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dancermom09

Rome Optional Tour with Included Lunch- Warning!

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We've been back from the Mediterranean Odyssey cruise on the Sea for a week. We really enjoyed almost everything about the cruise. There were a few blips, we were sick for two days, Manfredi's served me the wrong meal (I have an allergy), but the thing I still seem to be mad about is this tour so I'm posting a "review rant".

 

Had a hard time deciding which tour to take. We've never been to Rome and wanted to see as much as possible, as well as inside at least part of the Vatican. Finally settled on the "Fountains, Monuments & Cathedrals" tour at $179 each. Did not register that this tour included lunch.

 

Our tour guide was terrific. No complaints there. We drove by the Coliseum and a couple of other ruins, getting off near the Trevi. Had some free time there, then walked by some more sites, toured the Pantheon, had 20 minutes free at Piazza Navona. Nice tour so far.

 

This is where it got weird. The guide told us we were going to lunch, just 20 minutes more. Then proceeded to lead us through the city for about 35-40 minutes to a restaurant. Here's the meal we had; a glass of red wine about the quality of Two Buck Chuck; pasta with canned tomato sauce; Two slices of boiled beef that you might remember from school lunches, a bit of iceberg lettuce salad, some limp potato wedges. Then a small square of tiramisu and half a shot of espresso.

 

We then walked several more blocks to meet the bus to take us to the Vatican, where we had a guided tour of the Basilica. We did get to go through the group line.

 

I later found out that our tour was basically the Included walking tour. Except they got a stop at the Coliseum and the Spanish steps. They also got time for lunch on their own at Piazza Navona. One of the Included Tour guides got tickets for the Basilica and got the group in through the group line, the other did not.

 

So, taking the Included Tour means you may or may not get into the Basilica. There's that. But another Optional tour group was leaving as we arrived at the restaurant. So if you take a Rome tour that includes lunch, you will be dragged to this restaurant. Our guide did not eat with us. When we tipped her, I asked who made the lunch arrangements and was told it was the owner of the tour company that does all the Rome tours for Viking, Trumpy Tours. The owner must have contacted all the restaurants in Rome to see who would feed tourists the cheapest. I'm guessing the deal was made for about 5 Euros.

 

I wrote a scathing review for the ship, even asked for a refund. Didn't hear a peep. But at least I can warn you guys to avoid this mistake. To be clear, it's not just the quality of the meal that I'm complaining about, it's also that we were marched so far to eat said meal. We did really well finding little places for lunch in port on our cruise, would have been nice to have that memory in Rome.

Edited by dancermom09

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I note that the above reviewer was critical of Trumpy Tours. We were on the Viking Star from Venice to Istanbul last year and did a the official Viking three night pre-cruise tour of Italy before joining Viking Star in Venice. This tour although purchased through Viking was operated by Trumpy Tours and from our experience they were a quality operator. All lunch stops and dinner stops were of high quality and were certainly not done to a budget.

 

We visited Rome, Florence, Bologna and Verona, and the restaurant used in Rome was good, although I can't remember its name (it was down some stairs on the corner of a tree lined street) however we did go there on our coach rather than walking.

 

The OP views are still valid as they reflect what they felt but thought I would add a comment about our experience of the tour company.

 

Neil

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This is where it got weird. The guide told us we were going to lunch, just 20 minutes more. Then proceeded to lead us through the city for about 35-40 minutes to a restaurant. Here's the meal we had; a glass of red wine about the quality of Two Buck Chuck; pasta with canned tomato sauce; Two slices of boiled beef that you might remember from school lunches, a bit of iceberg lettuce salad, some limp potato wedges. Then a small square of tiramisu and half a shot of espresso.

 

 

Dancermom, thanks for the heads up. We will keep this in mind when planning our day.

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I am sorry you were so unhappy with your tour. As NeilP57 remarked, Trumpy Tours has a very good reputation. We were on the included tour of Rome with them when on the Star in January and had a marvelous time. Our guide was one of the best we've ever had, in fact. She was a font of information and brought us down many little streets to show us things we'd never have found on our own, or might have overlooked.

 

About your meal. Solely my opinion, but tour companies tend to err on the "SAFE" side when feeding tourists. You were clearly wanting to taste an authentic meal but you're probably in the minority. Too many people want comfort foods and prefer to eat what their vision of foreign food is rather than the real thing. Olive Garden Italian rather than Roman Italian if you will. i don't think Trumpy went out of their way to find cheap food; it's more a case of wanting food that would be palatable to the majority of the people on their tour group. Food not to cause offense to palates unused to the local taste. This sounds so very condescending but you have only to read rants about "nasty food that I didn't even know what I was eating!" to understand why many tour companies steer people to bland and familiar.

 

I don't think it was weird to walk 35-40 minutes to your lunch, not in a city like Rome. I'm sure your guide was talking and pointing things out along the way. The destination was disappointing, sure, but getting there? Surely not.

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No, we just quickly walked, on a warm day. There were some interesting shop windows along the way, but that was it. This restaurant was street level, but I do not remember the name either. The bathrooms were downstairs. We walked past dozens of restaurants. My husband took a couple of photos, but then had to jog to catch up. We were marching, I'm not lying to you.

 

And we loved our guide, she was great. Informative, sweet, and devout Catholic which certainly added an interesting layer. As I said, she didn't eat with us, she left and went somewhere else.

