Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Review of CIE Tours

We took the CIE 16 Day Scottish & Irish Gold tour in the spring of 2017.

Our Scottish portion of the tour was excellent. We had a guide who obviously had many years experience and was a fountain of information that she loved sharing with us. She made herself available to us at our hotel stays, setting times she would be in the lobby for questions. She filled our morning bus rides with information on history, legends, etc. Afternoons, she played a soft CD of Scottish music, knowing that most would be tired and might nap. Overall, an excellent tour.

It began to fall apart when we moved to our Irish tour. We had an incredibly long drive from Edinburgh to Dublin, with a stop in Belfast to visit the Titanic Museum. All of us doing the two tours back to back (about 15 of us) were exhausted by the time we reached our Dublin hotel.

We had a brief meeting in Dublin with the tour companions we were picking up in Ireland and our guide at our hotel. This was about 8 pm after a long bus ride and we were tired and hungry.

Getting past that, we started our Ireland tour. We learned that our guide, a retired police officer, had only been doing this for about one year. He mentioned how he had applied for a job at CIE on Friday and was leading a tour on Monday. That tells you something about the training he received.

Our bus rides were filled with silence. No information about history. No tales of the areas we were driving through. I had more information on the papers I had printed out than we received on the Ireland  portion of our trip. I know for a fact that he gave us wrong information in one city. Overall, very unhappy with the guide.

I called CIE when I returned, commenting that for the ireland portion I could have just bought a guidebook or two, and taken public buses from town to town and seen and done the same for a lot less money. I asked for compensation and received none. The agent I spoke with commiserated with me and said she would send me something. Never received anything.

That said, our accommodations and included meals were excellent. We stayed in some very interesting hotels out in the countryside. We enjoyed the basic itinerary. I don't know if the influence of the guide had anything to do with it but we enjoyed Scotland more than Ireland. We found the countryside more scenic and the history very interesting.

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