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Cultural Connection Tours compared to Signature Tours

For those who have been on a number of tours -

Regarding the enjoyment of the tour experience, I believe that the performance of the tour guide is probably the most important factor, regardless of the itinerary or type of tour.

However, some of the RS tours are described as Cultural Connection - CC -tours - i.e. Sicily, South Italy, Village Italy, Eastern France, Basque Country, Villages of South England, Belgium/Holland, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Turkey.

Have you experienced a meaningful difference in the Cultural Connection tours compared to the Signature Tours? If so, which type of tour do you like better?

Posted by
8248 posts

Well, I didn't know there was any difference! I've done 10 tours including Village Italy and Villages of Southern England. I felt like Village Italy had more experiential things - wine tastings, olive oil tasting, honey tasting etc. but didn't notice any difference to the Southern England tour. To be honest, I'd not have noticed any difference at all between them and the other 8 tours.

I looked quickly at the tour page and didn't see these particular designations. Can you add a link or is it on each tour page?

Posted by
1017 posts

Pam-

I first saw the CC designation in the printed tour brochure, but have not seen it on the website. There is a page titled What’s Your Travel Style? There are five different categories of tours:

Signature Tours
City Getaways
Cultural Connections
Family Tours
My Way Vacations

From the brochure: Rick Steves Cultural ConnectionTours focus less on the tourist sights and more on the off-the-beaten-path experiences with deeply cultural, person-to-person flavor.

We have been on two City Getaways, two CCtours and one Signature Tour. We have signed up for Village Italy in April 2019 (another CC Tour).

Posted by
8248 posts

Ah ha! Yes, I see it there on p. 8, hahaha!

Well, I'm not sure it makes a huge amount of difference. I see one of the things on the Cultural Connections is fewer museums. I did the GAS tour which is listed as a Signature tour and really, there were not many museums included on that tour. We had a program one night in Switzerland with some local musicians which seemed cultural at the time, hahaha!

I've done one City getaway (Paris), 2 CC's (VI and Southern England) and 7 Signature tours (21 Best of Europe, Heart of Italy, Best of Ireland, Best of England/Britain, Paris and Heart of France, GAS and Best of Scotland).

I'm not sure either of the Cultural Connection tours, Village Italy and Southern England had a "deeply cultural, person-to-person flavor".

TBH, is sounds like marketing to me!

Others might have different opinions!

Posted by
4601 posts

Bob, I think the distinction is not really all that significant, but the Cultural Connection tours tend to be a bit more off the beaten path, with less-common activities. For example, on the Village Italy tour you get to accompany truffle hunting dogs as they work, visit a working olive oil mill, explore a working vineyard, and more. On the South England tour we toured a historic tin mine, visited a working pasty shop (and made our own pasties!), and hiked the Downs. We've also done the Belgium/Holland tour. There we visited a brewery and watched fine chocolates being made (not at the brewery!), and learned much about two countries we tend to be pretty ignorant of. I think that's the key right there - we probably learned more about the culture of the countries we visited on those tours. Hmmm. I had never thought about that before.

Thanks for a great, thought-provoking question. Now I have to find my catalog and think about the other tours.

Posted by
1017 posts

Based on my limited experience, it seems like we heard more lectures on the bus during the CC tours. The guides went into more depth on topics related to history, language economics, and politics. However, this could have been due to stylistic differences between tour guides.

On the Sicily tour we had a baking lesson and a cooking lesson, and stopped at a chocolate maker.

Posted by
2265 posts

Well Bob, I’ve taken 11 RS Tours over several years, devoured the RS web site and Travel Forum, and have heard many presentations about RS Tours by Rick and other RS staff. And, until your post here today, I have never heard the categories of tours you mention. I myself don’t think there is really a significant difference.

Posted by
8248 posts

The guides went into more depth on topics related to history, language economics and politics. However, this could have been due to stylistic differences between tour guides.

Based on experience, I’d say stylistic difference between guides.

I had Trina for both Heart of Italy (listed as Signature) and Village Italy (Cultural Connection) and I’d say she went into depth on both tours. Of course other guides might not go as in depth on the other CC tours.