Our agent with this travel company helped my father, sister, and me plan a two-week trip to Australia in April 2016. Our final itinerary consisted of 4 nights in Melbourne, 2 nights in Uluru, 4 nights in Port Douglas, and 2 nights in Sydney. Our main interest was exploring Australia's wildlife and natural beauty, and our agent worked with us via email and phone conversation to tailor our tours to our interest. Our agent was responsive to our emails and requests during the trip planning process and did a good job of sticking to our desired budget. Several weeks before our departure date, our agent held a helpful video conference with my sister and me to review our trip details and answer any questions we had.
Overall, we very much enjoyed the trip itself. We found the pace of the itinerary to be exactly what we wanted, neither too rigorous nor too slow. From a logistical perspective, our transfers were all on-time and we checked into all of our hotels without any problems. We particularly liked the hotel in Melbourne as well as the hotel in Sydney. The hotel in Uluru was fine, whereas the Villa in Port Douglas left much to be desired (ants in the bed, cockroaches in the kitchen, dirty floors).
The tour companies were very professional, and for the most part, high quality and worthwhile. We particularly enjoyed the Field of Lights display in Uluru, Daintree 4WD tour, Skyrail and Kuranda Scenic Rail tour, and the Penguin tour on Philip Island. The culture walk in Melbourne was enjoyable but less interesting as it did not align as well with our interests in wildlife and nature. The Sydney Tour was our least favorite; the tour guide was very condescending and the entire feel of the tour was similar to a hop-on-hop-off bus tour with mostly drive-by views of city sites.
Our main complaint with our agent is his lack of attention to details. Leading up to the trip, there were multiple instances in the planning process when he made small errors that made us worry. For example, his invoice amount was incorrect several times; he scheduled our video conference for the wrong date/time; I had to remind him to reserve pre-assigned seats for our domestic flights. We had one major incident on our trip that was also partly due to our agent's lack of meticulousness. For our snorkeling tour of the Great Barrier Reef, we were told as we were checking in that they had our reservation booked for 2 people, not 3 people. The representative checking us in was incredibly rude and unaccommodating, refusing to help us find a solution while stating that we could neither receive a refund nor pay to add a third person. Our father decided to stay behind and allow my sister and me to go on the tour. At the last minute, the captain allowed my father to join, but the morning incident ruined the whole day for us. It turned out that there had been a mix-up between our agent and the tour company such that we had paid for 3 people but our booking was recorded as 2 people. Although the fault lay mainly with the tour company, our agent also failed to catch the error in the confirmation sent to him by the tour company. I do appreciate though that our agent helped us coordinate with the tour company to receive a full refund for the tour.
Overall, my family and I had a wonderful time on our trip to Australia and made some fantastic memories. Most of the tours were very much to our liking and aligned with our interest in exploring the natural beauty of Australia. The snorkel tour incident was the biggest disappointment during the trip, but luckily, the incident was resolved professionally and it did not ruin the entire trip for us.
Lights display in Uluru, Daintree 4WD tour, Skyrail and Kuranda rail tour, and the Penguin tour on Philip Island
- Obviously, avoid the snorkel tour incident
- Spend 3 nights in Melbourne and 3 nights in Sydney (rather than 4 and 2, respectively)
- Stay at a different hotel than the one in Port Douglas
- Skip the Sydney Tour
TRAVEL COMPANY COMMENTS:
Hi Grace, Again, I am so sorry for the mixup at snorkeling tour. While the error was theirs you are right, I did not catch it. I’m glad that in the end it worked out and getting it for free should have taken some of the sting out. I hope that you enjoyed the snorkeling with them anyway. I know that city tours are not for everyone but it’s a simple fact that if you don’t do one you won’t get a feel for the city in a short amount of time. There are dozens of operators in every city offering them but over the years I think I’ve narrowed it down to the best. Personally I generally prefer the ones on bikes but I didn’t think that would work for your father. In Sydney though Bondi and Manly Beaches are too far for bikes anyway. Interesting about the hotel you were unhappy with. My daughter and I stayed there last June and it was fine then. It’s nothing fancy of course, but you can’t beat the location and the price is sure right.
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