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Can you pick an RS tour based on the guide?

Hi all,
We are signed up for our first RS tour next year, but as an avid reader of this forum, I have become familiar with some of the popular RS guides names.
In the future, is it possible to pick your tour based on who you want for a guide?

Posted by
248 posts

None of us here represent the Rick Steves Europe organization. To get the best answer, suggest you contact Rick Steves Tours.
My guess is that the guide for a particular tour is not guaranteed and is subject to change; and if that happened, well there you'd be, signed up for the trip but not with the guide you wanted, if that's really that important to you. But I'll bet any guide they engage is pretty darn good.

Posted by
3719 posts

I am 99.999% certain that is not possible.

I have read post trip reviews for trips I have taken, and the almost universal comment was "we had the greatest guide", and that comment was for several different guides.

Posted by
669 posts

Diveloonie, it is my understanding as previously reported that you cannot pick your guide. We have taken 4 RS Tours and felt we had the best of the best! I can only speak for myself and friends who keep on Travelin' with RS. I have a couple friends who are up to 15+ tours. I also think reviews can be subjective. Things like perception, expectations, etc.

Posted by
3368 posts

Well, RS won't even know for sure which guide will be doing it, that far out from the date. Like the hotels, it can always change up to last minute.

Posted by
69 posts

I like to peruse posted reviews of RSTs I’m considering, gleaning guide info here and there from them. No getting to make a guide selection per se, but it surely helps my anticipation and understanding of who amongst a stellar roster I may have the buona fortuna leading my RST adventure. So many exceptionally talented, capable, qualified guides on the RS team. To a person, every RS guide I’ve experienced has been a real joy to be around. So helpful, so kind, so entertaining. Who’s my favorite? Every single one of them. And let’s not get started on whether you could pick your bus driver ...

Posted by
2480 posts

It's my understanding that guides are not chosen for particular dates until after January, and are subject to change. We have had one guide who only worked one particular tour, but several times a year. Others work multiple tours. They have a lot of leeway on how many tours they can do per season.

For what it's worth, we have taken 12 tours, had 10 different guides, and only one of them was not excellent.

I'd have to go back and check my notes to see about bus drivers; all the bus drivers we have had have been excellent as well, but they vary in terms of how much they interact with the tour group. Do be aware that the driver is considered to be part of the group. Some of them join in on excursions and meals; others not so much. A great driver adds a lot to the tour.

We did have one driver that was not well liked by many of our tour mates. DH and I liked him just fine, but some people got upset when he joined us at dinner and had a beer. That may have been the snootiest group we ever had the pleasure of traveling with.

Note: EU rules about drinking and driving are very strict. The driver I'm talking about was off duty; there was no bus time that day.

Posted by
2102 posts

The office will not tell you which guide is on which tour. The guide can change up to the last minute based on many things.

Of the 10 tours I have taken, always had different guides even though many overlap in which tours they guide. All have been acceptable, a few overly outstanding, one was distracted and really didn't seem to have his mind in the game (we got everything that tour promised, but none of the extras that other guides seem to find the time and money to add to the tour).

I have been lucky to have the same bus driver on 2 different tours. Great guy, almost like an assistant tour guide. Really fun to talk with. He has permanently retired now so no chance of seeing him again. The drivers sometimes are very much a part of the tour, joining us for dinners and going out for drinks later if the next day is a non driving day. Some you never see except on the bus. I think the more restrictive Euro zone driving rules have a lot to do with the drivers interaction with the group -- they must book a certain number of rest hours every day or they cannot drive.

Posted by
937 posts

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I’m just going to keep my fingers crossed that we get Anastasia for our upcoming October Greece tour!

Posted by
29264 posts

dive,

As the others have mentioned, the answer is probably "NO". As I understand it, the guides for some tours may not be assigned until three weeks to a month prior to the start of the tour. If you waited until the guide was assigned to book your tour, you'd likely be stuck on a wait list and not able to get on the tour with that guide anyway.

It's also my impression that the RS tour department doesn't like to promote "favoritism" with any of their guides. The guides are all trained the same way and the format is much the same from one tour to another, so I'm sure you'll have a fantastic and memorable tour with whichever guide you get.

Posted by
11561 posts

Ah Greece. I had read all the available tour reviews for that tour (in 2017) and had decided which was the guide I really wanted and would have been my second choice. When I got my guide's name shortly before the tour, I was mightily disappointed. That disappeared about 5 minutes after meeting my guide, and by about the 3rd day, I was so happy with my guide, I was glad I didn't get to choose. My impression is that all the guides for Greece are outstanding and I often see comments on the forum that Greece was the favorite tour taken by RSers.

