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Mohamed Kareem Guide at Encounters Travel
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Operator's comment: Hi Melanie, Many thanks for your review. I’m delighted that you enjoyed the tour in Egypt overall, and had an amazing experience. That’s great to hear, and we’ll pass on your positive comments to our partners in Egypt and your guides. I’m sorry you weren’t happy with some other things though, and have just made a couple of notes here. As advised before you travelled, your cruise boat was the Iberotel Crown Empress, which is an Egyptian 5-star-deluxe level boat, and certainly not the oldest or cheapest on the Nile. You can be assured that there are many boats at both the 5-star-deluxe and 5-star level which do not come up to the same standard. It is a shame that they didn’t offer any Egyptian meals – the boats normally theme their dinners and have one night of the cruise with mainly Egyptian dishes, so it’s unusual that didn’t happen during your cruise. I’m sorry that the schedule of the boat was changed and cut down your daytime sailing time. Unfortunately that was out of our control, and done to help out other guests who had some issues with their own trip. I’m glad you were happy with our own flexibility for you through the tour though. That is something that we work very hard on offering as particularly for low numbers we know it can make a real difference to your enjoyment of your time in the country. We did inform you before you travelled that there were only 2 people on the tour – I can see this in the Tour Radar conversation thread between us and your friend who travelled with you on 22 March, 10 days before departure. We did run a special Egypt sale in February this year, which gave up to 50% off some tours. Unfortunately sales like this can only apply to new bookings (that’s not just our rule, but one made by our hotel and other suppliers in Egypt as well, that they are pretty strict on). So, we can’t backdate sales like this to earlier bookings, and as you booked in November we were not able to pass on the discount). We did explain this to you several times then, and despite your repeated threats then to post bad reviews of your holiday online, we had to stick to the original price that you paid, and were happy with in November.
Operator's comment: Dear Josephine, Thank you for taking the time to get back to us with your feedback. I’m sorry that you weren’t happy with the accommodations provided on this tour. This is one of our Shoestring tours which uses simple 3-star level accommodation throughout, however this isn’t an excuse for any lack of cleanliness you might have experienced. We’ll certainly be looking into this and will take action to remedy this where necessary. If you did mention these issues to your guide whilst on tour, I hope that he was able to help you in resolving any issues with your hotel rooms as this is one of their roles and they are there to help. On our Imperial Cities tour we do offer the option of upgrading to 4-star accommodation on a request basis and we recently introduced the option to upgrade to full board also (to include all meals as some members of your group had booked). On the set tour we only include 1 lunch (on day 2 in Marrakech) and I am sorry if you felt in pressured to join the full board passengers for lunch with them. In some places where we're driving and stop for lunch, it's not possible to eat anywhere else, but in others there should be some flexibility, as long as you're aware of the time you need to be ready to leave. As the Imperial Cities tour is one of our Shoestring tours we do operate the tour with a multi-lingual tour leader assisting some travellers with different first languages. Sightseeing tours are always provided for you in English though. In general we have found that this has worked well and allows us to guarantee more departure dates and offer the tour at a more favourable rate, which is what people booking shoestring level trips are often looking for. We explain this within our tour notes where we state the following: "In Morocco we provide fully trained, local English-speaking guides for all of the sightseeing tours. Our local reps in all the towns and cities en-route are also at your service, and will be handling all the practical arrangements for the tour. Please note that whilst all tours will be conducted in English we may also use multi-lingual guides to accommodate guests from other countries." Whilst sightseeing in Fez we do include a couple of shop type stops, however you are under no obligation to purchase at any of these. Overall shopping is always something that it is difficult to get right for everyone, as some people want to do lots of shopping, some none at all, and some people prefer a well established shop while others like to haggle in the markets. In Fez in particular it is more difficult to avoid visiting some shops as the Tanneries for example are best experienced from the balconies of the leather shops which tend to surround them. To access these viewing areas we do have to allow the shops to do their ‘sales pitch’, however we do believe that this is necessary as wouldn’t get the same experience of the tanneries otherwise.