MONTECATININI ITALY -- BUYER BEWARE!!! I don't know about the other people posting these reviews but a "Great Trip" is the farthest thing from the experience we had with Gate 1 Travel. We also knew that we were getting an amazing deal to fly to Italy for 8 days but it was the worst experience of our lives. Every aspect of our trip that was associated with Gate 1 Travel was absolutely awful.
This was supposed to be a dream vacation for my son, who has wanted to see Italy since he was 6 and is now almost 17. We purchased our trip in early March and traveled in mid Sept.. The flight was fine but upon arrival to Milan where we picked up our rental car we started realizing that Gate 1 had done a "Bait and Switch" for just about every aspect of the trip starting with the rental car and getting worse from there.
The rental car was supposed to be a "Fiat or similar" although we ended up with some brand I have never heard of, a wagon of sorts that rumbled and sounded like it was going to die on us every time we drove! The hotels were the worst hotels we had ever stayed and at, and I have stayed in hostels in 3rd world countries like Guatemala that look like the Hilton compared to the San Marco. Literally the worst hotel ever!
The minute I saw our room I was creeped out and went to the front desk to show them the pictures we had seen on Gate 1 and complained that our room was nothing like pictured, the hotel was nothing like pictured! They said sorry but they were full, not offering accommodations at their sister resort a block away or anything, even though I had booked my trip 6 months earlier!
I then went to our room and contacted Gate 1, letting them know how bad our room was. Their response was basically "sorry we book packages and there is nothing we can do for you"! That has been their response, if I get one, every time I have contacted them about this awful trip. We stayed 2 nights to try and make it better and make sure we were not overacting, asking for a few extra pillows to help make the bed a bit more comfortable. When we woke on the 2nd morning after barely sleeping because the bed was so uncomfortable and dirty, my son and I were completely covered in bug bites! We got up, showered and left the hotel to go stay elsewhere.
The entire trip associated with Gate 1 was literally the worst experience of mine and my son's life and I am not exaggerating. He had so badly wanted to see Italy and experience everything the country has to offer but thanks to Gate 1 and the worst experience ever, we will never return to Italy and I will never deal with this company again. If you are even considering booking with them, I would not!!!
I have traveled all over the world and you can definitely find better ways to travel on your own than through this awful company or you too could end up miserable in a foreign country with absolutely no help from the company who was super helpful when it was time to pay then is absent when you have questions or need help. Do not book with Gate 1 and feel free to contact me if you have questions as there is so much more that was bad and that the company failed to provide. Good luck.
My husband and I purchased a three-day tour to Cuba in August through Gate 1. We travel extensively and have never taken a tour before, but we were nervous about going to Cuba without an organized tour. We paid over $3,200 for this trip.
Part of our tour included a US tour guide for the trip. While our US guide accompanied us to the airport, unbeknownst to us, he was detained at security and never got on the plane. When we got to Cuba and got off the plane, we didn't have a US guide. We were all standing around the airport looking for him and wondering what we should do. A guy in the airport finally came up to my husband and asked if he was the guide. He responded that our guide was missing.
After over an hour of waiting and nervously wondering what to do, the Cuban guide from the bus came in to collect us. He didn't know where our US guide was either. We ended up spending the day with him and Gate 1 sent in a US guide the following day for our next two days.
So let me recap, we were sent to Cuba WITHOUT a US guide. Our package included a US guide for three days. We had one for two days. I e-mailed Gate 1 about this when I got back. It took them THREE weeks to respond to my e-mail and their response is below:
"Our tours to Cuba, as an additional courtesy include an escort who accompanies flights from Miami to Havana. Their capacity is one of an aide, an organizer. They are not guides. The position of guide is always the function of a local Cuban, in your case, Ramiro. The individual who was to accompany your group did not show up. Aside from his absence, we have been assured that all services were provided, and the following morning a replacement, Annie arrived to assume the position.
