If you're on a 2022 tour, note that you will receive an email about a change in the refund policy to allow cancellation full refunds past the December 31 deadline, up to 120 days before your scheduled tour.
Here is a copy of the email for those interested.
Dear 2022 Tour Member,
You’re one of nearly 30,000 people signed up on a Rick Steves tour for 2022. And, like you, we’re watching recent news reports and wondering what it might mean for our 2022 travel plans. I’ll be candid and transparent with you, as we’re all in this together and we value your trust and your business.
You’ve paid us a deposit for your 2022 tour that’s currently refundable until December 31, 2021. We recognize the stress of planning a trip during uncertain times. And so, to make things easier on you, we’ve decided to extend our "fully refundable" deadline on a rolling basis. Deposits are now 100% refundable until 120 days before your tour departs, or until December 31, 2021, whichever comes later. (For example, a tour departing August 15, 2022, could be cancelled and fully refunded up to April 17, 2022.)
Your final payment (the tour price minus the deposit) is still refundable until 60 days before your tour departs. And, as a reminder, if we cancel your tour for any reason prior to the departure date, we’ll refund the entire amount you’ve paid us for that tour. We hope that all of these policies buy you some peace of mind as your 2022 tour approaches.
We’re all frustrated by the uncertainty of traveling during these times. And yet, while I take new developments seriously, I remain very hopeful about 2022 travels. I believe that this hope is reasonable, because of my own recent travel experiences: Just a few weeks ago I was in Italy to personally lead the first “Rick Steves Tour” in nearly two years. My group was 24 of our newest guides on a training tour. On that trip, we got a sample of what it’s like to be on tour during the pandemic — and we had a wonderful time.
It was clear to me that Europe is learning to live with the pandemic responsibly. That trip gave me confidence that, while there may be setbacks, Europe is figuring it out. Between now and when your tour departs, we’ll be closely monitoring changing conditions while consulting with our European partners. And, as we always have, we’ll continue to keep the safety of our tour members, guides, and European partners as our top priority in all our decision making. (This latest round of news gives us even more confidence that we’re doing the right thing by requiring vaccinations for participants, guides, and drivers on all 2022 tours.)
Of course, we’ll continue to send out updates as needed. In the meantime, stay healthy, keep your travel dreams stoked, and stay tuned for some wonderful travels together.
This is a good move by the Rick Steve’s organization. We have cancelled our May 2022 tour (Munich, Salzburg & Vienna) but now have more time to evaluate the situation for our September Best of England tour.
We are sad and disappointed about cancelling the May tour, but also relieved in a way.
I was really happy to receive the email, so I don’t have to think about if/if not for several months for my summer tour to the Adriatic.
I guess I have travel PTSD.
An email with the title 2022 tour refund... gave me a headache. 😯
LIZinPA, no kidding. My thought was, "Oh, no! This can't be happening! Not again."
This is good news! My husband and I were really stressing about the upcoming December 31st deadline and wondering should we stay or should we go to Italy in 2022. This is a wonderful and generous policy update from RS. Now we can continue to plan, watch the news (or not) and make a final decision with more time and information on our side.
I've always respected Rick and his business ethics. He has proved yet again what a stellar and principled fellow he is.
I'm never nervous on an airplane because the pilot knows how to fly the plane. He's the expert, not me. I feel the same way about Rick. Although he has a business to run, and bills to pay just like all the rest of us, I trust that he will only go forward with the tours next year if it is safe. I know things can change on a dime. The last 4 days have shown us that.
A year ago, I thought I'd never go to Europe if I had to wear a mask. Now I'm (unfortunately) so accustomed to wearing one indoors here, that I'd feel naked without it!
I can breathe a bit easier now that I don't have the looming December deadline to cancel my trip to England in September.
Bob, what date is your RS Best of England?
We were scheduled for the Venice,Florence,Rome tour leaving at the end of March. So after much thought we cancelled today. I just wasn’t feeling that my first trip to Italy should be a source of stress. When we originally had a 2020 fall tour planned I was so excited, now it was more a source of stress. So I hope things will work out and the tours will go on and I can feel the excitement again and reschedule.
This is a great relief for folks with tours scheduled later in 2022, but if you are like me and your tour is scheduled to start in early May (or before) it gives just an extra week to decide. Like LizinPA said it made my PTSD kick in. How can I face all the cancellations to be made, refunds or the dreaded vouchers to obtain, etc. All the letter did for me was make me realize it could be March 2020 all over again! Rick has been so positive about traveling in 2022 since his recent trips. And if he is positive, it helps me be positive, too. As always, I appreciate the honesty and the offer of more time to decide and still get your refund back if your tour is scheduled for the latter part of the year. I will give myself a couple weeks to watch how Omicron and international travel goes, but for the 1st time since I scheduled this trip I am facing the reality that I may have to cancel as it will be impossible for me to plan.
My RS tour starts in late May so this policy change gives me 3 additional weeks to decide whether to cancel or not. I really enjoy the RS tours but given all this ongoing uncertainty, I probably need to consider doing a solo trip in 2022 with refundable hotel reservations and which is finalized on shorter notice so that I can take into account which countries are faring better COVID-wise and plan my travel accordingly.
