Tours in Review

I would highly recommend the 10-day “Irish Explorer” coach tour from CIE Tours International (Morristown, NJ). The overall tour, Sept. 1-10, 2007, was excellent and a good value for the money. It cost $1,568 per person plus $867 air from Los Angeles.

We had a direct flight to Dublin. Kudos to Aer Lingus, as the toilets were cleaned several times during the long flight and at each visit the facilities were as clean as at the start of the flight.

Except for the first and last nights, we stayed two nights at each of three locations. Full breakfasts and excellent dinners were...


What a fantastic and memorable vacation we enjoyed in Peru in May ’07! Thanks to Lima Tours (Belén 1040, Lima 1, Perú; phone [51-1] 619-6900, fax 619-6921, e-mail or visit, our visit to their country was both informative and rewarding — one of our best tours ever.

What really made our 8-night stay in Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu so special were the personal guides who were assigned to us throughout our stay and the excellent itinerary proposed by Suzanne at Lima Tours. Every aspect of the tour was well planned, from our being met upon our...


In the Pantanal area of Brazil, the abundance and diversity of the vegetation and wildlife are spectacular. Our trip, Aug. 24-Sept. 5, 2007, was timed to take advantage of the dry season (June to November).

My husband, Al, and I had our trip arranged by Open Door Tour Operator (Rua Alan Kardec, 87, Galeria Maria Auxiliadora, Sala 4, CEP 79008-330, Campo Grande - MS, Brazil; phone +55 67 3321 8303, fax 3384 6763, All transactions were handled by e-mail, with questions answered in a quick, professional manner.

The trip cost $4,762 for the two of us and...


I enjoyed another exceptional trip arranged by Varini de Silva of Ceylon Express International (9542 Dumbreck Dr., Huntington Beach, CA 92646; 800/423-9566, This one, 30 days in length, for four people, was to southern India and Sri Lanka, Feb. 1-March 2, 2006. Land and internal air cost $6,220 per person. Airfare from San Jose, California, added $1,820.

Flying from Los Angeles to Singapore nonstop, we traveled very comfortably in Singapore Airlines’ Executive Economy class. This class has almost business-class space, and the seats recline much more than in...


Bora Özkök, the owner of Cultural Folk Tours (5631 Lincoln Ave., Ste. B, Cypress, CA 90630-3156; 800/935-8875,, was the leader on our 20-day “Bora’s Eastern and Unknown Turkey,” July 15-Aug. 3, 2007.

Eastern Turkey, which we found safe and friendly, is unspoiled in its natural beauty and ancient sites. Bora’s knowledge and presentation of this fascinating area of Turkey made the ancient sites come alive. Every day was an adventure, and the 17 members of our group were the only tourists at each site.

This is Bora’s homeland (he now lives in California), and...


Having been on many ocean cruises, here are some thoughts following a cruise-tour my wife, Helen, and I took with Viking River Cruises (Woodland Hills, CA; 800/304-9616). On the “Grand European Tour,” we traveled from Amsterdam to Budapest, June 10-24, 2007.

Our major tip — book early! We booked and paid for the cruise 14 months in advance plus had a group rate for a total savings of over $1,500. For both of us, the cost for the river portion was $10,008 plus $592 insurance. We felt this was a very good price compared to the costs of ocean voyages (that do not include port tours in...


I read about Hope Cottage Tours (Hope Cottage, Mackney Lane, Brightwell cum Sotwell, Oxfordshire, OX10 0SQ, U.K.; phone 44 [0] 1491 837100 or visit in ITN’s MART Classifieds and began to e-mail Sue Robson, its owner and tour guide, about arranging a customized itinerary for my husband, Jim, and me.

Sue was most informative, and eventually Jim and I spent eight marvelous days at Hope Cottage, Sept. 11-19, 2006, having great meals and enjoying fascinating excursions and sights and all sorts of surprises in the Oxfordshire/Cotswolds region of England.


I took the 15-day tour “Land of the Golden Fleece,” June 24-July 8, 2006, with Explore (booked through Adventure Center, 1311 63rd St., Ste. 200, Emeryville, CA 94608; 800/227-8747,

The land price of the tour, $1,550, included breakfasts and most dinners. (The tour in 2008 is 14 days and $1,690.) Additional meals, local fees, tips, etc., came to $400. Airfare from San Francisco on United and Austrian airlines (the latter was very good, even in economy class) cost $1,800.

My trip had an abysmal start. I left my itinerary and voucher on the...