Posted by
41 posts

We took this tour in 2017 and had the wonderful Maria as our guide and considered her best of the best, so don’t be dismayed if you don’t get Anastasia!

Posted by
5622 posts

Your question has been answered but I can't help adding to it! I agree with the others that the office won't tell you.

I've had the experience where my guide changed at the last minute, literally. Like 3 days ahead. The original guide had a death in the family and was called away. My substitute guide for that Best of Paris trip was Rolinka who was above awesome. My word, what a fun time I had with her! I learned so much from her and use that knowledge every time I return to Paris.

I also had the experience Chani did. I "knew" who I wanted for my 21 BOE tour. I did not get any of the ones I'd heard of and was slightly disappointed. Like Chani, that went away after about 5 minutes and this guy is now one of my very favorites. I "literally" would go on any tour he led.

Posted by
2628 posts

I have taken 16 RS tours and all of the guides except one I rated 10/10 and the other 9/10. Willit (sp?) in Greece was outstanding.

Posted by
1425 posts

Yes, Charlie...that's the David (for Greece tours) referred to earlier. diveloonie, I would be willing to bet you will be pleased with whoever is your guide. In 20 tours, I've never had one I've felt was not up to the high standards the RS company sets and I have never had the same guide twice. You can take a look at which guides GENERALLY lead which tours, though. I think that's posted here somewhere on the website-maybe titled something like "meet our guides"? And then there are also guide interviews, podcasts and the tour reviews which once in a while do actually mention the guide's name. Just sign up for whatever tour catches your fancy, some place you would really like to go and I am sure you'll be happy!

Posted by
488 posts

These posts bring back great memories of our 2003 21 Day BOE tour. We had two great guides (Matt and Martin) and an awesome bus driver, Dimitri, who now guides, and has become one of Pam's favorites! (I think I'll email Matt to ask where Martin is these days.) I have a picture of Martin walking barefoot through snow on the hiking trail in Switzerland, carrying his sandals in his hands! What a guy! :-)

Posted by
83 posts

Ive been guilty of wanting a particular guide based on feedback Ive heard. However you can often be pleasantly surprised.

I heard great things about Fabian and hoped for him to lead our GAS tour. We got Rolinka and were so glad we did. She was amazing! And, fortunately for my wife (who was a little nervous travelling to Europe for the first time), Rolinka had just the right temperament to guide her thru the initial jitters.

Posted by
562 posts

We did Scotland in April this year. Thru reviews I was wanting another guide but got someone else. I just loved our guide which was assigned to our tour. FB friends now, he is just so passionate and more about his country of Scotland. What was funny, we were the last of our group to check in on our meeting day(flew from Dublin from our other RS tour) . We met our guide in the lobby when we arrived. After we left my husband made this comment that I was thinking “we have James Bond” as our guide (he reminded us of Daniel Craig).

Love love that tour and James!

Posted by
7 posts

Dive, I agree with Luv2Travel. I also took the Greece tour in 2017 and was hoping to draw David or Anastasia. Our tour guide was Maria, and I could not have been more pleased with another guide. Maria was amazing, energetic, organized, incredibly knowledgeable and lots of fun. I've taken four Rick Steves tours (so far!), and feel that the guide (and bus drivers) on each trip were exceptional in their own way. Part of the magic of the Rick Steves tour is the element of experiencing the unexpected, and that applies to the tour hosts as well. Happy trails!

Posted by
669 posts

Just wanted to add to my previous posting-- I would like to give a shout out for Colin Clement. Colin was our Greece Guide in 2017. Colin's knowledge and passion for history was incredible. He is based in Alexandria Egypt. I don't think you could go wrong with any of the main or local guides offered! On our own we hired guide Salvadore Levy who took us on a 3+ hour walking tour of Jewish Athen's. We were very pleased for this introduction to Athens!

Posted by
937 posts

@Kim, I would be happy with any guide that looked like Daniel Craig😉❤️
My favorite James Bond!

Posted by
100 posts

You find out who your guide is, as well as the tour roster, about a month before the tour starts. I'm sure you want to reserve more than a month in advance in order to get a spot on the tour.

But no worries. We have been on four tours, and all of the guides have been great.