HERNDON, VIRGINIA -- My wife and I booked a Global Gate tour around the end of April of this year. I was somewhat hesitant as my mother, who was 88, had not been in the best of health. However, she was healthy enough to still be living in an independent living facility.
After booking, I called several travel insurance companies but ended up not taking out a policy because of the embedded language referring to preexisting conditions – I had a feeling that any of them could have come up with an escape clause of some sort in the event of a cancellation. The trip, a 15-day land tour starting in Istanbul and ending in Athens, was to begin on May 29 and we were to leave the U.S. on the 28th.
While visiting my brother and his family in Atlanta over the weekend of May 16, my mother very unexpectedly became quite ill and had to be rushed to the emergency room. Her condition continued to deteriorate in the hospital. On May 20, I called Global Gate and advised that I would have to cancel the trip. I told them I had no travel insurance and their sympathetic response was that they would try to get up to a 100% refund.
On May 25, after a brief stay in Hospice, my mother passed away. My wife and I made a return trip to Jacksonville on the morning of the 26th in order to pack for the funeral. I reconnected with Global Gate at this time, and they requested copies of both the Hospice admission papers and the death certificate. We did not expect to receive the death certificate until the time of the funeral (in Virginia) but we did fax the requested Hospice paperwork.
Upon our final return to Jacksonville, on June 1, we contacted Global Gate again to inform them that there would be a further delay in our receipt of the death certificate, due to the number of hands that it had to pass through prior to completion. We advised Global Gate that we would forward the death certificate as soon as we had it in hand. My wife was able to download a copy of the official obituary from my mother's hometown newspaper, and we faxed that to them as a piece of additional documentation.
At the time, I found that all these requests somewhat strange since the conditions at the website make no reference to documentation when a partial refund (25% if 21-7 days prior to services) is being requested. However, having first my mother's illness, and then her funeral foremost on my mind and considering the promise of up to a 100% refund, we did as they asked.
Some weeks later, on June 25, we finally received copies of the death certificate and I faxed this to Global Gate. The next day I called and they advised that they would have to forward the certificate to Istanbul and wait for their reply. Several days passed and I called again only to be told that they would offer the published 25% published allowance.
I understand that we were only due the 25% refund as advertised but feel like we have been lied to regarding a more equitable refund during a very trying time for my family. I think the only purpose of providing them with the previously mentioned paperwork was to get Global Gate “their” refunds on the various bookings on hotels, airfare, ferry tickets, and the like at my expense. I think they took advantage of a family's tragic circumstances to make a buck.
HERNON, VIRGINIA -- As a honeymoon, my wife and I purchased the “Grand Tour of Egypt” vacation package as well as an additional 2 night extension to Petra, Jordan for 2 people totaling $8750 USD from Global Gate Vacations (Herndon, Virginia, USA). We believe that substantial portions of itinerary promised by Global Gate Vacations were never delivered and fraud was committed despite timely and full payment. Below is an itemized list of the non-authorized changes made to our itinerary by Global Gate Vacations and their Egyptian travel agent counterpart Ancient Royal Tours.
(1) The original itinerary promised 3 days and 2 nights in Sharm El Sheikh. Upon our arrival to Egypt we were given a new itinerary with only 2 nights and 1 day in Sharm El Sheikh. During our trip, with only 12 hours of notice given, we were informed by the local Global Gate / Ancient Royal Tours Luxor contact (Ibrahim) that one day in Sharm El Sheikh was changed to an extra day in Luxor.
According to our local Global Gate / Ancient Royal Tours contact, Ibrahim, the travel agency was unable to secure a morning or early afternoon flight to Sharm El Sheikh as promised and detailed on our itinerary. This left us with a day spent in Luxor rather than Sharm El Sheik, which was not agreed upon on the original itinerary.
We inquired with our local travel agent and he told us “there are no flights from Luxor to Sharm El Sheikh before 8pm” and since we had no place to go, we would have to check into a Luxor hotel to spend the day instead of heading to the airport. Later, when we inquired directly with Egypt Air, we learned that 9 flights were capable of getting us to Sharm earlier that day. This is different than what our travel agent had told us, and different than what the original itinerary had stated from Global Gate Vacations.
We believe that the local Global Gate agent lied to us in an attempt to avoid a potentially more costly early morning flight, or even worse, hide the fact that no flight was ever booked ahead of time relegating us to last minute stand-by status on a late night flight (despite having booked the trip 3 months earlier). This cost us one day in Sharm El Sheikh.
(2) Global Gate/Ancient Royal Tours never booked a hotel room for Sharm El Sheikh leaving us with no place to stay upon arrival. When we finally arrived to Sharm El Sheik at 21:00 after having lost a day that was promised on our itinerary, we were stunned to learn our promised hotel (Movenpick Jolie Ville) had no vacancy. We spoke directly to the hotel manager who informed us Global Gate/Ancient Travel never made a booking for us.
After 2 hours of sitting in the hotel lobby with our luggage and my direct dealings with the hotel staff, a room awaiting repairs was made available to us out of pity on the hotel's behalf (at that time it was already 23:00 and we had no place to sleep that evening). The local Global Gate/Ancient Travel agent, Yasser was useless and the room was acquired through my direct dealings with the hotel.
