. If nothing in Europe is open, I head off to Hawaii when it opens up. Or I stay home. Its all wait and see, but I'm not jumping to any conclusions one way or another.

That must have been a tough decision.

I own a business, I know the broader impact of my decisions on families and lives. They have all been hard decisions. I assume the same for RS.

Posted by
11450 posts

I can only imagine how very disappointing the cancellations must be - especially for those who have been planning their “ bucket list trip “ for years .

However I’m not the least bit surprised - in fact I’m surprised that anyone would think things would be “
Back to normal “ until next year .

We’ve developed a cycle of one big Europe every other year ( with a lucky few short ones on some years ) and one small “ beach “ holiday on alternating years - this year was supposed to be a beach year - by now I would have already booked it for oct / November .
However , this year ,
I’m not even looking 😥

Posted by
2 posts

quick question for anyone who has received their refund already. I got mine back in my account today but I did not receive the $400 deposit. I am assuming that since it was a separate transaction from when I paid off the trip it might be deposited back in a separately . Don’t want to call and ask as I am sure they are overwhelmed. Anyone else experienced this? Or do we not get that back?

Posted by
18897 posts

This question came up earlier, and in that case it was determined that the person had used two different payment methods (probably check and credit card), and the refunds were processed separately. Everything I've read on the forum indicates that you will get a full refund.

Posted by
3465 posts

Each transaction done to pay for a RS tour is being refunded individually. So if you made a deposit first and then paid the final payment later, even if done on the same credit card or however, will be refunded separately. So give them a few days before worrying.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks so much ch for the quick reply! I will wait a few days and see what happens

Posted by
1943 posts

cpillaro, to give you an idea of timing...I paid the $400 via credit card and the balance via checking account. Six days after receiving notice of our tour cancellation, the balance payment was deposited back into my checking account and 5 days later I saw the $400 refund to my credit card. Less than 2 weeks for the full refund.

Posted by
350 posts

I imagine that even if RS operated the tours, the itinerary would be not much of anything.

It would be more exciting and interesting to visit RS World Headquarters in Edmonds, WA. At least there you could grab some take-out food from a local restaurant and take a ferry ride out to Kingston. With luck you might see some dolphins swimming along side with the ferry boat. In Kingston you can see their new modern fireboat that has a sealed cabin so it can deal with biological and chemical threats on the water. If you take your car on board the ferry, they will probably ask you to stay in it, but it is a short trip. Then you can drive to Port Gamble which is also buttoned up very tight. But, you can walk about, social distancing is easy there since it's not crowded. It's is quite a cute little logging town that has been preserved. But, I have no diea if you can find restrooms or food there, so bring food with you and keep a porta-potty in the trunk.

That's about as good as it gets these days.

Posted by
4601 posts

Our June 22 Best of South Italy tour has finally been removed from the tour list on my tour account page. Another gut punch. Of course I knew it had been cancelled, but it was still a jolt seeing it gone.

We're waitlisted for another tour in late August, but I'm not hopeful about that one, either, especially having heard an interview with Rick in which he expressed doubts about fall tours.

Posted by
12383 posts

Fall "tours" are less likely than fall tourism. Its going to be tough to fill buses. I really need a break so I started looking at countries that have indicated they might be more willing to open. All outside the EU. Then I started contacting tour guides in those locations. Now, just discussions. Its a good way to become acquainted with a local for some first hand information and sense of attitude in the location. Then some broad general itineraries. I am a bit of a sucker, so the guides that would accept I sent a little money for their planning time. I can afford it and I figure it will help them bridge the gap. It all comes back in the end. Right now I am looking at Eastern Europe. It has an amazing and other worldly feel.

Ukraine: been a few times. Love the people and the history. This time the Carpathians, castles, villages, and of course fishing. Such a large country that most any taste can be satisfied.
Moldova: I love wine. But its sort of limited beyond that. Still, being adjacent to Ukraine and near Odesa (wonderful town) it has promise for a few days.

Albania: again "other worldly" and some spectacular scenery. If the trip is summer it will be at the top of the list. Fall? maybe a bit further down.

Others that would be on the list, but I have been there too many times are Romania (++), Bulgaria (+++), Montenegro (++++), Bosnia (+++). But if one opens first, who knows.
Macedonia: just starting to scratch the surface.

A guide with a car in most of these places is $75 to $125 a day. So I just hire one and say "your mine this week" and travel one on one with a local. Not a RS tour, but very enjoyable. Really nice hotels are under $100 (Very Good about $45), food and all the other expenses are half Western Europe. So the only real cost is airfare. None of these places were hit hard by the virus if you believe the reports but I suspect that they lacked the expertise to identify much of their poblem.

Posted by
350 posts

I'm on another website that covers a number of topics for retired people. One of them is travel.

The travel section is filled with tales of woe and grief from people who have had their flights, tours, cruises and more cancelled and can't get their money refunded. I won't mention any names, but many companies are going to have a hard time winning back customers after treating them so very badly when it comes to refunds. For some reason they seem think that it's OK to not deliver the product and still keep the money. !?!?!?! How foolish is that? People remember how they are being treated and they won't be fooled again.

I had to cancel a trip for two I had made with RS. Money back in a week. In the words of a certain Austrian actor, "I'll be back" on some RS tour in 2021 or whenever this darn virus is under control.

In the mean time I will buy an RS tour book for an area of Europe I hope to return to on my own. It's a a good way to support a business that has treated me well. And that I want to be around when the traveling world opens up again.