We regret any concern you experienced, however as all services were performed and touring continued without interruption, we find no grounds for compensation. As a gesture of goodwill, we wish to offer you $100 per person travel credit which may be applied towards your next purchase of any escorted tour, discovery tour or river cruise with Gate 1 Travel. This credit is valid until December 31, 2017. Kindly refer to this correspondence at the time of reservation to ensure the proper credit is applied."
The tour sure didn't advertise our US guide as an escort or organizer. Specifically, we paid for the "Services of a Cuban English-speaking Guide and a USA tour manager throughout" according to their website. Also, our guide "did not show up", he was detained at security which is a much different scenario. Stay away from this company. They are happy to take your money, but offer deplorable service!!! Even the airlines treat you better than this when they disrupt your travel!!!
NEW YORK -- I have traveled extensively on my own. This was my first tour, which I took because I wanted to see some Christmas markets, and the price looked good. It wasn't. The tour director had no personality and seemed most intent on getting us to follow his rules.
We had only a short time in each city, but we were not oriented at all or given maps, except for Vienna, after our bit of free time. The hotels were not the best and were all far from the Christmas markets. We were not allowed to use the bathroom on the bus except for emergencies. The Sears were very uncomfortable, with no armrests. We were given rotating seat assignments, and the tour director became upset if we chose where to sit. Most of us fell into line to avoid his snit fit.
FORT WASHINGTON, PENNSYLVANIA -- We just got back from a 7-day "Independent" Gate 1 Travel trip to Iceland, and couldn't have been happier. We had a Groupon deal, and I was nervous about it, but booking the trip was super easy, Gate 1 agent was friendly and helpful and efficient. We got good communication leading up to the trip and good documentation. This was an "Independent" trip, so we had no tour manager or set group, but we did do one of the optional excursions via Gate 1 and it was superb -- a Northern Lights hunt.
The guide and driver and bus were excellent, and when we didn't see the lights the first night they took us back out later in the week at no extra charge. I know there seem to be mixed experiences with this company, and perhaps destination and/or using a guided tour makes a difference, but we had absolutely no regrets or complaints, and would be willing to book with them again.
Be careful when you book with Gate 1. They will lower the prices and then not honor the lower price. I booked 10 months in advance and 1 month later found they had a lower price by $400. They refused to honor the lower price. Most reputable companies will honor a lower price up until the final payment date (usually 60 to 90 days before departure).
CIENFUEGOS, TRINIDAD, HAVANA -- Our 8 day face to face in Cuba was outstanding. Our tour leaders were professional. Daniel **, the manager, was patient, calm, fun, and knowledgeable, Mariella in Cuba was amazing too. We appreciated all the interesting places we visited and the nice variety of places. Elaborate and clean hotels, good bus and driver. Outstanding trip. We wished there had not been the very boring Spanish class. Food was good. A perfect trip.
We booked our 9 day Classic Ecuador and Amazon Adventure back in June 2014 for our Jan 20, 2015 departure. This is our first tour with Gate 1 Travel and we were looking forward to it. Suddenly we got an email on Oct 29, 2014 informing us that our tour flight schedule has been changed. In fact that is NOT the whole truth. Gate 1 changed our tour from 9 days to 8 days with the flight schedule change. We spoke to their customer service and explained to her that we booked 9 days and now it is only 8 days tour so they need to adjust our tour price because there is one day short from what we originally booked for.
On top of that they changed their flight schedule and now it costs us an extra hotel stay expense in Miami and they should compensate for that. Gate 1 Customer Service told us that she understood all that but she refused to take any responsibility or compensate us for anything. This is totally wrong! We were looking forward to the trip and now we feel that we have signed up with a very dishonest company and felt cheated. We are not sure what is really in the tour since they cannot even honor their itinerary. Can anyone help us?