 

I wasn't the only one that hated the meal, I promise. We were all laughing about the beef, and there were several comments about the pasta sauce. We all ate the pasta because by that time we were starving and no one told us anything. Thought it might be all we got. We later realized the staff spoke English, but that was around dessert time.

 

So Italian tour companies think Americans prefer bad food? Now I'm insulted too. Since our cruise was only about half American with a large percentage of Brits, Aussies etc, it wasn't really a good assumption either.

 

It's likely that Trumpy tours has done a good job before. After all, they got the contract. But in this case, for these tours, you should know. If you take the tours anyway, at least you have been warned.

Edited by dancermom09

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Just had a thought. Our group was only 13, and the other group we saw was small as well. The restaurant was not very big, though they had a larger room downstairs. So maybe this particular restaurant is only booked for the smaller tours. Eh, I wouldn't take the chance again.

Edited by dancermom09

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Just had a thought. Our group was only 13, and the other group we saw was small as well. The restaurant was not very big, though they had a larger room downstairs. So maybe this particular restaurant is only booked for the smaller tours. Eh, I wouldn't take the chance again.

 

I'm with you on this one! I read as many reviews as I can prior to booking any and it seems that more often than not, if a meal is included people complain about it (for whatever reason). I like to have my own choice about where I eat. At least that way if I don't like it I know where to place the blame. :D

 

About the marching: oh yes. That's an excellent description. My husband and I are lucky in that we're avid walkers and have no trouble keeping up with whatever pace the guide sets but I've often felt sorry for those people whose only walking experience is when they've paid someone else on their vacation to walk them around. They struggle. I'm glad you and your husband managed okay!

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I'm an ok walker, and did fine in Rome even after two sick days. Now Dubrovnik and Monte Carlo almost did me in. We just don't have stairs like that in NM! My husband is a 6 footer with long legs. If he had to hustle to catch up, you know we were scurrying.

Edited by dancermom09

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On our cruise last year I heard lots of complaints about both the included and optional general Rome tours. I also know a lot of folks who use the included tour as simply transportation to and from Rome and did their own thing in between. Rome might be one of those destinations it might be better to hire a private guide with a bunch of CC companions.

 

(We didn't go into Rome.)

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Dear Dancermom09,

 

Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to respond to your comments.

 

We regret to learn of your disappointment and are interested in discussing the details of your concerns further. Should you wish to do the same, please contact us directly at TellUs@vikingcruises.com.

 

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Kind regards,

Viking Cruises

 

We've been back from the Mediterranean Odyssey cruise on the Sea for a week. We really enjoyed almost everything about the cruise. There were a few blips, we were sick for two days, Manfredi's served me the wrong meal (I have an allergy), but the thing I still seem to be mad about is this tour so I'm posting a "review rant".

 

Had a hard time deciding which tour to take. We've never been to Rome and wanted to see as much as possible, as well as inside at least part of the Vatican. Finally settled on the "Fountains, Monuments & Cathedrals" tour at $179 each. Did not register that this tour included lunch.

 

Our tour guide was terrific. No complaints there. We drove by the Coliseum and a couple of other ruins, getting off near the Trevi. Had some free time there, then walked by some more sites, toured the Pantheon, had 20 minutes free at Piazza Navona. Nice tour so far.

 

This is where it got weird. The guide told us we were going to lunch, just 20 minutes more. Then proceeded to lead us through the city for about 35-40 minutes to a restaurant. Here's the meal we had; a glass of red wine about the quality of Two Buck Chuck; pasta with canned tomato sauce; Two slices of boiled beef that you might remember from school lunches, a bit of iceberg lettuce salad, some limp potato wedges. Then a small square of tiramisu and half a shot of espresso.

 

We then walked several more blocks to meet the bus to take us to the Vatican, where we had a guided tour of the Basilica. We did get to go through the group line.

 

I later found out that our tour was basically the Included walking tour. Except they got a stop at the Coliseum and the Spanish steps. They also got time for lunch on their own at Piazza Navona. One of the Included Tour guides got tickets for the Basilica and got the group in through the group line, the other did not.

 

So, taking the Included Tour means you may or may not get into the Basilica. There's that. But another Optional tour group was leaving as we arrived at the restaurant. So if you take a Rome tour that includes lunch, you will be dragged to this restaurant. Our guide did not eat with us. When we tipped her, I asked who made the lunch arrangements and was told it was the owner of the tour company that does all the Rome tours for Viking, Trumpy Tours. The owner must have contacted all the restaurants in Rome to see who would feed tourists the cheapest. I'm guessing the deal was made for about 5 Euros.

 

I wrote a scathing review for the ship, even asked for a refund. Didn't hear a peep. But at least I can warn you guys to avoid this mistake. To be clear, it's not just the quality of the meal that I'm complaining about, it's also that we were marched so far to eat said meal. We did really well finding little places for lunch in port on our cruise, would have been nice to have that memory in Rome.

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Tellus, there really isn't anything to add.

 

Elizabeth, I really did try to do this. But there wasn't anyone on our Roll Call. One couple on the 50 day posted a couple of times, and one posted a couple years before then never came back.

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Dancermom - so sorry to hear that! We had a very active roll call and did lots of private tours, sometimes in addition to the Viking tours and sometimes instead of. These were some of the best tours of our whole cruise. One of the things that so frustrating about river cruising is the lack of participation on the roll calls because of the size of the ships. Maybe because we were on the maiden cruise, we were lucky and had great roll calls. So, spread the word - get more people using CruiseCritic!

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