I’ll have to come up with plans A, B and C for a solo trip and cancel reservations for those trips which I decide against closer to the departure dates. I work full time and could probably take time off with two weeks’ notice assuming that a coworker can cover for me which usually isn’t a problem.
Our Best of England tour is 9/6 - 9/22. Friends are joining us (we met them on our last RS tour) and they are happy about having extra time to figure things out. This will be the first time that we have taken a RS tour with another couple, so the process of deciding may be more complicated.
I think its great that he extended it, but we have no thoughts of cancelling our trip at all departing mid-June which at this point is still 6 months away. We are vaccinated, boostered, and I wear a mask all day at work anyway so have no problem doing it on vacation. I also have a back-up plan should Rick cancel the tours but we could still travel independently to pull out if needed.
We are not cancelling our tours. We will wait until RS cancels. It is too soon to tell what will happen in 2022. That being said, we are not booking anything that is not refundable at the moment.
My tour is scheduled for November 2022. I'm so relieved to hear about his change in refund policy - I'm so excited for tour number 4!
It’s wonderfully reassuring that the refund policy is extended. Peace of mind. But at this point I’m not cancelling my September tour. Like so many of us, I’ve waited an extra year (original plan was this year) and I’m not getting younger. Unless Rick cancels the tour, I intend to be in France in September with a pre-visit to London and post-visit to Venice.
Happy travels everyone. Get vax’d, get boosted, wear a mask. Be safe.
Based upon what I have read about travel in Europe, and a few people I have talked to who have had that experience, I think that Europe is doing a better job of transitioning from the Covid Emergency stage to the Covid Endemic stage. In the emergency state, we react to every new bit of bad news with all sorts of unsustainable policies in a near panic mentality. In the Covid Endemic stage, we start to act thoughtfully so as to manage Covid in such a way that we can get on with our lives and not let it yank us around, first in one direction then the other.
There are various reasons why the USA is still stuck in Emergency phase thinking. But, Europe as a whole seems to be moving more rapidly into managing the disease by making thoughtful and useful decisions and then putting into place protocols that help people deal better with the threat of Covid. IOW, they are moving into the Endemic Covid phase, IMO. That makes me feel better about traveling in Europe.
Of course, there is always the chance that some variant will zap our travel dreams despite our best efforts, but that could happen with a lot of other bad things also.
i am presently on my first tour starting April 24 with another right after it on May 1. So I really didn't get any extra time to decide if I want to cancel. But IF Rick does not cancel i assume all will be ok and if he does--he'll refund our monies anyway. My hotels are all refundable--have not done airfare yet but am using my miles so easy to cancel if needed. Just wait & see I think.
Our tour starts Sept 11. Hope we all get to enjoy our tours:)
phaedra, I'm sending you a PM.
Our first tour starts April 12 so it isn’t giving us any leeway either. But we have no intention of canceling. We traveled safely to the East Coast this fall and feel that Europe is handling Covid better than the US. Rick will cancel the tour if need be, so we’ll go if he goes!
Our first RS tour starts May 1; our second May 23. And no, we're not cancelling. If RS cancels, we'll have to do some deep thinking, but for now we're planning to go.
I just called the RS office and asked what the threshold would be for Rick to cancel a tour. Specifically, I asked if a country required all travellers to isolate to enter its borders, would he cancel the tour? The reply was "yes, it would be too difficult logistically to go forward".
I found that response quite appropriate. I keep going back to my mantra "if Rick says it's OK to travel, I'm in." Lots can happen between now and my Best of England in September, but I am comforted to know that Rick has my back.
Susie, that’s good to know even though I’m retired and have more flex time. Thanks for checking!
@Susie - What if many of the venues are closed for touring? Would they cancel then. I'm curious on how many venues can be closed before they decide to cancel a tour.
I recently called about the St Petersburg tour (which goes to 3 cities, Tallinn, Helsinki and St Petersburg) wondering whether RS would cancel if US visitors were (hypothetically) not allowed into Russia. The super-knowledgeable tour sales rep said that yes, in that case they would cancel the tour because St Petersburg is a significant part of the tour experience and visiting St Petersburg is a significant reason why people choose that tour.
Susie, my husband and I will be on that Sep 11 Best of England tour as well. I really hope it goes. I've been dreaming of this tour for months.
RS must have anticipated the latest Middle Seat article in the Wall Street Journal.
The columnist quotes a travel expert who is critical of the strict No Refund policies that seem to be creeping back into the travel business. They discourage people from planning travel and therefore will probably reduce overall travel. He recommends that the travel business not try to off load all the risk on the traveling public, but take some themselves for the good of the public and their own good. I think the new refund policy is just that . RS takes more risk, which makes it easier for some of us to Keep our our reservations for Summer and Fall a while longer.
Right now is not a good time for the travel industry to say "Tough Luck. You lose your money". Sure we do take some risk, but that's where Cancel for Any Reason insurance can help if a person thinks their risk is too big.
Northwestcoyote, I've sent you a PM.