Please understand that regardless of how the flights are reserved, schedules are dictated by the airlines and are subject to change. Regrettably, these changes are out of the control of Gate 1. With that said, please know that we are currently reviewing this matter and will be in contact.
I booked this package with Gate 1 Travel only because all of the Eastern Mediterranean cruises in which I was interested were sold out during the window we had available for the trip (June 20-30). My overall impression is that this is a "budget" tour at a "deluxe" price. Everything is vastly overrated.
Gate1's contract hotels are not anywhere close to 5 or 4 stars, as advertised. The best, the Royal Olympic in Athens, which is billed as 5 stars, had a single restaurant, not two as advertised, and that restaurant was closed for dinner on 2 of the 3 nights we stayed there; so we had to have dinner "poolside," which, because of the temperature, was definitely not my choice. Dinner selections were extremely limited, to essentially one entree per type (chicken, beef, veal, fish, etc.), hardly the mark of a 5-star hotel, and the prices were, in a word, outrageous ... Dinner with house wine for two came in at over 100 Euros in one case and nearly that amount in the other!
The remaining hotels are worth perhaps 1 star for the Europa in Olympia and 2 for the Amalia in Delphi, and a bare 3 for the Divani in Kalambaka. The Athens city tour was brief and rushed, included entirely too much "lecturing" by the tour guide in the hot Athens sun and the ferocious wind atop the Acropolis, while not allowing enough time for unhurried photographs, did not include a visit to the fabled National Archeological Museum. And the afternoon of the second day in Athens was basically wasted, because there would have been ample "at leisure" opportunities to explore the city on the previous (arrival) day, if our flight had arrived as scheduled (see below).
However, the first really serious turn-off came when, on June 23, we had to wait in the hot sun for 30 minutes after being dropped off by the hotel pick-up bus at a so-called bus "transfer point" waiting for the tour bus to Olympia... No seats, no shade, only standing room in the direct sun... Unacceptable!!!
The overland bus trips of up to 8 hours were incredibly long and boring, with few stops for sightseeing, and some of those included disguised "shopping" opportunities. Once at a major sightseeing destination, visits often seemed too short and hurried, and were scheduled during the midday heat, rather than early mornings or late afternoons. In the case of Olympia and Delphi, visits to air-conditioned museums were scheduled in the morning, while the heat was still bearable, and before the visits to the outdoor archeological sites, which were scheduled in the full midday heat. It would seem intelligent, considerate, and feasible to reverse the sequence in both cases.
The cruise ship, Louis Hellenic Cruises' M/V Aquamarine, was yet another story. It was billed as 3 stars, yet it was far inferior to ships on which I had taken multi-day river cruises on the Yang Tse in China and the Nile in Egypt. Although I paid for a cabin upgrade and thought I was getting a "superior" outside cabin, I have never been forced to live in anything so small, so sparse, so cheap-looking, and so inconvenient. The tiny portholes were partially painted over! The worst part was the bathroom ... the shower stall was almost too small to turn around in (and I am a quite "normal" 5'10", 172 lbs) ... flimsy, shabby, without even any bath soap or other amenities.
The in-cabin safe didn't work, or at least it didn't work for me. For the first two nights on the ship, there were diesel fumes in the cabin. After I complained to the tour director, they seemed no longer to be present on the 3rd night. The restaurants were also not satisfactory to me. The main restaurant, while attractively decorated and featuring white linens and formal place settings, served lukewarm food, and it was almost impossible to get the wine steward's attention.
The "Bistro/Pub" looked like a cheap version of a McDonald's, the food on the serving line was habitually cold, one orange juice dispenser did not work, and the only reason we used that facility rather than the main restaurant for breakfast was the ease and speed of self-service versus the incredibly slow service and directed seating in the main restaurant. Then came the shore excursions sold through the cruise ship!
