Hi. Don't want to sound like I'm bashing R. Steves Tours (I'm a vet of several) but I'm curious about what folks feel about OAT (I've done one of these and enjoyed it except for the excessive tipping) and Andante Travels. The last one is based in the UK, and seems to offer very interesting trips archeology-based. Any feedback, especially about Andante would be very much appreciated as I struggle over options for 2015. I am not sure whether or not I'll be traveling alone or with my husband (who has opted out of the last two trips I've booked). OAT has an attractive "no single supplement" option (although, to be honest, they often are sold out of the single rooms) and Andante offers pretty low cost single supplments. I'm not into sharing a room!
I am not a tour person. I enjoy the challenge and savings of planning my own trips. Just for comparison, I have checked out many tours, but, as far as I can see, Rick's tours are the best around. If I were going to take a tour, it would be one of Rick's.
My question was directed at folks who have taken trips with the two companies I listed above.
We traveled with OAT in 2009 to Egypt and Jordan. We loved the things we saw, but did not like OAT. Having done 6 other tours with RS, there is just no comparison. OAT does have small groups, but uses mini buses (not very comfortable). They also include a lot of shopping on their tours with high pressure sales people. This takes away a lot of time from sightseeing. The majority of the meals were buffet style at the hotels. Guides were just ok and hung out with other guides at meals, etc.. We would not use OAT again.
Thanks for OAT info. I took their trip to Chile and Argentina at Xmas and had a different (and better) experience. Guess it may well depend on the location and the guide!
Anyone know Andante at all?
I very much wanted to take an Andante tour to Sicily in2013. We could not sign up, though,
because we do not have an insurance policy for "personal liability." I called around to travel insurance companies
and found that this was not something covered by them. I questioned Andante about this and she got back to
me reporting that two previous clients from USA had umbrella policies that covered "personal liability."
We ended up going with Sicily-tours.com and enjoyed it. It is a small tour company owned by Brits who
live in Sicily. It was our first group tour.
I have heard of tours that insist on members buying some minimal level of travel insurance, but never personal liability insurance. That makes me suspicious of the tour operator's level of business acumen. I hope that our American lawyers are not starting to pollute Europe with their "Everybody but my client must be at fault" way of ruining things.
Personal liability is a standard coverage on most homeowners and renters insurance policies, so if you are interested in traveling with Andante you may want to check whether you already have the coverage they require. Additional personal liability coverage is available on a personal umbrella policy.
I used Odyssey-Unlimited for a tour to South Africa. If Rick Steves journeyed there I would use RS. Odyssey serves many destinations. They are an exceptional tour operator and I would definitely use them again. Small group travel, excellent hotels, interesting tour guides. Based out of Boston. Slightly higher priced as they use first class hotels and they handle the luggage for you. Includes same meals as RS. They take care of all tips except for main tour guide and suggest $10 per day per person to the tour guide. I was more than happy to contribute to our guide who took such good care of us.
I too would be interested in hearing more about Andante, as their archeology and history focus makes their tours look very interesting. Is it simply impossible for Americans to join up, or has anyone here been on one?
OK, I just read through the Andante booking conditions, and see nothing about requiring personal liability insurance. They do require "comprehensive travel insurance" and that's all.
We have been on five Rick Steves tours (Italy, France, Spain, Ireland and Turkey) and loved every one of them, with Best of Italy our favorite. We have also used his books for travel on our own. We went on OAT Ultimate Africa last year and were stunned by the animals and how close you get to them - a very different experience. The OAT tour and guide were very good and the Africa tour is currently our favorite, but you can't really compare because of the different destinations. Rick is the best for Europe, but he doesn't go to some other great areas.
I went to Crete with Andante and thoroughly enjoyed the tour. It was well organized and covered most of the northern coast of the island. I would term it an archaeology and food tour - we seemed to spend a lot of time eating (who is complaining? Not me!). The tour is accompanied by a local guide (required by Greek law for lecturing at sites and museums), an archaeologist who is/has worked in Crete and a tour manager who looked after all hotel, food and travel arrangements.
We visited the major and some of the smaller sites in Crete. On one day we could not do the planned site, so instead visited the island of Spinalonga - this received such rave reviews from us that it is now included in the tours.
Archaeology is the focus of the tours so if you are not interested in the topic they are not for you. They do tours all over Europe, Mexico, South America, The Far East, Tunisia, Jordan and many other off-beat and interesting places. They are still offering tours to Egypt with the caveat that tours may be cancelled (with full refund) due to travel warnings by the British Government.
Someone mentioned that they require people to have liability insurance - this is incorrect. Here is a quote from their 2015 US brochure published this month "It is a condition of booking that all travelers are covered by comprehensive travel insurance and do not travel against medical advice. You should organize it when you book, to ensure you have cover against possible cancellation charges, medical treatment and repatriation. We will need to know the details of your policy 4 weeks before departure at the latest."
Their website is very comprehensive and they have a US version so prices are in Dollars (www.
andantetravels.com and click on the US flag) I do find it easier to wade through the printed brochure. if you drop them an email they will mail it to you.
Hello, my wife and I recently went with Andante to Sicily. It was beautifully organised and a really civilised way to see everything we wanted. There were 2 American couples who enjoyed it as well. You can read my reviews on expertreviewer.co.uk as they appear. We were amazed how little we needed to spend during the trip so it proved to be most economical.
I have just spoken to Andante Tours and to pay a deposit on the Sicily tour. Their reference to "comprehensive travel insurance" means that the insurance should also include cover for legal liability, eg if you cause damage to an item in a museum you will become liable for it and will need insurance to cover that "personal liability". Comprehensive travel insurance in the UK and Australia normally include this.