As the title of our website above says, absolutely, we are “Your Trusted Cruise Experts” as after having personally taken 56 Cruises ourselves and after having booked over 24 Million dollars worth of Cruises for our clients you’ll be hard pressed to find more knowledgeable people about Cruising.
BUT, a question we’ve had often over the years is… “Do you sell other travel products?”
Till now, the answer has been “No”… we don’t sell All-Inclusives, we don’t sell DisneyWorld or DisneyLand, we don’t sell Vegas, we don’t sell flights or hotels (unless booked through a Cruiseline), we don’t piece together independent trips, etc.
As we know Cruising Inside Out/Upside Down that’s all we sell to best serve our clients…
…too many people sell things in the Travel Industry they simply don’t know enough about and many times end up putting the wrong people on the wrong products which ruins their Dream Vacations (we’ve heard that scenario play out many times from client’s previous travel experiences) and we don’t EVER want to deliver that kind of service… we want to sell what we know & have personally experienced… simple as that!
And that works for us as we have a huge repeat clientele and get a ton of referrals so no doubt people LOVE to work with Experts!
All that said, back to “Land Tours”. 🙂
We dabbled in them years ago and sold a few here & there but due to mediocre reviews from our clients (and some really bad experiences/bad complaints) we cut that aspect of our business off pretty quickly.
BUT, a few years ago we started selling “Tauck” River Cruises (here are the reasons we think they are a great choice when doing a River Cruise) & Small Ship Ocean Cruises and due to the awesome reviews we had from our clients we not only did a Tauck River Cruise ourselves (Here’s Our Review) but we started selling some Land Tours through them as well.
The result? Our clients have been thrilled!
Which makes a lot of sense since Tauck is a 90+ year old Travel company so they know what they’re doing and have access to a lot of exclusive experiences that you can’t find elsewhere due to their long-term relationship with hotels, restaurants, venues, etc.
Anyways, since our clients have been enjoying Tauck Land Tours so much and since Cruises can’t take you everywhere in the world, we figured it was time for us to venture out & try a Tauck Land Tour ourselves so we could officially announce to our clients that we now sell land tours as well. (We’re pretty much exclusively sticking with Tauck for land tours though, again, due to not so good reviews from clients who travelled with other companies.)
If you are familiar with Tauck already and would simply like more information about the day to day itinerary of our tour then you can learn all about it here at Our “Taste of the Pacific Northwest” Pictures and Videos Gallery.
Below, is all about our experience on our first ever land tour and the reasons why we’ll be recommending Tauck exclusively for that style of travel.
When we arrived to the airport a Tauck representative was there to welcome us and a suited driver & luxury Black Denali was waiting to escort us to our hotel… here is Shawn climbing aboard:
Pretty nice vehicle to make you feel special right out of the gates, right? (FYI, a year later we tried another “Land Tour” company, one of the best known companies out there, and after we were picked up at the airport at our terminal we stopped THREE MORE TIMES at the airport to pick up other people who had nothing to do with our tour… then, we made SEVEN STOPS at hotels before we were dropped off… as well, the van was horribly dirty & didn’t feel safe and what should have been a 30 minute transfer, after a long flight, turned into 1.5 hrs!!)
Above though is a great example of the QUALITY of this tour and the other land tours you can expect with Tauck… they DON’T cheap out like the competition does to save a few bucks on things like transfers.
You can also expect to stay in some of the best hotels in whichever cities you are visiting! (known names where we stayed on this tour were Four Seasons & Westin for example)
Their Hotel locations are well thought out so that when you have free time you are purposefully a hop, skip and a jump from all the attractions…
For example, the modern & lovely Hotel Grand Pacific where we stayed in Victoria, British Columbia Canada is located on the stunning harbor (AKA: the place you want to be when visiting this beautiful city) and right next door to two of the most iconic buildings in the city– the Parliament Building & Empress Hotel, see the pictures below.
Back to the airport transfer above… Tauck does this unique thing where they include your transfer on both ends no matter what day you arrive or leave to their official hotel & even if you book extra days with the hotel direct. This is rare as with other companies you will have to pay $50-$150+ per person for their transfer and/or have strict conditions where they will only transfer you to a hotel booked through them and as a large bus group, meaning you may have to sit and wait for other flights to come in. Not fun!!
We found that Tauck does a lot of unique things you won’t find other tour companies doing to make the trip special for guests!
On the first evening for example we had a Welcome Reception with some of the finest local drinks and gourmet appetizers & a Welcome Dinner after… many companies simply check you in Day 1 and say “See you tomorrow morning” to start the tours.
(TIP: This is the night that you want to pull out your best packed outfit as most people dress up a little more here even though the welcome package you receive from Tauck when you check in says “casual”… no suits & gowns here but everyone for sure looked well presented that night! 🙂 That said, during the entire journey you are welcome to dress casual as we did. Be sure to read over the materials you receive from Tauck before you leave home and pack as you see fit. Feel free to Check out our pictures to see how we dressed!)
