Great weather, amazing guide and many new friends. The actual tour was well run and operated very professionally. Our guide, Alfio was as expected, outstanding and informative. I’d gladly want him again. But it was a tough tour as we faced numerous curve balls. The tour began with a couple immediately testing positive and by the end of the tour, near 50% of our group of 28 have tested positive and many could not finish the tour nor go home due to quarantine requirements. Despite help by Alfio, some members faced eviction from their quarantined hotel and by the end, everyone was worried as to being able to go home. Help by RS seemed sporadic per friends left behind. We personally cut short our European vacation out of fear of testing positive simply due to the high percentage of positives in the group. I write this as I love RS ( 6 tours) but I think a liaison desk to take control of the virus issue with hotels is needed with assurance that local RS help will find a place to stay during quarantine. Without this, not sure I would recommend taking a tour abroad at this time. Too stressful. I hear that 3% positive is the norm but clearly not in this case. Finally, if there are positives, suggest changing group activities for indoor meals as they can be super spreader events.
You definitely had some tough experiences - sounds like more of a wrecking ball than just curve balls. But as you say, this was an atypical situation, compared to past group infection statistics. I wonder whether the results with your Sicily tour will be happening more and more, or were a relatively rare exception? Rick’s company may need to make some changes, either to address new expected developments, or to react to the occasional severe exceptions.
Limiting group dinners could be a prudent practice. How about bus travel? I hope the Sicily sights, at least, were fulfilling.
People on your tour group certainly faced some huge challenges! Quick question for you. You say near 50% tested positive. Does that figure include travel companions who chose to leave the tour with positive tour members or is that actually all positive tests?
Curtailing group dinners wouldn’t be much help when hours are spent together on the bus, even with masks on. Then there are the happy hours spent together, the dinners where 4 or 6 people go out together, etc. This is a very unfortunate situation, but not the norm. I feel for all those who got Covid. It is a definite risk when you sign up to travel to Europe.
Oh dear. Sorry for that turn of events!
While the prevalence overall has been 2-3% I don’t think that’s a good estimate of individual risk of infection. And once there are any cases on a particular tour the risk of infection to those on that tour grows dramatically (and increases more with each infected tour mate).
I think your suggestion on group dining is a good one (it would take some work to make it feasible).
RS has apparently contracted with Travel Guard ( I think) to aid positive testing tour members. However, a friend of mine says that they (TG) effectively shrugged their shoulders saying “what do you expect us to do?” And were left on their own to find last minute lodging during the crush of Easter in Paris.
By contrast, other friends who had to leave a Viking river cruise were provided a personal driver from the ship to a CDG hotel for quarantining and their flight was rebooked. All this was paid for by Viking in addition to refunding the remainder of their cruise.
I’m the friend SharYn is referring to in the above post. She is correct, we had no help from Travel Guard. We had to find hotels in Paris a few days before Easter, on our own. It worked out for us, because the positive test happened before we joined the tour. By the time it was time to fly home, my DH tested negative. It was stressful, but we had a wonderful time in Paris on our own.
You might want to post this under the RS tour or COVID sections of the forum.