PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA -- We enjoyed our trip to Peru and found our principal guide, Victor, to be wonderful -- well organized, informative and enthusiastic. Our hotels were above average, except for the Sonesta at Lake Titicaca. The walls were paper thin there and we could hear everything in the adjoining room.
Our one extreme disappointment was Gate 1's response to the hurricane emergency in Miami, where we were scheduled to fly to on our return. American Airlines sent us something the day we left for Peru, September 6, offering us the opportunity to receive a full credit or to change our flight on September 16, when we were scheduled to fly from Miami to Boston. (We booked the AA leg separately because we wanted to break up the trip by a day both coming and going.) The email from AA indicated there would be major travel issues on our return. As a consequence, we called Gate 1 Travel first thing on September 6th to see what we should do.
The person I spoke to said to make arrangements with the Avianca reservation folks in Miami when we went to check in for our flight. When we tried to do that, we learned that Avianca staff DOES NOT DO FLIGHT CHANGES at the airport, they all need to be done online. So we called Gate 1 back, again, to see if they could rebook us on an Avianca flight from Lima to Boston. (Simultaneously, we were checking the flights on Avianca's website on our phone.)
Although Rich in Gate 1's office did help us -- after significant pressure on my part -- he booked us a return flight for $556, although we could have booked the same flight for $450 directly from Avianca. Since we were perilously close to our departure time, we allowed Gate 1 to make the change for us. We received NO credit for the original flight. Rich indicated that Gate 1 had no influence with Avianca to cut a better deal. I find that rather preposterous since Gate 1 sends 15,000 people to Peru a year -- clearly the agency should have some clout!
This was our first experience with Gate 1 and I expected the agency would be on top of travel emergencies like hurricanes. This can't be the first experience the agency has had in dealing with a major storm. Clearly, the first person I spoke with at Gate 1 did NOT know how to correctly respond to a client in such a situation, as she advised me to do something (make the change directly with Avianca in Miami) that Avianca does not do. The uncertainty of whether we would be able to get home added extreme anxiety to our party as well as to others in the group. Our tour manager, Victor, had no information to guide us.
One of the travelers with our group, who has traveled a few times with Gate 1, made this comment, "Gate 1 is very accommodating until they receive their fee, but after that they don't want to hear from you." I would say this was certainly our experience.
FORT WASHINGTON PENNA -- Four of us took the independent Gate One Travel trip to Montecatini and think we got great value for money spent. The total price for air, hotel, car was a little less than just what the airfare alone would cost. I suggest you spend the almost two hundred and get full insurance when you arrive at the car rental. We go to Italy a lot and parking is a nightmare so someone might bump your car.
The hotel was an old, clean, worn, charming place. When you rent a car in Italy, you reserve a class of car and never a specific brand. It's best to know all the town names on your way to your arrival town because the signs are very lacking direction. We have driven many times in Italy and it is difficult, so research your trip well. The auto Strada is expensive but the minor roads go through every hill and dale and take forever. Gas is double US cost but cars get great mileage. Try to get a diesel for even better mileage. We were more than happy with Gate One and we travel extensively.
PENNSYLVANIA -- Gate1 travel - we were robbed and Gate1 has not response; nor takes responsibility. We planned a trip to Peru for 3 years - to honor my brother who passed away and love Peru. Let me start with the tour manager and organization was good; tour guide was excellent. HOWEVER, 3 days into the trip - staying at a beautiful hotel in the Sacred Valley; my sister and nephew were robbed; the safe was ripped out of the wall. Losing passports, electronics, money, etc. While the hotel responded with some concern; Gate1 did nothing to take responsibility. This was the hotel they provided and instructions were to put valuables in the safe.
It has been over a month, many, many emails, calls and Gate1 corporate has done nothing to help my sister and nephew. My nephew has used Gate1 over 6 times, and we planned another trip, however, we will never used them again. We were separated on trip as they had to fly back to Lima and spend 3 days in at the embassy - US and Peru to get new passports. Lost over half the trip due to this. And Gate1 - NOTHING. So think twice before using this tour group.
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.
We are sorry to hear that you were unhappy with the service provided by your tour manager. As for the itinerary we do include as much detail as possible about what is included however we will be sure to share your comments with our Product Development Department to review and make any necessary adjustments
ALBANY, NEW YORK -- We departed with my wife who was very very sick. No one would help us and we ended up in the hospital for quite awhile. We had insurance cancellation for both of us but these wonderful people refused to reimburse us anything before we left as they said it was too late. So we both spent two weeks in a hospital and missed most of our trip.
So if you want to give away your money... book with Gate One Travel!!! They love money and refuse to give you anything at all. And tried calling to file appeal but no one is available at all and they ALL LIE!!! Our trip was last summer!!! Glad we purchased travel cancellation for medical reasons! Do not purchase travel insurance coverage as they will never pay at all. I tried everything!!!
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.
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!