At the welcome reception we went around the room to introduce ourselves and our Tauck Director asked us to tell how many Tauck trips we had been on in the past. Many people had been on 5-10 previous trips with Tauck and one couple had been on 21 Tauck tours. Wow… now that will tell you something about their loyal guests and why their tours & Cruises sell out well in advance of their competitors. (We’ve seen many of Tauck’s trips sell out 1.5-2 years in advance so you need to book early with these guys as they have a super loyal clientele!)
We spoke to that couple later and they said they used to travel on their own but with the headaches and stress of trying to NOT get lost or trying to find a good place to eat or good hotel to stay in etc, etc, they were happy to pay (and as they said, the total price almost always comes to the same whether on your own or with an organized trip) a reputable company to have every aspect arranged so they could actually relax & enjoy their vacation…
…no shocker there because we have been frustrated in the past too and hear horror stories from some clients describing how trips got ruined. No thanks!
Speaking of ruining a vacation… lets talk about the size of tour groups…
The SIZE of your Group truly is a BIG DEAL and can essentially ruin a vacation!
You’ve probably heard us mention this before (how the quality of a Viking River Cruise is lower then say a Tauck/Uniworld/AMA Cruise, etc. due to this… how Carnival is much lower rated then a Celebrity, Celebrity is lower rated then say Regent, etc.) but if you spend a lot of time waiting for others, feeling like herded cattle or you cannot see a demonstration or show because it’s crowded, you are NOT going to be happy!
Luckily, Tauck keeps the tour groups small & comfortable enough that you don’t feel like a number and in the brochure they will specify if they are “small groups” of 26 maximum guests- which by their standards are even more private because…
…a regular group size for Tauck is 44 guests maximum which is again is a little smaller then most tour companies…
That is what we experienced and we have to tell you that we FELT like we were in a small group and had no issues whatsoever. (And we would tell you, because our pet peeve is feeling like cattle which we try to avoid like the plague. LOL)
To make our vacation even better they broke our group into smaller groups when we did some local tours to make them more immersive, so that was wonderful!
How Did We Get From City to City??
Well, we didn’t just bus it to each destination, we had a mix of exciting transportation to get us from place to place which were some of the highlights of the trip and as for our luggage, we put it by the door inside our room and voila, the luggage magically appeared in the next city’s hotel room for us! How nice is that!! 🙂
As for the transit from one city to the next, on this tour we took two ferry rides through the most scenic region where we kept an eye out for whales and other marine life — it was like a tour all in itself…
…THEN, not only did we have a tour of one of the most beautiful National Historic Sites in Canada, located in Victoria, British Columbia called Butchart Gardens…
…AND had scrumptious High Tea in the former residence of the Butchart’s…
…we also took a chartered 30 minute scenic float plane ride!! 🙂 🙂
That’s right, from the garden’s private dock we took a scenic adventure and “made an entrance” into beautiful Vancouver, Canada which as many of you know, is where we call home.
It’s one of Tauck’s “Exclusive Events” meaning their guests get access to places and excursions that others cannot. BIG smile!!!
We talk about these Exclusives in “Reason # 2” of our post about their River Cruises. If you’d like to learn more, here is the link: https://www.shawnpower.com/tauck-river-cruiseline-advantages-over-other-river-cruise-lines/
See some of the pictures of our float plane ride below, here is Shawn getting ready to go.
As for our bus rides, Tauck made these very enjoyable- but we have to be honest, we were a bit hesitant about them because, lets face it, the thoughts of being on a bus sounds boring… But not with Tauck!!
One bus ride we watched short documentaries to acquaint us with the local culture in between enjoying the scenery and we took time to stretch our legs plus our wonderful Tauck Director, Donna, would make us all laugh and surprise us with little treats along the way. 🙂
One time we stopped at a picnic area where we drank in the freshest air and we were served homemade cookies and coffee…
Everyone was so happy filling their bellies with hot coffee and a variety of soft gooey cookies! 🙂
Our bus driver, Edmund, who was with us from start to finish, he was SO friendly. He remembered all our names (we are always envious of people who can do that!) and would put red carpet down as we stepped off the bus.
Tip: Have layers with you for the bus. Nancy is not an air conditioning fan and some parts of the bus can be cooler than others so she brought a sweater along.
Onboard our spotless bus we enjoyed hand made signs with our names on them, check out the picture below…
What was better was the fact that these designed signs served a smart purpose!
They were used each day to provide assigned rotating seating on the bus so it was fair for every guest. There is no need to rush to the bus early for a good seat or begrudge certain guests for taking the best seats every time. Nobody else does this that we know of and we think it’s brilliant. 🙂
One of the other things that Tauck says that makes them different from other companies is their professional & knowledgeable staff… and boy, were they right!
Our Tauck Director, Donna, who has been with Tauck for 28 years was one of the most cheeriest & one of the most knowledgeable people we have ever met, no exaggeration! (When we tried selling tours years ago the # 1 complaint from our clients was about their tour’s unimpressive guide… most who were independent contractors who jump from company to company unlike Tauck’s employees who’ve been with them for years) She challenged us all to mention things we wanted to learn about in the city we were entering and she nailed it with lots of fun & informative facts.