The room, unfortunately, was only for one night and we were left to find accommodation for the next night. The Movenpick agent informed us that the odds of finding a room in Sharm on such short notice were slim due to the demand of high season. The stress of not knowing where we would be staying for the next night ruined the atmosphere for the next day in Sharm El Sheikh.
(3) Because of no vacancy in Sharm El Sheikh, we were required to waste our only day in Sharm El Sheikh trying to book a hotel room for ourselves at a different resort. Finding a room, as well as checking out of the Movenpick hotel, packing up our belongings, transferring to a different hotel, checking in, and settling in wasted the majority of our only free day.
Hotel staff kindly asked us to pack our bags and check out of the Sharm El Sheikh Movenpick Jolie Ville, which we did at 1 pm. We again sat in the hotel lobby of the Movenpick because our Global Gate/Ancient Travel Agent could not find accommodation for another 2 hours. Eventually, only after I insisted, a room became available at the Sharm El Sheikh “Intercontinental” resort. We were transferred to there and checked in around 15:00 and learned that the resort was the “Continental” not the “Intercontinental”.
However, since we had no other place to stay, we did not object. Due to the ridiculous uncertainty of where we were supposed to be spending each night, our remaining one true day in the beach resort of Sharm was wasted sitting in hotel lobbies and transfers instead of sitting on the beach. We regret ever visiting Sharm El Sheikh. At this point of our trip, poor planning on behalf of Global Gate/Ancient Royal Tours required us to check into/out of 4 hotels in less than a 36-hour time span.
Our travel agent in Sharm, Yasser, repeatedly lied to us regarding our dismal time in Sharm. At one point, he asked us to stop talking to the Movenpick hotel staff because “they do not know what they are talking about” and this is “his world”. He repeatedly urged us to disregard the hotel's request that we immediately check out and urged us to leave our luggage and valuables in the room while he “took care of the problem”.
After several hours of watching heated discussion between Yasser and the Movenpick staff in Arabic, we asked that all discussion take place in English, not Arabic, so that we can understand the problems regarding our accommodation. Yasser refused to speak to the hotel agents in English knowing that we did not understand Arabic in an effort to conceal the real problem. Only through the benevolence of the hotel staff, were we actually informed that we had no booking and it was because Global Gate/Ancient Royal Tours never made a booking.
(4) The transfer from Egypt to Jordan was completely misrepresented by Global Gate/Ancient Royal Tours. There was no “meet and assist” upon transfer for the 13-hour excursion until arriving in Jordan leaving us extremely vulnerable in a hostile environment.
After awakening in the Continental Resort in Sharm, we had to quickly check out at 9:30 am to begin our “few hours” transfer to the next leg of our trip to Petra Jordan. Our Global Gate/Ancient Tours agent informed us of a 2 hour drive from Sharm to Nuweiba, Egypt where we would catch the 1 hour high-speed ferry to Aqaba, Jordan followed by a few hour drive to Petra.
Rather than “transfer, meet and assist” as promised, we were simply abandoned at the port of Nuweiba by our non-English speaking taxi driver. Only after spending 4 hours at the port without promised “meeting and assisting and transfers” did we figure out that the ferry was running 4 hours late.
At the Ferry terminal, no one spoke English, there were no English signs, and we were often harassed by locals. This was not a “tourist” ferry. There were no working toilets and the putrid conditions of the terminal were riddled with millions of flies. We arrived to Aqaba at 9 pm, much different than the scheduled time of 3pm. We did not arrive to Petra until nearly midnight on April 14, 2008. The travel agent who was awaiting our arrival in Aqaba was furious because he was told by Global Gate/Ancient Royal Tours that we were supposed to arrive at noon and had been waiting 9 hours.
Overall, it took us 13 hours to reach Petra – much different than the high-speed ferry was billed. Once again, an entire day of our trip was wasted – this time sitting in a disgusting third world ferry station getting bitten by flies and getting sexually harassed by Arab men – so that our travel agent could save extra money.
(5) Our original itinerary included two nights in Petra, Jordan. A change was made from our itinerary from two nights in Petra, Jordan to one night in Petra and another in Amman, Jordan. Despite having made this change to our itinerary prior to departing, we were forced to spend a night in Amman Jordan rather than two nights in Petra as we requested and paid for.
We are experienced travelers who travel abroad regularly and typically do not whine or complain and understand the difficulties associated with travelling in lesser-privileged countries such as Jordan and Egypt. We feel, however, that the aforementioned issues are not matters of unfortunate coincidence but calculated decisions made by Global Gate/Ancient Royal Tours as a result of poor planning, or even worse, to save money.
We paid a premium for an itinerary that was agreed upon by the Global Gate Vacations and my family prior to departure, and the items we paid for were substituted resulting in a vacation experience that failed to meet the expectations. We feel the business transaction with Global Gate Vacations is fraudulent, as promised items were not delivered. I would strongly avoid any business interactions with Golden Gate Travel. We contacted them upon returning home and never got a response.