First, they were vastly overpriced, even though the tour guides were generally competent and knowledgeable. But up to 59.95 Euros per person for a less than a half-day tour is simply too much for the experience, especially when that experience includes more disguised solicitations/opportunities to shop. In general, the escorted portions of the shore excursions were also limited and brief, with passengers left to "explore" on their own afterward. This was especially true on Rhodes, where we were literally rushed through the old city/citadel in about one hour. At least another hour should have been allotted for a guided tour of this World Heritage site.
Finally, our experience with Gate1's contract airline, Olympic Airlines! Our outbound flight (OA 412) was originally scheduled to leave JFK at 4:30 PM, on June 20. It finally took to the air at about 1:00 AM, on June 21 ... 8-1/2 hours late, causing us to miss at least a full afternoon of "at leisure" activities in Athens! Similarly, our return flight (OA 411) was scheduled to leave Athens at 11:25 AM, on June 30. It took off over 2 hours late, at about 1:35 PM, almost causing us to miss our connecting flight at JFK.
In fairness to the airline, I will note that we were provided a room at the JFK Holiday Inn and two meals on June 20. A word about our connecting flight at JFK (Delta 5619): The plane's air conditioning did not work, and we sat on the tarmac at JFK sweating for over 1 hour because the flight also was late taking off. To add insult to injury, the stewardess served lukewarm water; on request, she added some ice cubes! My advice: Avoid Gate1, if there are any other options!
My wife and I are very experienced travelers, having toured all over the world with several tour companies, and never had any significant problems. However on a recent tour of Morocco with GATE1 TRAVEL, it did not take us long to realize that the quality of their service was well below par:
1- Four days before the trip, they completely changed the itinerary of the tour, which rendered the airline reservations we had independently made totally unusable. If it weren't for the actions of our personal travel agent, we would have been in an impossible situation. Needless to say, we were very stressed when the trip started.
2- When we arrived at the airport in Casablanca, we could not find the person responsible for our hotel transfer. After looking for him all over the arrivals area, we decided to change enough money to buy a phone card, in order to call the local GATE1 TRAVEL office for instructions. It took three phone calls, and we were told by their incompetent office manager to take a taxi to the hotel. The whole fiasco wasted about three hours of our time, and when we arrived at the hotel, the tour of the city that was included in the package had just left. The hotel in Casablanca was very dirty and dreary.
3- At the end of the tour, we were supposed to return with the group to Casablanca. Instead, the tour guide told us that we would be dropped in Marakesh, where we could take a train to Casablanca on our own. We had bought an all inclusive tour from Casablanca to Casablanca, and warned him during the tour that his paperwork was incorrect. This cost us several days of arguments with the tour guide, and many calls to their incompetent office manager. In the end, we had to wake up at 2:30 in the morning to be able to catch our early morning flight in Casablanca.
Obviously, we were wrong in assuming that we would be well cared for when we bought an all inclusive tour. Not with GATE1 TRAVEL: they drop the ball and the customers are left holding the bag big time. Belatedly, we heard from other people that these fiascoes are commonplace with GATE1 TRAVEL. Once they collect your money, you are completely at their mercy. There are many good tour companies around, but GATE1 TRAVEL is NOT one of them.
PENNSYLVANIA -- I recently took a Gate1 Travel tour to Israel. It was a one-week tour, with a local guide assigned to us for the week. This guide was rude, disrespectful and obnoxious, to us in the group as well to people we encountered on the trip. He would SCOLD us for reading guidebooks while he was talking; would rush us through sites, "promising" to let us take photos, then herding us like cattle as soon as he was done talking; he admonished other, older members of the group, for lagging behind; he was dismissive about questions we asked, particularly if he didn't like them. He made bigoted, even racist remarks about other tourists; it was an awful experience.
I had found Gate1 on the internet and have now learned the hard way to check Consumer Reports before signing up blind. I complained to Gate1 Travel to at least alert them to changing the tour operator and for a refund for the costs of the guide, I never even received an apology. I strongly recommend against anyone using this tour company.