Because Tauck’s “Directors” are employees and we were not (as many companies do) handed off to 3rd Party guides who simply are not “invested” in our happiness, Donna & Edmund were attentive. We could feel their presence and noticeably we saw them making sure everyone was enjoying themselves.
Plus, this is a BIGGIE!! You don’t need to worry about a Tauck Director giving you recommendations only to pocket money from the vendors. Tauck sells no extra tours on their trips & their Directors never make commission on recommendations. Any ideas or tips they give are 100% genuine — and we like that!!
You See The “Very Best” Each City Has To Offer!
Each day on the tour we had quality excursions planned for us to see the very best of what each city had to offer, not fillers to keep us busy.
And rather than show you the entrance to buy tickets for the top rated attraction (we’ve had many experiences like that on shore excursions over the years) Tauck will include the entrance fees because they want you to have a m-e-m-o-r-a-b-l-e vacation!
For example, when we were in Seattle, not only did they take us to famous Pike Place Market (most companies literally drop you there to explore and say see you in a couple of hours) but Tauck broke us into 3 smaller groups and we did a tasting tour that everyone raved about afterwards! It’s rare companies do in depth tours like this as it raises their prices which means they can’t sell their trips as “The Cheapest” compared to their competitors. What you’ll learn after doing a Tauck trip or 2 though is their prices are almost always more then their competitors but it’s due to they include much, much more in their prices which leads to “The Best” experience… so, if overall experience/value are more important to you on your Vacations then “Cheapest Price” then traveling with Tauck is probably a fit for you.
The lines to get food from some of these places were astronomical but we didn’t have to line up at all. Our guide would make a quick call and say, “we are on or way” and upon arrival to each vendor they would immediately hand out lots of food for us to taste. Check out Pike Place Market & some of our yummy tastings below:
Another example was the “tasting” we did at a “Cider” Farm. We didn’t just stand uncomfortably for 1 hour while they explained the entire process and then received mediocre tastings, no, we sat and had a nice smorgasbord plate & sampled award winning cider with seconds if you liked. 🙂
We try to run our business in an under-promising and over-delivering way and so does Tauck… we truly respect businesses who do that!
For instance, one day the itinerary might say “lunch is on your own” but they include a tasting that will fill your tummy and there is no way you can eat lunch after that and you may recall us mentioning earlier about have cookies and coffee somewhere as a treat… that kind of thing. 🙂
Particularly on this tour Tauck says “alcohol not included” but there were MANY instances where they did have quality alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks flowing. And since we were in “our neck of the woods” we know the good and bad wineries in this area so we were noddingly impressed with the selections.
And of course we would be crazy if we didn’t mention what we thought of the Restaurants and Food included in the tour…
Not only was breakfast included each morning at the lovely hotels we stayed in but you may recall…
The name of our tour was called “A Taste of the Pacific Northwest” and it truly was taste taste taste!! Our taste buds & tummies were over the moon happy.
…we dined on the freshest, best quality local ingredients (as importantly– we didn’t have to prepare it or clean up- YAY!!) and had plenty of choices on the menu for delicious entrees, check out some pictures we took for you:
…and the locations of the restaurants!!
Some were right on the water timed perfectly so we could all enjoy the sunset views or on a hill top with a roaring outdoor patio fireplace lit over-looking the city with breathtaking scenery with free flowing cocktails. Have a look at our pictures below (lets just say, we felt VERY special and honored to be apart of such a wonderful group & tour):
OK. OK. So we gave you all the good stuff. What about the bad?
Well, you really need to check it out for yourself to know 100% if you’d like Land Tours again and again, but for us, we will definitely do more of them in the future with Tauck and only Tauck as we simply like being treated special and experiencing the best…. but that’s just us.
We will say that there are Pros to both cruises and land tours.
With cruises, you only unpack once which we love and you can sit and enjoy the views from your balcony instead of taking a bus BUT on a land tour you can see places & things that you cannot see from a cruise.
It’s really a matter of asking yourself “where do I want to explore?” and finding the best options for those bucket list places.
Luckily, Tauck offers River Cruises and some Small Ship Ocean Cruises and Land Tours and a nice part about them is that…
…not a single guest pays less then their fellow travel companions for the same room/tour as they have integrity in the way they price and never lure people with discounts, 2 for 1 rates, 50% off, free air, etc. as “they price their vacations fairly from day 1”. Which is another reason why they sell out super early!
Who Are The clientele?
We met all walks of life on this trip (Doctors, Business Owners, Teachers, Retired people, etc.) but one thing for sure you can expect of your fellow Tauck clientele is it to be people who want high quality & high value & don’t want to be disappointed after traveling so far to experience a new destination so if you resonate with that, then they may be a good fit for you too!
Well, there you go, we hope you enjoyed our review!
If you want to learn more about our Tauck Land Tour you can check out Our Picture & Video Gallery and if you have more questions, you know Shawn enjoys hearing from you…
…you can contact him here and he’ll help you get your Dream “Tauck” Land Tour or River Cruise or Small Ship Ocean Cruise turned into a Reality!
We appreciate you!!
Nancy & Shawn
Your Trusted Cruise Experts!