If you have been reading my most recent posts, you would have seen that Jeremy and I recently went on an East Coast and Canadian tour.

Route Planning
Route Planning

We have never done a guided tour holiday before and I’m sure a few of you reading this won’t have done one either.

I’m writing this post as I would have found a review like this really helpful before I went away!

Let’s keep things jolly and start with the highs!

VALUE

CONVENIENCE

EFFICIENCY

 

#1 VALUE

Considering we have flown to the states, had quite a long time away (12 days), and done so much the holiday really hasn’t cost that much!

We paid about £500 for the tour which I remember thinking was worryingly cheap at the time of booking.

My Dad loves the phrase “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. So I was worried the whole thing was a total scam!

If that’s your worry about this tour, don’t worry, it’s legit!

Sunset from the Empire State Building
Sunset from the Empire State Building

I booked in January so we got a great offer (22% off the original price). As it was so cheap, we opted for the deluxe version as this guarantees that you’ll stay in nice hotels.

It’s worth paying the extra as we stayed in some amazing hotels like Doubletree by Hilton and Crown Plaza. A lot of the time they had swimming pools, hot tubs and gyms. These hotels were great to relax at in the evenings, especially after so many hours on a coach!

Doubletree by Hilton, Boston
Doubletree by Hilton, Boston

I went on booking.com sometimes to see how much a night in our hotels would be, and the cheapest one I saw was £120.

So just on the hotels we had made our money back and more!

On top of that, I can’t even begin to imagine how much it would cost to travel to all the places we went to by yourself!

#2 CONVENIENCE

This tour literally made the holiday so easy!

You don’t have to be up late planning the route you want to drive or the train you need to catch.

Just wake up at the time they tell you and meet the tour bus outside the hotel.

Breakfast in Quebec
Breakfast in Quebec

They have everything planned out from what hotel we will be staying in that night, to the excursions we will be doing that day!

This is largely why Jeremy and I chose the tour to be honest…

We’ve had a really busy year with starting new jobs and moving to a new city, that we wanted to do a big holiday but we didn’t want the weeks of planning that goes into it!

So this has been a really great option for us! I’ve seen so many places I wanted to see and ticked a number of things off my bucket list like getting up close to the Niagara Falls!

#3 EFFICIENCY

If you want a relaxing holiday, this isn’t for you!

But if you want to see as much as possible in a relatively small amount of time, then this tour is for you!

We travelled to:

  • Philadelphia
  • Washington DC
  • Niagara Falls (US side)
  • Niagara Falls (Canadian side)
  • Toronto
  • Thousand Islands
  • Ottawa
  • Montreal
  • Quebec
  • Boston
  • New York

And, we were driven to the heart of everything! We barely walked to be totally honest

I remember when we were in Toronto we were dropped right on the Harbour to do the Cruise. After the cruise I assumed we would walk to our next excursion, which was the CN tower as we were probably only a 15 minute walk away…

Views from the CN tower, Toronto
Views from the CN tower, Toronto

But no! We all piled back into the bus to be driven around the corner to the CN tower.

Admittedly, this wasn’t great for my step counter! But it did save us a lot of time overall, which meant we could pack loads into the tour!

But not only did they conveniently drop us right outside all of the attractions, most the time we skipped the queues as well!

Most places we went to had a ‘group queue’ and we would usually have special tickets that would get us into this much shorter, sometimes non-existent queue.

We didn’t have to queue at all for a number of things such as the Skylon Tower and all the cruises we went on!

View of the Falls from Skylon Tower
View of the Falls from Skylon Tower

This made the sightseeing very efficient!

So that’s a few of the highs, but what were the lows?

ENGLISH AREN’T CATERED FOR

RUDE

RUSHED

 

#1 ENGLISH AREN’T CATERED FOR

We booked our tour HERE.

You’ll note this link takes you to a UK website called Tours4fun. And all of the ‘reviews’ on that page are reviewing Tours4fun.

Although, in reality the tour wasn’t with Tours4fun at all!

Luckily we did our research a couple of weeks before so we weren’t in shock when we got there.

But basically, that particular tour we went on was operated by the Chinese tour company L&L travel!

Our L&L Travel tour guide
Our L&L Travel tour guide

There were two other British girls on the tour who said they found the same, they booked through a different English website that made no note of the tour being operated by someone else!

The tour guide that we had for most of the tour (every day apart from the first and last day) spoke really good English. But not everyone did.

One particularly bad experience happened on the day we landed…

LHR to JFK
LHR to JFK

We gave them our flight details in advance so they knew which terminal and what time to meet us at the airport. Although when we arrived they were no where to be seen!

We called the emergency number off a borrowed phone and waited around for over an hour before someone turned up! He barely spoke English and didn’t tell us what was going on!

