An account of my family’s vacation booked/organized by Tradewinds Tour and Travel Singapore. Book with these guys and you probably will get a similar experience.
Background info: Tour package from Singapore to the west coast USA (LA, Las Vegas, San Francisco). Group size: my family (8 pax) and a very nice couple makes 10 PAX. Tour destinations: a handful of duty free shops, Disneyland, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Fisherman’s Wharf.
Overall I think these tour guides are just out for commissions from shoppers and must think very lowly of their customers intellect. From their non stop suggestions on which shops to shop at and which shops to eat at(the one restaurant we were specifically brought to was crappy both in service and quality of food). Credit to the guide (for the LA portion) for bringing us to an In and Out Burgers after I had expressed my liking for the burgers, otherwise the only other suggestion would be Panda Express (fast food chinese restaurant). The guides would do better to learn more on the areas they are bringing their customers if only to stop them from making racist comments against that particular area’s demographics. They also need to learn the difference between service charges and gratuity (tips).
One of the first things they will tell you, is that it is mandatory to tip and that the driver gets $5 per passenger per day payable to the tour guide. The tour guide gets between $5 to $10 per person per day and then proceeds to tell you about previous tour guides giving him VERY generous tips. Sounds like highway robbery to me! We had a total of 3 different guides, the first 2 were snobbish, uninformative and rude at times only the 3rd one (the one based in San Fran) was really good. On par with other tour guides at the least. The first two guides, basically, were useless, they just show up to collect their tip, it felt like. The third guy at least brought you to the places and stayed around to give you some info on the area, helped with your bags and was pleasant and courteous.
Here are some unbiased facts:
1) We booked this vacation months in advance and requested that two of the four rooms be joining. NONE of the rooms at any of the hotels were joining when we checked in, we had to request and juggle rooms within our group to get this accomplished.
The Courtyard by the Marriot Palm Springs couldn’t / wouldn’t give us joining rooms, at first, claiming they didn’t have joining rooms (I asked 2 room service attendants and both confirmed they DO have joining rooms). We couldn’t get a refund for the unused room. My kids are too young to be left unattended and we were unwilling to split our family apart on a family vacation. Judy at front desk the next morning hinted that joining rooms were possible but difficult and would require advance notice, I asked if 2 months was “advanced” enough and she apologized for not being able to help.
2) We get to Las Vegas and get a new tour guide, right off the bat he starts speaking chinese which is ok, if everyone understood but not everyone did, not even 50% of us. Me being the worst I can’t understand at all, the rest can. When asked if he can speak english he obliged. Up until we get to the Grand Canyon and he realized the majority of us were not taking any “Extra” tour things so he starts speaking mandarin with another tour guide and takes off with another group of people! Yeah really! I don’t understand much mandarin but even I understood the last sentence of “whoever is taking the helicopter tour, follow me”. That’s not the worst part, the worst is, we stayed in the gift shop area and they had some Native American performance. The kicker of it all is, the guy comes rushing up like 20 minutes later saying he was looking all over for us and we shouldn’t wander off, we should be following him. Like wow…he takes off and tries to blame me (us). Well I pulled him aside to tell him it wasn’t cool to do that, he thought he was cool and started walking towards my family still trying to blame us so my wife joins in and he realizes he lost and his last remarks were, “how do you know what I said?”. What a retard! His name is Wayne, so if you get him as your tour guide…good luck. He took off on us again a few hours later without saying a word. Also, some of my relatives went on an “extra” tour (the glass balcony thing over the Grand Canyon) and Wayne went to get the tickets, initially my kids didn’t want to go but changed their mind later so I bought the tickets myself and we found out later that I paid $15 less.
3) We get to the airport for our flight to San Francisco and Wayne tries to check us in…I say ‘tries’ because the people at the counters couldn’t find our names. We had our confirmation numbers but apparently we needed some other number which Wayne, didn’t have. So we waited while Wayne called back to the Singapore office. After some delay and panic, we were able to get on board. How can a tour company arrange a tour and mess things up like that? Unbelievable is when they tried to blame it on a computer glitch. Yeah only the 10 of us got “glitched”, right? Everyone else was checking in just fine, quite quickly too.
4) When we reach the hotel in San Fran, after the days’ tour had ended, we were informed that we didn’t have transportation to the airport for our vacation in Canada, even though it was supposed to be taken care of and confirmed. It’ll cost us about $100 more. So we got our own transport via the concierge for $75. So that ended our tour package with Tradewinds Tour and Travel Singapore.
5) Since we had booked our travel package with Tradewinds (months before) we had them book our flights to Canada as well. Guess what? Our seating on the flight was eight seats all over the place. We had to request for reassignment of seats and managed to get each kid beside an adult. Don’t know if it’s Tradewinds’ fault for not specifying we were a group and should be seated in close proximity due to the 4 children in the group but at this point, I’m going to blame it all on them anyway.
6) Flight back to Singapore, AGAIN they couldn’t find our names. In the end we didn’t miss our flight but it sucked all the same.
Our vacation was, by no means, ruined by these idiots but it wasn’t stress free as a vacation should be. Was more costly than what they indicated when we booked and would have been even more so if we believed what they told us. In my book, these guys suck and will get what they deserve.
I hope karma will let me watch when she comes around to these people.