We were absolutely exhausted and it was already 2am UK time so we just wanted to get back to the hotel! Although they dropped us in Flushing for an hour and then we had to drive through the centre of New York to pick more people up before we could go to our hotel!

This made us so worried about how the rest of the tour would be organised. But luckily it was never that bad again!

Overall though, I would say that they don’t catered to the English that well as it is a Chinese tour.

Everything was said in Chinese first and we would have to wait to know what was going on. The Chinese customers would always be first to have their questions answered and every evening (despite being in America and Canada) we would be dropped outside a Chinese restaurant for dinner!

The dinner situation annoyed me the most, because I just can’t understand why you would want to go to a new country and not try the local cuisine.

We never actually ate at any of the Chinese restaurant as there was usually supermarkets nearby, or we would eat earlier in the day or get room service.

Room Service
Room Service

#2 RUDE

Throughout the tour the people running it and other people on it were just plain rude.

We spoke to the other English girls about this early on in the holiday and they put it down to cultural differences, which is probably a fair assessment.

We met the British girls on our first full day. We were all about to get on the bus but they were struggling with their suitcases. My boyfriend Jeremy offered to help straight away!

Afterwards they laughed and explained to us that the day before they had the same problem and joked that “if there was an English man on this tour, he would offer to help us with our bags”. No other man on the tour including the guide, bus driver and passengers offered to help them before!

Day 1 Stop 1- Independence Hall, Philadelphia
Day 1 Stop 1- Independence Hall, Philadelphia

Another case of passengers being rude was when I was getting on the bus. Clearly one of the men thought they were more important than me, as he let Jeremy on and then pushed me off the first step back off the bus so he could get in before me! I was in shock but just laughed it off!

Although there were two occasions that were harder to laugh off.

The first one being when we were trying to get back on the bus after the CN tower. The tour guide had text the Chinese passengers but not the English, that they were extending the meeting time by 20 minutes.

We didn’t know this so we went onto the bus as it was parked up and the doors were open. We got on to find the miserable bus driver sat in our seats, feet up and eating. We asked if we could sit down and he gave us the most repulsive look I have ever seen.

I looked around like what do we do. When the tour guide came on and said “get off, he’s on his break now”. We would have appreciated a text like everyone else, but as I already said.

They don’t treat the English as well as the Chinese!

Finally, the tour guide was rude to us when we were in Montreal.

We were dropped at the Olympic stadium with literally nothing else around. Everyone else had already paid for their tickets through the tour but this didn’t really interest us at the time!

Olympic Stadium Observatory
Olympic Stadium Observatory

Although, when we got there we saw it was only $18 CAD for students so we went up to book.

I asked the tour guide if this was ok with him. He turned away from me, huffed and then looked back at me and said “just f*ck off”.

Now this shocked me! I know they make more money if we book through them but we weren’t given any warning!

#3 RUSHED

One of the positives I mentioned was how efficient the tour was. But sometimes it didn’t feel particularly efficient but just very rushed!

For instance in Ottawa, the Canadian capital. We were only given an hour to explore the sights, get lunch and go to the loo.

Parliament Building, Ottawa
Parliament Building, Ottawa

This just seems like an offensive amount of time! We got to see the parliament buildings but not much else!

It just didn’t feel like we were giving the city the time it deserved.

It was the same in Montreal. Here was one of the rare occasions where we were dropped in the city centre for dinner! Everyone else booked onto a prepaid Chinese Buffet. But Jeremy and I found an amazing steak house called ‘Keg’.

8oz Sirloin Steak, Keg Steakhouse
8oz Sirloin Steak, Keg Steakhouse

The food was incredible, but we were forced to rush our main and ask for the bill while we were still eating as we were only given 2 hours to eat and explore the sights.

Luckily we were only a 5 minute walk from the Notre Dame. But once again, it felt as though we didn’t give the city the time that it deserved.

IN SUMMARY

If you want to see a lot of places on a shoestring, this tour is for you!

Although we didn’t get as much time in some places as we would have liked, we still still manage to see almost everything on our list!

Hornblower Cruise, Niagara Falls
Hornblower Cruise, Niagara Falls

With a tour like this you are handing over control to the tour guide. In some ways this is great as it means you don’t have to worry about all the planning and organisation.

However, it also means that you don’t really have much of say about how much time you have in each place and exactly where you go e.g. for dinner.

In England being sworn at and pushed would be unacceptable.

But as we were on holiday we were able to brush it off quite quickly and still enjoy ourselves!

This tour was an experience that I will never forget! I’m so glad we did it, but I’m also glad we booked 3 days in New York at the end as we were definitely in need of some time to ourselves, doing things at our own pace!

Thanks for reading!

If you have any questions, please get in touch. 

Abbie-Fitter4Travel

P.S. If you want to stay up to date with all my latest travels and fitness updates, please follow me on Instagram HERE

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